The family of Blake Kitchen, who is on the autism spectrum, is struggling to come to terms with the circumstances surrounding the severe beating that took place in his school's lunchroom. The boy was attacked on the morning of Feb. 19, and the beating left him bloody and unconscious on the floor, suffering from a fractured jaw, fractured skull and damage to one of his ears — damage that may be permanent. While the beating is horrifying enough to contemplate, the alleged attacker was more than twice his size and two years older. And even worse? The family had reported this boy to the school's administrators because he had a record of allegedly bullying their 14-year-old son.
In a world where many schools have instituted a zero tolerance bullying policy (Blake's mother says the halls of Liberty Middle School, where the boys attend school in Missouri, are lined with signs proclaiming it to be a "bully-free zone"), it's mind-boggling that despite this family's repeated attempts to have these multiple incidents dealt with, it doesn't seem like anything was done.
The initial recipient of the bullying, 14-year-old Preston, says the bully smashed his phone, called him foul names and physically intimidated him to the point where he wouldn't go get his violin from his school locker. It got so bad that not only did their mother contact the school, but their grandfather sent a certified letter to the principal begging him to step in.
The family reports that the boy was talked to about his awful behavior, but it doesn't seem like much was done, and the attack on the younger brother was so bad it sent him to the hospital for five days.
The boys' mother, Destiny Kitchen, decided to share her story with the media, and the response has been amazing. Like me, most people cannot believe the bullying by this 200-plus-pound kid wasn't stopped, and our hearts go out to Blake and the rest of his family as he heals and tries to move past the horror show his life became on that Thursday morning.
"I am so floored about all the responses I have gotten," she writes on her Facebook page. She writes she is lucky to live in a warm and caring city, and that as moms, we all have to change the way schools deal with bullies, because they are responsible for the safety of our children.
The police have gotten involved, and the assailant was taken to juvenile court, but the family doesn't know yet if he'll return to school. If he does, they will pull their kids out. I don't blame them, but that should not be allowed to happen.
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