Tag Archives: Bullying

Our Children

We had another school shooting on Friday. In case you have not heard yet, this one in Seattle, Washington at the Marysville-Pichuck High School. I did something very stupid Friday afternoon; I read the comments on the article. They were the usual comments. If we put God back in schools or outlaw all guns in the United States this would not be happening. There was a smaller contingent of people who were blaming this on bullying.

First, when these comments were being put up all we knew was two students were dead. One was a suicide by the suspected gunman and the other a student eating lunch in the school cafeteria. We did not know the suspects motivation nor did we know how he acquired his gun.

I am going to make a different proposition to you.

We need to get our moral compass back. I am not saying we need to bring Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or any other religion into our schools. You can be a Buddhist, Shintoist, Atheist, or anything else for that matter, but you still believe murder is wrong. I do not care where your moral compass comes from, we all have one. Part of that moral compass is to respect other people and to respect yourself.

Even if we outlaw guns, they will still be on our streets. Suspend all the kids from school you want, there will still be bullies. There have always been bullies, there always will be bullies. I am not defending bullies and I have the most profound respect for people who work to rid our schools of bullies. But the best they will ever do is to reduce the number of bullies. Bullies will never be eliminated.

Guns. It is already illegal to murder someone. In many states the penalty for murder is execution by the state. Do you really think adding 20 years to that person’s sentence for possession of a firearm will stop them? Gun laws work if people obey the law. A law-abiding gun owner will turn in his weapon when guns are made illegal.

By definition a criminal is someone who breaks the law. It is already illegal for a convicted felon to possess a firearm in all 50 states. Has that stopped criminals from committing crimes with firearms? Unfortunately not.

Bringing God back into the schools?

Ok, which God? Do you want to bring Buddhism, Shintoism, Islam, Christianity, or one of the many religions that make up paganism into the schools? Take your pick, it does not matter which god you bring into the school, you will never get 100% of the people to believe in that god.

But, everyone believes murder is wrong. Some people even believe justifiable homicide is wrong (when a citizen or law enforcement officer is found, by a grand jury or court, to have been justified in taking the life of another). We all believe it is wrong to bully someone. We all believe it is wrong to steal. We all believe (those who are not fanatical about their beliefs) that it is wrong to force your beliefs on other people.

Schools are now expelling kids from school for drawing pictures of guns. Is that going to stop gun violence?

We keep passing more rules, more laws; and they do nothing to curb the violence.

This latest suspect had to have been in extreme emotional pain to commit the acts he is alleged to have committed, including suicide. If you throw a high school senior (who is already accepted at a major art university) out of school for doing a portrait of a soldier which included a gun in the portrait – how is that going to relieve the emotional pain this latest suspect was feeling. And, what about the thousands of other kids in schools in this country who are feeling the same or even more emotional pain.

The disease is not the act this young man did. What this young man did is a symptom of the pain he was feeling.

Do you want to stop school shootings? Treat that pain. We all want to protect our kids from everything bad and painful, but that is impossible. What we can do is to teach them how to respond to people who are bullying them.

From time to time I see an article about a kid who stands up to the kids bullying them. A kid who embraces those things they are made fun of for. It empowers them and makes them feel better about themselves. Even more than that, after they see how it disarms the bullies they feel even better about themselves. These kids who stand up to the bullies are always kids who decided to do that on their own, or were encourage by a family member or neighbor to stand up to the bully.

Are we teaching kids this in our schools? No. We are suspending and expelling kids from school for drawing pictures of guns and for bullying. Are we teaching kids that not everyone will like them, AND that it is ok if everyone does not like them? No.

Morality people, morality.

Not religion, not gun laws, not school expulsions, it is morality that will end school shootings. While our society and governments are busy pointing out everyone’s diversity, we need to embrace those things we have in common; and we need to teach them to our children.

We all believe:

1-It is wrong to murder       .

2-It is wrong to steal.

3-It is wrong to attack people who believe differently than you do, just because they believe differently than you do.

4-It is wrong to attack people who look or dress differently than you do, just because they look or dress differently than you do.

5-It is wrong to cheat.

6-It is wrong to lie.

7-It is wrong to be mean to someone.

8-It is good to help those who need your help.

9-It is good to clean up after yourself.

10-It is good to respect yourself.

11-It is good to respect others.

12-It is good to say “thank you” and “please.”

13-It is good to ignore people who attempt to bully you.

14-It is good to honor other people.

Even those who do not deserve to be honored, you honor them, not because they deserve it, but because YOU are a person who deserves to be honored and you honor yourself when you honor others.

That is my solution to the problem. I am doing what I can to teach my young daughter this. Of course this is a free country. You can continue to scream for more gun control, you can scream for more religion. But, this is my advance notice. The next time we have a school shooting I am going to point my finger at YOU.

I will point my finger at the extreme religious right, because you would rather use the deaths of innocent children to advance your agenda, than to stop the madness.

I will point my finger at the gun control advocates. Because you push gun control as a cure-all, even though you know that in countries where guns are illegal they still have gun violence. But, you would rather use the deaths of innocent children to advance your political agenda, than to stop the madness.

When a person aims a gun at a child and pulls the trigger, they do not ask if they or their parents are: religious or atheist, republican or democrat, liberal or conservative, for or against gun control. They are merely killing people, and often they are trying to kill as many people as they can, before they die.

You go ahead and push your agenda, but while you are busy trying to “win” your political or religious argument; that next child killed may be one you know, or worse yet, your own child.

