A Look At Schools in Literary Bullying: Part 1- Nineteen Minutes

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In my reviews of books about school shootings, I’ve looked at the shooters, the parents, the bullies and even explored how much an influence music was in the story. So now, I’m going to take a look at the schools in each case and ask, “Could the school have done more to prevent the bullying and possibly stop the tragedy that resulted from it?”

In this post, I will begin with “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult. In this story, the protagonist, Peter, is bullied from his first day of school until the fateful day nearly twelve years later when he goes into the school with two pistols and two rifles and carries out a shooting rampage that kills ten and wounds eight. Could the school have done anything?

Early in the story, when Peter is Kindergarden, the teacher sees he’s getting bullied and her answer to the problem was to teach him how to stand up for himself. As we see it doesn’t work and Peter’s life continues to be a living hell. After that, there is practically no evidence of any school trying to deal with Peter’s bullying. Yes, school staff seem to know it’s going on but don’t seem to want to do anything about it.

The most damning evidence against the school comes at Peter’s trial. First, the gym teacher is called to the stand and he states that he is familiar with the school’s bullying policy but he never sees the need to address it. Jodi does leave the reader, at least me anyway, with the impression that the teacher’s lack of concern for Peter’s plight is down to the fact that the bullies are the top jocks in the school. Therefore, he turns a blind eye to his boys while they make their victim’s life a misery.

Second is Peter’s friend, Derek, who is called as a witness for the prosecution. He testifies under cross examination the bullying he and Peter went through in school. When asked why he didn’t tell the school about the bullying, he says that the school wouldn’t have done anything and it would have made the bullying worse. Now, you are probably thinking that the school would denounce Derek’s statement but there is no indication of that in the story.

From the evidence Jodi produces in her novel, I am left to conclude that the school did nothing to halt the bullying of Peter. In reality, the school would have tried to hide behind the excuse that it was never officially reported to them but everyone knew it was going on. Plus, the fear of the victims or further reprisals from the bullies if they told on them is even more damning of the school. Therefore, the school is just as guilty for the deaths resulting from the shooting as the person who carried it out.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Publisher-Generation-Publishing/dp/B00SLVHRFG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512983398&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

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Are the Schools At Fault?

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Protest Outside Norman High School

Reflecting back to events of the past couple of weeks and over the entire time I have been writing, I believe that its time to venture forth and ask, “Are the schools at fault when it comes to bullying?” Looking at the recent event in Virginia where a mother was arrested and nearly charged with a felony for putting a recording device in her daughter’s bag to find out if she was getting bullied, I would say yes in this case. The mother did try going through the correct procedure of informing the school that her daughter was being bullied but had no response. Therefore, she did what she did out of exasperation. It might not have been the right thing to do as there are lots of privacy issues here but the school failed the mother, plain and simple.

I have no doubt that if the school intervened, there would have been no need for the mother to put a recording device into her daughter’s bag. But why are schools seem to be slow or inactive in dealing with bullying? As a teacher myself, I know how overworked schools and teachers are. In many cases, they aren’t simply ignoring a bullying instance, however, they are so stressed out over their workload that it gets pushed to the back-burner. BTW, I am not using this to excuse schools for not dealing with the bullying, far from it. Bullying cases should be fast-tracked to the top of the school’s attention so it can be dealt with before too much suffering happens.

Other reasons for schools not seeming to handle bullying is the simple fact that they don’t know it’s going on. Many victims are afraid to report bullying for many reasons like looking weak, worried the school won’t take them seriously or reprisals by the bullies outside of school. Of course, some school officials and teachers bury their head in the sand because they don’t want to have to deal with it, so they pretend to know nothing about it. Then they play dumb if pulled up on it. This is wrong and what should happen more is that victims should be totally encouraged to report the bullying they suffer.

What really grinds my gears, (sorry, I’m a Family Guy fan), is how some schools over react when victims or their parents decide enough is enough and take matters into their own hands. The latest incident in Virginia is a prime example and for another good one, read my ancient post, “A Victory for the Bullies.” I theorize that schools react this way because they have been seen as not dealing with the bullying, so, because they lack evidence against the bullies, use the letter of the law to punish the victims because that victim has just embarrassed the school by highlighting the school’s inability to efficiently tackle bullying. This is lame in my view and in my opinion brings more shame upon the school.

