Like much of the country I reacted with shock and disgust
at the shooting in Colorado…as I had after the school shootings that came
before it. How can children become so full of hatred that they would parade
through a school and without one ounce of feeling, take lives as if they
were crushing ants on a sidewalk? This country has experienced this school
terror more than once and with each act comes the same wave of media coverage
complete with new background music and dramatic titles, the emergence of
young and old heroes who tried to stop the carnage, endless experts who
offer televised advice to the masses and community meetings where people
sit around, scratch their chins and ask over and over again ....”why?”
The answers are slow in coming. We can scrutinize media
violence, music, video games and
the availability of guns until we’re exhausted and we’re
probably not going to find answers, simply because we’re not listening
when we should be. We hear the ‘killers’ cry out in their brief media blurbs
but we don’t listen. We watch classmates of the now infamous student proclaim
over and over again that this young man or these young men were outcasts,
were picked on, were teased, were bullied...but we still don’t listen.
Instead we fixate on what they watched...what they listened to...what they
played. After all everyone gets teased so why should we give any kind of
meaning to the fact that the murderers were also teased? Why should we
care that these boys...these murdering teenage bastards, as I’ve heard
it put so eloquently over and over again...at one time actually felt hated
themselves...were hated themselves.
“They were the scum of the school... no
one liked them.”
Why should we give a damn that these youngsters responsible
for so much unrest and terror, these orchestrators of a national wave of
fear and paranoia...at one time probably themselves feared going to school...most
likely absolutely dreaded going to school! For those that have never been
the constant victim of torment and bullying or have children who have been
outcast, bullied, emotionally persecuted and damaged beyond repair, it
is not easy to understand or listen to the feelings of those that have...especially
those whose rage has recently exploded in a hellish shower of blood and
Columbine High School student, hours after the shootings.
Do I feel sorry for those two boys who turned a peaceful
spring day into a national nightmare? No. Do I feel anything other than
disgust and nausea at their actions? No... but as soon as I heard that
these boys were outcasts targeting certain factions of the school, like
so many times after these tragic shootings, I began to understand.
The buzzing of my small alarm clock ends the night. Apprehensive
about leaving the warmth and security of the quilt that my grandma made
for me, I roll my fat worthless body out of bed and fumble for my clean
clothes. Meanwhile the bile in my throat steadily rises. Another school
day is here... and with it the certainty that it won’t be fun and I won’t
learn a damn thing.
Mom can certainly cook. As I watch her in her robe and
slippers diligently preparing one of her great hot breakfasts I wonder
if I should tell her, and if I do will she be able to emotionally deal
with the fact that her chubby seemingly happy-go-lucky son has been waking
up every school morning ready to vomit his guts out. I wonder if she’ll
be able to maintain control as I tell her that I wish I were crippled and
in a wheelchair relatively free of torment...physical torment anyway. I
wonder if she’ll be able to hold back tears as I describe a recent effort
to throw myself down the stairs to our basement.
A few seconds of terror...of blinding pain...and then
it’s all over. The fat kid is crippled for life and not really worth bugging
anymore, certainly no longer a target.
I struggle with a bite of pancake. How can something so
good...prepared with so much motherly love and care...taste like wet sawdust.
I look at the clock. There is no more time...the bus is
practically here. There won’t be any revealing of the facts today. Mom
will have at least one more day of innocence. I grab my books say goodbye
and head out the door.
I quickly scan my fellow riders as I climb on the bus.
My heart sinks as I take my assigned seat next to Eddie. Maybe he’ll be
asleep. Maybe he was, but he’s very much awake now.
A sharp slap to my left ear confirms that fact.
I wonder how Eddie would react if I suddenly burrowed
my 190-pound frame right into his head and through the bus window.
It’s not Eddie’s fault though. I deserve this. I’m fat...ugly...crappy
at sports and I don’t do a damn thing but sit there and ‘take it.’
