Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Only parents can end...
. . . .

Only parents can end bullying

Robert Downes - April 12th, 2010
Only parents can end bullying
It has taken years to sink in, but with the suicide of 15-year-old
Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts this January, we parents have finally
got the message that bullying in our schools is a deadly serious
issue.
Most of us know Phoebe’s story by now: she was a pretty girl who moved to the
United States from Ireland last fall and then suffered months of abuse
from her classmates after briefly dating a popular football player at
South Hadley High School.
Apparently, a jealous girlfriend of the player enlisted her friends to
gang up on Phoebe, harassing her for months, both at school and over
the Internet. The final straw was one of the kids throwing a soda can
at Phoebe as she walked home from school last winter. That incident
on top of a thousand insults, taunts and curses led Phoebe to hang
herself from the stairwell in her family’s home.
Fifteen years old.
Nine students will face trial as adults in Phoebe’s death on charges
including harassment, stalking, the violation of her civil rights,
statutory rape and assault with a dangerous weapon. But none of the
kids are currently in jail and you get the feeling that like most
privileged middle class youth in our nation who get into trouble with
the law, they’ll get a slap on the wrist -- probation or a suspended
sentence -- and go scott free.
It has been interesting to watch the bleating of the school
superintendent in this case, who insists that the attacks on Phoebe
were duly noted by the school staff, as if merely reporting an
incident amounts to taking action. If all the school staff did was
file away a report or two, then perhaps they deserve to stand trial
with the bullies who got a free pass from their bureaucratic inertia.
No doubt there will be new laws coming down the pike which will
criminalize bullying. Good luck with that approach: if laws alone
could solve the problems of human nature then we would have been
living in a perfect world eons ago.
Too late, I’ve learned in life that stopping bullies all gets back to
the parents.
Members of my family were bullied in school as children and it proved
to be a life-shattering experience that ruined not just their high
school experience, but also crippled them emotionally for years.
My sister Sue. for one, was a sensitive and fragile person who did not
have the psychological resources to defend herself against bullies.
She didn’t know how to ‘roll with the punches’ or ‘laugh it off.’
Instead, she froze up with fear and uncertainty as they piled on.
My parents were loving people, but they were also naive and
unsophisticated -- only 10 years off the farm -- when we moved to the
metro Detroit area. All of us kids were in over our heads in that
faster environment, but especially Sue, who was absolutely shattered
by the torment of her classmates in junior and senior high. She
dropped out of school in the eighth grade, continued on haphazardly
here and there, and finally managed to earn her G.E.D. years later.
Sue never overcame the mental torture she endured in school and she
suffered physical and emotional problems for the rest of her short
life. Depression, anxiety, lack of confidence, suicide attempts --
those were the result of ‘lessons’ received from bullies in high
school.
At the time, my parents put their faith in the American credo of
self-reliance. Like many families, we thought that Sue could tough it
out and learn to face down her bullies, growing stronger and more
competent in the end. In retrospect, that ideal turned out to be a
harmful fantasy and a myth.
Comedian Bill Cosby, who is performing at the Odawa Casino in Petoskey
on May 8, doesn’t buy the myth that kids can face down bullies alone.
Cosby has been speaking and writing about bullying for years and
feels that parents must take an active role in listening to their
children and speaking out on their behalf.
Bullies can sense when a child is insecure, sensitive and uncertain,
and they exult in lording it over an easy target. The Internet, with
its thoughtless ability to flame its victims, only adds to the pain by
spreading scorn and ridicule to their schoolmates.
Yet we can’t trust the law to shape a bully’s behavior -- not to
mention the groupthink practiced by the clique that drove Phoebe
Prince to her death. Nor can we count on teachers to catch every taunt
or vicious act when they’re riding herd on rotating classes of 25-30
kids at a time.
As Bill Cosby notes, only parents can stop bullies by listening to
their kids and offering a swift, measured response. That can mean
calling the bully’s parents, demanding action at school, or even
seeking other education options. In short, getting in the bully’s
face, even if it’s only to have a civil conversation over sodas with
the kid and his parents at a restaurant.
As parents, we must reject the myth that it’s ‘good’ for kids to stand
up to abuse as a way to build character. As admirable as that may
seem, the truth is that some kids just aren’t mature enough to step up
to that ideal and feel stricken, paralyzed and defenseless -- a
weakness that bullies can sense.
Maybe that’s why we have so many schoolyard shootings in America.
Kids who feel paralyzed and helpless at the hands of bullies finally
come to a ‘solution’ that involves guns on campus and a murderous
rage.

 
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