Saturday, April 11, 2009

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoove, 11 Is Dead Because Of Homophobic Bullying

 image What a beautiful little boy he was and now the light that once shone in those big brown eyes is no more.   It seems that day after day he withstood bullying at his school.  The kids regularly taunted him, calling him gay and making fun of the way he dressed.  Though his mother called the school, sat in on classes and did her best to intervene Carl hung himself with an electrical chord.

Sirdeaner L. Walker did everything that she could think of to protect her son.  Though schools often claim to have a zero tolerance policy, quite often it is not enforced.  So many adults today still view bullying as part of right of passage through childhood ignoring the lifelong harm that it can cause.  Everyone is entitled to a hostile free learning environment and if schools are not going to provide it we need to hold them accountable. 

I have one child in school and I have borne witness to the cruel commentary that other kids have used against him.  It often makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with the parents of these kids.  What kind of antisocial little monster are you intent in raising that you would infuse a child with such little fundamental respect for fellow human beings?  Where is your accountability as a parent? 

Then I saw this bit of hypocrisy.

imageThat is an image taken at a vigil for Carl held by the members of the New Leadership Charter School Community.  At first you want to feel sorry for these people and their grief and suffering but after more consideration it seems to me to be more an expression of guilt for their complete and utter failure to stand by Carl when he needed them.  The time to care about someone is not after they have left this earth but when they are living and breathing and we can help them. What good are their tears to Carl now? 

While gay was used as a taunt to hurt Carl it is important to note that kids get bullied for a myriad of reasons.  They can be picked on for being of color, fat, wearing glasses, class distinctions,etc., and it is never justifiable.  As I prepare Mayhem to go to school in the fall, I cannot help but filled with anxiety about how he will be treated by his fellow students.  Will I see the warning signs if the situation becomes intolerable for him, and will I be able to intercede effectively on his behalf?  Mayhem has been blessed from birth to only be surrounded by people that love him and I cannot help but be aware what a shock to his psyche it would be to discover the cruelty that some are capable of displaying to mock the hierarchy that has been normalized by adults. 

Carls death is the failure of a school system and a community.  How many times are we going to learn about children feeling so desperate that they believe that death is the only answer, for us to decide to become proactive and firmly enforce a zero tolerance for bullying.  No child should have to be assaulted in this manner and it is a testament to how little we truly value children that we allow this abuse to continue.


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