Thanks to all of those who visited my last post about heading north. Even four likes makes me feel good to know that there are others out there who can empathize. Having returned from Grimsby, I can say that my mother in law is as well as can be expected. However, her dementia is severe enough that she will probably never return to her home and will live out her remaining days in a nursing home. In her case, that’s not such a bad thing. But thanks to all who shared their concern.
It’s been a roller coaster fortnight for me. Last week I had all the heavy metal thrills of going to the Download Festival, this week my wife and I have received news that her mother has been sectioned by social services for 28 days. Naturally, this has had a devastating effect on my wife and I’m doing my best to support her. However, it hasn’t left me time to write and at the weekend, we’ll be heading North to Grimsby to see my mother in law. Thank you all for your patience and hopefully, things will return to normal next week.
Nobody likes contradiction. It causes confusion, raises anxiety levels and can make the person causing the contradiction appear stupid even if being contradictory wasn’t the intention. For most of us, contradiction is a severe stress on the mind but that multiplies many more fold with someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.
There are two distinct reasons why contradiction is dangerous for anyone on the Autistic Spectrum. One is the fact that most people with ASD take what is said to them literally. In many cases, it is seen as carved in stone gospel fact. Therefore, anything in contradiction can cause confusion with a person with ASD. If it doesn’t cause confusion, any new contradictory message to what that person believes can be outright rejected because said person has been told what they have been told already so this new contradiction can’t be true. No matter how much evidence is presented that it might be. The person with ASD has already been told one fact and has made their mind up, end of.
The other reason is that with many people with ASD, all information gets through and those who know can back me on how much overload that can cause in the brain of the ASD person. Any contradiction to what a person has believed for a length of time can very easily overload the brain, especially if that particular receiver of information has difficulty in processing information. Yet another reason why contradiction is a danger to people who have ASD.
While there are small instances of contradiction playing havoc with Mark’s mind in “He Was Weird,” none of the events are that consequential to the story. Although they are a contributing factor to Mark snapping. However, there are plenty of instances in my own life where it has been consequential. One such and I’m not blaming my mother here, is that I was taught never to pester people. For most of my childhood, this was a great tool for me. However, when I was seventeen and looking for part time work a contradiction set in. On several job applications, I was told by the prospective employer that they would be in touch. They never did and I never pursued it because in my mind, that would be pestering people. It was then that I was told that I should bug those employers and let them know that I was there. This was a major contradiction in my brain because it went against everything I had been taught over the years and it took me a long time to process it into my brain.
Another one was when I was in the marines. During the four years I was wearing a crew cut in the service of my country, it seemed everyone commented on my short hair. People who saw pictures of me with longer hair before I went in said I looked better with it. Then I get out and do grow my hair. Yes, I went from one extreme to the other but all of a sudden, everyone began saying that I looked better with shorter hair. The effect that had on my brain was near catastrophic. It totally sent my mind into a massive overload and it highlights another effect contradiction has on me and I’m sure I’m not the only one. At times, I can perceive people who deliver contradictory information as hypocrites.
Today, in my more advanced years, I am able to deal with contradiction much better. This comes from years of mental conditioning and like many things with my life, painful trial and error. Still, I don’t always handle contradiction very well and will never master it.
To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483565248&sr=8-1&keywords=he+was+weird
Once again, I’m afraid I am not posting the advertised topic from last week’s post. I’m afraid that you will have to wait until next week for that. As many of my followers already know, if there is a miscarriage of justice anywhere in the world to do with bullying, I will post about it. The latest occurrence happened in Florida where an eleven year old girl was suspended for filming a teacher who was bullying another pupil as detailed in the story below.
Florida School Suspends 11-year-old Girl for Video Recording Teacher Threatening to Hurt Other Student (Updated)
An 11-year-old Florida girl was suspended from school after she recorded her fifth-grade teacher threatening and bullying other students.
The evidence Brianna Cooper recorded was enough to get the teacher fired from Samuel Gaines Academy in Fort Pierce, about two hours north of Miami.
But administrators say it was also enough to earn the student a five-day suspension.
