A Day of Empowerment–Post High School

When I was grown, I married and ended up divorced.  I was raising my son Eric and one of the guys who bullied me in school asked me out saying, “I hear you’re divorced now and I was wondering if we–”

I responded by saying, “Stop right there!  I had nothing but crap from you in school. I wouldn’t date you if you were the last man alive either.”

He said, “Well we were just kids–you should be over that!”

I said, “Two years isn’t long enough. You’re in my past and you are staying there. Bye.”

I then shut the door in his face. Dad asked me what that was about.

My response was, “Getting the garbage out.”

He said, “Oh…Okay.”

Note:  If you were a bully as a kid, it really is not a good idea to go around trying to ask the victim out–especially when you were one of the ones that tormented him/her for the whole 12 years of school don’t ya think? Well at least he didn’t play the “selective memory card” as in saying “I don’t remember that. I’m sorry.”  I felt very empowered after that day in 1983.

 

School is About to Begin, and Bullying Season NEVER Ends…

 

 

I am about to share a link here that many people will feel uncomfortable about when they watch it. The mother of this autistic child is disabled herself. She can’t protect her boy, not even in their own home if it comes down to it. I feel that the person responsible for this deed is every bit as dangerous as your local neighborhood psychopath. I hope this person gets caught and I think it fitting that this person should be totally OSTRACIZED by society.  There is so much hate in this person’s heart that he or she (and it is signed she, but one never knows) that this make him/her truly outright dangerous to others they don’t consider to be “fit” to live among us…

 

 

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/hnigatu/the-incredibly-offensive-letter-sent-to-a-mother-with-an-aut?bffb

 

 

 

We live in an age where cyber bullying and such is on the rise. It is as if with each passing school year, the next generation is getting worse and worse. It is difficult enough when a child is bullied in school and then parents have to deal with all this crap therapy about “making your kid bully proof” is not going to solve it because it isn’t the VICTIM that is the problem. It is the perpetrator who is the problem and we need to get back to setting SEVERE consequences for cases of bullying that are as severe as letters like this, as well as physical and sexual bullying.

 

 

 

I am really tired of these so-called experts (and they are not experts because their therapies often fail)  preaching that all kids can be made to be “resilient” when nothing that kid did causes them to be singled out other than their appearance, gender, income level, color of their skin, sexual orientation or religion.  The bullying victims are targeted in much the same way a crime victim is–school is only the “rehearsal”. The real world is the “production” on stage.

 

 

 

Even Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage.” and it is. However in a good production, the villain doesn’t usually win.  In this case the bullies are winning–or it at least seems that way. When these experts were allowed to come in and create diagnoses for bullying behaviors and phony treatments, the suicide rate among teens increased. These experts are quacks. Some of them do not have a license to counsel but are journalists riding on the coat tails of one  who never gets named, while using the case of a dead girl who committed suicide over the bullying to further his/her own career. I do not respect such writers. They disgust me.

 

 

 

Only one journalist bothered to name her source of information–and she wrote her book on the back of a dead victim. No names here but many know to whom I am referring. I am simply really fed up with the victims being further victimized or made to feel that they are collateral damage when it is the one attacking them that needs to be strongly disciplined.

 

 

 

These need to be strongly addressed in school or these bullies will be in the workforce terrorizing those under them.  When they are caught the price should be complete dismissal–especially if that person is an educator or a police officer.  If in sensitive fields like this, they should also have their licenses/credentials revoked.  These are the last people we want molding the minds of our children, OR having the power to mess up our lives.

 

 

 

I find it even more reprehensible that a so-called “adult” bullies would engage in such behavior to begin with and be allowed to continue it while hiding behind union reps and such…Keeping THEM away from all children is essential in my book.  In my opinion they are as dangerous to a child as a pedophile is.

 

 

 

Some states of the United States have implemen...

Some states of the United States have implemented laws to address school bullying. Law prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity Law prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation School regulation or ethical code for teachers that address bullying of students based on sexual orientation Law prohibits bullying in school but lists no categories of protection No statewide law that specifically prohibits bullying in schools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

English: the picture consist of articles on bu...

English: the picture consist of articles on bullying, I obtained it from public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Remembering the Monster (Part II)

It is  funny how when a child goes through abuse in the home, they feel that they did something wrong, or they said something to piss the abusive parent off.  However sometimes the abuser reveals the real reason for singling out the child. It is a lesson I know very well because it was taught to my abuser as well.

I am referring to my late stepmother.  As cruel as she was and as evil as she could be, I learned some lessons about her that did enable me to forgive what she did.  Does that mean that from time to time the shadows don’t try to creep up and remind me through nightmares and such? Absolutely not.

