Recent events in my hometown of Concord, NH have led me to write this post. It concerns bullying, group acceptance and teen behavior in general. As always I am going to right this from a neutral perspective, however it may become slightly slanted as I am a former victim of school bullying in the same school system as the article I have linked below, which is the inspiration for this post.
Back when I was in school there was not the systems in place to prevent bullying that there are today although they do not appear to be working all that well. In my day the teachers mostly pushed it all away or even worse took the side of the bullies as the teachers tended to think that they more popular kids were right and the outcasts, like me, were not. I went through a lot of hell in school and am quite grateful that we moved to Maine during my sophomore year.
While I did not go through similar events, my heart does go out for this young man in the article. This is so much more than simple school bullying. I understand perfectly the events which transpired here that people on both sides of this issue are not fully understanding. When you are a victim of bullying or hazing, whichever term you prefer, all you want is to be accepted. It does get to the point that it does not matter which group accepts you, what you need to do to be accepted or anything like that at all. Just the perception of having FRIENDS is enough, trust me, I know, I went through all of that in school.
All teens strive for this group acceptance and some achieve it so much easier than others that they do not even realize that they have gone through those trials. However, some of us are left out and have to fight like the runt dog for the nipple. Being left out is a horrible feeling, it can drive a person to do almost anything to be accepted despite the risks or damage to their psyche.
The event of the tattoo and hazing involved with it are horrible, completely horrible. All of the people involved in this, the victim and the bullies, are looking at serious harm to the rest of their lives. From what is described in the various articles and editorials I can easily see sexual assault charges being applied and if found guilty that is something that will follow these young men around for the rest of their lives. Now, I am not trying to marginalize the Austin boy’s hardships at all, just laying out all of the consequences that will come to be realized by these events. I stand firm by my first thought, what these boys/men did is absolutely horrific and they do deserve whatever punishment is passed on to them.
Now, there is more accountability to be realized here. This student left school grounds for three hours, why was there no phone calls made to the parents or a truant officer? The school has to assume an amount of blame in these events. Granted it was a teacher to first bring everything to light, but that was after the events had already transpired. I am quite sure there were some teachers/counselors somewhere in that vast building that knew there were some social skills issues going on and if not, if by chance they did not know, they are still at fault for failing to help this child that needed it. A child that was willing to let people permanently mark his ass to gain acceptance… Just where were the counselors and teachers, on a fucking coffee break? Twenty years ago I left CHS and the same shit is going on in terms of bullying and what the staff are doing about it. Sure, after the fact they are willing to come down like a Texas tornado, but what about observing the students and taking the needed steps to prevent events like this from happening in the first place?
And now emotions, feelings and flashbacks are starting to come out here for me. I had not planned on this happening, but these events have struck so close to home I cannot help it. My heart truly goes out for this child I have never met and have not even seen his parents in 20 years… and back then at best they had no idea I was alive and at worst… well I really do not remember, I have blocked a lot of that out. I really do wish I could work out a way to be able to go and speak with the students at CHS. I would not bother with the PC crap about bullying and respect… I would lay it all open for them, tell them about my history of alcohol and drug abuse. How I tried to drown myself in sex thinking it would make me into a better, cooler person. All the stupid stunts and bullshit I did trying to prove I was not the geek or nerd everyone called me in High School.
On my Facebook I keep my friends separated into groups by how I know them. In my Concord group are a lot of people that gave me a hard time when I was is school, but that was 20 years ago now. Many, many conversations have come about and I have let each of them know that I have forgiven them for everything that happened. I have moved on from those years, but unfortunately for that young man right now that is not a possibility and I hope to god he gets the love and support he needs right now to overcome this and does not have to go through the years of trials that I did.
I sign off from this post in tears. Again, my heart and prayers going out to the Austin family. I beseech you all to read the article below and if you can, no matter the size, make a donation to help the family out in getting the tattoo removed. For those that choose not to read the article I am posting the donation info here as well.
Donations can be made to the "CHS Bullying Awareness Fund" at any Citizens Bank location.