Michael Valdez is an 8th grader at Turlock Junior High. He’s in their special education program. Last Tuesday he was on his way home when 3 students jumped him, beat him, then took his shoes and bike while telling him, “don’t snitch.” One of the 3 even recorded the whole thing. Turlock police are still investigating. The school says they’ve identified the 3 attackers. A week removed Michael is doing much better but doesn’t understand why this happened. 30% of students in our country are bullied. Some on a daily basis. And as the father of a special needs student I can tell you kids who face the same challenges as Michael and my son are easy targets. They’re sweet souls who don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. There’s not even a thought in their heads that someone would want to hurt them or bully them.
Many schools have anti-bullying programs. Turlock Junior High emphasizes, “See Something, Say Something.” Here in Sacramento city and county schools participate in the “Stand Up, Speak Out,” against bullying program. It needs to go beyond that. Tolerance, kindness and inclusion should be an every day goal. At home, at work, at school and in public. In the fall of 2017 Burger King (yes, Burger King), released this anti-bullying video. It’s worth 3 minutes of your time. And if you have kids, please show it to them. I’m sure Michael would thank you.