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Have A Problem? There’s An Attorney For That

In the past seven days I’ve heard two separate stories of a family deciding to sue a set of officials due to their child being bullied.  A Google search pulls up an obscene number of cases where parents are choosing to sue their child’s school district because of the actions of other students.  A ten year old girl in Iowa and her mother are suing the school because they don’t believe they did enough to prevent the abuse.  Another mother is suing the school for wrongful death because she doesn’t believe they did enough to protect her son who committed suicide due to the constant harassment he endured at the school.  Another family is suing because they believe the school allowed other children to mock their child for being Jewish.  One lawsuit in Florida lists their daughter as a victim of discrimination, hate crimes, bullying, harassment, among other threats.  These cases barely scratch the surface of what is currently out there.

I have a hard time believing that there is anyone in this world who hasn’t been bullied at some point in their life to some degree.  Getting teased is almost a rite of passage as we transition from childhood into adulthood.  From simple name calling to physical harm, facing the wrath of a bully is something we all must do.  Even as an adult I see my peers assume the role of the victim or the tormentor; bullying doesn’t fade with age but simply gets more creative or extreme.  Its existence is nothing new and is in no danger of vanishing any time soon.  The reasons it is wrong are painfully obvious but it does have its benefits.  Life doesn’t get any easier as we get older and learning to face and overcome a bully at a young age is very beneficial to a person as an adult.

I don’t agree with bullying but I also don’t agree with this slew of lawsuits.  The school district has a certain level of responsibility in bullying cases but they are not ultimately responsible for the behavior of students.  Many times, there is no evidence of bullying and abuse other than the word of the student involved and the outrage of their parent(s).  Sometimes the child being tormented is just being too sensitive over other students laughing at their expense or not wanting to be friends, an offense that is hardly worth punishing.

When you have a case where the school is truly being negligent and ignoring horrible behavior, I can see a lawsuit being justified, but the majority of these cases do not fit in this category.  Too many of these cases are popping up because the child is being pacified rather than encouraged to grow some backbone and the parent(s) are trying to fix the problem by attacking outside sources rather than focusing on their child and identifying what issues they may have and how they can overcome them.

I remember being afraid to get on the bus when I was in second grade because of a big-boned horrible fourth grader from my neighborhood who thought I was the definition of a nerd (the glasses and frizzy hair didn’t help) and who decided it was her mission to try and get me to pee myself.  The bus driver did what she could to ensure we were separated, but she couldn’t stop this girl from whispering threats at me or intimidating me with her size.  It wasn’t until sixth grade and a talk with my childhood best friend that I realized she was scaring me because I was allowing her to do so.  She got away with shoulder bumping me and causing me to cower because I let her.  The minute I squared off with her and stared her in the face, letting her know I was done taking crap from her, she got annoyed and went in search of someone smaller and less ballsy to intimidate and frighten.  Those results repeated in the future when I had to face other bullies, some who were quite violent.  Knowing how to handle them and when to get help from friends or adults was the difference between being a strong individual and being a quivering pile of Jell-o.

Victims of bullying are not being helped through a lawsuit; if anything it makes their situation worse when the story is picked up by the media and their name and photo are plastered on newspapers and websites, glorifying them as a weak person.  Bullying is a problem between two people; the victim and the abuser.  Suing and penalizing the school district does absolutely nothing to address the issues that got the cycle started and do nothing to help end it.  Parents that truly care for their children need to stop lawyering up every time their kid comes home crying and try to find out why they are being bullied, what they can do to help them overcome it and what can be done to put a stop to the abuse.  The abuser isn’t hurt when the school is sued, but they do learn that there is someone else who will pay for their bad behavior for them.  Bullies will not go away and raising lawsuit after lawsuit is hurting the wrong group of people.  The cycle must be broken and the focus needs to return to the individuals involved, otherwise we’ll do nothing but drown ourselves and our still miserable children in legal documents and court proceedings.

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The Verdict Made My Head Explode

[Updated at 2:17 p.m.]  Casey Anthony has been found not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. She was also found not guilty of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter. – CNN.com

[Updated at 2:20 p.m.] Casey Anthony has been found guilty of four counts of providing false information to law enforcement in the case of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, who was slain in 2008. – CNN.com

[Updated at 2:22 p.m.] Casey Anthony has left the courtroom. – CNN.com

I’ve been following Casey’s story on and off from the beginning and I’ve followed the trial’s progression almost daily.  At first I had my doubts, but as more details of Casey’s behavior following Caylee’s disappearance emerged, the guiltier she got in my eyes.  Assuming the defense’s story about an accidental drowning was in fact true, how does a young mother who just discovered her child drowned, then assisted her father or at least knew her father covered up the accident to look like murder, go from grieving to partying so quickly?  Nights out at bars, getting a tattoo that means “the good life” or “beautiful life,” and acting like she doesn’t have a care in the world.  The only answer I see is that she got rid of her daughter, who she saw as a burden, and then felt free to live her life as she chose without a toddler holding her back.

The defense worked to discredit the prosecution’s evidence of a decomposing body in the trunk of Casey’s abandoned car and I guess the jury believed it.  It’s the defense team’s job to discredit everything in any way they can.  How did the jurors forget about that so quickly and decide Casey is blame free?  To me, this was a damning piece of evidence that Casey put Caylee’s body in her trunk and kept her there for a period of time prior to dumping the body.  The jury also seemed to forget about the internet searched for chloroform and other terms related to the little girl’s death.  Casey’s mom Cindy tried to claim that she made the searches (disproved by her time cards at work) which I saw as a mother’s desperate attempt to help her daughter who is facing the death penalty, but which unfortunately allowed some room for doubt.

I have zero doubt in my mind that Casey murdered her little girl.  I also have no doubt that the prosecution didn’t present a solid enough case for first degree murder.  The thing I don’t understand here is why the jury felt she should get off on the manslaughter and child abuse charges.  They didn’t deny that Casey was a liar, as they found her guilty of lying to law enforcement, so why absolve her of manslaughter and child abuse?  I’m not claiming to be an expert on anything here, but I believe there was enough evidence present to convict her on the manslaughter charge at the very least.  This chick killed her kid and all that’s being done is a conviction for being a liar, and a bad one at that.

Our justice system is fucked, plain and simple.  At the very least, Casey knows exactly what happened to her daughter, and at the most it was done at her hands.  This unnecessary tragedy will go unpunished because a system designed to protect the innocent is also a system that is easily manipulated to allow guilty folk to weasel out of trouble with the assistance of smooth talking attorneys.  At times, I long for years past, where Casey would have been strung up or stoned to death for murdering a baby instead of celebrating as I’m sure she is at this very moment.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of “an eye for an eye” justice, especially when the news is filled with stories of babies in microwaves or cages, people shooting and stabbing loved ones, and other horrific events.  I bet people would stop and think before running over their ex in a jealous rage if they knew that their punishment would be getting hit by a speeding car themselves.

I hope Casey enjoys her freedom once she’s released from jail (she can serve up to 4 years for lying to the police, credit for time served).  Karma is a spiteful bitch and it will catch up with her soon.  Murder of anyone is an unspeakable crime, but killing your own child?  You deserve nothing but the depths of hell for that one.

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