After all, they claim, the teacher, had an expectation of privacy in the classroom.
But how much privacy can a public school teacher expect in a large class filled with students, most of them carrying smart phones?
Also, even before the advent of smartphones, students have long tape recorded classroom lectures by simply placing their recorders on their desks, rarely bothering to ask the teacher for permission to record.
In fact, most teachers should be pleased that students are using recorders in order to retain as much information as possible.
Furthermore, if the school was anything like the schools I attended decades ago, there should be an intercom system between the class and the main office, allowing administrators to listen in at any given time, further mooting the expectation of privacy argument.
And finally, in this day and age where most public schools are using surveillance video cameras throughout school property, can one seriously expect to have an expectation of privacy in school anywhere outside a bathroom or locker room?
In this case, the teacher, whose name has not been released, threatened a student by saying, “I will drop you,” in front of several other students, so their argument that this was a private conversation is laughable.
Samuel Gaines Academy is part of the St. Lucie Public School District where officials refused to comment to the media because it is “an ongoing investigation.”
But considering they already fired the teacher and suspended the student, their ongoing investigation is nothing more than an excuse to shun the media in the hopes it goes away because we can bet they’re not investigating the principal for abusing her authority.
However, Cooper’s family has already retained an attorney, according to WSVN, so it is likely a lawsuit will be filed to settle the case in court.
And that’s a good thing considering the Florida wiretapping law is outdated, written decades before the introduction of smartphones.
Meanwhile, the teacher will likely be hired at another school where she will likely continue her bullying ways.
According to WPTV:
In the recording, Cooper says you hear the teacher say, “Don’t let size fool you. I will drop you….You don’t know me, that’s all I’m saying. So, don’t give me no look.”
Cooper said the teacher had been mean to students before. She says she took the video to prove it.
“Do you think that they would actually believe a student over a teacher?” Cooper asked.
Cooper played more of the recording, where she says the teacher also said, “You’re the biggest kid in 5th grade and you’re acting like the smallest one…. I wonder what your mom looks like.”
“You don’t speak to children, let alone students like that,” said Cooper’s mother, Cassie Faulkner.
Cooper says she gave the recording to a teacher. Then, she says she was called to the principal’s office and suspended.
Faulkner says the school told her recording the audio without the teacher knowing is against the law.
“I’ve never had anybody tell me you cannot record,” said Cooper
“She thought she was doing a good thing. She’s 11-years-old. She doesn’t know the law,” Faulkner said.
She worries her daughter’s suspension sends the wrong message to other students.
“It’s pretty much saying to students if you think something is wrong, don’t try and do anything about it,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner says she is also worried because Cooper is suspended during days students are prepping for the Florida Standards Assessment.
It is obvious school administrators are trying to send a message to students that they better not dare record the bullying tactics of teachers, which is why it’s important for Cooper’s lawyer to send a message back to the school that there is no expectation of privacy in a public school classroom.
Unless, of course, a teacher takes a student to a corner of a classroom for a one-on-one conversation in a hushed tone, making an obvious effort to keep that conversation between themselves, rather than yelling threats to a student in front of the entire class while using the grammatically incorrect double negative “don’t give me no look.”
Not only did the teacher deserve to be fired, but the school’s principal, Traci Wilke, who regularly post photos from inside the classrooms toTwitter, further destroying her expectation of privacy argument, should be fired as well for suspending the student in what is an obvious attempt at intimidation.
Call the school at (772) 462-8888 and the school district at (772) 429-3600. Or you can contact the district through a contact form on its website.
The school district’s Facebook page is also filled with photos of students from inside classrooms making one wonder if they obtained permission from parents to post these photos considering they have such an expectation of privacy while in school.
It’s me again! As a teacher myself, I will be the first to say that the teacher’s actions were totally unprofessional and the school acted rightly in firing that teacher. Even if the bullied pupil was being disrespectful to the teacher, threatening to “drop” the pupil wasn’t the right way to go about it. However, the fact that the teacher was fired doesn’t justify the suspension of the girl who filmed the bullying. She was doing what she thought was the right thing and the privacy of the teacher claim was a load of horse manure.
