After checking on Austin, Cody turns to Noah and asks, "You trying to jump a blind kid, bro? What the f*** is your problem?" The video has been circulating social media, with people hailing Cody as a hero, but be warned: It's a little graphic and has graphic language in it too:
Video: news 2015/YouTube
Now Noah's been arrested, and rumors are circulating that Cody is being kicked off the football team, and people are saying it's a punishment the boy doesn't deserve.
As a parent, I feel duty-bound to say that violence should not ever be the answer and that there should be a reasonable punishment.
As someone who was tormented relentlessly until someone else stepped up in my defense, I'm not so sure...
My bully never laid a hand on me, but for seven years, I lived in fear of seeing her, which presented a problem: We went to the same school and lived in the same group home, which meant there was no escape from her tireless campaign to make me miserable.
She would say things to me like, "You're so fat and ugly — you should just kill yourself" and "Don't fall asleep tonight. I'm going to f*** you up." She pondered endlessly all the reasons that my mother didn't want me: Maybe it was how dirty I was. Maybe it was just because I was stupid. But when she hated me, life was easy.
It was when she pretended she was my friend to learn things about my life and use them as a stick to beat me with that life was unbearable. When she started a rumor that I regularly had sex with my brother and was now pregnant, I knew the abuse would never, ever stop.
And then it did.
One day, my bully stopped me in the hall to loudly ask me what I was planning to name my incest baby when an older girl overheard her.
"Say that one more time," she dared my bully, "and see what happens."
She did say it one more time, and what happened was that the intervening party shoved her up against a railing, knocking her head into it with a clang. My defender held my bully down and would not let her up until she promised to leave me alone and keep my name out of her mouth for the next four years.
I don't know if that was the right thing to do. Just like I can't really applaud a kid for knocking another kid's lights out. I do know that if she hadn't done it, I might have ended my life before I graduated high school. She stuck up for me when I didn't know how to defend myself, and I can't help but see the parallels in this story.
How many times have we seen a video like the one above, where no one steps in and we're all appalled to learn that multiple bystanders witnessed it happening but did nothing? We want to raise our kids to intervene on behalf of victims, but of course there's a fine balance between speaking up and stepping in.
Does Cody deserve punishment? Yes. Even he knows that violence isn't a good solution, though he didn't feel he had another choice, saying that he "didn't really want to hit him" and "I kinda regretted it, but I kinda didn't because if I didn't, Austin would've been more hurt."
Noah deserves to be punished too, obviously, but it might surprise you to learn that I think his arrest for misdemeanor battery was a step too far. With more than a decade between me and that incident in the hallway, I can see now that my bully had trials and wounds of her own and that I was an outlet for that pain. She dealt with it in an immature way — with the brain of a teenager undeveloped in empathy. I'm not sure probation and a black mark would have made her any more empathetic.
Cody, for one, doesn't think an arrest is the right answer either, saying, "If you arrest a kid, that's going to ruin his life. I don't want him to ruin his life."
Mostly, I hope that all three kids walk out of this ugly experience with something positive. I hope that Austin is left to walk the halls in peace. I hope Noah chooses to not target other kids. And I hope Cody can parse the good he did from the way he did it and inspire other kids to speak up for the ones who can't.
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