Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Different Taxes

A great debate is going on right now towards taxation, intimidation and harassment in schools. Case in point, a youngster by the name of David Fortin has disappeared off the face of the earth for over a week now. He was adamant about his being constantly harassed and now has apparently decided to run.

I must admit I’m a little torn about the essence of this problem. Ok, I’m a lot torn.

I’ve talked about the schoolyard bully before, albeit as an analogy to something else.

When I was a kid, in grades 5 and 6 specifically, I was subject to intimidation. Fortunately enough for me, it didn’t last altogether long and was fairly light in comparison. Not that this is an excuse. It happened again during the first two years of high-school. Then I got stocky.

I was listening to a bunch of guest speakers on Radio Canada, all learned by the looks of it. I didn’t get the entire report, so these ideas I have might have been discussed before or after I tuned in.

One interviewee spoke of being pro-active with programs, denunciation, surveillance and support to those children in need. As she was saying this, I was thinking, ok half of those are clearly reactive in nature. But I kept listening anyway.

There seems to be a lot of effort expended in listening to the youth, but not a whole lot in actually correcting the initial problem, that is misguided, or delinquent, or violent youngsters.

Ok, so technically the root-cause is that some people should not be granted the luxury of having children at all, and much less rearing them, but that’s a whole other social debate.

A woman comes on from Tel-Jeunes which is an organization allowing youngsters to reach out for help via the phone. She makes one statement that sticks. She often gets the feedback that these youngsters have talked to an adult and have brought forth the issue of taxation, but to no avail.

Essentially, reporting the problem has failed. Dare I say it, since they don’t, it’s probably made things worse in some cases, but I’m hoping the opposite.

And then, nothing.

She doesn’t say why it’s failed nor in which capacity! I am on pins and needles in my truck, just waiting for the other shoe that never comes. The troubleshooter in me is screaming for information to sink my teeth in to. I wait.

Still nothing.

This leads me to conclude that these people have no actual clue as to what’s really going on!

I wait for the next caller, but the discussion is sidetracked again. At this point I change my mind, the people on the phone may have a clue, but now I’m positively hating the reporter asking the questions.

My quick un-knowing analysis comes up with at least 3 possibilities for failure.

First, something the Tel-Jeune lady said, off-hand, that the youth may not be believed outright when reporting occurs. Ok, I can understand this. I am fairly sure that any adult involved in the school system will be extremely diligent in accepting the report and following-up on it. I don’t believe for a second there would be any slacking off on something like this, from anyone.

I can easily see, however, that given the caution required to avoid false accusations and the time it takes lead a proper investigation, the youth doing the reporting may not get the impression that anything is being done! At that age, youthful impatience is de-rigeur of course. But in this case the youngster doing the reporting is hanging his own ass out there, so immediate action, and therefore protection has to be forthwith. If it’s not, well, the youngster in question will gladly report that the system has failed him. Unfortunate, but fair enough.

The second thing that occurs to me, is that the school can protect school-grounds. Once the kid takes the city bus, he or she, is pretty much left to his/her own devices and risk.

I have learned recently that kids are no longer bussed into school, but rather have to rely on public transit, which opens a whole other can of worms!

My point is that school ground boundaries lead to jurisdictional problems when the events happen between school mates, but off school property.

The third thought, is that a bully can wait. He or she can wait a long time. So offering protection for the victim is stop-gap at best, and bullying will resume as soon as the protection is gone, or even simply out of sight.

I can then see that our victim looses faith in reporting.

Only one interviewee mentioned contact with the bully as part of any process.

So much for that!

One must now wonder if this problem has always existed, or if it is a new phenomenon.

I remember being bullied. I remember others in my school being bullied too.

But younger still, I also remember picking fights due to my diminutive stature. I did this to establish myself as someone to be reckoned with, not to be picked-on, in spite of being small. In essence, I was the bully.

Low and behold, I was reprimanded, punished, and therefore stopped picking fights. The very next year, I was picked-on and bullied for all I was worth, and of course, having learned my lesson not to go all-Rambo on anybody’s ass, I went home crying more than a few times.

My fear of being scolded for fighting far outweighed my fear of being taxed. Classic rock and hard place.

So it’s not a new problem, obviously.

My guess is there’s a lot more light shining on this issue nowadays, given the information-age we live in.

How much of this comes to light by overcompensation on the overworked parent’s part, or under-compensation on an overworked school system, knee-jerk reaction, or actual epidemic? Maybe none, maybe all.

Then I wonder about the bully, and the very same thoughts come to mind. Epidemic, or explosion of the family nucleus, same with overprotection on the parent’s part, or sheer cluelessness as happened to me, or is it really something far more sinister.

I was told of the story of a young boy being constantly harassed. Everyone at school knew about it, but given the obvious efficacy of attacks off school grounds, the school responsibility was for naught. After months of failed resolution school talking to bully’s parents, our victim’s dad makes a direct plea with the bully’s dad.

The connection becomes crystal clear: The bully’s dad, is a bully himself!

Oh shite.

Given the family’s financial situation, moving away is out of the question, and so is alternative schooling.

No amount of proactive-anything is going to solve this particular problem, now is it? See how my comment about how some people shouldn’t be allowed to raise kids comes to pass?
The pleas land upon deaf ears, furthermore, the ears in question are downright insulting.

Does the harassment stop? Good gracious no, it actually gets worse!

The school cannot do anything further, jurisdictional issues notwithstanding, using words has no effect. The police don’t have enough evidence to press actual charges, and no witnesses will come forward, all kids, all being too scared.

You can see this coming right?

Our victim’s dad now turns his pleas into outright threats.

Oddly enough, the problem is now solved.

Aw fuck.


Some Canadian numbers:
Tel-Jeunes (French and English): 1-800-263-2266
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Or search for "youth crisis phone" in your favourite search engine.


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