A birthday to remember

On March 9, a young Kalamazoo boy will turn 11 years old. As he sees it, there is no reason to have a birthday party, because “kids at school don’t like me and are mean to me.”
Mar 3, 2014

At least that is what he has told his mother.

What a troubling, sad and unfortunate way for a young boy to go through school. 

This young boy has a disorder similar to autism and Asperger’s, and therefore social skills are challenging for him.  He even eats his lunch alone in the school office everyday because no one will let him sit with them.

Luckily, this little boy has a loving mother, and she took matters into her own hands.  She created a special Facebook page for her son where people can send him a happy birthday message. 

She plans to show him the page on March 9. You can add your birthday wishes by going to the following link: facebook.com/Coliniseleven. The page currently has more than 2 million “likes.”

It’s safe to assume situations like what Colin is struggling with occur daily at schools everywhere, even here in the Tri-Cities. Chances are you may even know of someone that deals with similar challenges. 

If this situation doesn’t grab your attention, something is wrong with you.

If it does, then do something about it. Talk to your kids. Share this story with them, and ask them if they know of anybody at school who isn’t treated nicely, or is picked on by other kids. Suggest they and a couple of friends sit down at lunch by the classmate who is eating alone, for whatever reason. Perhaps even invite them to play at recess. Ask them to put themselves in that child’s position. How do they think that would feel?

Kids at any age shouldn’t have to grow up under these kinds of conditions. We as a society and a community must look for these kids and reach out to them. It’s not OK to turn away and leave it to someone else to take care of.

Together, we must “Elevate Empathy.” 

Happy birthday, Colin!

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

xxyyparent

I have a special needs son and I know that he sits with his special Ed class for lunch so that they have friends to sit with. It's so hard to know that kids are mean to other kid who are different, however Grand Haven does a great job of encouraging the kids to embrace the special needs kids and to help mentor them.
Happy Birthday Colin!

wojahn1977

When I was in School i was being picked on a lot by other students that did not like me, pretty much all of them. My Wife and I would like to send an Super Happy Birthday to you Colin, Never give up, you are awesome. Hope that you have a wonderful Birthday.

thecatsmom

These tormentors are not taught any better at their home.
Lets hope people start acting better, but I am probably delusional.

Former Grandhavenite

Part of the problem with bullying is that the schools aren't really allowed to teach victims effective ways of dealing with the situation, as they'd be in legal hot water if they taught kids some important basic life lessons. At least when I was in school if somebody was verbally or physically abusive you were supposed to tell a teacher/parapro/etc but do absolutely nothing to defend yourself or resist in any way. If they tried robbing you of lunch money or whatever you were just supposed to hand it over. As anyone who's dealt with a bully (whether as victim or perpetrator) knows, this is completely ineffective and will probably just make you even more of a target. The folks who develop the policies are fully aware of this, but for legal reasons they're not allowed to tell kids the truth.

Verbal abuse has literally no impact beyond what you allow it to have, and there should be a full credit class on being secure in your own skin and not letting other folks get to you. Learning to ignore trolls and haters both online and in real life is an extremely valuable skill. Nobody can say anything that offends you if you either just don't care, or if you can dish it out as well as you can take it and burn them down with a barrage of hilarious insults. There's no basic human right to go through life not having people say mean things to you, and the people running to the teacher when they get insulted in class are probably the same ones engaging in massive online flame-wars and filing civil suits against everyone under the sun as adults. Other kids not wanting to eat lunch with you isn't the end of the world, but of course it's hard to see that when you're a young kid and don't have a perspective on just how meaningless it all is. I'd sit at your table at lunch, although if you're trying to DECREASE the level of nerdiness at the table I totally understand.

Once the bully crosses the line from verbal abuse to physical all bets are off as far as I'm concerned and the rules of engagement become completely different- but of course the schools can't teach kids this distinction even though it's a legally important one in the adult world and your rights change a lot the moment somebody takes a swing at you. The correct response to somebody physically attacking you is to lay them the f%c# out. The kids usually targeted by bullies are generally not stereotypical "tough guy" types, which makes it so much better because the thugs don't see it coming. Yet another life lesson the schools can't teach kids is that sometimes being punished or suspended for a cause you believe in (like your physical safety or that of your family for example) is 100% worth it.

Happy birthday, Colin! Remember that nobody but you gets to decide whether you're happy. While the "responsible adults" in your life probably wouldn't approve, hopefully an older cousin or something will give you a roll of quarters for your birthday to carry around and a lesson on how and when to use it! That way if a bully attacks you and demands your lunch money you'll know just the right way to hand it over!

Tri-cities realist

Well said

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