I remember well how I slept with the lights on after she killed herself with that same pistol she waived at my head–and sometimes she went further–she would actually put the barrel to my head, and I can remember how cold it felt to this day.  Often she revealed my existence as her reasoning behind her resentment of my presence in the family. The bottom line is, I stood up to her once I got older.

I find it also funny that when growing up, one thinks this is actually normal crap to deal with day after day.  Once she took her own life, and the shock of her death subsided, along with my self-loathing thinking it was my fault she did it, I began to get around ‘normal families“…You know–the ones where both parents didn’t fight and they actually had meals together at the table like we did before my parents split?

However, back to my point…She would tell me things her mother said to her such as, “…I don’t want you and I never did!”   Then she told me a story about how her two step sisters died in a fire that she believed her stepfather started. I wasn’t sure what to make of this story until I read it myself, but she was adamant that her stepfather set the fire.

I had a horrible tendency to turn my anger inward during and after those years. I remember hearing those negative voices when my stepmother committed suicide–and they were very “loud”, if you know what I mean. I kept hearing, “You should have done this!” or “IF you had done X then Y wouldn’t have happened.”  The bottom line is that there was nothing I did to cause it being that I was only around 14 and nothing could change it.  I had to work my way through that process of grief and self-loathing.

My dad was a total basket case, so I had to help arrange the funeral and pick the casket, as well as the dress to bury her in. THAT was the hardest part of that whole thing–having to help arrange it at 14. I am glad my sister and sister-in-law were around to help keep my head on track, and they did help me to handle this.  To this day I have an aversion to going into funeral homes even though I make myself do it. All it takes is the smell of the flowers or the sight of a black suit to send me straight back to 1978. I don’t know why but that triggers those memories in a huge way. I find it ironic that I knew more about her childhood–her parents names and such than my father did. I also knew that she had three sons taken from her in Red Bluff, CA in the 1970’s so if anyone is looking to find her, then contact me via email.

I struggled with trying to find reasons for what happened, and trying to make “sense” of it, but there is no “sense” when it comes to something like that or any unexpected loss, I think. There was also that voice that kept saying, “What if I had done ____ differently? Would it change a thing?”  I didn’t have a sounding board to take my frustrations out on so I turned to pen and paper, which was all I had at the time–aside from an imagination that when my pen flowed freely, the counselors became concerned.  I also struggled with the fact that there came a day when I fully realized that what went on in our household was NOT normal by any stretch of the imagination.

Then came the day I had to forgive her and then myself.  I realized that I both loved her and hated what she did, but realizing that she was not in control of her actions enabled me to forgive her and begin to rebuild from another starting point. I also had to forgive a few others in this process. When I say I had to “rebuild from another starting point” I am referring to the fact that after any traumatic event we can never fully be the person we once were.  We have to debrief ourselves a bit and then start reprogramming from that point, I think.

Living with her mental illnesses was one thing, but her behaviors also taught me how “NOT” to be a stepmother.  It also turned me off of the idea of internet dating and such because she WAS a mail order bride.  Anyone can put on any image they want to present themselves to be, but you never know what they are until you are with them.

I choose to play it “safe” and avoid that trap, hence the reason I don’t connect with anyone to go out with from the internet.  I have my friends I hang out with.  If I go out with anyone it will be with NO ONE that I meet on the web.

Does this mean I am lonely? No. I am alone but I don’t get lonely.  I have things to do and places to go and since I spent half of my life married, I’m in no rush. I am certainly NOT desperate either. Being single does not mean that my life is broken.

Now I want to say something else here.  I read Cinderella as a  child…I watched the version of it with Lesley Ann Warren and loved it.  As I got older, as in my late teens, I began to realize how much truth in  “Fairy Tales” really existed.  Her friends were mice–AT LEAST in the Disney version. My friend was a mouse named Brutus. There is also truth in the fiction between us all.  My fiction was that I was a princess or an angel in waiting…When I grew up, I realized that I am a statistic…A number…One of the many who fell through the cracks, but made my own way back out of them.

In fact, I think the song “Luka” fits more accurately–even though I’m not a boy.  After all, Suzanne Vega was right…She only hit until I cried. I sure as hell didn’t ask why when she went on these rampages either.

Many of these fairy tales were written with happy endings, but in life, would they have been happy? We may never know.   Look at “Sleeping Beauty“…The queen was pissed because she wasn’t invited to the Christening.  The only thing that woke Aurora’s ass up was her true love’s kiss.  What rubbish.  All of these fairy tales have the sabotage of the memes we were taught running rampantly through them.  The main theme being “Good prevails over evil”….Does it?   Or, do we simply hope for the best, block out the worst and drive on hoping the next day will be better than the one before?

Either way I drew more inspiration for my writing from “Dark Shadows” than I ever would any of these “fairy tales”.  I also drew from a movie called “Paperhouse” and ‘another one called “Spirit of the Beehive“. Perhaps it is because in the eyes of the child I once was, Barnabas (from “Dark Shadows”) could not help what he was and that enabled me to empathize with his fictional pain.  In my opinion, he was bullied too.