Me – I want to make sure kids know there are people who can help them with their pain. I want them to know that there are peers of theirs that will help them with their pain. I want them to learn how to deal with their own pain, and to share that knowledge with their peers. I believe that is the way to stop the violence in our schools.

It is over used, but this is an epidemic. If we want to stop school violence we have to help these kids – OUR kids, learn out to deal with their pain in a positive way. We need to teach children, all children, morality. We do not need to teach them religion that should be left to their family. We need to take those 14 points I listed above and add to it those moral beliefs we all share and teach that to our children. Then, after we stop this madness, then you can go back to bashing each other for your stances on religions and guns. I do not want another parent to know the pain of having to bury a child. I know that pain.

There will always be tomorrow to argue political and religious agendas. But, for some kid, somewhere in the United States, tomorrow will be too late to teach them how to deal with their pain. And it will also be too late for the other children that kid will murder.


Comments Off on Our Children

Filed under New

We Are The Good People

I had another article for you today. Yet again, I came across something on Thursday that changed my article for the week.

I want you to meet Ashley Anne. Ashley Anne turned 22 on February 6, she started her own jewelry company with a friend to help a boy battling cancer, graduated from a fashion design company, and was in an internship with a jewelry and fashion company in New York . Ashley Anne will not be turning 23; she jumped off the upper deck of the George Washington Bridge, into the Hudson River on her 22nd birthday.

I was looking at the handmade calendar my daughter made for me for Christmas while I was thinking about Ashley Anne. That calendar my daughter made for me will survive long after this year. It will have an honored place in my “gummy box”, along with so many other things she has made for me. That gummy box is the outward symbol of the total and unconditional love of a child. Ashley Anne never got to have a gummy box, she never had a chance to bask in the total and unconditional love of a her own child.

Ashley Anne left a long note and even listed five people she did not want at the funeral. She apologized to three people and said the rest where “just in it for the gossip.” The newspapers all appear to blame bullying for her suicide. The police are investigating, they want to make sure that the bullying was not in her imagination. You see, she was taking Adderall which is to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy and also Klonopin which is used to treat seizures in epilepsy and for treatment of panic disorder.

Unfortunately, this is happening more and more often in our society, last year was a record year for suicides on the George Washington Bridge. If suicide received the attention of mass killings, we would have done something a long time ago.

We care. We do care. “Someone should do something!” The someone we mean are the authorities. More laws from government, more rules from schools.

At a restaurant two couples sit at a table. All four staring intently at their I-phones. When the waitress comes they do not even need to look up at her to place their order. They use the restaurant’s app on their smart phone to place their order.

Humans are mammals, a part of the animal kingdom. In every species, either the male or the female is aggressive, it is part of their DNA, it is part of what helps the species survive. One aggressive, one nurturing. Yin and yang, balance, natural. In our society we are attempting to drive that aggressiveness out of our young boys. When I grew up little boys were encouraged to play out this aggressiveness. We played cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, and war. As we grew older, we were taught how to channel, use, and control this aggressiveness for the good of our families. Now we suspend boys from school for doing what is a natural part of who they are. There are bullies in our society, there always have been, even before recorded history. Stopping little boys from being little boys will not stop bullying, and it will  certainly have no effect on little girls who bully.


Of course now there will be a “national debate” on bullying again (see the articles below). We will set out to show people “we mean business, this bullying must stop”. It is easier for “someone” else to deal with bullies, than for us to deal with people. We demand action and another authority does another legislative thing, and we feel good. We join another protest, sign another petition, or verbally assault someone on facebook who disagrees with our solution to the problem and this shows we care. We did something, we care. We demanded someone else do something, someone who has not fixed any national problem yet. No we did not do something, and calling 911 is not “doing something” either. That is not doing something, and we are fibbing to ourselves if we think it is doing something.

Humans are a social creature. We need that interaction with other humans (and our pets), it helps to keep us healthy both mentally and physically. However, people have been replaced by a little rectangular contraption in our hands, a contraption we never take our eyes off. How many people saw Ashley Anne in the last hour of her life? How many people saw the pain in Ashley Anne’s face during that last hour of her life? How many people saw Ashley Anne in the last hour of her life, saw the pain, and did nothing?

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. Martin Luther King jr. once said in a speech, “Evil does not win when bad people do bad things, evil wins when good people do nothing.” One of the things I will carry with me always was something a good man did when my daughter Alexandra died. Bernie, a man I did not know and had never met, asked me, “what can I do for you?” Usually, we say, “If I can do anything for you, let me know.” Bernie did not ask “IF”, he knew we needed help and he had decided he was going to do something. Evil did not win that day because of Bernie.

We need to stop doing nothing. What do we need to do? Put away the electronics and reach out to someone. The next time you see someone at the mall, gas station, grocery store or where ever; and that person has those eyes of pain, stop them. Introduce yourself and ask what you can do for them. Give them your cell number to call when they need someone, and ask them for their phone number so you can call them and see how they are doing. Bernire did that for me. You will be surprised what just one phone call every occasionally can do for someone. You will never stop all bullies, but you can reach out to someone and let them know they are not alone, they are important, and they are special. You can let that person know the bullies are wrong about them. Don’t do that for me, do that for Alexandra, do that for Bernie, do it for Ashley Anne.

Ashley Anne Riggitano

Ashley Anne Riggitano

We can do this.


Filed under Cup-O-Joe, New