Saturday, December 24, 2011

T'was the Night Before Christmas

Here we are, just over two hours short of Christmas.  In some parts, it's already Christmas. (right Aaron?)  For many, this is a time to be with family.  To exchange gifts.  To see the sparkle in the eyes of the "good girls and boys" as they tear the wrappings off of "just what I wanted!!!!"  For some, it's the time to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.

Unfortunately, there are far, far too many families who, right now, are hurting because they're celebrating this Christmas with one less family member.  A family member lost tragically to suicide.  And, it's to those families, and friends, that my heart really goes out to.  While we all gather around our Christmas trees with our families, our loved ones, our friends, keep these people close to your hearts.  I know I will.

So, right now, I just want to take time out to wish a very Merry Christmas to you, Jamey Rodemeyer.  And, to you Jasmine McClain.  And, you, too, Ashlynn Conner.  You, Roger Crouch.  Colton Wilson, Merry Christmas.  Also to you, Jacob Rogers.  Merry Christmas to you, Mason Carter.  And, to you, Isabelle Guyler.  Ben Lewis, you, too.  And, Cameron DeVeronica, Merry Christmas.

And, then there's Jamie Hubley.  I'm sure you're leading the choir right now singing beautiful Christmas carols.  You've probably even done a rousing rendition of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!!".  I'm sure they'll love it as much as we did here.  I singled you out, Jamie, because even though every single one of these suicides touched me profoundly, you have left a mark on me forever.  You changed my life.  So, to you my friend, very Merry Christmas.  And, never forget:  this blog and always will be inspired by you.

To the families and friends of these wonderful people, I wish you peace, love, and a very Merry Christmas.  If you can, take solace in knowing that your loved ones have a front row seat as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

To those of you who have been reading this blog, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, as well.  Thank you so much for continuing to read this blog, for getting involved, and for trying to make a difference.  There's no better gift we can give.

Student Stuffed in Duffel Bag by SCHOOL EMPLOYEES!!!

Ok, I don't think there's a way to spin this that could possibly justify tying a 4th-grader, or ANYBODY up in a duffel bad.  It happened in Louisville, KY.  Fourth-grader Christopher Baker, a special needs student with autism, was "jumping off the walls" according the school officials.  I guess their means of keeping him off the walls is by restraining him in a duffel bag.  That is not only wrong:  it's illegal.

It seems we're seeing a rash of stories of SCHOOL OFFICIALS bullying special needs students.  It's bad enough for them to have to worry about being bullied by other students.  No one should ever have to go through that.  It's a whole different ball of wax when the ones doing the bullying are the ones who are paid to educate and provide them with a safe learning environment.  The question that begs to be asked is "how can we expect the students to stop the bullying if they're seeing school officials doing it, themselves?"  The answer would be "we can't".  Do you ever remember me saying that, in order to bring about the necessary change, it's going to have to start with the adults?  This story drives home the point.

It is my opinion that the one(s) responsible for this shouldn't only be terminated immediately, they should face criminal charges.  In a surprising turn of events, the interim school superintendent cited confidentiality laws as the reason he couldn't comment on the situation.  However, after reading the article, I came away with a very clear understanding that the school officials feel that this boy got what he deserved.  It's the price you pay for "jumping off the walls".  Especially when you're a 10-year-old autistic student.

So, here's a definite call to action:  Lydia Brown, herself an 18-year-old autistic student at Georgetown University, started a petition online calling for change in Mercer County's handling of autistic students.  It, quite thoroughly, asks for the heads of the school officials responsible for this despicable act.  And, it goes further as to add measure to prevent it from ever happening to another student again.  I would like to encourage every follower of this blog to sign the petition.  Sign it, and pass this along to your own circle of friends and family.  We cannot expect to stop the kids from bullying if we allow the school administrators to get away with it. (are you listening, Maryland?)  Zero tolerance means absolutely that.

Oh, and if you have kids, tell them unless they like duffel bags, it's probably best they stay off the walls.