When Educators are the Bullies–Part II

As previously stated in this blog, there is a trend among some teachers to either allow student bullying under the guise of “teacher-induced peer pressure“, which is what I’m going to label that, or direct cursing and name-calling.  I saw and addressed this issue in the prisons. Either offense should result in severe consequences when it is just another form of child abuse. However the problem lies in that the district often protects the teacher rather than addresses the parents‘ concerns–at least that is the case where I live.

It got so bad that a parent had her son take HER cell phone into the classroom to film the abusive behavior. When she then brought it to the attention of the principal, instead of focusing on what was done to her child, they were more concerned that the rule in the school handbook about the cell phone was violated and threatened severe consequences for her son, banned her from coming onto campus over it, etc.  Listen up, people…Schools are not prisons and nor should the districts be allowed to run them as such.  As long as a parent is not creating a disturbance, there is no reason why the person cannot visit the classroom.  This district is trying to cover up the real problem here and that is more teachers manipulating students into bullying one another–OR they are directly bullying themselves under the sanction of the district.

This cannot be tolerated. Parents MUST speak up and start making their voices heard in the district. These people do not OWN your children!  These children are not inmates and it is time to return our classrooms in this country into sanctuaries of learning. Children must be taught BY parents to report this.  Parents need to sit down with their children and explain to them that teachers are NOT ALLOWED to act in a certain way.

It is time to put a stop to this and rid our districts of people who are behind it.  Parents, this is the usual “chain of command” when faced with any issue requiring state involvement in TX.  1. Principal   2. Superintendent   3. School board meeting (get scheduled to speak if necessary prior to the meeting)  4. Texas Education Agency.

I promise you if TEA gets it, they won’t take the case lightly. They will investigate it thoroughly so keep recordings, journals, etc…but it is imperative that you go through the chain of command PRIOR to going to TEA.  The reason many teachers still get away with this is because parents are often too afraid of being harassed by local authorities and/or administrators in their district.  IT is time to fight back for the sake our the children, people. Do no tolerate it! It is the taxpayers (meaning us) that sign their paychecks with the taxes taken out every year so these issues MUST be effectively handled.

Also, someone put forth a proposal in this district to allow teachers to conceal/carry on campus this week. This is ludicrous.  Until the last teacher who is bullying is gone, they are the last persons I want to see with a gun.

I am not sure what the chain of command is in other states, but it is best to follow this to avoid state boards from asking, “Why didn’t you go to (the principal, board, etc…)?” As long as you have taken proper steps prior, there should be no problem with getting this issue addressed.

School Bullying has gone WAY too far!

I am really sick of high school kids committing crimes and then having it downplayed by the school district‘s labeling it “bullying“. When kids are going around assaulting other kids, sexually harassing them, etc…These are CRIMES adults go to jail for! Stop downplaying this problem by calling it “bullying” and address these crimes against our children for what they truly are–and for you school administrators that downplay this issue–shame on you! You’re not fit to be in charge of any child in a public school environment! Either man up and take care of the thugs or the litigation will after your districts pay some heavy fines! If it’s not stopped there, these kids may end up in prison anyway and you are the ones that wanted a “village” to raise the child…Well man up and do your bloody part! It’s happening under YOUR watch!

Here is a link to a story that should anger every parent whose child has ever been a bullying victim:

http://www.fox10tv.com/dpp/news/mississippi/family-special-needs-student-attacked
This boy is a special needs student. He is paralyzed on one side of his body and has cerebral palsy.  Granted the kid threw a soda can at his attacker after the senior called him a name but we do not know what the victim’s mental age is and such–or even if he had good aim with the can.  If the can was empty, there was no reason to react in such a fashion.  The bottom line is, as a senior, this young man should have been mature enough to set the example for the other students and  to not go off as he did on a person with a disability.  PERIOD. Sorry but while I do think the Stokes boy needs to learn to ignore such crud that is said to him and probably have some anger management therapy, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for the senior using the force he did to levy such an injurious and brutal attack.

I can assure you that if I were the principal of that school, that senior would at least be in ISS for a while…

I am not a big fan of Fox, CNN or any of the major news networks but when I see this stuff in more than 1 report, and the info matches up on the networks, I am most likely going to express my opinion on the matter.

 

Image

Sweet Serenity

 

Sweet Serenity

This is self-explanatory…It’s nice to see two kids getting along! IF only it could be this way in schools…Let’s make it the year to fight the bullying! Who is with me?

 

The Bullying Issue…AGAIN

Alright, this is for those who have read my past blogs on bullying.  I have now come up with some ideas on how to resolve a lot of this, and it came to me when I found out a friend’s daughter was getting bullied and the school switched her classes without telling anyone.

