Monday, June 16, 2008

"Through My Eyes"

With the end of another school year, everyone's glad to have a break: students, teachers, parents, administrators. But some kids are glad to have made it through another year alive, and are already dreading the start of another school year filled with bullying next fall.

Most students who get bullied receive little or no help from the school. I taught middle school for 6 years, and I saw it -- a lot. I had zero tolerance for it in my classroom, but bullies are sneaky. They do their worst in the hallways, in the lunchroom, at recess. And when students ask for help from the school, they usually get very little support -- or sympathy -- from most school officials. A young man in West Islip, New York, has had enough of being bullied and has taken his case to teh Internets, creating a video titled "Through My Eyes." From ABC News:
Patrick Kohlmann, 13, said the violence got so bad, he was afraid to go to Udall Road Middle School.

"I'd be picked on, pushed and kicked," Kohlmann told "Good Morning America." "They said they wanted to kill me."

"I felt upset so I told my parents and the administrators at the school," Kohlmann said.

Despite the boy's pleas, administrators at the school did little to stop the attacks, Patrick and his mother, Beth Kohlmann, said.

"I've complained to [the school] numerous times and it's usually, 'Well, we'll look into that,'" Beth said at a recent news conference. "That's not an appropriate answer to have."

Frustrated with what he felt was inaction by the school's administrators, Patrick created a seven-minute video montage of photos and music, urging other teens to stop violent behavior. After he posted it on YouTube, it gained attention, attracting more than 15,000 viewers.

Patrick Kohlmann was scared. For more than a year at Udall Road Middle School in West Islip, the soft-spoken 13-year-old had been taunted and shoved, chased through the halls and slammed into lockers.

Then one day last month, Patrick says, one of his regular tormentors said, "I'm going to kill you tomorrow."

The next morning, Patrick's mother says, she warned the school's vice principal about the threat. That afternoon, Patrick says, the bully struck him on the head with a rock.

He suffered a concussion.


West Islip school district spokeswoman Nancy Lenz said yesterday the video will be shown to the faculty in the fall.


Mary Ellen said...

Oh sue! This video broke my heart for a number of reasons. Before we moved into the house we are currently living in, the school my oldest daughter went to was horrible, the bullying was horrible. We moved to a better school district where bullying is never tolerated. In fact, if there is an incident reported, the bullies are immediately suspended and have to attend "alternative school" for at least one semester, or until the child can behave. In fact, the police are also involved in this. They take this very seriously here.

Another reason that this film struck me, the picture of the boy being bullied on the video at exactly 3:0, looks exactly like my grandson! He's had trouble with bullies because he has had to move so often because of transfers and at one point my daughter had to pull him from the school he went to in Hyde Park Chicago (Obamaland), and home school him.

I'm sending this video to my daughter (mom of my grandson). She is a high school teacher and she also taught middle school for awhile. She told us of this stuff that went on in her school and how she would step in to help the child bullied, but the administration would never follow through. It made her so angry, but her hands were tied.

Sue J said...

I know, Mary Ellen, it is truly heart-breaking. There have always been bullies (and there will probably always be), but for some reason, it is really so much worse than when we were all in school.

I am just so glad that this young man was able to express himself and to get out this message with his video. Less articulate kids don't have that outlet, and he has done a wonderful thing for them, too.

Cootamundra W said...

It IS a very powerful video.

I hope he recovers fully from his concussion. I wish him the very best.

donald said...

thanks for sharing that heartbreaking video. it is so sad that this goes on to the extent that is does. but with video games promoting it, i am not surprised.

quakerdave said...

Kudos to this brave young man. His effort here might save someone's life.

I need to calm down before I continue...

I was bullied relentlessly in junior high, to the point where I was suicidal. That was back in the Stone Age, when little would be done for the targets of this abuse, other than adults saying "Fight back" or "Ignore it."

This school district should be sued. In New Jersey, this type of abuse is illegal. Our state law is based on the Supreme Court decision on sexual harassment in schools, which ruled that if harassment happens, and the school knows about it and does nothing, the school is legally accountable, based on the idea that the school has created a hostile work environment.

All states should have similar anti-bullying laws.

And if the school failed to contact police after the death threat, that alone should get them sued. A criminal complaint should have been filed against the kid who made that threat.

Thanks for this post. Hope you don't mind if I link to it.

Sue J said...

Feel free to link, QuakerDave. I was kinda surprised it didn't get more coverage around the blogosphere.

I found the part about the video games really disturbing. It's no wonder bullying is spreading like wildfire: Adults somewhere are making buckets of money off of it.

Cootamundra W said...

Hmmmm - Why is the school district only showing the video to FACULTY?

Sue J said...

Excellent point, Cootamundra!