Schools are not closed door institutions. What goes on inside them is not a matter of secrecy but in the public interest. Any bullying that goes on in a school should be brought to light and dealt with and if the incident leaves egg on the face of the school so be it. Hopefully, that will encourage the school to act more forcefully in the future. If I had those things in place at the time, my junior high school days would have been a little more bearable.
Next post: With Friends Like These
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427794588&sr=8-1&keywords=he+was+weird
From the start, there are two things present in this post that were not present in my previous post about haircut anxieties. First, this post wasn’t influenced by anyone else’s post about a similar subject, I didn’t need any for this one. Second and most important, there is a definitely link here to my book “He Was Weird.”
In the story in “He Was Weird,” Mark has a problem with clothes, which triggers bullying against him and gives him loads of anxiety issues over it. At the age of eleven, Mark starts a growth spurt and outgrows his clothes fairly rapidly. This causes a big problem in the trouser department for him. His trousers were often too short and resulted him being constantly teased for wearing “flood pants.” It gets to the point where every morning was filled with total anxiety as to whether or not Mark’s trousers are long enough. Of course, bullies being bullies, they would change the rules and say he was wearing flood pants even when he was originally confident there were okay. The bullies thought it was really amusing when he would get upset arguing that he wasn’t wearing flood pants so they would use it to wind him up the more. Although, I don’t say it in the book, someone in the town would have put it down as one of Mark’s reasons for shooting up the school.
This part of the story is one where I can certainly say that it happened to me. Like Mark, my growth spurt came at the same ages. Plus, my grandmother had a flair for sewing hems in my trousers and too slow (in my mind) about letting them out. Therefore, I suffered the same teasing and anxieties that Mark did. Another part that was definitely the same was mother’s reaction to it. Both Mark’s and mine mothers would say things like “Don’t let it get to you” or “Well, I’m at least ready when it comes.” What neither of us could say was that if we did say the latter, we feared a backlash of violence. Such is always the case with bullying.
Six of the final nine months I was in the marines, I was stationed on Okinawa. What was great about that place was that you could get good clothes cheap. I bought a really nice suit when I was there. On the other hand, there was a shoe shop which sold Native American style moccasin boots. When I saw these on display, I had to have them so I did. I didn’t care what else anyone thought, besides, like with my hair, I had spent four years dressing like everyone else to the finite details so I earned the right to stand out a little. Unfortunately, like with the hair, 80s Regan America wasn’t tolerant of such crimes against fashion. Therefore, in the eyes of many, I was weird simply on the grounds that I wore the above boots.
The strange thing was that the boots still didn’t land me in as much crap as did the hair. True story, I actually cut my hair after two years and one day at college, I walked past a group of girls, still wearing the boots and I heard one of them comment: “At least he cut his hair.”
I know for the fact that I am not the only person in the world who has suffered bullying and great anxieties over clothes. Some of the service users at one of the homes I work at suffer these anxieties. Take first instance Ernie, (that’s not his real name). He worries so much about getting arrested for torn trousers that he has to buy loads and loads of them. He has also stated that this anxiety came as a result of bullies. So my final thought is directed to those fashion fascists who only recognise people who wear certain clothes or worse, certain brand names. Not everyone has to dress like you and there may be real reasons for the way the do dress, so back off! Your comments can cause real distress if directed at the wrong person.
Next post: Asperger’s and the Need to Fit In
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424109385&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
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.
Next post: Not Looking for a Label
Originally, this post was going to be about fantasy worlds but a thought from my previous post on the effects of bullying on academic attainment dawned on me. So I’m afraid that the fantasy world post will have to wait until next time. In the last post, I mentioned how the terrible bullying I suffered for three years had a direct effect on my schoolwork. Thinking back, it’s a wonder that I even managed average grades, especially in seventh grade although things weren’t looking too good in the beginning of eighth grade. Then a wonderful thing happened, my family moved out of that town!