Maybe I’ll invite Eddie to spend Friday night and we’ll
have so much fun together that he’ll be my friend and never bother me again.
I forgive easily. I’m not out for revenge. I try to convince
myself of that as we get closer to the school and the ear flick and slap
count is at 23.
First comes changing into those flimsy blue shorts and
white t-shirt in the locker room. (Might as well go to gym in my underwear.)
As I pull the t-shirt (with the official school logo emblazoned on the
front) over my head I tremble as someone makes some kind of reference to
my breasts and a bra. The vomit in my throat has just returned as I join
the rest of my classmates for another fluffy, truly enjoyable p.e. period.
Today is wrestling. Oh goodie...a chance to prove my manhood.
I always treasure the magical moments of a sweaty peer all over me while
everyone looks on and cheers.
Maybe if I actually win one of these matches...they’ll
have more respect for me. Maybe.
I lose everything I play in gym class. I’m the first to
fall down during laps, I’m the first to strike out during softball and
I’m the first one to get ‘hit’ with the dodge-ball. Now there’s a fun game...
lining up like bowling pins while larger peers throw a ball like a titan
missile at your head and groin. Of course it’s only an accident if they
hit you in those ‘forbidden zones’ during the game. Our p.e. teacher had
a tough time distinguishing the teams, so he would make a ‘shirts’ (lucky
jerks) and a ‘skins’ team, like I always somehow ended up being. Now I
could dodge the ball and endless remarks about breasts and bras at the
same time! The ‘unlucky’ ones…the ‘skins,’ well…we all looked like giant
pepperoni pizzas…. our bare chests backs and legs skin covered with huge
One time I actually thought I had solved the dodge ball
nightmare. I would simply pretend that I got hit! Let the rest of them
stand out there and wait to get hit...I won’t! That little plan went along
marvelously until one day when I walked over to my place on the bench and
flopped right down...on a bed of carpet nails. I guess I looked pretty
funny standing there holding back tears and vomit... pulling those little
black nails out of my bottom. Not one classmate warned me…and no one took
up for me after it happened. I think they were all just too relieved that
it wasn’t ‘THEM.’
“Whaddya going to do about it fat boy?”
I can remember those hateful words as if it was happening
right now. I sometimes wonder what would have happened back then…if a baseball
bat had been in reach.
Where was our p.e. teacher at this time? He had stepped
out for a few minutes. When the Cat’s away...
Most schools don’t make kids take showers after p.e. class
anymore. They just sweat their heads off and go to their next class smelling
like Brut and sweat. Unfortunately when I was going to school, what would
have been respect for our privacy and frankly a gift from God, simply didn’t
happen. We took showers. For about five minutes we stood there stark naked
in front of our peers. For the guys that thought they had ‘God’s gift to
a body’ it was pure pleasure to parade around and make everyone else not
as ‘blessed’ feel like idiots. So I would be standing there... minding
my own business...trying to take my shower...only to have it interrupted
by someone who thought it would be clever to urinate on me... or there
was the time that one of my peers, with an audience looking on, took his
two fingernails, one underneath and one on top of a nipple, squeezing it
until it almost popped off.
I can still remember the look on some of my classmate’s
faces. Only a few of them were laughing. Very few of them seemed to actually
accept this...but they didn’t say or do anything in my defense. Some actually
looked at me with pity and I’m sure there were some watching with bated
excitement wondering just when I was going to blow...just when I would
suddenly demonstrate that I had had enough...and maybe just maybe...with
their excitement growing...this would finally be the day that Tom Brown
would beat the crap out of one of them.
Or maybe they were just so happy...so relieved....that
it wasn’t them with a now deformed and rather unique nipple.
As I stand there drying the dishes I wonder if I should
just go into the living room and tell my mom and step dad what is going
on at school. I wonder if I should just let it out. I wonder if I have
the stability and ability to tell them about my torment and fears without
becoming a blubbering little crybaby in the process. And I wonder if they
can do anything to help in the first place? What if they go to the school
and raise hell? What if my Principal calls the guys in and reads them the
riot act? What if I’m told it’s time to hit back...time to take up for
myself and quit being a baby...what if I do tell everyone and I’m ten times
worse off than before.
