In a scene from “He Was Weird,” Mark is spectating a fight between two third graders after school one day. His mother, eager to go and seeing that the fight is decidedly one sided, steps in to break the fight up. However, the other kids watching aren’t so keen for the fight to end, so some of them throw themselves in front of her in an effort to bar her path. Also, one of Mark’s bullies at the time gets up in her face and demands that she lets them fight. Not to be deterred, she forces her way through and separates the combatants after which she, in no uncertain terms, lets the young crowd know how disrespectful they are. In Mark’s Asperger’s mind, the anxieties of what will be said to him the following day about his mother breaking up the fight plague him the entire evening and next morning. Fortunately, only one kid says something to him the next day and it’s in such a way that Mark is easily able to ignore it.
This actually happened to me and my mother pretty much as I described it in the book. The only thing I left out was that my mother gave me something to say if one kid in particular had said anything to me the next day since it was his younger brother who was on the losing end. She told me if he says anything to tell him that she saved his brother’s life. Fortunately, he never said anything.
That occurred back in 1972 and I fear that the situation for adults has only become worse. It seems that children are free to beat lumps out of each other and bully other children and if the adult steps in, they will come out the worse. I can’t help thinking that nowadays,if my mother had actually physically removed a child from her path, the parents would have immediately sued or worse, charged her with an assault. There have been many instances where something like this has happened.
In fact, it happens later in the story when Mark’s grandfather pulls a boy who has attacked Mark off of him. The boy goes home and tells his parents that the grandfather had assaulted him and he is arrested. While fortunately, the grandfather isn’t charged, the fallout for Mark is worse. The boy taunts Mark about his grandfather going to jail and his mother is upset because of the same fear and blames it on Mark not standing up for himself.
But my novel isn’t the only time I have written about this. Two years ago, I wrote a short story called “I Have Proof,” where a man witnesses a group of children assaulting and bullying another child. Tim, the main character, doesn’t directly intervene but discreetly takes photos of the incident on his mobile phone to show the police. Let’s just say the result isn’t so cut and dry but if you want to read it, click this link:
It is occurrences like these why adults are no longer willing to get involved in incidents of bullying. If they do, they will be the ones who end up in trouble, especially by those parents who do not care what their precious was doing, they are simply thinking “money.” Therefore, it is far less hassle to let the victim suffer as opposed to getting involved and coming out worse.
Now before anyone thinks I’m blaming parents for the walk on by attitude, I’m not. Sure there are a few who think “money” or “compo” at the first instance their child appears to be wronged but most parents aren’t that bad or so I hope. No, I blame the carpet bagging litigation crocodiles who will take any case wrong or right to fill their hungry appetites. Why do you think that when after Mark shoots up the school, they immediately descend offering closure to the victims?
Obviously, my first reaction is there needs to be changes to the law and loopholes need to be tightened up to prevent misuse by the crocodiles. However, I believe more knowledge on where they stand made readily available to adults. Maybe even free advice given by the crocodiles so adults know where they stand in regards to the law. Maybe then, we won’t have the adults walking on by when a child who is being bullied cries out for help.
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