The positive effects of the move became apparent almost straight away. With no bullying, my grades improved dramatically. On my first history test, the teacher was ecstatic that I had gotten 92%. When I achieved the same score a few weeks later, the teacher told me he was going to tell one of the teachers from the town I had moved from, whom he knew, how well I was doing.
Rumour has it that the teachers at my previous school did learn about how well I was doing at my new school. Apparently, one of those teachers stated that even though I was doing well, that I had learned the wrong lesson. I supposedly learned that I could solve my problems by simply running away from them and this would not help me later in life. That eventually, I would run out of places to move to. One might think here that it was entirely my idea to move out of that horrible town, not that I wasn’t glad to. At the time, I never felt like I had ran away from my problems.
Roll on twelve years later. Three years after leaving the marines, the American Dream of 80s Regan America wasn’t working out for me. You could say I was to blame because after all, I committed such atrocious crimes like growing my hair long. Most people thought that having to wear a crew cut for four years in the service of my country was not good enough reason to let my hair down in the literal sense. As a result, I suffered a lot of intolerance.
I was accepted and began attending the University of London. I quickly found that the British way of life was more suited to me. However, not all my problems stayed on the other side of the Atlantic. The final straw came after six weeks into my college year when the Veteran’s Administration decided that my course of study wasn’t approved and therefore not going to send me any financial support. The second I read the letter from the VA, I openly declared that I hated USA. I had given that country the four best years of my life and the country had done nothing but poop on me in return.
After a two day cooling off period, I decided to talk to the college chaplain and immediately declared my hatred for my country. We discussed it and when I told him that it was naïve of me to think my problems wouldn’t follow me, he stated that I was in the UK to run away from my problems. It has been those words that has linked the two life experiences I have mentioned. Did I run away on either occasion? The thought I was doing so was never a conscious one but it does harass the outer recesses of my mind from time to time. I would greatly appreciate feedback on this one, thanks.
Next post will definitely be Fantasy Worlds
Of the mothers I have visited in these recent posts, Donna Leversee is the one whose virtually unknown. This is mainly due to the fact that the book she appears in, “He Was Weird,” written by me, has only been out for a couple of months. However, she has been my motivation behind theses series of posts. It came about when someone who read the story fed back to me that in their opinion, the mother was also responsible for her son’s shooting spree at his school. So, like the previous mothers, let us look at whether or not she should be held responsible.
The first thing we learn about Donna as the story opens is that she has just split up with her husband on account of his drinking leading to financial mismanagement and takes her three children to live with her parents. When my proof reader read the first chapter, that reader sensed a great sadness with the mother. It is easy to play the single mother card here especially as the story progresses and we learn that her bullied eldest son has Asperger’s Syndrome. But I don’t think she would have done that herself.
It is the way that she handles her son’s bullying that some may blame her for the outcome. Another reader even stated while the mother wasn’t to blame, she didn’t help either. Throughout the story, she tells Mark to fight back, one of her favourite lines seem to be, “I would have gone up to the kid and socked him.” This is even the case when he is faced with insurmountable odds, she expected him to take on several people himself. On the other hand, there are times when she goes charging in to right the wrongs done to her son. We see this in both instances when bullies destroy Mark’s bike; one time threatening to call the police and actually calling them the next time. Maybe it’s this that sends mixed messages to Mark and causes his mind to overload. Still, is she to blame?
We do read that she does try hard for her son. In spite of school opposition, she has him diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and DAMP and gets him the support he requires. But she also uses it as a stick to beat Mark when his grades don’t improve. Like everyone in the town, she fails to link the bullying he is suffering to the academic failures.
Most would probably agree with the premise that Donna Leversee is trying to do her best for her son although some of the methods may not be the best considering his problems. One suggestion has been that there is little evidence in the story that she doesn’t get the support she requires from her parents. That is something that definitely could be debated, the idea that she had to stand on her on two feet so her children should have to as well.