Maybe it’s time for a second attempt at the stairs.
The whole family sits in the living room watching “All
in the Family.” My step dad enters the room carrying bowls of freshly popped
corn. I try to watch Archie and Edith with interest. I try to crack a smile
when Archie and Meathead trade insults...and I try to enjoy this popcorn.
My step dad is famous for his popcorn. As the end credits roll up
the screen signaling my bedtime and hours before the next school day begins,
the bile makes a comeback.
Later, lying there cradled in my soft quilt I suddenly
smile a little. Tomorrow is not a p.e. day. It won’t be as bad. Fine...it’ll
be bad...but just not as bad. A little more at peace, I begin to have fantasies.
Maybe there would be a huge school fire...maybe my tormentors would all
be on a bus together and it will go off a cliff.
I don’t want them to get killed...I just want them to
leave me alone.
For just a few seconds my mind wonders into a mostly uncharted
territory of my brain. I think of me arriving at school in a World War
2 tank. I could just see the expressions on the kid’s faces now as I stand
gallantly on that tank with my machine gun aiming squarely at my tormentors.
I stop. The journey to the dark side of my brain is over. I smile broadly
in the darkness of my bedroom.
I wake to the sound of thunder, followed by a bright flash
of lightning. My alarm clock reads four-thirty. In one hour and a half
I’ll be getting up for school.
I began to do a lot of praying. I asked God to somehow
end this nightmare for me and one incredible day it seemed that he indeed
had heard my prayer. It started simple enough. Our p.e. Instructor was
finishing taking attendance. Suddenly his booming voice announced that
if there were anyone that didn’t want to take regular p.e. the rest of
the year, (my ears perked up like Yoda) they could instead go over to the
elementary school and work out on the Universal Gym, usually reserved for
the school athletes.
Those who wished to do that would simply report directly
to the p.e. Instructor, sign out and go over to the other building for
the rest of the period. We would not have to change in the locker room...we
would not have to take showers...nothing...just go over to the building,
affectionately known as ‘the dungeon’ and just lift weights.
I couldn’t believe it. This could not be possibly happening...there
is a God! Not that I ever had in any doubts...it’s just one doesn’t often
see prayers answered so completely.
Located underneath the elementary school, the dungeon
was built in the 1950’s. Its purpose was to house people during a nuclear
strike. Basically it was a fallout shelter. To get to the dungeon you had
to walk down long narrow halls with low ceilings. It was quite cool actually.
At the end of one long hall you would turn and then go down one longer
hall before you finally were in the workout room.
There were four of us that went. I knew these guys but
they weren’t really my friends. Every one of us had been bullied at one
time or another...standing in halls. or on the athletic field...or in the
locker room...or during p.e. class itself...we would silently watch the
‘other’ be pushed around or hit or ‘whatever,’ somewhat glad, for the time
being anyway, we were being left alone.
The first two weeks of the dungeon was heaven. No way
else to describe it. We would just sit down on the cool concrete floor
and talk and tell jokes. For the first time in a long time I started to
feel better about going to school. Oh... of course I still had to contend
with maniac Eddie on the bus and an occasional shove from a high schooler
in a hurry to get to his class, but compared to what I had experienced
before, this was simply bliss...and it would all end as abruptly as it
It was decided a few weeks later that perhaps it wasn’t
a good idea for a group of seventh graders to be allowed in the dungeon
without supervision, so our Principal asked for high school volunteers
to be with us during this period. R------ was our lucky pick. He certainly
looked like he could be trusted; tall, thin, plain looking clothes, black
Buddy Holly glasses, very polite. He could have easily been cast on a 60’s
family sitcom as the father. We knew better. We had heard about him...and
it wasn’t good. With a stomach suddenly filled with
icy air and a baseball sized lump in my throat I followed
R------ and my peers into the dungeon.
