My Name is Sarah

MY NAME IS SARAH. I am a quilt designer and the sewcial director of Sarah's Sewcial Lounge. I also have a business called Down Right Charming. I sell my quilts mostly on etsy and I make pillowcases to donate to patients in the hospital in memory of my friend Kristen Kirton. I am a young adult living with Down syndrome. I hope you enjoy reading about my life journey.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When the "R" word leads to Assualt

A message from Joyce: If you have not already done so, please read the previous two posts before this one.

...While Sarah and I were at horse riding Saturday morning, this phone call came in. I've left the woman's name in only because she says it so fast you can't make it out. She left me a phone number which I immediately did a reverse phone look up at www. and found it is registered as a cell phone number. Not much help there, so I had to do a little detective work to actually come up with the spelling.

She indicates she will be calling the officials at Matt's school district on Monday. Truthfully, I do not think they will get involved as this was not a school matter. The incident happened on the grounds of another school district who was playing another school team. If she doesn't get satisfaction from our school, she may file assault charges with the police department in the jurisdiction where the stadium is located. We will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, Matt printed out for me a dialogue that occurred under a picture on Facebook last week between Gus and RG. Moms and Dads who are reading this. Listen up!!! Do your kids have Facebook accounts? Do you monitor them? I mean really monitor them??? What I read today literally made me nauseous. I know I have probably been living in a pollyanna bubble, but what this boy was writing to this 12 year old girl is FRIGHTENING. I have rarely read such vile, filthy, s*e*xually degrading threats including blatant racial references. I have no doubt this is what started the meltdown with Gus and RG.

For the first time since Friday night, I realize that the "R" word is really only a small part of the bigger picture. It's what set Matt off but when I read the words that Gus had sent to RG, I was furious. I know now what cyberbullying looks like. Ultimately, what would I like to see come out of this? I hope some further sensitivity training on the "R" word and cyberbullying. I'd like to see Gus acknowledge that his words hurt.

I believe Matt has learned from this. We have talked at great length about what he should do differently next time. Although, we have talked about the "R" word many times before. I guess in the heat of the moment, when the word "retard" is used in an ugly degrading way, role playing and discussions can loose their effectiveness.

On a personal level, John had Matt at the office all day filing. That in itself is punishment, even for me:) He has lost his Facebook, My Space and cell phone. He won't be seeing RG anytime soon. Additional football games will have to wait until next year. As for repercussions at school or charges with the legal authorities? I'll keep you posted.


Molly said...

So not only was Matt defending Sarah he was defending his other female friend too.

Should Matt have hit Gus? No

Can you blame him for having that reaction? Not at ALL.

I'm going to pray for you guys tonight. I don't think she should file assault charges. It sounds like she should spend some time PARENTING HER CHILD who is off on the internet saying inappropriate things to girls, and tossing around the r word.

If I was that child's mother? I'd be mortified.

Adelaide Dupont said...

That is disgraceful.

All of it.

There is a reason I haven't fully entered into the Web 2.0 revolution.

There is a wonderful campaign called Stop Saying the R Word and many people are on to it. (I haven't signed the pledge yet).

Your son has a lot of chivalry and honour which I can admire.

Karen said...

I'd definitely keep the FB printouts - you might need a copy to give to the mom who called as well as any authorities that get involved. Not that anyone can monitor what goes on there, but at least the mom can see that her son wasn't completely faultless.

I'm so sorry. What a mess. I'll keep you guys in prayer.

ABandCsMom said...

I'm so sorry you are all dealing with this. I really feel badly for Matt. I can see through your blog, that he is a great brother to Sarah. He was standing up for her and for all of our kids who will be suffering from ignorant people who use that word like it's no big deal. When in fact, it is a big deal.

I can not believe that the kids parents would file charges against Matt. Good Lord, Matt didn't put the kid in the hospital did he? If I were that kids mom, I's slap the snot out of him for being so disrespectful to a girl by calling her the R word. How sad that this
kid has obviously had poor/little parenting showing and teaching him right from wrong. Teaching respect toward others.

I wish you all luck in dealing with this matter. How tough for you all. I so see your point, wanting to wrap your arms around Matt and comfort him, but then being a little angry too.

Keep us posted.

jjpsmommy07 said...

Wow, what a mess huh? As far as Facebook, my space, etc. I do not allow my boys on there. I just don't. They don't need it. And I occasionally check my 14yr.olds text msgs. Should I? probably not, but I do. Not that I dont trust him, I want to know what other people are saying. Sorry that Matt is going thru this ordeal, but I think I understand why he did it, I think my Kenny is kind of that same way. It's very hard growing up in this world today, I wish it was like years ago. Good luck. will keep your family in our prayers

Mary said...

