The message below took place at a city council meeting in the center of Iowa. It means all the more to me, because I live in Iowa, and because I know this small city in a rural and conservative part of the middle of America -- a fly-over state.
Oops -- a reader corrected my confusion. Joel Burns is a councilman in Fort Worth, Texas. Maybe that makes the story even more significant.
Joel Burns, elected to that city council, has lived long enough for it to get better.
Educators who want to respond to his challenge can find resources at the Teaching Tolerance arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Their new documentary and classroom resource, Bullied includes lesson plans and is available for free to any school that requests it.
I also want to plug their quarterly magazine, Teaching Tolerance. It gives teachers specific ideas and lesson plans for K-12 on many diversity issues. Subscriptions are available for free to any teacher who requests it, any donor, and also online.
Bullying Has To Become A Crime
I have never understood why schools are law-free zones, why students who beat up other students are not prosecuted for assault, why teachers and administrators who do nothing are not prosecuted for accessory after the fact.
It Is Time To Prevent Bullying
I also have never understood why society places the burden of violence on its victims. We know the names of recent victims who could no longer bear that burden. We develop therapies to repair damage that is done to other victims. But as with PTSD, we treat after the fact. We do not prevent.
All the bullied teenagers who died recently have been "outed." But we do not know the names of the bullies. We do not work on fixing them.
Children who are cruel grow up to be adults who are cruel and raise children who are cruel. I repeat Joel Burns' challenge to stop the violence. That is when we will stop the suicides.
We also do not know the names of the witnesses, those who remain silent. All that it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing -- Edmund Burke. These students, too, must find their voices. We all must.
Meanwhile, If You Need Help Now:
In the U. S., call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish.
Click here to find a hotline outside the United States.
Use of the SPLC and Teaching Tolerance logos does not imply
that they have endorsed the views expressed in this post.