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“Two Lives Too Many?” — there’s more than that

April 9, 2010

As I was researching the latest on the Phoebe Prince arraignment cases yesterday morning, I came across a column by The Boston Globe’s Yvonne Abraham. In her article, entitled “Two Deaths Too Many,” she discussed the bullying suicides of both Phoebe this year and that of Carl Walker-Hoover last April (ironically, a year to the day of these arraignments in Mass.). You may recall the story of 11 year old Carl who came home and hanged himself one afternoon after finally being pushed over the edge by months of bullying and harassment.  I’ve written about him a number of times in this blog.

Ms. Abraham’s column was essentially about Carl, about how THAT should have been the event that sparked outrage leading to change, that we shouldn’t be here a year later mourning the loss of another life under similar circumstances.

She’s right…but she’s also left out the many other incidents that have occurred since then that all should be cause for increasing levels of outrage and strong demand for better solutions.

She mentioned Carl Walker-Hoover, but didn’t mention Jaheem Herrera, also 11, who killed himself 10 days later — also as a result of bullying.  She didn’t talk about Derrion Albert, the Chicago Honor student who was bullied and beaten to death at the end of last year. Josie Lou Ratley is still in a coma — yes, she isn’t dead…yet, so perhaps she didn’t make the cut for the article, but it’s another “life” affected and altered permanently because there are kids out there who don’t give a rip about how they treat another person.

The sad thing is, I could go on and on…these incidents happen ALL THE TIME. Where is the outrage?  Why aren’t parents, educators, administrators, taxpayers raising up a collective cry to do something that works?  It’s not about enacting tougher laws — do you REALLY think these kids are going to be impressed by the “law” telling them they shouldn’t behave this way. Do you think Wayne Tracy considered that on his 2-mile bike ride to Josie Lou’s school, where he hunted her down and brutally beat her almost to the point of death? I’m sure he was thinking, “Man, if I get caught, I could be doin’ time!”

Seriously folks, when are we going to stop thinking that we’re doing all we can because we’re speeding up tougher laws and we have those federally mandated “bandaids” in place at our schools? We hear more about charter schools and teacher pay than we do about the health, safety and well-being of our kids while they are in school.

As Sirdeaner Walker, mom of Carl, shared in her interview for the Globe article: “…I couldn’t protect my son between the hours of 8 and 3. I failed my child.”

Folks, if we don’t see these incidents as the wakeup call they should be, we have ALL failed our children.

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