Billy Davis column 6-26-12

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bullying, ‘Active Shooter’ rehearsal sadly related

It seems almost providential, looking back to last week, that the front page of the June 22 issue of The Panolian had the following two stories.

One story described an “Active Shooter” scenario planned for this week at Batesville Junior High School. The scenario is the same as a 2010 scenario: a school shooter has entered the school and opened fire, and local law enforcement is responding posthaste with guns drawn.

The second story was about bullying at South Panola. The story described a June 19 school board meeting where two parents described incidents of bullying in which school authorities failed to help their children.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

There is a similarity here. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the infamous Columbine High shooters, murdered 12 students and a teacher in 1999, and wounded 21 more, before turning the guns on themselves.

Everything from violent video games to anti-depressant drugs were suggested as motives, but there was another motive mentioned by law enforcement and academia: the students had been bullied for years.

A year after the Columbine rampage, the U.S. Secret Service analyzed 37 school shootings. Bullying played a role in more than two-thirds of the shootings according to a Washington Post story.  

The shooting at Columbine was preceded by the school shooting at Pearl High School here in Mississippi. Before he opened fire, Luke Woodham handed a note to a friend. It read:

“I am not insane. I am angry. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society, push us and we will push back.”

See a pattern yet?

Homicides and suicides

You are reading the words of someone who was bullied at South Panola, from elementary school through high school. It was done by the same troubled person who should have been sent home for good before he ever reached junior high. Be he stayed in school, and he teased and tortured and fought my classmates for more than a decade.

But he never fought me. That’s because I never fought back, believing that it was better to be humiliated with a quick minute of bullying than being expelled or, worse than that, getting my tail kicked.

He is the only person I have ever wished, literally, to kill if I could get away with it.

While I dreamed of revenge, others who are bullied turn a gun on themselves. Victims of bullying are nine times more likely to commit suicide according to a study by Yale University.

Lazy dogs

My phone rings every so often at The Panolian with a mad parent who is angry at their child’s mistreatment at the hands of trained leaders who should know better. The frustration isn’t with the bully — it’s the school district’s response, which is like a lazy dog alerted to burglars in the house.

Parents have a God-given responsibility to protect their children. That responsibility is surrendered to teachers and principals every day when their child goes to school, and you can bet a child’s safety is more important to a parent than learning their ABCs.


Apparently there is an anti-bullying program in place at South Panola according to last week’s article.

What is it? How does it work?

There is something else at work at South Panola, too, which is a “zero-tolerance” policy. Back in my high school days Principal Barton would probably have patted me on the back for fighting back against the bully, whom he knew well. But today, under this rule, I would be sent home for punching back.  

If a child can’t fight back, all they have for a defense is the teacher’s attentive eyes and listening ears. Or they can go to their daddy’s closet, pick up the 12 gauge, and seek their own justice.  

There’s no arguing anymore that is what triggered bloodshed across our schools. Think about that when you hear the sirens rushing to Batesville Junior High this week.