Family Guy

Ideas leading to more ideas about future posts has given me inspiration here. Using the novels I popularly use, “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult, “Endgame” by the late Nancy Garden, “Rupture” by Simon Lelic and my own novel, “He Was Weird,” all novels where bullying results in a school shooting, I will look at each story and see how well the school handled the bullying in it. I tell you now, that I’m not holding out much hope for the schools here but it should make interesting reading.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Lefevre-Michael-Paperback/dp/B00YRC6826/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512406367&sr=1-3&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

Thank God! Common Sense Has Prevailed.

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Last week, I posted about how a mother in Virginia was facing criminal charges because she put a recording device into her daughter’s back pack to see whether or not she was getting bullied. Yesterday, the charges against this mother have been dropped. FFI click on the link:

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/29/us/virginia-mother-bullying-arrest/index.html

All I can say is thank God somebody saw sense. There should never have been charges brought against this mother for doing what any parent would do if they suspected their child being bullied.

I’ll Always Stand By Victims of Bullying

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Rolling on from my unexpected post about another victory for the bullies, I feel the need to go on more. Like I have said in the past, if I learn of any instance where a bullying victim gets the shaft for trying not to be a victim or stop the bullying, I will highlight it here. Some people might think that I am using being a victim of bullying to excuse any sort of behaviour, I’m not. However, I will not let an instance where the victim is the one done on account of some nonsensical technicality.

My last post was what exactly I am going on about. Here we have a girl who is being bullied, her mother reports it to the school but nothing is done about it. At least the mother isn’t told of anything being done. Therefore, she puts a small digital recorder into her daughter’s bag so she can hear for herself if her daughter is getting bullied. The recorder is found by a teacher and next thing, the mother is up on felony charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Tell me, what delinquent act is the daughter committing here? If there is any delinquency, it’s that of the bullies! So again, we have a mother of a bullying victim, who only wants to find out how bad the bullying is, on some nonsense criminal charge. I shudder at the logic behind this. The worst thing is that this wasn’t the first time I have posted about this and I sadly know it won’t be the last.

In spite of what I have written above, I don’t think being a bullying victim justifies everything. At least not those who commit a school shooting, even though when I reflect back to those three years of hell, whenever a school shooting occurs, I realize that, “This could have been me.” Admittedly, when I read both “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult and “Endgame” by the late Nancy Garden, I found myself rooting for Peter and Gray when they were on trial for their shootings. However, while part of me wanted them to be found not guilty, I know in reality they weren’t and deserved to be convicted. Being a bullying victim does not justify murder. Saying that, I don’t think either of them deserved their life without parole sentences due to the circumstances. It was their experiences which influenced my decision when I wrote “He Was Weird,” to make sure Mark wasn’t taken alive when he committed his shooting.

Even though I experienced a lot of the hell that Mark goes through in the story, I don’t feel justified for myself or him carrying out a school massacre. What writing “He Was Weird” accomplished was to exorcise those demons and move on. The bullying I suffered then doesn’t effect me anymore. Back then, I never thought about taking any of the lives of my bullies and am glad I didn’t.

Going back to the beginning, victims shooting up their school is a far cry from a victim or their parent getting arrested on some bullsh*t charge because they wanted to end the bullying. In many of these cases, the letter of the law was applied, in many cases by the school themselves and that gives me thought for my next post. Victims should be seen as such and not be subject to criminal punishment when they honestly and lawfully try to end the bullying.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511815401&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Here We Go Again, Another Victory for the Bullies

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Another story of a mother who was so fed up with her child getting bullied and the school not seeming to care and decided to take matters into her own hands. On this occasion, she put a recording device into her daughter’s ruck sack in order to find out whether she was getting bullied and if the teacher knew or was doing anything about it. Someone in the school discovered the device and now the mother is being charged with two felonies.

FFI click the link: http://wishtv.com/2017/11/22/mom-puts-recorder-in-childs-backpack-to-catch-bullying-now-faces-felony-charge/

Again, I ask when will those in authority stop hiding behind the supposed law and actually tackle bullying? It seems that schools, where a case of bullying is presented and they either don’t take it seriously or don’t effectively deal with it, punish those the victim or their parents if, after total exasperation of non action on the school’s part, take matters into their own hands. Not to punish the bullies but to show proof that the bullying is going on. I hope here, the police will see sense and drop the charges and the school will see further sense and look into the case of bullying. Let’s see if it actually happens.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511433021&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Great Britain! Don’t Go Calling It Black Friday

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Black Friday has been around in the US for several decades. Now some advertisers in the UK are trying to instill it in the minds of people there. Hear’s why the British should resist.

