The Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation Sponsors a Walk-Run Against Bullying

There was a story tonight about bullying in schools on the NBC Nightly News. Instead of focusing on the victims of bullying or how bad bullying is, the emphasis was on showing children and young people–through role playing and encounter games–why bullying is wrong and teaching them to be pro-active when such incidents occur. It turned out that it was a teaser for a special Dateline show that aired later that evening. However, the children featured were white and middle-class, just like Phoebe Prince, an Irish immigrant girl who killed herself over being bullied in a Boston suburb.

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A lot of bullying happens among poor and middle-class people of color and blacks as well. They or their parents may not think that bullying applies to them when something like this is aired. Some even think that it is a rite of passage that kids will eventually get over. Um, no way. Bullying is anti-social behavior, contemptible thug behavior and abuse, not some rite of youth. Bullying is also a way of forcing kids to join gangs as well. This message needs to be dinned into their heads, and the parents as well as the faculty and staff must get involved.

Over a year ago, in April 2009, eleven-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hung himself over being repeatedly bullied that school year by a set of sixth grade students-male and female-at his charter school. The students used anti-gay slurs as well as threats and roughing him up. His mother, Sirdeaner Walker, who complained to school officials weekly about her son’s treatment, and who had been active in the PTA, overnight became an anti-bullying advocate. She appeared on shows like Dr. Phil and Ellen to tell Carl’s story, accepted a Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Respect Award, eventually becoming a member of their board. She recently called out Focus on the Family on their anti-gay stance.

Walker also created a foundation, the Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation. This Saturday, early in the school year, the foundation is sponsoring a walk-run to increase awareness of the damage bullying can wreak on youngsters and to get people involved.

The Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation Anti-Bullying Back-to-School 5k Road Race/2K Walk

Help us stop bullying one step at a time by joining us for The Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation Anti-Bullying Back-to-School 5K Road Race/2K WalK on September 18th.

When: Saturday September 18, 2010 at 9AM

Where: CYR Arena in Forest Park, Springfield, MA. Cash prize awarded to 1st place male and female. Prizes for 1st place in each division (under 19, 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-99)

All proceeds to benefit the Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Community Scholarship

If you live in the Springfield, MA area, you can download registration and sign-up sheets here.

If you do not live in Springfield or Massachusetts, and you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, a PayPal widget is located at the website. I’m sure that even $5 would be welcome.

Gwynetta Sneed is the chairperson for the Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation. This is the vision for the foundation:

By organizing a scholarship gala and an anti-bullying walk that the community would help plan, it would call for all of us to join forces and create a united front. Together we will celebrate Carl’s life and honor his commitment to education and excellence. Carl was an excellent student and enjoyed sports as well. What better way to give back to the community than to award a young person with the first annual Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Community Scholarship in June 2011. The community scholarship gala is scheduled for April 16, 2011, the day before what would have been Carl’s 14th birthday.

In addition to the community scholarship gala, we are organizing a Back-to-School Anti-Bullying Walk on September 18, 2010. We want the community to take a stand against our children going to school and being stripped of their self esteem and self worth. We want school to be a place where they feel safe and secure and at the end of the day they go home to their families and share the events of the day. We don’t want another child in the City of Springfield or the country to feel devalued and decide they no longer want to embrace life; they no longer want to feel the warmth of their parents goodnight hugs and kisses.

The Springfield authorities did not pursue any prosecutions in the case of Carl Walker-Hoover. Compare their standoffishness to the case of Phoebe Prince, in which six culprits were identified and charged with rape, harassment, stalking and civil rights violations. This, despite the fact that, as in the Prince case, the entire school administration knew that Carl was being bullied and harassed, and that his mother was active for more than a year in bringing such incidents to the attention of the administrators and teachers.

My feeling is that because Carl was a black child, a child of color, his life was not considered as valuable as that of a white teenage girl. (I dislike the journalist, if he could be considered one, who interviewed Sirdeaner Walker above after Prince killed herself. You could say that he was suspending his disbelief that a black mother was that responsible for her son.) I would not be surprised if the police considered Carl as fodder for a police blotter in the near future despite his scholastic abilities and churchgoing ways, and so therefore, didn’t want to give a damn.

As for the administrators and teachers, they exhibited the same cowardly responses as those in the Prince case. I wonder how they can sleep at night for their do-nothing, not-my-fault attitude. They have not denounced the sixth graders, who are probably giving hell to their junior high classmates, teachers and administrators. All because they don’t want to be part of a lawsuit? It’s a conspiracy of silence and fear.

There was a bright spot recently. In the wake of the deaths of Carl and of Phoebe Prince, Governor Deval Patrick, on May 3, signed into law an extensive anti-bullying law with Sirdeaner Walker and Carl’s surviving three siblings by his side.

The signing ceremony was given an air of poignancy when Sirdeaner Walker took the podium beneath the Grand Staircase of the State House, among pronouncements from Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and other dignitaries.

“My son Carl took his life just over a year ago,’’ Walker said and received an extended ovation from more than 100 officials, advocates, and schoolchildren. “He was bullied with antigay remarks. And Phoebe Prince took her life just a few months ago after relentless and sexist bullying.’’

Walker, a Springfield mother who has become a national advocate against bullying, said the law would be a legacy to her son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, as well as to Prince, a South Hadley student who hanged herself in January after ceaseless abuse from classmates.

If you are a parent or student, and you see that bullying has become a problem at your school, get involved. Research what the laws are regarding bullying in your county or state. Join or create an anti-bullying group. Buttonhole your politicians. Talk to your police. This has got to stop.

~ by blksista on September 13, 2010.

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