I just sent the following email to the Director of Melrose's Alliance Against Violence. I encourage you all to do the same.
Dear Ms. Mooney
I am deeply concerned about a recent response you posted on the Facebook Page “Real Moms of Melrose”. The poster detailed an account of “Kick a Ginger Day” which occurred in the Melrose Middle School where her friend’s daughter was kicked in the shins for simply being born with red hair. The incident was also covered by channel 7. Your response was as follows:
“If she hasn't done so already, your friend needs to report this to the principal ASAP.”
What happened at the Middle School was by definition a series of assaults and batterys by children on children. It is widely known that the Melrose Public School Administration pays lip service to the notion of a Zero Tolerance Policy with respect to bullying in our schools as evidenced by the recent Civil Rights investigations. Simply reporting incidents of violence to a principal does little or nothing in our community.
The mission statement of the Melrose Alliance Against Violence “ is to raise community awareness of domestic and teen dating violence, and to promote programs that work to reduce violence and encourage healthy relationships. Our programs include community awareness activities, education and prevention programs in the schools, including bullying prevention, mentoring and peer leadership programs; and information, support, resource and referral services for victims, family members and the community at large.”
Your organization has and hopefully will continue to raise community awareness around the rampant bullying in our schools and I applaud you for your thankless efforts. However; something isn’t working. Incidents like “Kick a Ginger Day” require more outrage from your organization and the suggestion that reporting incidents of violence in our schools be simply reported to a principal falls far short of accomplishing your mission statement.
If a woman, man or child is victimized by an abuser, the reporting mechanism should be to the police department. If the police do nothing (or are instructed by city officials to do nothing) then encouraging victims to file civil complaints in court would be the appropriate response.
I want to stress that I respect the work that your organization is attempting to do here in Melrose. But it is clearly not enough nor is it the only avenue or resource that our community can avail its self of in order to combat violence. Taking a stand and publically decrying this recent bullying incident would go a long way towards putting Melrose Alliance Against Violence’s money where its mouth is.
My questions are… will your organization publically decry what happened in the Middle School last week? Would you be willing to issue a public statement to the community, the Mayor and to the School Committee that they need to be held accountable for failed policies around bullying in our schools? Would you be willing to advocate on behalf of the victims of racial discrimination and violence in our schools by calling out an administration that actively sweeps these incidents under the rug? Would you be willing to confront the school committee at their next meeting this Tuesday, where they will historically and inevitably give themselves and Cyndy Taymore high marks on their annual performance review? Would you be willing to support the only member of the school committee, Ms. Carrie Kourkoumelis, in her efforts for transparency and change?
If your organization is truly committed to its mission statement, then you will at least attempt one of these suggested public displays of outrage. Standing by is not standing up. I would welcome a phone call or an email.
Thanking you in advance.
Excellent letter putting the facts out there for all to see and understand. Let's see if such an organization has the courage and dedication to its purpose to stand up against such happenings in our school and to support those who seek to prevent these ugly and despicable incidents, implement corrective and preventive measures, and to hold those responsible whether they be adults or students.