Not Making Connections

This whole Alex Barton thing really has gotten me thinking.

As most of you have probably noticed, there is a big divide in the two sides of opinion regarding this situation. On one hand, people are outraged; on the other side, people are pulling for the teacher, saying that he’s just undisciplined and that Melissa Barton must therefore be a bad parent.

Plus, you get fun comments like these thrown into the mix:

I’m more worried about kids growing up in war zones and/or surrounded by disease and/or starvation and/or crushing poverty and/or drug abuse and/or sexual exploitation and/or I could go on. I agree it’s bad, but its not THAT bad. It’s not “get the cops involved oh-the-humanity” bad.

See, this is where people aren’t making connections. How can you say you’re against one thing and not the other? I understand that the scale is different between the two categories, but really, the underlying issues are the same.

Okay, look at the similarities between what this person pointed out and what happened in the Alex Barton case:

  1. Intolerance
  2. Lack of respect for another’s basic humanity
  3. Hatred
  4. Exclusion
  5. Ignorance
  6. Marginalization by a larger group

What people don’t seem to realize is that you can’t just treat everyone the same. The other issue here is that people apparently don’t understand how to create a supportive society.

In other words, the reason that society is going to hell in a hand basket is because we don’t support our own.

Alex Barton may just be one kid, but I can personally vouch that he represents more than just one case of abuse by a teacher to a student–spectrum related or not.

Problems early on a in child’s development can lead to bad situations later on. For starters, it’s been shown that people who experience high rates of bullying as children often exhibit signs of depression later on in their lives (if not earlier). In addition, the rates of suicides and violence increase more for those who have been treated with hatred and disdain by others (duh?).

Our society isn’t a cohesive unit. Well, what do you expect to happen when you exclude a person from the community around them? Why would they want to support something that has never supported them?

Social contract – The agreement with which a person enters into civil society. The contract essentially binds people into a community that exists for mutual preservation. In entering into civil society, people sacrifice the physical freedom of being able to do whatever they please, but they gain the civil freedom of being able to think and act rationally and morally. Rousseau believes that only by entering into the social contract can we become fully human.

Did you read that? Mutual preservation. The way I interpret this makes it seem as though the relationship between people is just as important as the relationship between the government and the people.

Now, children aren’t citizens–not in the full sense of the term–but rather, they are more like citizens in training. So you can’t expect a 5 year old with the social consciousness of a 3 year old to behave rationally. But you can expect that a teacher would do so.

What Ms. Portillo has done then, along with scores of other teachers and adults, is to start this child on a long journey of disenchantment with the organizations around him. I mean, look who has already failed him: His teacher, the school administration, the police . . .

How can you put your faith in something that doesn’t have any faith in you?

So maybe you’re saying, so what? It’s just a few kids here and there. Who cares about a few kids. The article that I linked to earlier mentioned that approximately 3.2 million children are victims of bullying. Let that sink in a bit: 3.2 million.

Okay, so the population of the US is 303,824,646. Now let me put that in a bit of perspective. There are approximately 950,000 people infected with HIV. Did you know that as of the 2000 census, there were approximately 49.7 million disabled people living in the US? Meanwhile, there are only 13.1 million people of Asian descent living here. African-Americans? 37.1 million. Yes, I am aware that there is overlap between ethnic groups and those with disabilities. Still.

Here’s another way of thinking of that 3.2 million that I mentioned earlier. I found a better comparison. The number of children bullied every year is nearly the same size of the population of Los Angeles. This number is larger than the population of Chicago.

Did you know that researchers believe 99% of children who are on the spectrum are bullied?

I have a poll on Wrong Planet that reads:

On a level from 1-10 (1 least, 10 worst), what’s the worst level of bullying that you’ve experienced?
1
2%
2% [ 5 ]
2
3%
3% [ 9 ]
3
3%
3% [ 9 ]
4
4%
4% [ 11 ]
5
9%
9% [ 22 ]
6
7%
7% [ 17 ]
7
11%
11% [ 27 ]
8
18%
18% [ 41 ]
9
8%
8% [ 19 ]
10
27%
27% [ 63 ]
Never been bullied
1%
1% [ 3 ]
Total Votes : 226

(Sorry that the graph is a bit skewed – but I think you can still get the idea).