I've been following along and, wow, what a tough situation. I think your family is handling it really well.

The VW's said...

I can only comment about how I think that I would react to all of this, since this hasn't actually happened to me or my family. But, I think that I would be telling my son that he should not have hit this bully and not to get into something like this again, but......

I would also be giving him a BIG PAT ON THE BACK! He stood up for 2 people who are important to him, 2 people who might not be able to stand up to this bully on their own! I say, "Good job Matt!" I always tell my boys that they are to behave with respect and to treat others the way that they would want to be treated, but I also tell them that they need to stand up for their friends and their siblings!

Bullies NEED TO BE STOPPED! So, I'm proud of Matt for sticking up for others!

I think that you are handling this situation very well! Your children obviously have wonderful parents! I pray that this works out well in the end! HUGS!

Lacey said...

Oh my gosh, I hope you printed out that facebook stuff to show his mom. I understand her anger at someone punching her son but seriously, sit down and talk about what happened. Take a long look at what your son is saying. Matt probably was tired of hearing that vile stuff for so long.
Praying this works out without to much drama.

Rochelle said...

We have been following your weekend's events.
So sorry that this all has happened. I think you guys are definitely doing the right thing with Matt.
Hopefully when you talk to Gus' mother she will be enlightened to his bullying and degrading behavior (and care enough to stop it).
We are prayerful that learning for all these kids takes place and they all realize how they could have better handled the situation and they grow from this experience.

Hopefully Gus' mother will see his part in all this and not file charges.
I understand Matt's frustration and wanting to defend Sarah and RG but, as a retired HS principal, I have told kids thousands of times once you lay hands on someone you are definitely in the wrong and I can't defend you.

RG should have reported the bullying long before this incident ever came up. Gus was wrong for his cyberbullying and rude remarks, RG was wrong for not reporting the problem and slapping Gus and Matt was wrong to use fists instead of words.

We hope that today a peaceful solution is found for all.

ds.mama said...

Just my opinions... not good for much :-) I think that once the FB printout comes to light, the "assault" charges won't go to far.

I would be proud of my son if when he gets older he stands up for his little sister and female friends the way Matt did. Because honestly I think sometimes a gentleman has got to use his muscle...

Christina said...

First and foremost, thank you for bringing this to our attention(parents of other kids with disabilities) as I think most of the siblings feel responsible in some way for their brother/sister. I could totally see my daughter defending Kallie if someone was using derogitory terms they knew would be hurtful, especially given the things that were said on FB. I pray that this other parent, after you two talk, can be open to seeing that while violence wasn't that answer, her son was responsible for provoking your sons reaction. It was a lesson for both of them, your son to learn that while people say and do things that make us want to punch them, we need to control that anger and her son, that his words hurt and he needs a good lesson on respect!

Scarehaircare said...

You have written proof. You also have witness proof. The other child was inciting combative behavior. I don't thinkt his woman has a case at all. She is in denial about her own son.

Anonymous said...

Wow- just catching up! My 2 cents- let them press charges! He's a minor and will not come to much in terms of consequences or record, it will bring the matter to the courts attention and NOT be complimentary to the bully or his family, and it may give you a platform to address the cyber bullying. I don't think it;s bad for the school to get involved/aware since they could take a stand and review in school the no bullying/ discrimination policies. I'm a bit worried that this could lead to more nastiness- are you? Please be careful.
Perhaps you should press cyberbullying /harassment charges? Of course that parent should be mortified but kids that behave like that rarely come from homes where the parents are sadly. keep us abreast please.

Anonymous said...

I think Matt handled it perfectly. I totally understand where he was coming from. I am hoping it doesn't escalate further for you all. Thinking of you.

Beverly said...

I think Matt is a great brother and friend! I hope he doesnt get into any trouble at school ir with the law!

SunflowerMom said...

Just now reading about your situation this weekend. So sorry to hear about it! I think the mother sounds like a parent that needs to hear the full story. She must not be fully aware of what her son is doing. I hope you can meet with Gus' parents and peacefully discuss what happened and hopefully come to the mutual agreement that both boys behaved inappropriately and deserve equal punishment as set by their parents. If they seek charges against Matt, AG's parents should seek charges against Gus for cyber bullying. Why would she even have him as a FB friend? He sounds awful!

