April 16, 2014

National-Bullying-PreventionBullying has always been a serious problem in American schools and neighborhoods, especially for those with special-needs. In many ways, our culture seems to be evolving into a more tolerant society, as more states are legalizing gay marriage, and schools across the country are taking pledges to eradicate bullying.

Unfortunately, we’ve not come as far as we’d hoped, as evidenced by two disturbing news stories during the past week.

A high school sophomore at South Fayette High School in McDonald. PA,  who is diagnosed with  delay disorder, ADHD, and an anxiety disorder, was charged with illegal wiretapping after he used his I-Pad to record a vicious incident of bullying. “The audio file records a student saying, “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 teacher is helping the victim with a math problem, according to benswann.com. One bully even hit him over the head with a book, despite the teacher’s previous reprimands.”

A loud sound is heard on the recording, then the teacher’s reprimand, to which the student replies, “What, I was just trying to scare him!” Laughter from a group of boys follows.

When the student reported the incident to Principal Scott Milburn, his response was to call the local police and have the student charged with illegal wiretapping. There is a petition at Change.org calling for Milburn to be fired: https://www.change.org/petitions/pennsylvania-governor-and-pennsylvania-state-house-and-pennsylvania-state-senate-fire-principal-scott-milburn.

Another disturbing story did not occur at school, but rather at the home of an Ohio family who had a long-running feud with a neighbor. Sixty-two year-old Edmund Aviv was sentenced to stand at a street corner with a sign saying,

“I AM A BULLY! I pick on children that are disabled, and I am intolerant of those that are different from myself. My actions do not reflect an appreciation for the diverse South Euclid community that I live in.”

This punishment is in response to a long-running feud with neighbor Sandra Prugh, who has two adopted children with developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Her husband suffers from dementia, and her son is paralyzed.

According to court records, Aviv is accused of calling her an ethnic slur while she was holding her adopted black children, spitting on her several times, regularly throwing dog feces on the windshield of her son’s car and once on a wheelchair ramp. He also hooked up kerosene to a fan, which he blew towards the victim’s house in retaliation for an “annoying” smell that he claims was coming out of her dryer vent.

The judge also sentenced Aviv to 15 days in jail, along with anger management classes and counseling. He was also required to write a letter of apology to Prugh’s family. He said,

“I want to express my sincere apology for acting irrationally towards your house and the safety of your children. I understand my actions could have caused harm but at that time I was not really thinking about it.”

Perhaps the young men from South Fayette High should be given a similar consequence.

About the author 

Laurel Joss

Laurel Joss is a freelance writer with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She worked as an RDI® Program Certified Consultant and has published articles in Autism Spectrum Quarterly and on her blog www.remediatingautism.blogspot.com. She is a mother to two children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. You can also follow her on https://twitter.com/speaking_autism and https://www.facebook.com/speaking.autism.ca

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