Friday, April 13, 2012

Good News Friday #1: Bully Guards

Austin Carson, Cohner Mokry, and Ryder Burke

I remember when I was in school, the jocks were the gods. They could do whatever they wanted, say whatever they wanted, and no one dared complain.
Some were nice.
Some were innocuous.
Some were bullies.
At Claudia Taylor 'Lady Bird' Johnson High School in San Antonio, the jocks aren't the bullies. There are the friends of the bullied.
This year, at the urging of Carri Elliott, a school counselor, three football players--Austin Carson, Cohner Mokry, and Ryder Burke--have been guarding something other than the ball. They have come to the aid of a freshman who was being bullied. And it's worked out so well that she has recruited other players is expanding the buddy system.
It all started last August when a freshman boy found his locker broken into and sprayed with deodorant; his shoes were stolen. Add to that, that during class time, and on school buses, he was verbally abused and assaulted by the bullies. He was the new kid, the shy kid, the kid for whom English was a second language. He was the so-called perfect target for bullies.
Carri Elliott says that boy,[whose name is not used in the story, as he recently moved out of Texas, though not because of the bullying] used to pray for a "good day" at school, so she decided to find a way to help him out.
First, she approached the bullies, but that didn't work. They said he was just a crybaby, crying to the counselor for attention. And, she realized, that if the bullies weren't going to admit what they'd done, it might just make life harder for that boy.
So, Carri Elliott thought about how it might be to live a day as that bullied teenager, and suddenly she got an idea. If she were a student, whom might she revere? 
It hit her: “This is Texas. You have Jesus and then you have football.”
So she decided to ask Johnson's  And he volunteered Mokry, Burke, and Carson, who did not know the freshman, but soon learned his entire daily schedule.
coach to nominate some football players who might be able to help her.
The three seniors would leave their classes a couple of minutes early to meet the boy outside his classroom and chat with him while walking him to his next class.
Ryder Burke: “He was so by himself. Us three were already great friends and ... he just got tossed into the mix.”
Austin Carson says the boy soon outgrew his shyness: “There were times when I couldn't get a word in edgewise.”
One day, as the football trio stood with the young boy at his bus stop, he pointed out one of the bullies. Burke and Austin chose that moment to talk to the other student: “Me and Austin walk over and, not in an intimidating way, start talking to the guy and trying to get an understanding of what was going on. This guy, he didn't really know how to accept [the freshman who is] culturally different.”
And that's why he bullied. Because the boy was 'different'.
And soon, the bullying stopped. And it worked so well, that Carri Elliott expanded the newly named Bully Guards to include nine more football players and four other tormented students. For next year, she's lined up 18 football players to help eight incoming freshmen.
For their efforts, Austin Carson, Cohner Mokry, and Ryder Burke were honored by the North East Independent School District trustees. And the Johnson football players have partnered with the school's Unity Club to promote a “No Place for Hate” Day on the campus later this month.
Cohner Mokry: “I see the whole school in a different perspective. [Bullying] is there but it's hidden. Just standing up to it and trying to stop bullying, as a whole, is really big.”
Now, how's that for a solution?
Give those bullied students a group of friends, in the form of jocks, to protect them. It may sound a little too pat of a solution, and a non-solution in some ways; I mean, what does the bullied student do when his trio of Bully Guards aren't around? But, it sends a very strong, very clear message, to those who bully. It is not acceptable. It will not be tolerated.
Like I said, some of the jocks from my high school days were the bullies, but it sure would have been nice to have Carson, Mokry and Burke around. Sometimes all you need to have a "good day" at school is a friend to walk the halls by your side.


froggy said...

One of my favorite Neighborhood Tribe Members acted in this capacity when he was in high school. Total sweetheart except on the football field.

Wonder Man said...

I'm glad to read this

Princess said...

What a refreshing tale of challenging bullying behaviour in schools. The important fact is... that bullies will not acknowledge their behaviour when openly called on it. It always ... in my experience... gets turned around it being the victims fault.
Articles like this prove that there is hope for change. And that is a very good thing....

mistress maddie said...

I have been getting bullied of late, could you send the Bully Guards to the aide of the Mistress!

Miss Ginger Grant said...

This story literally made me weep with joy!!! What a beautiful thing! I hope you won't mind if I post it on Facebook for all of my teacher friend to consider!

Kailyn said...

Great story!