First, in TX, that is NOT supposed to happen. Parents are supposed to be notified prior to schedule changes–esp. mid semester.

For one:  All schools should be required to report any bullying incident to the parent(s) of all parties involved within an hour of becoming aware of it.  That way the PARENTS can actually be involved in addressing the issue.

Two: NO VICTIM should ever have the same classes, lunch break or any extra curricular activity with the bully. Putting the victim in a class with the person who abused them is akin to putting a rape victim in the same room with his/her attacker. It is psychologically devastating and it is abusive of schools to do this to a child who has been bullied.

Three: IT should always be up to the parent(s) of the victim(s) whether or not to file charges–NOT THE DISTRICT. It is their child getting hurt.

Four: Bullies should not be allowed to ride the school buses. Make their parents responsible for their child’s transportation.  Bullies tend to act out on a bus a lot.

Five:  every state should add sections with protections like those mentioned above. At least it’s a start…

Given the fact that many of the public schools now feel like prisons to the victims, I say an extension of the PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) should be expanded to include a rule that public school personnel who fail to tell parents and take measures to protect the victim should be held liable–especially if they fail to report the incident. If that incident is a sexual assault of some type they should be required to tell not only the parents but the police themselves.   Even if it is not a rape, but molestation of some type, it is still a crime punishable under the law. However many districts choose to sweep this under the rug–unless it’s an adult doing this to a child.

If steps like these are not taken soon, then it is children who are victims of violence and emotional abuse that are being silenced and then left behind. Think about that. This being said, I feel that aggravated suicide must be made a punishable crime in all 50 states.

The student population has a growing number of children from gang families coming into the school systems. Many of those have family members that are incarcerated and have learned their violent behaviors at home. You also have “average kids” who bully because they are abused at home.  These things must be addressed in order to make a safe learning environment for all children. Any district failing to enact measures to protect these children should be subject to loss of federal funding also.

This bullying which leads to violence, death and aggravated suicide must stop and it must stop now.

How I Handled the Bullying and How it SHOULD Be Handled Now…

First, I want to say here that my previous blogs on bullying sum up a lot of what I dealt with and how I feel this issue should be dealt with now… I dealt with being bullied in a different way since I endured the crap all the way up to my senior year…I cut off a lot of my classmates.  I don’t attend reunions.  There is no point.  I never got an invitation to any of the reunions anyway.  I was told that they didn’t have my address, which was a lie. They knew my mom’s address which is where anything I get from them goes.  With the advent of FB, a few of them could have notified me there, too.

Several of us in that class didn’t get invited to any reunions.  It is true.  Three of my classmates have since died–one was a friend who died from cancer.  I found out about all of them well after the funerals.  One of them I didn’t know about for over 2 years because NOBODY bothered to email me or call–and my family didn’t want to “upset” me.  My best friend was one of the three, and I had talked to her just prior to her death.  That is what did it for me.   At least NOW my family lets me know stuff.

Do you remember the Walt Disney movie “Sleeping Beauty“?  I often wonder if Malefacent did the things she did because she was treated like crap, but then again, I always think outside of the box–and we only have ONE side of that story…All the bullying I endured–not to mention the abuse at home led to that little thought.  I know a few of my classmates went through some hell that changed their lives, but we are so fragmented and diverse that very few of us communicate.  The only two  reasons I keep going back to my hometown are my sister and my mother.

My sister has great memories of the place–but her experience was different from mine.  After Mom is gone, all that will be left are the memories that one clings to, and because of my own memories, I don’t ever plan to live there again.  I MIGHT move to Weatherford or Ft. Worth, but I refuse to move back to the mausoleum, which is what that entire town is slowly becoming.  I love my sister, but other than that, I would be totally miserable in that place.  I left it for good at the age of 23 and have no desire to return there.

The only saving graces in that town were the teachers I had in school, and a few of the police officers and a few administrators and counselors that knew what was going on.  I’d break curfew and hang out in front of the station.  There were pastors, doctors and a few other people I looked up to as well. They all knew why I left town too.  All I can say is that when my book comes out, I will change the names of the town, but when a lot of my classmates figure out who was who, they will be the ones who get very angry.  I told them all (especially the bullies) that I can do more with a pen than they ever dreamed possible…When it comes out, they will know it for a fact.  No, I’m not seeking revenge on them because the fact that my life is good does that already.  I just think things need to be shared as they really were and that they need to quit trying to sell this bullshit fantasy of theirs that all was just hunky dory in that place.  It was far from it from my point of view.

