Letters to the Editor
To the editor:
Last fall your paper published an editorial written to encourage our community to stop behaving as "ostriches with our heads in the sand" on the issue of bullying in our schools. The editorial mentioned an incident at the high school where one boy forcefully held the head of another down to his groin and rubbed it on his face in a mock act of forced oral sex while two other boys punched him in the sides. I was touched by the outrage expressed in the editorial because it was my son who was so tragically subjected to that humiliation in a room full of his peers, all of whom sat by and allowed it to happen and even laughed as it did.
My family was traumatized by this. Later we found out that this was actually the second time this happened and my son was too afraid to tell because he didn't want us to get involved and make it worse. Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering what "worse" looked like in his mind. For me this was intolerable. For him it was his life. How lonely that must have felt.
I wish I could tell you that this was an isolated incident in the life of my child, but I can't. At the same time my sixth grader asked me, "Mom, what's a faggot?" I was horrified to see that it was going to be his lot, too. Because, you see, that's where it began for his brother -- in the same grade. We filed charges with the police against all three boys and vowed that this would never happen again.
Now here we are at the beginning of another school year. My son began having daily stomachaches and angry outbursts a full month before school began. After many talks he finally shared how stressed he was about getting bullied when school started again. I guess he was right to be so concerned, because before school even began the bullying started on Friday Aug. 12. The back to school dance didn't seem to have been much fun for him and by Monday Aug. 15 I found out why. He came home Monday morning from walking our puppy and told me he was afraid that he was going to be killed and we needed to go to the police because a senior had yelled at him from his car that he was going to cut his throat and kill him. (We found out later that this was left over aggression from an incident at the dance when my son accidentally bumped him on the dance floor.)
I was livid. Here we were again, and school wouldn't even begin for another three days. We filed charges and prayed. I am pleased to tell you that this has spurred our family into action. I am making it my mission to wake this community up to the seriousness of the bullying issue. The police, the school and the parents of the other boy have all handled this well. The boy has, himself, apologized for what he did and has agreed to help us fight the growth of this fungus in our city. "Sorry" is an action word, and I am looking forward to seeing how this young man will put action into his words of regret.
I am also calling out to anyone who cares about this issue to please help me make the pain stop for all the children who have to walk through this minefield every day. I want to form a group of concerned citizens who are willing to come together to make a stand against the bullying of children. I would dub the group "The MOBB," Mothers Outraged By Bullies.
Please do not read this letter and just recycle it with all the rest of your paper. Contact me. Help me. Help our children. Must we wait to see children lying wounded or dead like they did in Columbine, Colorado, before we wake up to this? I challenge all parents, educators, students and citizens not to hit the snooze button on this alarm.
My name is Jennifer. Help me.
P.O. Box 774
To the editor:
I wish to express my deep appreciation to all the people involved in planting and maintaining the gorgeous floral displays in downtown Baldwin. Our downtown now looks inviting.
Previously, with a few exceptions, a lonely weary petunia struggled to survive heat and neglect. Tom Swan "pocket park" and our brave new look have made a great difference.
Allan Stevens, head of Horticulture Research at Kansas State, now residing south of Baldwin, has generously contributed expertise, time and energy in this beautification project. Thank you, Allan Stevens.
The chamber of commerce and downtown businesses have also contributed their time and energy. Thank you all.
Fadra Mitchell, Coal Creek Lawn and Garden, faithfully waters and prunes every other day and fertilizes when needed. Fadra lives in Vinland, attends K.U. full time and still manages to home school her children. Thank you, Fadra.
June H. Jewett