Using the ‘bully’ pulpit

Adults need to work to make sure bullying never takes place

To the adults – administrators, teachers, parents, coaches, anyone - involved in our schools, a tremendous opportunity lies in front of you.

All of us know what happened at Cicero-North Syracuse. Long-time softball coach Kerry Bennett was fired a month after Brittany Paul and her father accused Bennett and his staff of not doing enough to curb the behavior of others in the wake of her decision to go to the senior ball instead of playing in the June 9 state championship game.

The decision was met with a firestorm of criticism, especially from Bennett’s former players and coaching peers, who have made their displeasure known to the school board and anyone else who would listen. They feel that it was a rush to judgment, an unfair punishment for a man who spent more than three decades building a softball dynasty at C-NS.

Lost in all the posturing, though, was the background issue, one that must be brought to the forefront – bullying, a word very loaded but, at the same time, very pertinent.

Paul and her father claimed she was subject to bullying, from mean-spirited texts and phone messages to vandalism of her car, serious accusations that no one in a place of authority should ignore.

In my view, the North Syracuse School Board had a moral duty to see whether this was true. Anyone who suggests otherwise shows a lack of sensitivity or, worse yet, gives a tacit endorsement to questionable, if not criminal, behavior on the part of kids and adults alike.

This topic, to a small degree, hits home for me in that there were times where, in one small form or another, I was picked on in school because I would respond to it, sometimes badly.

I don’t think it added up to “bullying” as we would call it, and a lot of that was my own fault for the way I reacted to the teasing, but because of that I tend to always have a sympathetic ear for those that get picked on, laughed at and ridiculed, the powerless made to feel more so by the powerful.

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