In Brentwood, Alberta, it's not a fight with the city regarding parking tickets or new stoplights. These residents are mad cause the city is trying to plant... trees. Ellen Burgess is happy with the safety of her neighborhood. But she says: "If you give people more places to hide, more naughty things will be done." And she's going door to door to stop the city from planting trees in the nearby park to prevent the area from becoming a haven for urban campers and drug-using teenagers.
I can understand Ellen's frustration. Trees are pretty evil, after all. If we don't stop the tree planters, these things will happen if the tree planters win:
What fun would that be? The "It" kids might have their self esteem hurt if the park isn't open and they can't find their friends in less than two seconds.
Oxygen breathers! I hate those guys. Trees just encourage their continued existence.
Nobody likes leaves. You've got to rake them and bugs like to hide in them. They fall from the trees, all majestic-like, and annoying kids and animals like to play in them. They definitely don't inspire people to paint, take photos, or write poetry. They're just a flat out, ugly nuisance.
We're breaking the hottest summers on record every year. Why would we want to stop that trend by planting trees that remove CO2 from the air? A little mop sweat will build character in our kids, right? We don't want them to grow up to be cool-loving pansies.
Birds, bunnies and squirrels? Fuck those guys. Kids don't need to see those things living near our super-domesticated burb domiciles. Cats can deal with hiding in the one bush in our front yard, and dogs can use the fire hydrants.
Listen. I've paid good money to live in a place that has a short commute to a highway. I want to listen to cars and trucks driving at high speeds all night long, like the sweet urban lullabye it is. I don't want trees muffling breaking that noise up.
Alex Hernandez of Omaha NB's photo went viral a few days ago: it showed the contents of his backpack, including his debit card, tablet, cochlear implant, and English homework dumped in a toilet... by his own classmates. Alex, who has been deaf since he was 1 year old, says this isn't the first time he's been bullied - it's been going on for years. He shared the photo on social media after reporting his backpack missing after lunch and later discovering it in the bathroom.
Fortunately, the good Samaritans of the internet have responded to Alex's needs. A GoFundMe page for $800 to replace the contents of his backpack was quickly filled and has since been taken down. But although he is grateful for the support from the community, Alex no longer feels safe at his high school, and has decided to transfer out - a decision supported by his mother, who told US news sources on Tuesday that she was planning to file a police report and is still unhappy about the situation.
“It’s not fair that the bullies think they can continue with this behavior,” she said. “They need to be reminded that there are consequences to stealing and bullying.”
While I'm thrilled that his mom's filing a police report, I sat there wondering: what is the school doing? And after this long, I'm afraid that the answer is: fuck all.
Bullying is a pervasive problem, and given the sad reality of the news I think that a lot of schools schools are too afraid to get involved because they're afraid of what parents might do. While some parents maintain that learning to cope with bullies is almost a rite of passage and that protecting kids makes bullying worse, others maintain that bullying exists because we don't do enough to tell people it's not okay. Arguably, technology has made bullying worse. Where we were able to go home and have a safe haven from bullies, social media has not only made it so that bullying can follow kids around, the technology's "memory" persists long after the bullies would forget. In the last few years, there has been more than one tragic news story about teens and preteens committing suicide after being bullied, including the 13 year old boy from Staten Island, NY, last month who said the teachers didn't do anything to prevent it and told him "these things will pass." "I gave up," he wrote in his suicide note before he hung himself.
I'm sick of seeing bullying and nothing being done. Sick of it.
As a mom of a kid who was bullied over a purple backpack, a former teenager myself, and long-time veteran of the internet (22 years and counting), I've seen a lot of bullies. I have the somewhat unpopular opinion that bullying won't stop unless punitive action is taken against bullies directly, and it is proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that society does not consider this behaviour acceptable. You can't just say it's not nice to be a bully. You have to have the teeth to back that up. History has proven time and time again that without the threat of law, a few bad apples will break order down and ruin the nice things for everyone.
The trolls don't starve when you neglect to feed them. They just go find some other unsuspecting victim to eat.
Punishing bullying works. I have told my kid to hit another kid, and I don't regret it. Teaching my kid to walk softly and carry a big stick was probably one of the best pieces of advice I've given him to date. HOWEVER - I don't believe this is the way it ought to be. While I trust me and my son not to get the whole wrong idea about self defence, if individuals have to take up the torch because the law and administration won't, sooner or later you're going to get vigilante justice that's just as bad. If you don't believe me, look at Brock Turner who's getting his just desserts and then some, up to and including people threatening to shoot him.
I think the law didn't do him any favours by not sending him to a prison and "ruining his life."
But it has to start young. Schools need to get more involved in punishing bullying behaviour rather than turning a blind eye. Suspend and expel the kids. I guarantee you that the parents of bullies will decide to get involved when it starts affecting them. Some regions have even considered fining the parents of bullies, and I think this is actually a great idea.
And then, go after the adults who spend so much time harrassing and bullying others.
The University of Waterloo, a prestigious university in Ontario with a reputation for being the MIT of the Great White North, has a promising new honours physics student starting this year.
And he’s 12 years-old.
Diki Suryaatmadja hails from West Java, a province in Indonesia. He looks like any other kid his age, and he sounds a lot like one too – he says McDonald’s is his favourite fast food because “It makes you happy. That’s why it’s called a Happy Meal.”
But Diki is definitely not like most kids his age – he was fast-tracked through elementary and high school in his home country. He taught himself English “through osmosis” in about six months with subtitled movies and articles, and was awarded a scholarship to come to Waterloo despite his young age.
At Waterloo, he plans to study more about generating cheaper, more renewable energy. And he’ll be the youngest person ever enrolled there, as far as the school is aware.
Diki landed in Canada only a few days ago with his dad, and he’s already having a few transition hiccups in culture and climate. This first winter might be a surprise to this boy from the tropical climate, but we’re confident that it’ll be nothing that he won’t be able to handle.
As remarkable as Diki’s story is, believe it or not, there’s another unusually young student attending university this year, too. In the United States, Cornell University this year has admitted Jeremy Shuler, the 12 year old home-schooled student of two aerospace engineers from Texas. Jeremy’s dad says he fixated on letters and numbers by 3 months old, knew the alphabet by 15 months, and was reading by 21 months of age in both English… and Korean. At Cornell, Jeremy plans on pursuing an engineering degree.
Doogie Howser, eat your heart out. We can only imagine what shenanigans these two boys will be up to when they graduate at age 16.
Good luck, Diki and Jeremy!