Writing was my refuge from all the crap that went on and I spent many days talking to counselors about what I wrote.  They finally figured out that it was therapeutic to write a lot of what I voiced about the students who made my childhood a miserable living hell in that place. They also figured out that my fictional characters were the students bullying me.  The bullies were very fortunate that I chose the pen deal with them being that some of the bullying was severe…The kids of today have no qualms about harming the bullies because all they want to know at  young ages is that they simply want their pain to stop.  To them jail or prison is a haven compared to what they are enduring–and unfortunately many feel that violence or suicide are the only options that  they have to make that pain go away.

When I was young, there were consequences–real ones for the actions one takes.  Now the schools seem to think that what they call “lunch detention” actually works…NEWSFLASH:  IT IS A BADGE OF HONOR TO A BULLY TO BE IN THAT!  Why?  There is an ever-growing population of students who have close family members who are incarcerated.  Many of them come from gang families and are groomed to be in a gang position.  This carries over into their lives at schools as well and it must not be tolerated. Uniforms are a start. If they can afford to get designer colors and shoes, their parents can afford simple pairs of pants or slacks and a solid colored top.  I really don’t want to hear about a student’s individuality because most of the time they are always being led by someone else anyway, and if it is not the parents, then it’s probably someone else in the neighborhood–and it most likely isn’t a decent role model either…

One of the topics that will set a school administrator off is facial hair on a male student.  They will waste 30-40 minutes of learning time each day each time he doesn’t shave to try to make him shave and/or call his parents.  Offenders in a Texas prison 99% of the time are NOT allowed to have facial hair.  Instead of trying to make our schools reminiscent of penal institutions, I say let the kids dress as their parents would allow them to–within reason, and only make them wear the uniform or jumpsuit when they do stupid things–like fighting, cursing at teachers, etc…Their lunch period should not be in the same lunchroom with other students either if doing lunch detention.   They should have to be in a classroom with nobody sitting next to them, or in the ISS section in their own booth.  I get sick and tired of pscyho-babble that says that they must have that time to socialize.  They socialize almost everywhere on campus because nobody will stop them.

I think that in America schools have become not places of refuge and of learning, but of controlling and containing–two tasks at which schools fail miserably.  They are in some ways just like penal institutions and students with families in jail (or prison) will not be phased by the discipline methods being used now.  They will readily tell you that they see the same stuff going on when they go to a prison visitation. If they don’t tell you that, parents and other relatives can.

IF anyone wants to challenge my opinion on this, they should look at any offender disciplinary plan/procedure in the state they are in the state that they live in and compare it to any school’s disciplinary plans/procedures.  It will shock them as to the contents of it being like that of a school disciplinary plan with some differences. In prison there is solitary confinement, loss of commissary, loss of contact visitation (or all of it depending on what happened)  and sometimes food loaf for 3 days (if severe infractions warrant it).  So now the question just begs to be asked:  Why is the United States training its school children to be offenders?  No wonder the bullying continues!  Watching students fight day after day  in the halls on the playground is like watching offenders go at it on the recreation yard or in the wings!

To stop a lot of this, educators need to be taught (evidently) that bullying is no game.  It is not just “kids being kids” and it is causing violence and death.  Bullying should no longer be used in today’s vocabulary because it has, in recent years, gone beyond taunts and teasing.  It is now deep psychological abuse and physical assault.  It is not just students engaging in it, but there are times educators engage in this as well by saying things like “Well don’t say anything to Johnny (or Jenny) because she might run home to tell her mommy and we’ll all be in trouble.”  Yes, I know a teacher who did this.  She should lose her bloody license because what she did by doing that is set the stage for that student to be “pressured into silence” by her peers.  The result for this child is that there is a high chance that she would have been  bullied also because this teacher is well-liked by the students. Her mother withdrew her when the teacher humiliated her in class a few days after this was reported.

Note:  This is also the type of game offenders play in the wings to turn other offenders against each other–and sometimes officers do this too.  IF an educator lowers himself/herself to this level, they don’t need to be drawing a paycheck on the taxpayer dime.  They are committing psychological and emotional abuse–which is a CRIME people!  If the districts do not wish to handle it and take care of it, then they should be reported to the state licensing agency and to the police–period.  Get it documented if this is happening to your child.

Educators who know of this type of behavior are required by law  to report this also.  If you are an educator and you see this happen, and your district is doing nothing–abuse of a child can be anonymously reported.  If they end up going to jail and such, and your testimony is needed in this country–then the district cannot retaliate against you without being subject to the “Whistle Blower’s Act”. While this act was originally filed to give the power to the courts to deal with government officials who are committing various crimes, it can also be used to address people who abuse authority and/or become a danger to public health and safety.  Educators work for the state, therefore, if they engage in behavior that needs to be addressed, then this law also protects officials who actually report them.  Officials in the educational field are not exempt from RICO laws or anything else so I do not know how they could be exempt from this…Read about it here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower_Protection_Act

This teacher had gotten into a spot because another parent reported her.  The district failed to act so this parent is now home-schooling her children, who were also severely bullied.  Prior to this, the teacher I spoke of  humiliated one of the children in class (openly) and this is why the other student went to her mother. The other parent withdrew her child also (as I mentioned earlier) when the teacher started focusing her anger onto that child.