What is Black Friday? In America, it is the day after Thanksgiving Day and it is called Black Friday because it heralds in the official Christmas shopping season. Shoppers make a mad dash for the stores and begin buying presents left and right out of fear they won’t be there if they wait. Not long ago, the television show South Park ran a programme about Black Friday where people were waiting outside the mall for it to open so they could be the first to get in and get their presents. The result when the mall was finally opened was widespread rioting and people getting trampled to death. Being South Park, it was done with their famous sense of satirical humour, which I enjoyed immensely. While there was some dark truth to the episode, it was the gross exaggeration that has made Stone and Parker so funny over the years. Personally, I don’t remember Black Friday being quite so bad.

Black Friday carnage as seen on South Park

There are now commercials on UK television talking about Black Friday sales. My reaction was, “How can there be a Black Friday when Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the UK? Part of the reason for Black Friday is that Americans are so focused on Thanksgiving until the day, there aren’t thinking too much about Christmas. That all changes when Thanksgiving Day is over. Then it becomes a full focus towards the Christmas holidays in many facets of American life. I wonder if that’s why Santa is the final float in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

My point is that there is no need for a Black Friday in the UK. Many people are already in the process of doing their Christmas shopping, they don’t need any particular day to tell them when to begin. It’s all a ploy by advertisers to try to get more people shopping for Christmas.

It is the youth of Britain this push for Black Friday is aimed at. Especially as they are the ones who are most exposed to the media and like American things. This is why there is now Halloween and proms in the UK. However, these two items are harmless in my view and most who oppose them do so solely on the grounds that they’re American. Black Friday is not a holiday or official tradition, it’s something made up by media to explain the onslaught of shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. It is not an American tradition in spite of what television might say and there is no need for such a day in the UK.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511202714&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Christians Hated Us Too!

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With my mind still racing from my last post on how America considered its military between the years 1973-89 a joke and the fact that I don’t like to write posts over 1,000 words if I can help it, I decided to continue my peaceful rampage on the subject. Rednecks weren’t the only ones who looked down on those serving in the armed forces between those years. So-called Christians were just as bad towards us. While unlike rednecks, they didn’t call us a joke, they did consider military personnel to be all a bunch of Godless heathens. Some even went as far as that the military should be a mission field in order to save their Godless souls.

When I declared that I wanted to enlist in the Marines when I was in high school, there was some rumblings in my local church about my desire to do so. A lot of the rumblings were started by my mother who thought I would be wasting my life by giving four years of it to my country added on by a documentary she watched in 1978, the year before I joined, which said that the Marine Corps was full of convicted murderers. I can safely say that during my four years of service, I never met anyone I would consider a murderer.

Apparently, there was going to be someone at my church who was going to talk to me about going into the military. I know it wasn’t the pastor because he was a former Navy corpsman who served with the marines. Regardless, that talk never happened and I enlisted. The real funny thing about that was that most of the older adults in the church were complimentary of me going in and all of them wished me good luck. It was my peers who thought I was crazy for taking four years out of my life and giving it to my country. They seemed to be more convinced that all of the ‘heathens’ who made up the US military were going to turn me from the Lord.

Thinking back, I have to give Linwood Community Church credit where it was due. They did seem to be the most supportive of me while I was serving. Even when I was home on leave for two weeks and didn’t shave the entire time, none of them made any comments about it. They all seemed to understand that I was just taking a break from military life and would go back to being a marine when that leave was up. However, I know of other churches that weren’t so supportive. I did go with a friend to another church in uniform and while I didn’t want any special fuss made about me, I was ignored and even looked upon with some sort of disdain by some of the so-called strong Christians in that church. A lot of Christian churches weren’t as welcoming to serving persons.

Ah, another amusing note from my past. I worked at a Christian summer camp during the three summers in my high school years. At a winter reunion after my final summer there, I announced to all my Christian colleagues that I had enlisted. When it was time to say the closing prayer, the camp leader prayed for the Lord to watch over me while I was in the Marines and that even there, I become a witness for Christ.

After my service was up, that church was still supportive of me, now a veteran. Though there were still some in the church who thought the military was evil. It was that other church I mentioned who seemed to be more patronizing towards me. Because of the fact that I did backslide while I was in, it was concrete proof for them that the military was evil. If I’m honest, a lot of so-called Christians did view armed forces personnel with disdain. They were evil and needed to be saved and that was their excuse for treating military persons like crap.

