Middle School Bullying Incident
The following is the text of a letter written to Peter Crowley of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise regarding the recent bullying episode reported in the newspaper.
July 4, 2010
Mr. Peter Crowley
Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Dear Mr. Crowley,
We live in a small town. We see each other everywhere, in stores, churches and at community events. Many of us have children and they attend Saranac Lake schools. When parents talk to us, we tell them that our most basic responsibility is to protect their children from harm and that, at the end of the day we return them to their homes safely. Clearly, as recent events indicate, we have failed in that responsibility. No child should fear attending our schools, riding our buses, walking our halls, and playing on our playgrounds. No child should be hated, harassed and bullied because of their race, religion, or for any other difference. We should have known that a child in our Middle School was being bullied and we did not. We appeared indifferent, insensitive and for this we are deeply sorry. Compounding this mistake was our failure to find and immediately remove hateful racist speech written on the sidewalk outside the auditorium. To the entire Saranac Lake community and to the Oliveras family in particular, we apologize. We cannot undo this. We can not take away the pain we have caused, yet we also hope that the individual and or individuals who wrote these words, or posted those messages, is at some level, aware of the damage that they have inflicted on this young girl, her family, our schools and the entire Saranac Lake community. We are all damaged here. Hate drives us apart and hate is working hard at the moment.
As educators, we can and will do better. Beginning immediately, we will review every protocol and policy related to bullying and harassment. We will examine and revise how we teach tolerance and diversity to our children. We will work with our staff to make certain that all children are valued and that no child comes to school afraid. We cannot allow what happened to this child happen to another. Our staff, our teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, monitors and administrators-they have children and they too are a part of this. They are good and decent people who care about this community and all of the children who live here. They will not allow this event, this pattern of hatred to define our schools. We cannot do this alone. We will need your help and we will ask for it. Hate does not come to children naturally. It is learned and when children are exposed to hate at home, in the media, in our community, in the digital world or at school, we are all damaged. We will need to work together to make sure that every child is valued and cared for. Finally, we believe deeply that we are better than this and we are indeed sorry for our part in the pain we have caused this young girl and her family. We will do better.