I think it is funny that the school district tried to threaten both sets of parents with calling CPS until their lawyers got court orders to  knock off the harassment and filed a formal complaint with the state board for educator certification against the district since it is not against the law to home-school a child.  I think the real reason the district decided to have a cow is that they lost $1500 per head per term  for each child taken out of school.  Between the two families involved, that is a total of 7 children.  That translates into a $21,000 dollar a year loss to the district.

This also tells me the district is less interested in stopping the bullying than it is in losing the almighty buck.  If they cannot stop the bullying, parents should be able to move their children to ANY other district without question and/or home school them–especially if it is a special needs child that is the victim.

I have seen one movie recently that deals with the bullying issue from the victim’s perspective.  It is a movie called “Mad World” with Gary Cairns II.  When I watched it, it took me back to my experiences.  I could relate to two of the characters in it, but my parents were NOT like Jevon’s parents…However I was the bookworm type.  I was the quiet one.  I stayed in my room for my safety and to hide from the world. I made good grades and such while half the bullies screwed up.  I think I could relate more to both Cory and Jevon–but I did have a classmate that reminded me a lot of  Will…That quacking thing really cracked me up and we had one kid in class who cracked me up like that when he opened his mouth.  Once in a while he teased me, but he didn’t really get whacked out like the bullies did.  I am thinking that he should be a comedian.  He would be great at it.

Anyway, here is the trailer for “Mad World”. I strongly recommend it because Cory Cataldo is the only writer I have seen that takes this issue from the point of view of the bullied and from the abused in a film–and these guys went through abuse at school and at home.

Here is the link and it is NOT edited for language and such:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v97q-QeQG0w

As a writer myself, I feel this film deserved a lot more attention for Cataldo’s way of bringing this issue to light.  The only issue I had with it is I would have totally left the political slant out of it to reach a wider audience, but that is just the way I would  have written it–and how I am writing my book.  I loved the movie though.  Because it is told through the eyes of the victims, that could be why the political slant is there…The “F” word didn’t bother me either. I’ve heard worse–but I’ve worked in a prison as a sergeant of correctional officers…THAT is one line of work I will never return to either.  The reason for that will come out in my 2nd book.

This movie is available on Netflix now. 

A good reason I like independent filmmakers is that they are really in touch with the audiences they want to reach.  This film did reach me.  Gary Cairns is also in another movie right now entitled “Lost in a Crowd”.  The cast and crew are also making a difference in the lives of homeless students in L.A.  You can see the trailer and info on that stuff here:  http://www.indiegogo.com/LIAC?a=103015&i=addr   and please share the link!

Anyone who would like to friend me on Facebook is welcome to do so.  School bullying is a topic that I speak out against regularly.   Here is the link to my FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002130892797

A Film About Bullying and What It Can Lead To…

To Start with here is a link to the movie trailer for “Mad World“:  http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi618071577/

In the beginning, one is not sure what to make of this film but it touched on several issues that need to be addressed–and most of it came through the verbiage of Will (Dylan Vigus) and Cory (Gary Cairns). While Will is the one telling the story, it is Cory that best expresses what is going on in the mind of a tortured young man in a school where, as it often occurs, faculty completely ignores the issues of bullying and doesn’t even see (or chooses not to see) the signs of a child who is abused at home.
The character of Jevon (James Lee Martinec) is symbolic of the abused child who fell through the cracks of a failed system that is supposedly designed to protect our children–and often does not. I can relate to this character, but not for what is depicted in the film. I had a step mother who loved pointing a pistol at my head and tearing me down psychologically. At other times, she tossed me into walls, cabinets or whatever struck her fancy. Any other abuse I endured was not at the hands of my parents. That is all I will say there, but as I said earlier, if someone who has lived in a situation where they are abused in both environments (home and school) it might be a bit much to watch, so one might want to keep this in mind prior to viewing it.

I grew up in a time where it was one thing to wish the bullies were dead but it was taboo to act on it…The characters in this film were not consumed by video games and such as the far right would like to think. They were consumed by a society that threw them to the gutter and didn’t care–and that is how many bullied children perceive the school environment in this day and age–especially when they are going through crap at home.

This writer merely put all the thoughts, the pain and the horrible things that run through the minds of broken souls and put it on celluloid and for that he is to be commended. Cory Cataldo did a great job of that. Now was that sex scene a bit much? Yes. You will know which one when you watch it. There was more than one scene.

Each character was a piece of a puzzle that fit into a whole. You had Cory–who was actually a very intelligent young man and articulate. You had Jevon who was a resident genius and (like myself) viewed school as a refuge–even though he didn’t quite fit in…Because he made the school “look good” they took an interest in HIM but then threw him to the wolves when he didn’t measure up to what the school’s standard of perfection was. This DOES happen a lot.

