Letters to the editor – Friday (7-25-08)

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 25, 2008

Lawmakers fail to combat bullies
Regarding the failure of HB1366 (school anti-bullying bill) in the N.C. Legislature:
Any parent who has a child who doesn’t fit that perfect label of “normal,” any parent who has watched their child suffer at the hands of a bully only to be brushed aside when you try to approach school administrators, should be concerned about failure to pass this bill.
I know a lot about bullies. For most of my middle and high school years, I bullied and made fun of fat people, ugly people, weak people and even our “special education” students. I bullied people for being gay even when they were not. Any student who was not as “strong” as myself was subject to my bullying ways. The list of reasons people bully can be long and complicated, and my reasons are too complex to discuss here. My bullying days ended the day a tortured student stood up for himself and cold-cocked me so hard I saw stars.
My point in airing my dirty laundry is that bullying has been going on in our classrooms for a long time. It wasn’t addressed in 1974, and it’s not being addressed in 2008.
For the sake of every kid who’s been bullied, of every kid who’s skipped school out of fear and of every kid who’s dropped out because of harassment, we must pass this bill. So, while we wait another year for our legislators to have a change of heart, it’s up to our local teachers, principals and administrators to protect our kids. With our Rowan-Salisbury School System having just received a hefty $6 million grant to combat bullying and protect at-risk kids, among other things, many of us in Salisbury will be watching the school board closely to make sure those dollars are used for their intended purpose.
ó Michael Clawson
Clawson is the state coordinator for PFLAG N.C. (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).
Take pride in Jessica’s law
“Jessica’s law for N.C.” (HB933) has passed the N.C. House and Senate, leaving only the governor’s signature to make it law. Jessica’s law will require a sentence of 25 years to life in prison for anyone convicted of raping a child under 13. If the offender serves less than life, he/she would be required to wear a global positioning system so these people can always be monitored.
This is a true victory for all children of North Carolina because they will be better protected against child rapists.
Jessica Lundsford was born in Gastonia, yet North Carolina was one of only a few states that had not passed any version of “The Jessica Lundsford Act.” When I heard that the bill had passed the N.C. House unanimously but a couple of powerful lawmakers were keeping the Senate from voting, I got furious. I started making phone calls and writing letters in an effort to organize a statewide coalition that would put pressure on the General Assembly, as well as educate the public on various crimes against children.Our coalition grew to 12 speakers, as well as many volunteers. We held several rallies across the state, collecting hundreds of signed petitions. I feel our efforts played a major role in the process of getting enough attention on this legislation, as well as putting enough pressure on the powerful lawmakers who had prevented it from becoming law by keeping this bill tied up in committee after committee for over two years, blaming the delays on the costs of housing an inmate for 25 years to life. You cannot put a price tag on our most precious commodity, our children.
ó Jeff Gerber
Gerber and Donna Miller of Fayetteville are co-chairs of the Coalition for Jessica’s Law.
Praise for election, library staffs
A front page article in the July 21 USA Today newspaper stated: “Ballots could be problem this fall.”
We in Rowan County are fortunate such a headline has not concerned our voters. Our Board of Elections is a branch of local government of which we can be proud. This board must fully staff more than 40 voting precincts with no big snafus. Our library staff is another branch of county government that has excelled in their duties. I cannot ever recall an incident when the information desk was not most pleasant when I sought help, which for me at my age is quite frequent.
Often, criticism of public employees gets the headlines. I wanted to say something positive about two branches of government I have had pleasant dealings with. To both I say keep up the good work!
ó C.A. Peacock