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The Millennium Gooch

If you were a fan of Different Strokes in the 80’s you might remember The Gooch.  He was the bully that tormented Arnold and other kids on the playground.  In the Flava In Ya Ear remix, Notorious B.I.G. referred to him as an “invisible bully”,  because we never actually saw him on screen.  The Gooch kept Arnold “shook”, and many of us could probably relate to him back then because there was a similar bully on our own playgrounds.  We grew up in a different time, and the bully situation was nothing compared to how it goes down on playgrounds today.  Not that there is ever an excuse to be bullied, but back then kids weren’t hanging themselves with belts because they were tired of being teased and beat up!

Last week an eleven-year-old boy, Jaheem Herrera, hanged himself because he was tired of being the victim of school bullies.  Can you imagine the horror he must have dealt with on a daily basis at the hands of his peers.  How bad must it be if an eleven-year-old boy is forced to take his own life to escape the foolishness?

Of course when I first saw this new story I wanted to know where were the teachers and where were the administrators.  I don’t have children but I know if I had even the smallest inkling that my child was being bullied I would be up in that school turning it out IMMEDIATELY!!!!!  According to the news reports, Jaheem had reported the bullying to his teacher but nothing was done.  His mom and sister were aware of some of the issues, but had no idea how bad the situation had gotten.  There is nothing you can tell me that would make me believe the schools administrators didn’t know exactly what was going on.  I’m sure they have a disciplinary file  six inches thick on each of little Jaheem’s tormentors, but never did the appropriate follow though that might have saved Jaheem’s life.  I am not blaming the teachers per say, but how can a little boy get picked on daily and not one teacher be aware of it.

We all tell our children to come to us with any and everything, and we hope that they will tell us or another adult when they are in trouble or being threatened.  Is that enough?  When I was in school we walked or caught the city bus, so you could avoid a bully if you had to.  In Atlanta most kids take the school bus, so I’m sure the bully action starts popping before they even reach school property and continues until they get home at night.

Some men think being bullied is a right of passage, and tell their sons not to be punks.  Maybe in the 70’s and 80’s that logic might float, but kids are killing each other over sneakers and silly glances so I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s not being a punk when you’re trying to save a life.  On the flip side, what kinds of parents raise a bully?  How does your child going from sharing his snack to giving smaller kids the smack down?  What is the next step after playground bully, campus rapist? Who do we blame: the bully that picks on kids, the parents of the bully, or the teachers that allow bullies to stay in school?  Who should be ultimately responsible for the bully situation in our schools?

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Children, Opinion, Society | 5 Comments

The Stanky Leg

As if I didn’t already think Wal-Mart was the root of all evil, I am totally convinced now!  I agreed to do a friend a favor before I realized it would require going to my local Wal-Mart.  It was too late to weasel out of it, so off to Wal-Mart I went.  I thought I was mentally prepared for the tomfoolery that was bound to ensue, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would witness a spectacle such as a Stanky Leg “dance off” in the vestibule!

I am not sure if this god-awful “Stanky Leg” song has infiltrated everyone’s airwaves yet, but if it has not…count your blessings.  The song is horrible, and the dance is even worse.  It is basically a stripper recruitment theme song.  Granted dance songs are usually kind of lame with their lyrical content, but that is not my issue with this particular song.  As previously stated, it is the soundtrack for all aspiring pole dancers, and therein lies my issue!

So I am walking into Wal-Mart and there is a group of teens standing in the doorway listening to music.  My first thought was, “why are they blasting the music from their boom box in the Wal-Mart”, but then again it’s Wal-Mart and apparently anything goes.  My next thought was “Oh God not this mess”, once I realized it was that Stanky Leg song.  The two girls were apparently doing their best Stanky Leg while their three male friends looked on and captured the festivities on their camera phones.  What is this world coming to when teenage girls can record their stripper audition video’s in the Wal-Mart vestibule?!?!?!

