School has started again all over the country. I used to love this part when I was a kid. New pencils, crayons, and whatever the notebook of the year might have been. Later it was the back-to-school issues of Seventeen and Glamour. They were huge issues so they cost about $1.50 each, a big price back then, but I didn’t think I could go back to high school or college without them.
I was lucky. My parents were professional people who made a good living. The country’s economy was good; few people had credit cards, so there was no credit card debt. Everyone had savings and retirement programs through their work. Life was good. My friends all were in the same boat. We had summer and after-school jobs, and we mowed lawns, shoveled snow, and babysat. We worked in local businesses and made $1.25 an hour.
I went to large grade schools and junior highs. My high school had nearly 1,000 students. I loved every minute of it. I found my niche and stayed with it until graduation. I never questioned what would happen to me during the day or after classes ended. No one ever picked on me, and I didn’t know about bullying.
However, now I can only assume it happened somewhere in that huge rambling three-story building. I certainly didn’t know it then, but as an adult, I am pretty certain it existed although it never touched my life.
I have ranted on this topic before in this space because I can. And I am going to do it one more time. If you have a problem with that, it is time to turn the page and read something else.
Times are different now, and we have children in our district who belong nowhere; children who are hungry, dirty, and tired because of who they are. None of that is their fault. They do not have a niche and will likely never have one. Their goal every day is far bigger than your child’s goal. It is far bigger than mine was. They are trying to learn AND survive.
So here is my plea, one more time.
Can we make this the school district that does not pick on the unfortunates? There are “bullying policies” in place and posters at each attendance center. I am sure the teachers and administrators address the issue.
But I know it still goes on. So, can we be a group of helpful parents, adults, and community members?
What do you say about others who don’t quite dress to your standards? Do you make fun of their clothing? Do you voice your opinion about a child’s sexuality, intelligence, or physical attributes? Do you condemn them in front of your children? If you pass someone in the grocery store who obviously needs a bath, do you make an example of him for your kids? Do you drive past houses where your children’s friends live and comment about the junk the parents allow in the yard or how tacky the house looks?
Be careful in your criticisms. Stop and think! You may intend to steer your kids in a certain direction, but you may also be telling your child that it is okay to make fun of another student or his family. And that is never okay.
Please don’t raise a bully. The school staff can only do so much. You, I, and the parents and members of the Peabody and Burns communities must contribute as well. Please think about what you say and do.
— SUSAN MARSHALL