At first it wasn’t too bad. For the first half-hour he
left us alone and went into a smaller room and smoked dope and drank. We
were told to mind our damn business and I for one certainly complied. But
he tired of his vices quickly (or ran out of ingredients) and taking one
victim at a time, began to terrorize us...there is just no other way to
adequately describe it. Instructing us in no uncertain terms never to tell,
for the next three weeks...nine class periods...R------...in between cigarettes,
pot and booze would systematically kick, punch and slap us...sometimes
turning off the lights and making a little game out of it. Lying in bed
at night I began to fantasize that R------ would somehow smoke a joint
laced with p.c.p. and then have the inclination to stand out on the highway
in front of a semi-truck.
One day as I walked toward the dungeon I noticed three
other high-school students come running from the alley to join R------
as we entered the dungeon. These three had been expelled months ago. None
of us knew they were R------’s friends. I could literally taste vomit in
my mouth as we walked down those long halls. My legs felt like they were
made of Jell-O. I wanted to suddenly run but I knew that would be fatal.
For the next twenty minutes we sat on the floor not saying
a word. The fear was flowing through us like electricity. You could literally
feel it in the room. J-- looked like he was going to burst out in tears
any second. R---- was literally shaking. A--- looked down at the floor.
I just sat there numb listening to the voices in the other room. Judging
by the occasional laughter, they were having a swell time.
Maybe they’ll stay in there the whole time.
Of course they did eventually come into the weight room
and they made the best of the remaining fifteen minutes of class.
I’ve never been hit so many times in so many places in
my life. I can’t tell you how positively terrifying it is to crawl around
in a completely dark room while four high school guys literally ‘stalk’
After the first day of this new ‘wrinkle’ to the dungeon
experience I would lay in bed and wonder in terror if one of the other
guys will tell...and I’m sure they were just about now thinking the same
thing. This was worse than anything I had ever experienced before. I couldn’t
cry...I couldn’t scream...I could do nothing but exist...and I didn’t know
how much longer I could even go on doing that. Suddenly my deformed nipple
seemed rather insignificant.
Unknown to us the dungeon trips had already ended. For
the rest of the year all the p.e. class were going bowling... and I never
saw R------ again. Seventh grade would actually end on a fairly positive
note. Unfortunately there was still five more years of school to come,
and although nothing like the dungeon ordeal, the torment still continued.
Audio Visual Club
My specialty was operating a Bell & Howell 16mm projector
and I was very good at it. Numerous times when those machines would break
down or film got stuck, or broke, or a teacher had threaded it wrong, I
got called out during classes to make a repair or assist in running a film.
It became my main school function. One day I managed to repair a projector
that had broken down during one of those bloody driver’s education films.
Within minutes it was once again back on the screen and I was a hero. That
afternoon in the locker-room some of my peers were still buzzing about
that particular ‘cool’ film and I got openly congratulated for ‘saving’
the movie. I can’t tell you how incredibly good it felt to suddenly be
accepted...to feel like you’re actually worth something. It’s as if I had
just been injected by a very powerful life-affirming drug. Afterwards…slowly…surely…things
Vocational School 1972
I look back on this particular part of my life and ask
'why?' 'Why' if things were just starting to go well for me in my old school
would I choose to go to a vocational school for the rest of my student
career? But I did.
I was good at art, especially hand-lettering. The vocational
school had a printing program. Somehow I thought this was actually a chance
to further improve my abilities to 'print.' When, of course, what it really
was was commercial printing. I should have known that but I didn't. It
sounded like fun to me. Our instructor was a tall thin guy named Mr. Bobo.
No...I'm not making that name up. That indeed was his real name. He was
a friendly, goofy kind of guy...who didn't have a clue as to what was going
on all around him...
which was seniors regularly assaulting juniors...hitting
us with industrial broom handles...smoking pot in the darkroom...urinating
in developing fluid...etc.