I was very repulsed!  These girls were maybe sixteen, and found it socially acceptable to dip and gyrate in that manner.  I don’t have daughters, but I have cousins and the thought of any of them doing this nonsense really annoyed me.  I kept it moving and successfully resisted the urge to snatch one of those little girls up. As I stood on line in customer service I thought back to the kinds of dances I thought were okay to do in public when I was a teenager.  Nothing we did in the eighties can compare to the Stanky Leg.  Granted at the basement parties there might have been some slow dragging, bumping and grinding going on….but not in the Wal-Mart vestibule.

What has this world come to?   Am I the only person thoroughly repulsed by the spectacle that is the Stanky Leg,?  I must admit I was surprised by the number of grown women I recently saw in the club doing the dance.  Grown people have a right to do whatever they want, but for every teen girl doing the Stanky Leg, is there a stripper pole and pair of clear heels in her future?

The song sucks, there is no question about that, but the kids are doing it. In Jersey we used to have a commercial “It’s 6 o’clock do you know where your child is”. My question this week Epiphanyblog…is YOUR child doing the Stanky Leg?  Are you sure?

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Children, Hip hop, Music, Opinion | 11 Comments

The Blame Game

Yesterday morning I heard a news story about the alarming drop out rates across the country.  It seems that the graduation rate of high school students is below 50% in many of our nation’s larger urban cities.  As if that wasn’t distressing enough, yesterday evening I heard a story about a bunch of third grade students in a small country town that plotted to attack their teacher  *gasps*!  It seems as though the teacher disciplined a student for standing on a chair in class….and it was on!  As many as nine children formulated a plan to take her down.  They had a broken steak knife, handcuffs, three different kinds of tape, ribbon, and a crystal paper weight.  I don’t know how malicious you were in the third grade, but these kids were on a mission to “teach” her a lesson.  They equitably divided the attack duties to make sure someone was covering the windows and someone else was cleaning up the blood when they were done.  What’s really going on?????

It’s so easy for people to dismiss the actions of the third graders as “isolated”, but once upon a time Columbine was isolated.  The incident in Jonesboro, Arkansas where the students pulled the fire alarm and shot at their classmates from the woods was “isolated” once upon a time too.  Be it rural areas or big cities, ghettos or suburbs; there is a problem with our kids and if we keep treating “isolated incidents” while never looking at the big picture it will never get better.  

As is usually the case in Atlanta, several radio shows had people call in to debate who was to blame in the case of the 3rd graders. A lot of people blamed the parents.  Some people blamed video games/rap music, but one fool had the NERVE to blame the teacher!  He actually said “we need to wonder what this teacher did to these kids to make them want to attack her like that.”  WHAT??????  He said he is a parent and he knows sometimes teachers don’t know how to talk to kids.  I am going to go out on a limb and say his kids are probably the main ones disrupting the class and acting like fools!  (Not that I am saying all teachers are perfect, but when you have to spend more time on discipline than you do on educating, you are entitled to lose it every now and then)!

What happened to children respecting adults…regardless?  When I was in school acting out was never an option, and I knew enough to tell my mother if I ever felt that an adult was getting out of pocket with me.  Back talk was not accepted in my house or in the presence of any adult that knew me.  Obviously that whole “respect you elders” thing was lost on these 3rd graders in Waycross.  Who do we blame for the apparent lack of respect with today’s youth?

I am not one to point the finger at music and video games simply because I think if you are on your job as a parent, you monitor and control what your child sees.  Not that you can shield them from all forms of violence, but you should at least keep it in perspective so that they understand the difference between fact and fiction. If you let the television and computer raise your children then you have no idea what they’re being introduced to.  At the same time, you can be the most on point parent out there, but your child can get caught up in some mess due to peer pressure.  Some people say kids will be kids and sometimes they just have to learn the hard way.  Now that crap I don’t believe!  Kids need discipline and structure, and that certainly should begin in the home. 

Thankfully in the case of the 3rd graders in Georgia, nothing happened because an adult was alerted to their plan.  Unfortunately the media attention given to this situation will probably give too many other bebe’s ideas about attacking a teacher they don’t like.  So what do we do?  The world most of us grew up in sadly no longer exists, but who do we blame?


April 2, 2008 Posted by | Children, Education, Life, Opinion, Society | 5 Comments