Over the weekend, Logan West, a Connecticut native, was crowned Miss Teen USA. (And yes, she’s Black!) I was especially pleased to hear she would use her platform to address bullying.
West said she was bullied “relentlessly” as a young teen for “not acting her skin color.” The torment included being punched, kicked and stabbed with umbrellas by a group of bullies. Eventually, the abuse escalated into a fight and she was suspended from school. During her suspension, she came up with her own anti-bullying program. Later, she was part of a successful lobby that helped pass a law in Connecticut that requires school faculty members to be trained in managing and identifying bullying.
I’m glad that bullying is finally at the forefront of conversations on how to protect our kids. Not so long ago, when I was coming up, it was sort of accepted and dismissed as “oh, kids will be kids.” Unfortunately, I’ve seen that attitude produce disastrous results.
During my freshman year of high school, our very small class of about 30 got a few new students. One of them was “Michael” and the other was “Alicia.” Michael was awkward, the type of kid who always asked one more question that kept us in our seats when the teacher was going to let us out early to enjoy the weather. Alicia was a ‘round the way girl, one of the first I knew that wore a weave and big earrings with her mother’s approval. Michael adored her… but I’m getting ahead of the story.