The nightmare had returned.
We were told to never tell about anything...or they would
kill us. You know what...I believed them. It got a lot worse as the days
and weeks went on. These guys made your average school bully look about
as terrifying as Bambi. The torment got costly too. Every developing fluid
that would get urinated in or spit in...ruining a commercial job...would
have to be paid for. And I did.
A lot of us juniors did. Whenever Mr. Bobo had to leave
the room...it was literally 'open season' on the juniors...except one.
P--- had figured out a long time ago the wisdom of 'if you can't beat em...join
em.' And he did... joining right in with the torture. My feelings for this
fellow junior went beyond contempt.
I was desperate to get out of this place. Thoughts
of suicide were a daily and nightly thing now. And then came Roma.
Roma was a short little round-headed moon-faced Guidance Counselor. I went
to her to ask for a transfer to another class within the vocational school.
I didn't tell her 'why,' just 'that' I wanted into another class. Somehow
during the conversation the fact that I could do hand-lettering came into
play, and before I knew what was happening, she assigned me to her outer-office
almost every day to create posters for the vocational school...and so I
For the next three months, all those cool colorful psychedelic
posters announcing bake-sales, dances, and upcoming sports events...were
mine. And lots of kids knew it. Some kids complimented my work....admired
my work. The school was happy...Roma was happy...and I was happy...most
of the time. I still spent some time in the printing class, enough to endure
a few more punches here and there. P--- was the main class terror now,
carrying out most of the assaults, to the delight of the older students.
One afternoon in early March, Roma asked me to come to
her office. I put down the magic marker I was using and followed the little
lady into her equally tiny office. For the next hour or so she grilled
me about the printing class and Mr. Bobo. "Was he a good teacher,?" "Did
the kids respect him," "Is there drugs being used in the darkroom," She
threw names at me....the 'exact' names at me... and while I wondered how
she got this information...I nodded my head in confirmation. She was happy.
She got exactly what she wanted out of me. She assured me that no one would
find out that I told...and I was stupid enough to believe her.
Over a period of a week various seniors were called in
and questioned about various 'goings on' in Mr. Bobo's class. Of course
everything was denied and Roma's career as the new Nancy Drew abruptly
ended. The school accepted the denial's, probably thrilled that their beloved
state-funded institution would not be coming under attack in the press
Somehow the seniors found out or 'figured out' who Roma's
informant was, and on one snowy day... on the way to my bus without a care
in the world... I was stopped by the worst of the seniors... and was told
through bloodshot eyes that I was "f------ dead." You know what...I believed
him. That night...after my little sisters were in bed...I told my parents
everything. Not the whole bullying history...just what was happening 'this'
year. I didn't have to go to school the next day while my parents figured
out what to do. The second day they drove me to school and we had a long
discussion with the school administrators. My family wanted me out of the
school simple as that. They weren't there to make trouble and I certainly
didn't want to compound things by suggesting that the seniors get into
trouble. I didn't give them any names either, which did not make them happy.
Basically I was told this. If I 'tough out' the remaining few months of
the year I could return to my old school in the fall and start my senior
year, graduating with my original class in 1973. Otherwise all the time
I had spent in that 'living hell' would be for nothing and I would have
to start eleventh grade all over again and graduate in 1974 with a brand
That night I did a lot of thinking, but not about this
difficult decision. That was an easy one to make. I was not going
to go back to that school. Instead I thought about my parents and how they
handled the situation.
They didn't yell at me or demand that I stop
being a big baby and take care of myself. They simply allowed me to make
my own decision. I'm sure there were things they were thinking
and wanted to say...but they didn't. And I knew they were terribly hurt
and disappointed the next morning when I told them what my decision was
going to be, but they went ahead and allowed me to make it... God love
em. I tell kids now that not telling my parents about the bullying from
day one was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life.
The best decision I ever made in my life was starting
eleventh grade over.