Total Votes : 226

Here are the results so far. Seems like the experts know what they’re talking about. I mean, look at that. 64% of those that replied listed the level at 7 or above. You should join WP just to read some of their stories.

So what’s society doing? It’s excluding some its brightest citizens from being part of the focus of the country. Sure, a lot of people move on in their lives, but I doubt that any one ever really forgets.

When you don’t raise a cohesive society from the beginning of children’s lives, then is it any wonder that we have the problems that we have today? If people can’t learn to have compassion for others’ humanity, then it’s just a matter of time before something bigger breaks.

Why do you think that regular American citizens are turning into homegrown terrorists? Why do you suppose that kids are bringing guns into schools? Because they have to do something to make a difference and no one else gives a damn.

There have been 20 different school shootings in 2008 alone. Might I mention that it’s not even June? The rate for this year is undoubtedly going to be higher than 2007, since for the total year there were only 23 shootings (and we’re already at 20?). See?

  • 20 in 2008 as of May
  • 23 in 2007
  • 11 in 2006
  • 3 in 2005
  • 5 in 2004
  • 7 in 2003
  • 3 in 2002
  • 7 in 2001
  • 5 in 2000
  • 5 in 1999
  • 4 in 1998
  • 3 in 1997

The world is a diverse place. Unless we can convince people that violence is not the answer (that goes for you all advocating that Alex just needs to have the shit beat out of him by his “bad” mother), then these numbers will continue to advance. You have to go through metal detectors to get into most schools nowadays. Police officers roam the halls.

That’s not even the answer. At this point, society is merely treating the symptoms. You treat people like shit for long enough, eventually there’s going to be a reaction. And if all they’ve ever experienced is violence, then it’s likely that they are going to respond likewise.

Teachers are not the only role models. Everyone’s a role model for behavior. We don’t have to agree, but we need to have respect for the other person’s right to that opinion. If we can somehow learn to be a society and work together, instead of against one another, we can start to solve some of the world’s problems.

Makes sense to me. *shrugs*

========

BTW, I just want to say howdy to all the new folks visiting the blog.  Generally speaking, I get an average of between 150 and 250 hits per day.  However, I’ve gotten 1400+ in the past 3 days.  Woah.  So thanks for dropping by.  And if you ever want to know something Asperger’s related, feel free to drop me a line.

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on May 30, 2008.

8 Responses to “Not Making Connections”

  1. […] are called to protect, Ed emphasizes. Two posts on bullying are at Last Crazy Horn and also at Asperger Square 8 (which suggests some positive […]

  2. Hey you 🙂

    I wrote a blog just this afternoon regarding some of my feelings on this topic. I switched to my laptop so I can try to fish out my inclusion and acceptance report i did for early childhood education ethics class. (Somthing I think Alex’s teacher must have skipped…)

    Yours 4ever
    Cheysis

  3. What might be worth pointing out is that many of the people who chose “8” only did so because they didn’t experience some of the stuff that those who shared their stories and picked 10 did. In comparison to “a normal healthy school career” many of those deserve a 10.

    Like Chey’s blog (linked above,) I also felt great unease about the teacher towards Alex but also worry about the message she is sending those other children. I think it is quite dangerous to be telling kids it’s okay to sit in a circle and gang up on someone by telling them all the things you don’t like about them, then quite okay to vote someone out. They were five they didn’t know any better, but now they are still five and they know worse.

    I know my bullying got worse when I was picked on by a teacher in front of my class mates. I can only hope the other parents teach their kids better before to long.

  4. I just wanted to add that in my blog im not trying to suggest that alex is any less important to anyone elce, but that if more groups joined together to fight for alex and his family, as a larger group of society we can make a change for kids like alex and for all kids so that we teach inclusion and acceptence.

    Cheysis

  5. He’s just a representative–intentional or not.

  6. […] made “me” wonder. It made lots of “people” wonder. It made his mum take […]

  7. […] that for a platform??? What good are scores when the rates of death and violence continue to rise in the under 18 category of school age victims? Sure they’re just kids now, […]

  8. Stuff like this makes me want to go back to my old school and blow it up with propane tank bombs. To hell with society, I hope humankind goes extinct!

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