Saturday, May 28, 2005

What were you thinking?

The Winnipeg SUN recently ran a story about a grade 9 student that was being bullied at school. This 15-year-old student named Darci Voss has a mild form of cerebral palsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In the last eight months of school, Darci has been beaten up, taunted and threatened. This is the kind of unfortunate scenario many of us have had to deal with growing up.

The Winnipeg SUN printed a cover story about this young man’s problem with a photo on the front page of the city paper. The photo showed the bully victim cuddling with his mommy and his head was resting on his mommy’s shoulder. The photo was as humiliating as it could be for a young 15-year-old man.

This author could not resist writing the Winnipeg SUN to point out how a photo like this would only embolden bullies. The letter to the editor was published in Saturday’s paper and said the following:

What were you thinking?

You ran a cover story in (yesterday's) paper about a Grade 9 student who was being bullied at school. As if attending school with a disability is not challenging enough, the mother of this 15-year-old let her son get both ears pierced and dye his hair some goofy rainbow color. What was most infuriating about your article is that you idiots at the Sun published a photo with this kid cuddling his mommy, his head on his mommy's shoulder and you published it on the front page of your paper!

Imagine you were in his shoes and that article was about you being bullied. Now imagine that is a photo of a 15-year-old you cuddling your mommy on the front page of the city newspaper. Are you trying to get him killed? What the hell were you thinking?

Michael Napier

As is always the case, the editor gets the last barb. In his rebuttal he said, “The Voss family showed real courage by going public on this serious issue. Your attitude shows what we're all up against.”

Well Mr. Editor, this is something that Darci Voss is up against and we support him, but publishing a photo that makes him look like the ultimate momma’s boy will not help his cause.


At 12:04 a.m., Blogger BLUE705 said...

I disagree with you. I have worked with developmentally challenged individuals for years. Along with the intellectual impairment, there is sometimes an emotional innocence as well. I don't think it's unusual for a mother to hug her child (especially after a beating) and challenged kids are more open and affectionate than most. I've worked with 30 year olds who are into colouring with crayons and want body piercings like the stars on TV. So I'm not surprised by his attractin to brightly coloured hair.
Yes--I got beat up too, but I also had the intellectual tools to deal with it the way a handicapped teenager doesn't have. I was attacked by a gang on a subway after a client I was with, who was challenged told a gang member to "stop swearing because it isn't nice". There is a lack of respect for people who need our help not fists and ridicule. Where is your heart today?

At 12:39 a.m., Blogger Michael said...

Put yourself in the position of a 15-year-old boy that is being bullied at school. The last thing you need when you are scared of bullies is a photo going around of you hugging your mommy. A photo of you naked on a bearskin rug would be just as bad. My heart is in the right place, I've been there.

On the plus side, the SUN published a new article about Darci Voss today. This time the article was about a 6 foot, 280 lbs. professional bodyguard that has offered to escourt Darci to and from school and even between classes if need be. That is the kind of thing the SUN should have published in the first place. The way to deal with bullies is to put the fear of God into them, not appeal to their conscience.

At 12:54 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Blue705, I'm afraid that you are typical of social workers etc. You have no grasp on reality. The reality of this situation is that the bullies will see this and the next time they confront the kid they will be yelling "momma's boy" as they taunt him. If they understood emotional innocence etc. they would'nt bully him in the first place.

Horny Toad

At 10:08 a.m., Blogger Michael said...

Thank you Horny Toad, that is exactly right. I was begining to wonder if anyone could see the obvious.

At 11:05 a.m., Anonymous rob said...

Making the victim more visible amongst youth only puts a bigger target on his head. He may become increasingly harassed as weaker youths now use him to increase there macho status.

At 4:54 p.m., Anonymous 905 Tory said...

Hey, Mike. Did the Sun print your letter?

At 6:56 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my time as a kid, this photo would not only have ensured further abuse....It also would of crippled (oops! challenged that is) my chances with the girls.

We all know how much the ladies prefer a "Momma's Boy".

At 8:20 p.m., Blogger Michael said...

Yes BLUE, the article was published. I said this in my article, you may have missed it. I wrote:

"The letter to the editor was published in Saturday’s paper and said the following:"

At 3:37 p.m., Blogger BLUE705 said...

905 Tory asked if your letter was printed, I didn't.

At 5:08 p.m., Blogger Michael said...

Sorry BLUE. It is going to be hard telling you both appart. hehe.

At 9:15 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is the Momma's Boy Mom u r both wrong infact it worked out great for Darci and if anyone of you had any balls you would of called me up instead of crying to the paper what i did was the best thing and if i had too do it again i would ... so when u both who probbly don't have kids and they go threw this what my son did u will understand because i bet my last buck if u had any balls and wanted this to stop u would make sure everyone knows.... and to answer you about the body gaurds the school would not allow them on the school grounds and if u new anything u would of gotten that be4 u opened you big mouths, again u do not have kids so u will never understand... and if u want to reply pick up the freaken phone and call me or meet me inperson lets see if u r as mouthy inperson as u r on line ............

At 9:44 p.m., Blogger Michael said...

Maim...I am guessing from that rant that I would not get much in the way of a civilized conversation if I called you.

I am happy to hear that going public and getting the word out concerning the bind Darci was in had a positive effect. However, I still disagree with the SUN publishing that outrageous photo. I truely believe that this story could have ended on the same positive note without publishing such a humiliating picture.

At 11:20 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you've said Michael.


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