Teen burning victim Michael Brewer blasts his school
Another victim in the recent rash of incidents, Michael Brewer appeared on the Today Show this morning. In the exclusive interview, he essentially blasts his school, Deerfield Beach Middle School as being “terrible.”
Last year, according to the Florida Dept of Ed, the school had 96 incidents of bullying or other forms of school-based violence. Put THAT in perspective, that’s one every two DAYS, for your average 180 day school calendar year. If that didn’t send up flags purely from those statistics, did it take a Michael Brewer incident to get someone’s attention.
What worries me is the Principal’s response — she stated that her school ONLY has 1/2 the number of incidents as it did last year. So we’ve dropped it from one every two days to one every four and that is expected to be a major accomplishment? That’s like saying in our present model of car, the wheels only fall off on ONE side, not both.
Again, I worry that we are taking too much of an “outside-in” approach to solving these kinds of problems, instead of addressing it at the root cause. It’s the same philosophy as “control guns, not shooters.” More metal detectors, off-duty police officers, legislation — it’s not going to make a difference because we are reacting to the events, not responding to the underlying problem.
If you have a school culture in which violence and anti-social behavior is so pervasive, you have to ask some tougher questions. It warrants a different, more fundamental approach. Michael Brewer wasn’t an isolated incident…Josie Lou Ratley wasn’t an isolated incident. The other 94 incidents of bullying and violence that occurred in that year also weren’t isolated incidents. The kids who burned Michael Brewer weren’t model citizens and students all their lives, then suddenly one day woke up and said, “Wonder what happens if we light this one up like a rocket?” This was a long time in coming and could have been prevented.
…by taking a preventative approach. These are not isolated incidents…they are part of a disturbing, growing, and horrific trend. We have to do something different because what we have been doing clearly isn’t working.