These days, I get comments from current and recently served military persons who say that their churches have been really supportive of them. One went as far as to apologize for me having such a bad experience with Christianity. I informed him that it was Christianity I had the problem with, just a lot of those who professed to be Christians. I am glad to hear that these days, Christians are supporting and not condemning those who serve their country. Maybe they have repented of their actions in the years between 1973-89.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510776111&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

#044–Why don’t they call white male mass shooters “terrorists”?

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I found this post very thought provoking.

The Chatty Introvert

(Photo Credit: nbcnews.com)

I am so sick of this crap.

I’m sick of these killings.

I’m sick of these “woe is me” stories of a guy who can’t hack it and says “screw the world, I’m taking you all down with me.”

I’m tired of white men (NOT BOYS, DAMMIT!) who haven’t figured out that sitting on your ass and being a white male isn’t going to get you very far anymore, be it job related or dating related.

And I’m really sick of the media and government not calling it like it is. I’m tired of them not calling these white male shooters “terrorists.”

I think its a simple formula: if your object is to maim or kill complete strangers that mean nothing to you and have never personally wronged you, because of some supposed belief you hold (whether nurtured, cultural, religious, etc.) and you find a way to…

View original post 991 more words

Happy Veterans’s Day: We Were Not a Joke! Dedicated to All American Armed Forces Personnel Who Served Between 1973-89

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Just over three years ago, I wrote a post titled “Message to America Once the Wars Are Over.” The post was about how while no country honours its war time military better than America, the country goes almost in completely the opposite direction in regards to its peacetime military. Having served in the Marines during peacetime, (1979-83), I based the the article on my own experiences. I stated how the US basically ignores and at times look upon peacetime military personnel with disdain. We were seen as druggies, criminals and welfare cheats. FFI: go back and read that post. If anything, many Americans seemed ashamed to associate with anyone serving in the military back then.

Peaceful Rampage wasn’t the only forum I posted it on as I have several other blogs in addition to this one. It was on one of these that I had one person try to explain why I was treated as such while serving in the military. His response was simply, “When I served, the US armed forces was a joke!” He even went on to point out that it was because the first half of my service had been spent during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. That could be true if not for the fact that the second half was spent during the Ronald Reagan presidency and from what I saw, there was little or no shift in attitudes towards serving and as I would find out to my dismay, recently discharged persons.

Reflecting back to that time, I have to concede that many Americans regarded its military as such during the years mentioned. My first experience of this attitude was in very early 1979, less than six months before I went in. My history teacher stated that if the Soviets attacked West Germany, they would overrun Europe in a week because we had a bunch of derelicts defending us there. He explained that the army was a joke and that the only true patriotic service was the Marines but they were cuckoo. That made me feel good about joining the Marines but I would learn different not long after I left boot camp.

Visions of those on the right side of politics are probably pointing accusing fingers at those on the left and conservatives at liberals. True, lefty-liberals tend to be the most anti-military and I did get the odd comment from such people. However, from my experiences, it was the right who were the most antagonistic towards those actively serving. These days, rednecks proudly display “Support Our Troops” on their vehicles and t-shirts or anywhere else appropriate. This wasn’t the case back then. In 1980, while on leave and visiting relatives in Central Pennsylvania, I stopped into what I now know as a redneck bar to get some beer. Some young girl made a comment about the United States Marine Corps being there and suddenly all eyes were on me. One guy just stared at me as I went into the bar and once inside, all eyes were turned on me. With my Asperger’s, that made me feel very uncomfortable, like I shouldn’t be there, in spite of the fact I was serving the country. Therefore, I quickly made my purchase and left.

My redneck experience wasn’t bad, I know this. However, I do know that some of my fellow Marines had less fortunate ones. One Marine went into a redneck bar in uniform where he was bombarded with comments like, “Oh look, a boy scout!”and when he went to buy a drink, it was suggest to the bartender, “You better card him, are you sure this boy scout is old enough to drink?” Note: the legal drinking age was still 18 in most states at this time. However, he was luckier than other Marines I know of who were attacked in a redneck bar. Two of them got their own back by throwing a tear gas grenade into the bar. Rednecks might support our troops these days but they certainly didn’t between 1973-89.