Then there is Will. His father is an all around jerk and abuses him daily. Will is also articulate, intelligent and fell through the cracks. He also brings some of the humor to the film (along with Cory). Then you have John (Matthew Thompson) which brings another dimension to the film. He is an African-American student raised by white, adoptive parents. This character suffered the effects of racism and violence in such a way that he felt he had no other options open to him. His monologue after the worst assault he endures will leave you in tears. It is riveting.

The ones playing teachers and administrators were a joke (and there are people like this in life who dismiss the bullying as ‘kids being kids’). These are the types that will sweep what the athletes and such do under a carpet but if a student sneezes in the wrong direction that is not part of that social circle, like vultures, they will all kick that student to the curb–which is what these characters did. Fortunately, my teachers and administrators were NOT like this. They cared and I knew it. Times have drastically changed because many do not seem to care about much more than their paychecks now. Sorry but that is true and this movie seems to touch on it.

This may be a low-budget indie film, but Gary Cairns and the other cast members made it believable–especially to a viewer who lived in a similar situation. I agree with the viewer that felt that the O’Reilly picture was a bit much. There are plenty of bone-headed school administrators in both major parties. Note: Not all people in the south are conservative and not all support the death penalty. This movie could have driven a huge point home to an audience had the political ideology been left completely out.

I really do not consider this to be a dark comedy as much as an art film. It is beautiful when put in that perspective because it attempts to bring new light to old issues. Cory is the greatest voice of teen angst, Jevon of the pain of having to remain silent and to conform to standards and expectations that no boy should have to endure, Will is a voice of reason in the film even though his reasoning seems flawed in some respects and then there is John. The quiet kid who marches to his own drum, until forced to toss it aside and become a different creature altogether. Then again, they all 4 became different creatures–just as any child who is repeatedly bullied and abused can.

For those reasons alone–the touching on the issues and the acting itself,  it is definitely worth watching–but if  the movie “Precious” pissed you off thoroughly, this one might too–and you’ll find out why.  It is incredibly thought-provoking–and serves to remind that bullying is an issue that MUST be addressed at all levels–home, school and in society. Warning: If “Precious” pissed you off, this one might. Trust me.

The Kid who WANTS to stay after school…

This is going to sound harsh, but when a kid wants to stay after school, volunteering to take trash for every teacher in the building, cleaning erasers (for those that still have blackboards), arranging books, etc…Let him or her do it–but make sure that if that kid is acting as if scared to go home–don’t drill the kid with a million and one questions.  Let your school counselor handle that or the principal because you do NOT want that monkey on your back.  You can make an anonymous phone call if you like, especially if the student seems to be afraid to go home, but whatever you do, let that kid have the sanctuary even if just for a half hour while you go to another room to do something else after you’ve locked down your computer or whatever.

If the kid starts hanging out with the maintenance people instead of going home, have the counselor or principal talk to the child.  Sometimes it is true that there is something going on at home that needs to be dealt with, and other times the kid has other stuff going on inside of his or her head that he or she may need help for, but is too afraid to tell Mom or Dad.

Why am I advising this?  I was such a child.  Back in the days I did that, my teachers were powerless except for two items:  Detention hall and tutoring.  If I couldn’t stay after of my volition; they KNEW I was acting up to get a  one hour detention hall.  I don’t know HOW they knew but they did.   My school was my sanctuary.  It was a refuge.  I would stay as late as 5 p.m. and a teacher always either gave me a ride to my grandmother’s house or followed to make sure I got there alright if I wanted to walk slowly. 

They always knew when I walked in with dark circles under my eyes that something wasn’t right at home.  If I fell asleep, they knew I had a very bad night, but I wouldn’t show the marks or even talk about the prison cell I called my home.  I never knew what to expect when I walked in.  Sometimes my stepmother, Judy, would be normal and lucid.  At other times, she would pick me up and throw me across the room.  One time she threw me into a wall, and another time into the kitchen counter for being late.  I never said a word about this–not even to my sister or my mother.

I would go into my room and stay there for the most part, being careful to try to avoid her.  One night a teacher called and told her I had to stay after school for extra tutoring because I was having trouble in math class.  Ten minutes later the science teacher called also.   They never knew it but I got a belt taken to me by her and told if my grades weren’t up to her standards in two weeks, I’d get worse.  My dad wasn’t home and she said if I told him or anyone else, she’d “take care of me real quick”.  Having been around her long enough to deal with her crap, I knew what she meant.  There were many times she pointed a gun at my head.  I never talked about it–even after she committed suicide  with that gun.

