Archive - Mar 24, 2011

Joy and Sadness, Isabella and Monique

Yesterday, the news came out that Isabella Oleschuk, the thirteen year old girl that disappeared in Orange, CT on Sunday morning had been found. She was safely hiding in an old farm stand about three miles from her house, living off a stash of granola bars and pop-tarts.

The initial reaction was one of great joy and relief, but now people are starting to wonder what led her to run away from home. The newspaper reports are that she was stressed about the Connecticut Mastery Tests that had been administered the previous week in school. Other reports say that she had been bullied. One newspaper article went after Isabella for running away. They are partly correct. She hasn’t yet learned how to deal as effectively as possible with some of the stress and abuse of this messed up world, but she’s also only thirteen, a time when these lessons are being learned and the stress can seem overwhelming.

So, instead of going after Isabella, perhaps we need to look a little more closely at ourselves. How are we failing our children when it comes to teaching these important lessons? Are we failing to deal properly with bullying in our schools? Are we placing too much emphasis on tests like the CMTs?

Isabella isn’t the only thirteen year old Connecticut girl in the news right now. Yesterday, in the Middletown Press, there was a letter from Alexa M McClain about her granddaughter, Monique McClain.

The letter talks about when Monique testified before the Middletown Board of Education. She opened her statement with, “My name is Monique McClain. I am the one being bullied.”

The responses to the letter were abhorrent. “Here's an idea...Teach your kid how to have a backbone!!” and “How about teaching these kids to defend themselves. I was bullied as a kid. I finally punched him in the nose and the problem stopped.”

I have added my comment there:

I applaud Monique for having the courage, backbone and strength to stand up and publicly testify in front of the BOE. She has more courage and has fought a better fight than the people here who are afraid to use their real names when they suggest she fights back or grows a backbone.

Some of us in the Constitution State recognize that our government was formed on the basis of establishing Justice, insuring domestic Tranquility, providing for the common defence, promoting the general Welfare, and securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

Personally, I have to wonder if members of the Board of Education and the Superintendent's office are meeting their obligations to the people of Middletown.

At a recent meeting about bullying, a friend jokingly asked me if I was there as on behalf of the bully, or the person bullied. I said I was there as on behalf of bystanders that need help in dealing with bullying when it is happening around them.

This isn’t about the bullies and the bullied, it is about all of us learning to act with dignity and show respect to the people around us. My prayers go out to Isabella and Monique. They go out to the bullies. The bullies and the bullied aren’t really that much different. They both need help in learning how to properly deal with the stress in their lives. And the rest of us? We need to learn how to provide that help.