On the first day I discovered that there was no gym....no
locker room...no running laps until I puked...no dodge-ball...no wrestling....no
showers. That alone was fantastic. Eventually the 'wall' between
the real me and what people see would come crumbling down. I would become
one of the most popular kids in school; a creative class-clown that loved
to make people laugh. I was the morning and afternoon announcement reader...and
unpredictable..adding my own little music background...fictional commercials
and news stories. I worked on the school newspaper, (movie critic) I got
invited to parties...I had lots of friends...I was the varsity basketball
announcer...the band announcer... I even took a girl to the High School
But I never forgot.
In 1995 while participating in a “Life Choices”segment
about my “Broken Toy” program, I was asked to return to my old High School.
While there one of my classmates, now a teacher told me some news about
R------ He had grown up to be a responsible man and had a good job
working for a loan company. Just recently he had been killed, shot through
a screen door trying to repossess a pickup truck. For some reason I felt
bad about that.
My anti-bullying program was completed in this New Jersey
middle school. The car was waiting out front to take me to the airport.
It had been another great experience meeting new people and making new
friends and teaching people about bullying and the harm it causes. As always
I felt good as I prepared to leave the large room, the applause from the
seventh graders that had sat and listened to me for two hours, still ringing
joyously in my ears.
But this day would not end like the rest. I was asked
to speak to a seventh grader who was waiting for me in the library...a
troubled student who rarely talked to anyone..but had asked to talk with
me. I didn’t know what to expect as I was led into the library and to a
table where a seventh grader set nervously waiting. His name was Ryan.
He was very small for his age; a little towhead with deep blue eyes. He
waited for the school guidance counselor to leave before speaking. Then
he looked at me with what I can best describe as a combination of anguish
and deep fear. With tears running down his face and his voice cracking
from time to time, the youngster told me about some boys in his class who
were always tormenting him, especially in the locker room before and after
gym. Fighting sobs he told me about being constantly teased...having his
underwear pulled down in the locker room...being stuffed into a locker...having
his books and papers thrown into the shower...being slapped...pinched...punched.
He tried to tell his teacher but she told
him to quit tattling and learn to take up for himself.
He tried to tell his parents but they told him to just ignore
these boys or go tell someone at the school. And then this angry frustrated
little seventh grader told me “I’ve had it...I ain’t putting up with this
anymore. I’m bringing a gun to school and I’m killing them all...nobody
thinks I’ll do this..but I will!” I comforted him the best way I could
and I offered him my phone number if he ever just wants or needs to talk
to someone. We ended up talking about the various people in his life whom
he could take to, whom he felt would listen to him. I could tell that it
helped...but it was not enough. He hugged me tightly as I stood up to leave,
crying into my chest. Fighting my own tears I said goodbye to this little
As I exited the building I stopped by the office and told
the Principal what this boy had just told me. The man responsible
for every child and adult in that building responded by rolling his eyes.
Later, as I sat on that airplane I could not help but
think about the boy. What was he doing now? Had I helped him? I was haunted
by him. He continues to haunt me to this day, for he was me if as a child
I would have ever had the opportunity or created the opportunity to
talk to someone about my fears and torment. He is the
reason why I do what I do...
...and as hard as it is for anyone to comprehend or understand...he
is the reason I know that the young men who have taken so many lives in
a series of terrible school shootings...could have been reached...could
have been helped...at a time when they were simply outcast, bullied and
teased children, victims themselves, rather than the cold-blooded killers
who are now part of darkest history.
The Broken Toy Project is now beginning its tenth year.
Three films have been created and I have traveled to schools all over this
country and Canada. I have spoken with thousands of children and adults
about this problem. I have watched children cry as they experience the
intensity and emotion of my films. I have seen tough middle school students
wipe tears from their eyes as I tell a story about a severely burned fifth
grader who was made fun of until he begged his parents to move away from
their community. I have witnessed bully victims suddenly confronting their
antagonists during my program. I have had countless students come up to
me and thank me for coming to their school. You may think that I eat up
all this attention and just get all 'warm' inside when I see things change
as a result of my work. I don't.
