Daily reporter Michelle Pippin interviewed the mother of the Memorial Middle School shooter, who paints a portrait of a pattern of a bullying that led to the incident:
"He came home once limping; he had been kicked by an older kid in the halls," she recalled. "He came home once with a huge welt on his head from someone slamming his locker door on his head when they passed him in the hall. His hand was injured once too. He did suffer from bullying. He would come home crying, begging us not to send him back to school."
The article make some strong points about bullying. It's there and it is not easy to deal with. School officials make every effort to deal with it, but principals and teachers are outnumbered and bullies are usually good at knowing how to hide their activities and which students are never going to say a word about them.
Of course, I note that the parents who talked to the Daily article never actually talked to school administrators about the problem, which would seem to have been the natural, logical step.
I am not native enough to think that things are perfect at South Middle School. Bullying incidents do take place, but we do our best to catch them and stop them as quickly as possible. Still, we do miss a few. We work to cut down on the number of problems by having teachers in the hallways between class periods and by having them all over the place before and after school. While it is impossible to catch everything that happens, we do manage to stop a number of potential problems before they begin just by our presence.
It just amazes me that with the amount of education students receive about the negative effects of bullying, and the publicity that the recent wave of school shootings generated, that we still see bullying. What in the world is it going to take to get through to these kids that their behaviors could have deadly consequences?
From a journalism standpoint, this article, though it has some flaws, is a welcome one and a sign that the Joplin Daily may yet be able to stamp itself as something other than a good-news alternative to the Joplin Globe.