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 BULLYING PROMPTS A PUBLIC RESPONSE

 A Dark Tunnel - Monique's Tunnel

Middletown Press
Opinion: Letter to the Editor

By Alexa McClain
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 1:01 AM EDT


To the editor:

There’s a rumble in Middletown that’s just under the radar, for now. But I doubt it will be long before its fury is felt throughout the entire city and beyond. And to think that one family with a young girl is the catalyst.

Just a 13-year-old student, plagued and preyed upon by an infestation of bullies in her school, on her bus and on her short walk home, she has been a victim of bullying since Sept. 7, 2010, every day until Jan. 2011, when her mother finally took her out of the school for her daughter’s safety.

With a therapist’s letter in hand and a thick stack of documented evidence, she is able to reveal the administration’s inactivity to quell the escalating violence during her first five months as a seventh grader. The paper trail includes the bullies’ names and offenses along with copies of written complaints, emails, texts, attorneys correspondences and multiple Police reports, charges that were initiated by the child’s mother. Individual packages of information had also been presented during a Board of Education public meeting.

Though I had spoken publicly at three separate BOE meetings as her grandmother, relaying shocking details of horrific incidents and pleas for consequences that would eliminate the assaults my granddaughter endured, all eyes became focused on the next speaker at the meeting held on Feb. 8.

She was like a little soldier. She was going into a battle for the very first time ever. She would be facing those ‘in charge’, those professional and well-suited eyes starring down at her from their raised and mighty thrones, and not knowing what to expect other than her own determination. You could hear a pin drop.

When she lost her composure, her mother jumped up and hugged her, tears began to flow. I stood next to her, bracing her, and whispered “Take a deep breath, you can do this.” And so she did. Here is what stung everyone present:

“My name is Monique McClain. I am the one being bullied.

My grandmother says it’s better to fight with words than with your fists. She’s been fighting for me a
long time. But I don’t think it’s really working. I used to love to go to school. But it’s too dangerous now. Someone is going to get hurt. Please let me have a tutor. I know I’ll miss all my teachers. But at least I’ll be safe. Thank you.”

It was difficult for many to dry their eyes and clap for Monique simultaneously. But they did.

The next speaker gave a focused one line presentation, but not before she turned and looked at Monique and said:

“You need to be applauded for your bravery.”

Another later speaker, Ed McKeon, creator of the ever watchful Middletown Eye, stood up and began his planned presentation. But seconds into it, he stopped and looked at Monique. He then devoted the rest of his time to be her advocate, especially when he decided the public needed to hear and taste the vile and disgusting text that was sent to Monique. But he couldn’t finish it because he was so visibly upset.

The next day an article was posted on the Middletown Eye. In less than 12 hours, there were 19 comments, some very lengthy. Then some new comments were posted as articles that generated more comments. People were livid with rage and nearly a week later, the written sound has become deafening like a roar. Could the adult population become the pesticide that ends up eliminating the infestation? We can only hope.

As for Monique and her family, their plight is far from over. The search for a new school has reached a dead end at every turn, so far. Each week Monique’s mom picks up her school assignments and returns them. A tutor has not yet been made available to her. Monique continues with scheduled appointments to see her therapist but she feels isolated and is filled with anxieties, however. She chooses the safety of her home over the potential taunts and dangers that await her at school.

Monique’s mother wrote in the Middletown Eye: .... Monique has never been in a fight. She has never had a detention. She is not disrespectful at all and she has manners. And as her grandmother, I will add this. Monique is a recipient of the “Presidential Award for Academic Achievement” and a respected student of boxing at the Lion’s Den (she chooses not to fight outside of the facility).

So there you have it. We don’t know what the future holds but we must believe there will be a light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel. And maybe, just maybe, if that rumble I hear between the written lines in the Middletown Eye, if that rumble finally erupts, it just might crack open this long suffocating tunnel.

Alexa M McClain

Middletown

 

 


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