You child has special needs. He is bullied, relentlessly, day after day, and even though you complain, it doesn’t end. You sent several emails to your son’s teacher in the past 5 months addressing the bullying. After yet another day of being tormented in a classroom WITH A TEACHER PRESENT, your child hits the button on his Ipad to record the Bullies and to prove that this is happening to him, and he needs help. He brings the Ipad and the recording home to you so you can hear it. You listen to it, and you are horrified. You transcribe it, then call the school first thing in the morning to address this terrible bullying.
Except the bullying doesn’t end. Instead of the kids on the recording getting in trouble, it’s your child. You show up at his school in the morning, frantic, after a call from the Principal saying that your son is being charged with a crime and is begin interviewed by the police. Your child, who protected himself the ONLY WAY he knew how- by recording the abuse so that he could get help- was surrounded by administrators and police, being questioned. He is harassed and bullied into deleting the recording, and then you are told your child was going to be charged with felony wiretapping before the charges were eventually dropped to disorderly conduct. Your child, while attempting to protect himself, was charged and found guilty of disorderly conduct.
This isn’t something to imagine. This happened. To a boy named Christian Aaron True Stanfield, who is the same age as my Ally. Christian got detention, not the bullies. Christian had to go to court, not the bullies. Christian was in trouble for standing up for himself, not the bullies. Christian was punished, not the bullies.
On the BenSwann site, there is a quote from the transcription that Christian’s mother, Shea Love, made of the recording:
According to Love, as the teacher is heard attempting to help her son with a math problem, a student says, “You should pull his pants down!” Another student replies, “No, man. Imagine how bad that (c**t) smells! No one wants to smell that (t**t).” As the recording continues, the teacher instructs the classroom that they may only talk if it pertains to math. Shortly thereafter, a loud noise is heard on the recording, which her son explained was a book being slammed down next to him after a student pretended to hit him in the head with it. When the teacher yells, the student exclaims, “What? I was just trying to scare him!” A group of boys are heard laughing.
When asked why he made the recording, in court, Christian told the court, “I wanted her (Love) to understand what I went through. Like, it wasn’t like I was overexaggerating it. I wasn’t lying. It was really happening. I was really having things like books slammed upside my head. I wanted it to stop. I just felt like nothing was being done. I wanted some help. This wasn’t just a one-time thing. This always happens every day in that class.”
On BenSwan again, there is a quote from Christian’s Mother:
“Christian chose the most responsible route possible for a student who felt he had no power and no voice in order to change the negative environment that he was forced to be in every day. If we are ever going to change the culture of violence in our schools, we need to look at Christian’s actions not criminally, but rather as a profound cultural step in the right direction for kids who don’t feel they are being heard,” says Christian’s mother Shea Love. “Christian had the courage to be vulnerable as a whistleblower in order to create change where it was desperately needed. The school’s zero tolerance response (to electronics use) is the very type of action that creates the dangerous situations we have in our school today. Some of our children are choosing anger and deadly outbursts in order to be heard,” said Love. “Christian’s willingness to advocate in a non-violent manner should be championed as a turning point. If Mr. Milburn and the South Fayette school district really want to do the right thing, they would recognize that their zero-tolerance policies and overemphasis on academics and athletics have practically eliminated social and emotional functioning from school culture. They should make it a top priority to use this incident as a catalyst for social and emotional change in the district and pioneer the way for other districts to follow.
In fact, last week the disorderly charges against Christian were dropped. After he was hauled into court and served detention and I’m sure was traumatized far more by the administrators than bullies, the charges were dropped. I wonder if the BULLIES wre ever held accountable?
I wonder if the school documented any investigation after the Christian’s Mom complained about her son being bullied. I’m guessing not, since the bullying continued, and he felt the only way he could protect himself was to record the bullying and get proof. This bullied boy was bullied again, by the people he went to for help. How helpless did he feel in that room full of administrators and police? How hopeless did it seem for him? I wonder how he is being treated in school right now. I’m hurting for his mother, because I’ll bet once she heard that recording and she realized just how bad the bullying was she felt as guilty and horror struck as I did when I heard the truth about my daughter’s story.
Christian’s attorney, Jonathan D. Steele, said “Districts have an obligation once they know about bullying,” he said.
Not only districts have this obligation, but we, as a society have an obligation to stand up to bullying and to STAND UP FOR OUR CHILDREN. Bullying is epidemic- and the only way it could have gotten to be this bad is that people IGNORED it. We’ve turned a blind eye again and again until it was socially acceptable to be mean and a bully. We are obliged to to teach that bullying is NOT to be tolerated. We have an obligation to stand up for decency and kindness and friendship.