I watched my son like a hawk the night I took him to the emergency room to get his head injury examined.
Earlier that day, one of the two first grade boys in my son's class who had been bullying my son hit my child on the head with a chair. My husband and I decided that we didn't care to know whether or not his bully hit him on purpose. All we knew was that our son was hurting, and it was time for us to put an end to our son being tormented by these two children.
"Mommmeeee," he said as he stirred awake from his nap while lying on the examination table. It was after midnight, and I was thankful that he felt good enough to call my name. "Will you lay with me?" The exam table was extremely narrow, but I shimmied my way onto it, and laid with my son while we waited for the results of his CAT Scan. He was still complaining of head and eye pain, and it sounded pretty serious.
We finally got our results about 20 minutes later, and thank God his head injury was fine. But we still weren't in the clear. "Keep him home for a day and watch him. Be sure to bring him back the moment he says that his head or eye pain in getting worse," his nurse said to me as she gave my son a hug and a small gift. My son was so happy to get his gift of two small, bouncing balls that he forgot all about his injury. I thanked God for that, too.
A few days later, after I marched to the school and the police station to demand answers and a resolution to my son's violent incidents, I still found myself mad as hell, and my anger would not subside. It only got worse after I read the afternoon headlines: "Teen girl beaten to death in high school bathroom identified."
Before I knew it, I was reading the news report while shaking. I was lucky that my child was alive, but someone else's mother was in mourning, and I was pissed.
According to CNN, Amy Inita Joyner-Francis was a 16-year-old Wilmington, Delaware honor roll student who was attacked in a school bathroom while trying to avoid a fight.
The fight broke out around 8:15 a.m. Thursday as classes started, in a bathroom on the main floor of the school, Principal Stanley Spoor said at a news conference."There was an altercation that initially started between two people, and my understanding is that additional individuals joined in against the one person," said Gary Fullman, chief of staff to the Wilmington mayor.
People who knew her said that Amy was a sweet young lady who always tried to take the high road, especially when it came to settling disputes for other students. Unfortunately, this was one dispute that Amy could not settle.
The reason for the fight is still unclear, and to be honest, that detail is irrelevant. Someone took Amy away from her family, and they had no right to do that. I approached my husband with the news report later that day, showing him how cruel those children were for killing Amy. I wanted to know what we were supposed to do to keep our own child safe? My heart was hurting for Amy's mother, and I knew that her story could have easily turned into my own if my son's bully had hit him any harder.
I wanted and needed answers, so my husband gave me one. "It's up to all parents and kids to know that they are pawns in the school-to-prison pipeline game," my husband said to me. "Even if our son's bully hit him by accident, they have to understand that it's sometimes the minor incidents that results in them being handed off to a judge who could care less about their future, only to put them in a prison system that will keep them enslaved to it for the rest of their lives."
I didn't want to accept his answer at first, because what good did that serve Amy, who died trying to avoid a fight? That answer won't help kids who are too young to understand these things, especially the first grader who hit my son on the head with a chair.
But he's right. If our son's bullies, or their parents, didn't grow to fear prison, then their behavior would never change. Everyone should be afraid of that system, but sadly some people aren't. My son's bully doesn't even seem phased that he's staring expulsion in the face, which means that his world is falling apart without him being properly guided on how to change it. According to the ACLU,
In some jurisdictions, students who have been suspended or expelled have no right to an education at all. In others, they are sent to disciplinary alternative schools.
Growing in number across the country, these shadow systems—sometimes run by private, for-profit companies—are immune from educational accountability standards (such as minimum classroom hours and curriculum requirements) and may fail to provide meaningful educational services to the students who need them the most. As a result, struggling students return to their regular schools unprepared, are permanently locked into inferior educational settings, or are funneled through alternative schools into the juvenile justice system.