While I contend that my approach to deal with the bullying
problem...'the epidemic'...is unique and sometimes effective...I don't
give credit to any one element in my program or the program itself. The
fact is that most kids in any given school really do 'care.' Give them
some tools and the extent of that 'caring' will come to the surface. I
simply provide the tools. The credit goes to the kids who opened their
hearts and minds during my program...to the educators who allowed me and
my message into their buildings...and to the parents who came out in the
evenings to learn more. I'm sad...and frankly angry...that there aren't
more people out there doing this kind of work...that there aren't more
schools allowing this kind of program...or any program about bullying into
their buildings. "We don' have enough time for long emotional programs."
"We're concerned that such a controversial and intense program will have
a negative effect on our children." We have mandatory testing...we have
to concentrate on academics." "We don't have a bully problem."
I've heard it all. I've seen it all. From the group of
teachers in the Mexican restaurant who laughed when one of their peers
told that if any child comes to her about being hurt or someone else being
hurt "they or that other person better be bleeding," to the Principal who
told me that bully-victims deserve exactly what they get...to the parent
who stood up and yelled "I'd rather my kid be a bully then a damn sissy,"
I've heard and seen it all...and then some.
The bullying problem is not just an issue between a victim
and bully. It is adults who condone bullying...bullies themselves. It is
the entertainment industry which often makes light of the problem...sometimes
even 'glorifying' the act of harming those who are perceived weak and insignificant.
It is the school board that allows a ball team to still play a championship
game...hours after they strip and beat a fellow student. It is dozens of
students who come forward after a peer has shot himself to tell about the
young man's torment at school...of being witnesses to the kid 'on the day
of his suicide' thrown into a locker by popular athletes and told to yell
"I'm a fag" over and over again...and for their courage in coming forward...being
told that they are trouble-makers and are spreading unfounded rumors. It
is the mom from hundreds of miles away who calls me at ten-thirty at night,
crying hysterically that her ten year old just told her that he's going
to blow his brains out... if the kids don't stop bullying him at school.
It's having a teacher sneer at me or repeatedly looks at her watch while
I present my message in a special after school meeting. It's that little
spectacled fourth grader who comes up to me during the break...who tells
me...while his eyes well up with tears..."that I sure hope the boys who
sucker-punched me yesterday in the bathroom...are listening to you today."
It's the mom who told me that her obese teenage son used his inheritance
to have his breasts surgically removed after experiencing years of torment
in the locker room. It's the overweight bullied girl in Darby England who
overdosed on sleeping pills...on the exact same day that a bullied student
in the United States took a gun to school and killed several classmates.
We're not talking about bullying much these days, not
after September 11th anyway. We've got bigger fish to fry. More important
things to worry about...like terrorism and bombings...airplane sabotage...and
Anthrax. But someplace... right now... as you read this....there's a bullied
kid....hundreds of bullied kids actually...maybe even thousands... all
filled with an almost incomprehensible amount of rage and hatred...
...both for themselves...and for their fellow man
Over the summer we learned that Andy Williams…the small
built youngster who shot classmates in his California school…had received
fifty years to life for his crime. He was picked on. President Bush called
him a coward shortly after the shooting. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one
who was startled when we saw the image of what was basically a ‘little
boy’ in the back of that cruiser. A little boy ‘killer.’
I was startled. I was also deeply saddened.
Fall 2002 ‘Hope’
Erika Harold, the brand new Miss. America…will make
bullying her platform. She was picked on…she knows
how it feels.
We both do. ...And hundreds of thousands like
The press is already jumping all over this…and it didn’t
take a school shooting to do it.
Excuse me while I run outside and shout “thank you!” as
loud as I can to the heavens.
Thomas Brown - October 1st, 2002
DVD & Video Productions,
Also check out "When Black
(pdf) By Thomas Brown