A further twist in the tail occurs after her son commits the atrocity. Her grief is plane to see but after the family moves out of the town, she reverts back to her maiden name and has her two other children do the same. We also discover that she tells a potential boyfriend that her son was killed by a drunk driver and she isn’t impressed when her daughter says she is going to attend the ten year anniversary service. So what impression do you get of Donna Leversee? Is she a villain or a victim? Or just another parent trying to do her best for her children in an unsympathetic world?
The best way to decide for yourself is to read He Was Weird.
One thing I failed to mention in my post about the role of Samantha Wilton or her husband Harry when I covered her in my last post was the relationship with Gray’s older brother Pete. One of Gray’s problems was the fact that his parents were always comparing him to Perfect Pete. Peter was perfect in Harry’s eyes as he did well in school and played sports, which gave dad his evidence when he told Gray that bullies wouldn’t pick on him if he went out for a team.
This was one very important aspect for me to leave out and I feel foolish for doing so in the last post. If there is a contributor other than bullying that will lead a kid to shoot up his school it’s being made to feel inadequate by always being compared to more successful siblings. The further the reader progresses into the story in Endgame, the more they see this becoming apparent. We can also revisit her inability to stand up to her husband when he went over the top with Gray. It would have been an opportunity for her to point out that Gray wasn’t like Peter and that should be taken into consideration.
Another point about Peter comes to light here. I grew up in a neighbourhood that if a kid got beat in a fight, he would automatically go and get his bigger brother, (if he had one) and get revenge on his victor. Even if the vanquished child had been the one to start the fight. The entire family had suspicion that Gray was getting bullied in school, even if he wouldn’t confess to it. There is no evidence in the story of the parents saying anything to Peter to look after his brother. I know this is something many mothers would have said to their eldest so in that respect, Samantha, as well as Harry, failed Gray.
I just felt I had to say this part as it is an important aspect behind the character of Gray in “Endgame.”
Next post will be definitely Donna Leversee from my own book “He Was Weird.”
Of all the mothers of school shooters in books I have covered thus far, the least known is the mother from “Endgame” by Nancy Garden. This is probably because we don’t really get to know her from the story. What we do find out about her is that her name is Samantha Wilton, although I didn’t learn her first name until at least 50 pages into the story. She is married and has two teenage sons named Peter and Grayson (Gray for short). Gray turns out to be the school shooter. We also know that like Lacy Houghton, she works as a nurse. The most important thing we know is that she never stands up to her husband.
One prime example of this is when the father announces that he’s taking the boys hunting and Gray states that he has plans with his friend. The father forcefully suggests that Gray invite his friend to come along to which he protests. When Samantha tries to intervene on her son’s behalf, the father tells her to keep quiet because they’re talking about man’s stuff and she obeys. My mind is already guessing what thoughts are going through the minds of females who are reading this. And I think I can guess fairly accurately too because my wife and my ex wife would have told me on no uncertain terms what I could do with man’s stuff. I suppose many would have done the same and agree that Mr Wilton is himself a bully.
What I ask myself here is “Did Samantha’s inability to stand up to her husband have anything to do with Gray shooting up his school?” It sounds far fetched but it is something that must be looked at. In the beginning of the story, when Gray is telling himself that things are going to be different at his new school, he also hopes that this is the year that his mother is finally going to stand up to his father. As the story goes on, we soon find out that neither of those things happen and that could possibly have had a knock on effect on Gray.
Another issue which makes Samantha Wilton come across as a failure is that she seems to do little or nothing about the bullying her younger son is suffering. She doesn’t appear to offer him any advice nor does she counter the father’s ludicrous suggestion that if Gray went out for a team in school, then he wouldn’t be bullied so much. It could be argued that had she not been so non existent in the story, maybe the outcome would have been different and her son not carried out the tragedy.
So, can we blame Samantha Wilton for her son going into his school one day and shooting and killing four people? Does the fact that she has such a low profile in the story have any effect on the outcome? Some could say Gray seeing his father bullying his mother had an effect on him and that somehow him shooting his bullies was a way of getting at his bullying father. I don’t agree with this because Gray’s bullies were real and if anything, his father’s non action other than saying go out for a team had more of an effect at the end. We can’t blame Samantha for that.
Next post: Part IV, Donna Leversee