This past week, a co-worker of mine was talking about a case of bullying involving her daughter. Her daughter was not the bully but the victim, and when her mother approached the teacher and then the principal about the situation and steps to take to stop the bullying, it was suggested that her daughter change schools since she was not officially in the proper school zone.
I did a double-take, especially because that particular school had instituted a bully-free policy - bullying was not to be tolerated at any time and any perpetrator would be dealt with accordingly. Their solution for my co-worker's daughter to change schools, especially when the problem lies elsewhere was disgusting. Wrong. Unjust.
It also reminded me of another time, two years ago, when one of our suppliers shared the devestating news that his 16-year-old son was in a coma, brought on a beating he endured at the hands of his peers. After weeks of hanging on, attached to machines to help him breathe, he succumed to his injuries, injuries brought on by his peers.
Drew Hildebrand died because his peers thought it was cool, funny or empowering to beat him within an inch of his life, an inch that left a major concussion, bleeding on the brain and death.
Maybe I was a little naive when I was growing up. I didn't witness a lot of bullying and certainly not to the degree that exists today. Sure, there were spats and cliques that didn't get along with other cliques. I'm sure there were rumours started and barbs thrown, but as far as I knew it stopped short of a physical fight.
Others may disagree. All I know is that it didn't happen to me. The worst I got was once when I was mistaken for a boy when picking teams in a Winterlude Sports Day. I thought my boobs said it all, but I guess I was androgenous enough to cast a little doubt. I did have friends who were taunted when walking home from school, and I was always the protector, ever the protector, trying to shield them from the bullies. Did I do a good job? I'm not entirely sure, especially because the taunting continued until the girls lost interest or found a new scapegoat, but I would protect the next victim with equal vigour.
This June, I will be walking in a charity walk/run for the Drew Hildebrand Teen Benefit charity, established by Drew's parents and friends. Drew had had a rough start in school, in fitting in, like most teens, but just as he was turning that all around, he was taken, his full potential never realized.
But, thanks to his parents, friends and everyone who supports the charity, Drew's legacy still lives on, his potential in abundance. I will be proud to walk that day, and may even manage the 5K run, looking to amp up my own potential, physical or spiritual.
As for today's school system, in particular the one suggesting a changing of schools as a viable anti-bullying technique, I say shame on you.
For information on the Drew Hildebrand Turnaround Teen charity, please feel free to click on this link.