While of have cited the hypocrisy of rednecks for their disdain for military personnel back then, their views weren’t too far removed from the average American. Let me share another experience. In 1981, I went to my old high school’s Thanksgiving Day football game in my dress blues. I received a lot of weird looks from people for wearing that uniform as well as a couple of mock salutes from a couple of young smart-asses. However, the one question I was asked summed it all up. Why was I wearing that uniform to a football game? My answer that I was proud of my uniform wasn’t satisfactory to some people. I can’t help thinking that if I was serving today and wore my blues to the game, I would get treated with much more respect. Then again, in 1981, people still thought the armed forces was a joke.

One popular counter to when I complained as to how I was treated while serving and in the first years after I got out was, “You didn’t have it as bad as the Vietnam Veterans.” That’s a no brainer. Of course, I didn’t get one-tenth of the crap they got and if I had worn my blues to the game ten years prior, I would have been verbally, if not physically abused. I guess I should be grateful for that but while we might not have had it nearly as bad, it doesn’t mean we had it good. I wasn’t abused for serving my country but being ignored and thought of as a joke didn’t fill me with glad feelings either. Because frankly, I know we weren’t. In fact, two years after I left the service, I once said that the United States should be invaded just so people would start respecting its military again.

I also wrote in that post three years ago that if America apologized to the Vietnam Vets every day until the last one died, it might be enough to redress the harm done to them when they served. These days, Americans realize their mistake and treat their armed forces with the respect they so richly deserve. However, I do think that while they don’t have to go near to the extreme as the Vietnam Vets, they could offer an apology to those who in the years following Vietnam, 1973-89, were willing to take three or four years out of their lives and give them to their country. They were not a joke for doing so.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510087238&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween! America Didn’t Force It On Anyone

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Halloween is upon us this week and children all over America will be dressing up as ghosts, witches and monsters etc. to go trick or treating to get candy and such from willing neighbours. The holiday has grown in popularity in my adopted country of Great Britain over the past two decades. However, the celebration of Halloween in Britain has brought more than its share of controversy along with it. Many Britons, especially the older generations and some on the political left, resent this ‘American’ holiday being ‘forced’ on them. Many see the practice of trick or treating as nothing more than sanctioned begging. Even the usually pro-American, Republican Party supporting UK newspaper, The Sun, has claimed that America has forced it onto the people of Great Britain. Listening to them, you might think that the US scrambled a squadron of B-2 bombers and flew them to Britain with the threat of bombing London into oblivion if it didn’t start celebrating Halloween (and the prom.)

A B-2 bomber flies to the UK with fighter escort ready to bomb London if they don’t accept Halloween.

The fact is that America didn’t force Britain or anyone else to celebrate Halloween. Most Americans don’t give two stuffs if any other country celebrates it or not. The real culprit behind the Halloween craze in the UK is children’s television. Thanks to cable and satellite TV, children get a huge range of American children’s programmes that they wouldn’t have known before those days. In many of those children’s shows, there is always one episode every season on Halloween. That’s a lot of Halloween episodes. As a result, British children get to see American children celebrating Halloween and naturally want to do the same thing themselves. Therefore, Halloween has grown bigger and bigger throughout the past 20 years.

Considering myself to be left of centre in my politics, I hear the left’s cries of American capitalism flooding Britain. There is truth in that, especially now that British supermarkets now have sections for Halloween during the run up to it and plenty of adverts on television. However, in spite of all of this, the bottom line is that the children of Britain wanted to celebrate Halloween and go trick or treating. Nobody forced them to do it nor forced their parents into allowing them to do so. People made a choice!

What gets me is that many people in the UK, especially on the left, balk at Halloween simply on the grounds that it’s American. However, if it was celebrated in any other culture, anyone who objected to its celebration in the UK would be called ‘racist.’ Many of those who would do the calling are those who object to Halloween on the grounds that it’s an American holiday. They need to remove their rose coloured glasses.

Let me clarify one thing. There is a practice by some British children that if they don’t get anything when they knock on a door when trick or treating, they throw flour or worse things at the house. Let me say that this is not an American practice. What has happened is that this practice has been confused with the unofficial “Mischief Night” which is the night before Halloween. During this night, windows get soaped, eggs get thrown at houses and other like things. It is not a holiday and it’s illegal. I know that in some of the towns I lived in as a kid, the cops were out in mass on this night.

Halloween is alive and well in Great Britain, like it or not. British children are looking forward to going out trick or treating and adults who embrace are looking forward to giving out sweets and might even go as far as putting on a little scary performance for their visitors. They realize how fun it is and celebrate it in good spirit. Halloween is not forced on anyone, especially not by America.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509388565&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird