Another Child Gone — Are We Really Surprised?

We act so astonished. We wring our hands and shake our heads. How can this happen again, we ask?

Bailey O’Neill  passed away one day after his 12th birthday. He was not the victim of childhood cancer. He was not involved in a fatal car crash. He died from injuries sustained on the playground at his school. The fight was caught on video, including the blow that sent him into a medically induced coma. Some claim he was bullied. The authorities say they are looking into whether it was an act of bullying or an altercation. Really? Is there a difference? Will his parents’ pain lessen if it is proven to be one or the other? Why are we even discussing this?

We are caught up in the controversy for a very simple reason. Our children see us bully one another on a daily basis. It is part and parcel of American life. It is ingrained in our culture.

We call one another names for having different religious faiths. We look down our noses at those who don’t sport the prestigious addresses we do. We don’t speak to people we aren’t supposed to “know.” And if you don’t hold the same political beliefs as those in your circle, watch out.

Our elected officials are reprehensible to one another. They have absolutely no regard for those on the opposite side of the aisle, and have no reservations getting in front of the cameras and saying so. Sports stars are in the news everyday…they kill their wives, girlfriends, and sometimes  themselves. Entertainers make the headlines for beating up their girlfriends. A radio announcer bullies a  young women who is brave enough to testify before Congress and calls her a “slut.”

And we are actually surprised by the fact that our children bully one another to the extremes they do. We scratch our heads and ask why. What the hell are we thinking?

This tendency won’t let up until we stop. Children will continue to bully, harass and hurt one another as long as they see us doing the same thing to our adult counterparts.

We have to stop. We must learn how to agree to disagree without hating and name-calling. We must brand cultural and social snobbery what it is — abuse.

Adulation of those who hurt others to elevate themselves is a pathetic narrative on American ideals. That is the reason Bailly O’Neill won’t be around for his 13th birthday — the only reason.

About Pam Avery Printed

I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1972 with a major in journalism (public relations) and a minor in business (marketing). My experience for the last 40 years includes working in the corporate world (banking), the newspaper industry (advertising design and sales), owning and selling a restaurant, restoring and utilizing several old buildings on the property, teaching private dance and drama lessons for 20 years, free-lance writing for a national textile firm, publishing two children’s books, and ghost writing a book. My last tour of duty before beginning the current chapter was working as a reporter, photographer, and columnist for five weekly community newspapers. And now I writing at Columbus State University in Columbus Ga. I consider myself very fortunate--I get to be around intelligent, energetic and enthusiastic young people. What a joy. I believe the written word is one of the most powerful tools known to humankind. And now we have the ability to reach millions with a simple click of the mouse. Wow.
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8 Responses to Another Child Gone — Are We Really Surprised?

  1. says:

    You hit hard and true, Pam: Bravo!



  2. Gracias Jean — this is a real sore spot for me… thanks for commenting.

  3. Debra Quillen says:

    Well said, but I would take it one step further. We cut the art & music budgets in our schools, but long live football & other aggressive sports!! How far removed are we from from gladiator days when crowds showed up to see the pain and gore? We train our kids to go out there and ram their bodies into the bodies of other kids, then stand and cheer! Ever seen a child get permanent injury or heat stroke from drawing, painting, playing an instrument or singing?? I think not! And the arts won’t cause them to suffer knee, back, neck, and other pains for the rest of their lives. And that’s before you get to the benefits of the arts like mental therapy and proven help in learning, especially math. Our priorities & the messages we are sending are indeed out of whack. God help us all!

  4. Judy Jenks says:

    Powerfully stated and right on target. The adult world must come back to the fact that WE set the example for the children in this nation. They watch us and act accordingly. Why do we continue to think they would act in any other manner? Keep up the good work, Pam, and continue to challenge us.

  5. NORMAN POLK says:


  6. Your validation of the words I write is worth a million to me…maybe we can spread the message someway…

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