AZ Chapman said...

If anything gus should be the one to get in trouble. Matt did nothing that bad as Gus did. mat was only trying to be a great little brother and a good friend. Gus did the bad thing and he should be punished not Matt. Did he go to school today? Hugs from CA to You Matt and Sarah


Carrie said...

I just found your blog--ironic b/c just today I was posting about the "R" word and how hurtful it is. I think Matt sounds like a great brother--I hope my little guys are as protective of their sister as Matt is. I'm sorry you have to go through this!

Cammie Heflin said...

Oh my goodness, I agree Matt shouldn't have hit, but I do have to appreciate him sticking up for others. I can't blame him at all for reacting. Hopefully things will work out and everything will be okay. Jarika has a Facebook and MySpace that we monitor daily. Fortunately we haven't found anything too major on her accounts but it is amazing what we have found on others!

Monica said...

Oh Joyce, I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Matt sounds very much like Adam's older brother, especially when he was Matt's age. I remember him actually "threating" 2 boys because they were making fun of a girl with ds at school during the time to switch classes in the hall. I remember how mad he was when he came home and I do believe he grabbed one of the boys by the shirt and told him "if he ever saw them tease her again it would not be pretty" sadly these 2 boys had even been to our home and knew Adam....... I remember being proud of Dylon but also a bit terrified that he would use violence, which is just not okay, And it sounds like Matt is a very smart boy and in the heat of the moment made a bad choice that I don't think he'll do again. Hopefully, once this mother hears the "whole" story she will be understanding and realize that her son was actually very much at fault here and step up to the plate teaching her son how to be a "good person". Give Matt a hug from Adam and I!! I truly hope this has a happy ending and Gus truly learns from this!! We'll of course be praying for you guys but also for Gus and his mother to be open to seeing Gus's wrongs and really wanting to change!

stephanie said...

Joyce, off the record I'm so glad your son gave that kid what he deserved. As I parent I know you have to do what you have to do. What a difficult call. I think you made a really good decision. I certainly hope that Gus and his family do not file charges I mean come on, she must have some idea of what her kid is like. I will send out prayers for you and your family.Hope this resolves itself peacefully.
What a great big brother Sarah has.I know it was wrong but, I can't help tearing up thinking about what he did. I hope my Andrew grows up to be like Matt.
You got a great kid there.

TJ said...

I think Gus' mom should learn how to be a real parent again. Perhaps she could enroll here at Ohio State. We offer fabulous courses on parenting and how to actually monitor children.

Mandy said...

So sorry this is happening to your family.
My younger brother practically grew up in Children's Hospital due to limb deformities. One day after school, a jerk that always called me names because he thought I was too skinny (gosh, I wish I still had that problem) started calling my brother awful names and making fun of the way he walked - right in front of him.
Let's just say that I used those years of karate lessons on him. It's true, I snapped too and afterwards I couldn't believe that I could do something like that. Granted I got away with it solely because I was a girl beating up a boy but never in my life still have I been madder than that.
Should you hit? Probably not but I bet Gus will think twice next time.
BTW do you think Gus' mom knows what her son is really like?

Julie said...

Oh Joyce my heart is just breaking because of this. I can totally see one of my boys having the same reaction. Their eyes have really been opened to how words hurt.

Right, Matt should not have hit. But I'm sure he was at the end of his rope with that kid. School authorities are WORTHLESS in my experience. Absolutely, 100% worthless. They preach against bullying but really, nothing happens when it's reported. (Sorry former principal but I stand by my opinion. Like I said, this has been my experience.) These kids get away with it again and again unless something dramatic happens and the general public becomes alerted. I wouldn't hold out much hope for Gus' mom realizing her kid had a hand in this. He's gotten away with it for some time, and most parents of a bullyer don't believe their kid is at fault.

I'll keep you all in my prayers - especially Matt. I'm sure he feels terrible. But we're all so proud of him for sticking up for the right thing! Unfortunately, used hurtful words isn't as frowned upon as using fists; but it should be.

Anonymous said...

I think we live in such a fast paced world full of immediate gratification for the young generation, and many parents are unable to keep up with their children's personal lives. I can only imagine how Gus' mother is going to react when she hears ALL OF IT. Hopefully, she will be proactive and not defensive.

I think that Matt's punishment is valid -- although I still side with the "why" of what he did. I fear that time in Gabe's life when he is older and his peers are malicious. I don't know if there will be a Matt there to help him.

Anyway, one step at a time, I guess...and I'm anxious to find out what happens.