My response to her threat was to not bring my grades up.  I deliberately made sure of it.  That way I could be away from her for longer.  After that, she tried to say I was “retarded” and all kinds of crap to the point that she and my dad were fighting each other.  I’d go hide out on top of the garage roof until 1 or 2 in the morning to avoid the bull.  They day she shot herself was the day my dad kicked her out of the house.  I didn’t believe that she was dead when they pulled me out of class and broke the news to me either. 

There were many nights after the funeral I would have nightmares about her coming after me in zombie form–.22 in hand.  I woke up in cold sweats more than once.  I often slept with a butcher knife under my pillow and NOT a soul knew about that either. It was one thing to tolerate the bullies and the idiots I had to deal with day after day,  but when I had to go home to my own little piece of hell, that was another story.  I often would snap and just disengage from life.  My escape was through writing and through reading books.  I also watched old movies. If I really wanted to block out the world, I put on a set of headphones and rocked out full blast to whatever struck my fancy when–which could be anything from ABBA to ZZ TOP and all things in between depending on how old I was. 

One would think that after going through something like this that I would have ventured out and became more outgoing, but I didn’t.  I preferred to live in my cocoon that I built for myself.  I didn’t feel safe at school due to some bullying–but it got taken care of.  However, I still didn’t trust my peers. I rarely went out.  When I went to prom in my Junior year, some people were surprised.  When I showed up for the Senior prom, it shocked the school, I think.  I was even in my Senior play and did well in UIL journalism and such.  I made myself do all that–and take the class trip…I also made myself stay in Band my last 3 years of school.  It got me away from her.  Ironically,  I was still acting like this 18 months after she died.  I don’t know why to this day.  I did my occasional sneaking off to shop after I got paid or whatever–but I went alone.  I preferred it. 

The bottom line is I felt that maybe in her madness, she was correct when she said things like, “You can’t have friends” or “You aren’t pretty enough to be with anyone when you get older so you might as well join the Air Force”–and worse…I won’t repeat the horrible stuff she said.  Being that the bullies at school tended to get to me, I’m surprised I didn’t go off.  Then I got invited to a friend’s house for dinner one night about a year before her death.  My dad pissed her off and let me go.  This was different.  These people didn’t yell at each other or anything.  If someone dropped something, it was okay–they didn’t get hit.

About  six  years ago I totally freaked out because I accidentally broke an antique mixing bowl that belonged to my paternal grandmother when I dropped something on it–I didn’t drop the bowl itself.  My sister said, “It’s okay, Tina.  It’s just a bowl.”  “But it was Grannie‘s.” was what I said.  She just kept saying it was okay over and over.  She even came over and held me as I was crying at one point.  What she didn’t realize was that this triggered another memory I blocked out.  I got thrown across the kitchen and into a wall when I accidentally broke Judy’s favorite bowl while washing dishes. 

Anyway, years later I began to open up about it.  That was when I realized I wasn’t the “bad” kid or the “crazy nerd kid”.  Some of my favorite teachers told me point-blank that they knew something was wrong at home and they asked me how I was able to deal with it.  I shocked them.  I told them the first thing I had to do.  I had to forgive Judy.  I had come to the realization that she was mentally ill.  I finally understood the issues that were going on after talking at length with my sister about it.  The second thing I had to do was accept that I am not to blame for the actions she took.  I was a child. 

Now I want to give you some food for thought.  I was that kid that had caring teachers who took time for me when they didn’t have to.  I wanted to give back.  I still don’t think I can ever give back enough, but I can attest to this much–kids who were bullied back then often fantasized about making bullies “disappear” or wishing them “into the cornfield” and there isn’t a person alive that doesn’t know what that means.  Those of us who were bullied often wondered what it would have been like if we could be rid of the bullies for one day–or better yet–for life.  We actually talked about it.  Again I ask that same question from my bullying blogs, “What made it okay for a person to ever cross that line and actually act out on their fantasies?”

How many more Columbines will it take? Jonesboros? How many more suicides?  Can anyone answer that?  We’ve had more recent shootings also.  Even when you have caring teachers who do take time as mine did, why would the kids put them in the line of fire?  Has anyone ever asked these things?  I think we should.   Some of the ones who bullied me are totally different people today.  One would never know how cruel they were in high school, and they often choose not to remember the hurt they inflicted.  I have had classmates that I do not remember bullying me for the life of me contact me apologizing.  Maybe they were bystanders or something, but I honestly do not remember them bullying me and I told them so.  As far as I’m concerned, they’ve done nothing to me.

I will close with some questions:  Where does this bullying type of behavior begin?  Where do the kids learn it? At home? In the movies? WHAT?!  Have we really degraded our own society too much to the point that as parents we can’t fix this issue ourselves?  I would not mind getting the “right” answer for those questions, if they do exist. Is this going to be something we have to create penal codes for or should we just insert it into categories under the current penal code–such as assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, etc…?