Children Can Be Cruel

by YacineAitSlimane on October 16, 2015 - 12:23pm

In her news article entitled “Torrence Collier, 11, says he faces racism, extreme bullying in Westport”, published on June 11, 2014 on CBC News, Lindsay Bird depicts the exasperating life of little Torrence Collier, an 11 years old year boy from Newfoundland who is victim of extreme racism and bullying at school. This 5th grade student is the only black child at St. Peter’s Academy in the town of Wesport. The author says the racist incidents includes racist comments and getting bullied every day by the other white students. In a video interview concocted by Bird, Torrence states that he is very scared and that he doesn’t understand why everybody hates him. He also adds that school feels like a prison and that sometimes he wonders if the intimidators are right. Torrence’s family sought counselling to help him as he is very depressed and says he wants to die to escape these endless slurs.  The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District consequently held anti-bullying presentations for all students at St. Peter's Academy. Furthermore, Torrence is supervised every day at school and even uses a separate washroom to avoid any assault. The authors concludes by stating that being provincially run, the Newfoundland School district has no direct affiliation with town authorities as Torrence’s mother desperately wonders how to stop all this bullying and racism.

 

 

 

In my opinion, this article is effective as the information is very clear and supported by interviews from the victim. On the other hand, I also find it weak as it only shows little Torrence as the victim here. He could have maybe been the instigator at some moments but after reading this article, we can only assume that racism was the only reason for Torrence being intimated and bullied. However, I personally believe that racism is a reason or at least plays a part in Torrence’s endless slurs as he is the only black at that school. When I moved from Europe to establish myself in Montreal, my twin brother and I were the only two black person at our elementary school in Saint-Constant. Fortunately, I was never bullied but I was victim of racist remarks. I recall comments like “is that brown paint on you?” or “you are only good at sports because you’re black”. I remember how badly these comments affected me. However, when I think back, I wonder if these comments were purposely racist as some kids don’t know about race and how racism affects people. I believe this explanation can also relate to Torrence Collier’s incident. Obviously bullying and physically assaulting should not be tolerated and be severely punished but are these “racist” children fully aware of the repercussion of their actions? I strongly believe that parents should take responsibility in these situations. As stated in “Children are not colorblind: how young children learn race” by Erin N. Winkler, it is very important to enlightened young children about racial differences and why racist discrimination is wrong as children tend to draw conclusion based on how they see society. If parents are aware that their child is enduring racism or is committing this type of offense, then they have to help them understand what they are doing and how they can learn from these situations to avoid very sad incidents similar to Torrence’s case.

 

 

 

Reference:

 

Bird, L. (2014, June 11). Torrence Collier, 11, says he faces racism, extreme bullying in Westport. CBC News. Retrieved October 16, 2015, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/torrence-collier-11-...

 

Comments

I chose to respond to your post because the title is very captivating and made me want to know more about your article. I find it rare that we notice children who racially bully other’s and it is very important to point it out since it happens more frequently than we actually think. Also, I chose your post because I had a very good understanding of your article while reading it. I am in total agreement with you response because I think that parents do need to take responsibility in these situations; children should not get bullied because other skin color. When you said, “Obviously bullying and physically assaulting should not be tolerated and be severely punished” I thought that it was very accurate because no human should be bullied or even racially bullied; it is unacceptable. I also think that skin color should not determine who you are; no one should get bullied because they have a different skin color form everyone else. Furthermore, when I was younger in elementary school, there was a black skinned boy who once lived an experience that can relate to your poste. At school, he often got bullied because he was different from everyone else. He did not have the same skin color as everyone else and other students made fun of him. Just like the young boy in the article that you have chosen. I personally think that it is not fine for a young child to racially bully another. Finally, why do you think children do this? Do you think it is because they want to show their superiority? Or even to make sure that the young child who is racially intimidated knows that he is “not” like everyone else?

I chose to respond to this post for the simple reason that I have had personal experiences with bullying in my family, and could not agree more that something must be done to stop this type of harassment. A family member of the same age as me was born extremely premature, resulting in evident physical differences. Mentally, however, she is fully developed and has absolutely no retardation. Throughout our high school years together, she was taunted, bullied, threatened, all do to the fact that she is very small. Similarly to Torrence, she was bullied based on purely physical attributes, which have nothing to do with her personality or her character. Children usually bully minority groups because they are easier to target, and this behavior comes from a deeply rooted need for superiority and a mix of socialization factors that have influenced such negative actions. Any type of bullying is unacceptable, but bullying do to something like skin color is beyond wrong and should never be tolerated. The school and even law enforcement in this town should have acted more severely a long time ago, to the point of expelling the bullies and seriously warning the parents. Children need to learn from a young age that this is wrong as can be understood from Erin Winkler’s article, if we ever want to alleviate this issue in our society. More severe punishments need to be implemented, as skin color or any other physical trait is not a determinant of how someone deserves to be treated or of their ranking in society. Torrence is only one example of a very big social issue, and many other children go through this each day. It is horrifying to think that children can be this cruel, so perhaps police should get involved and implement consequences on these bullies, even if they are young children.

I chose to comment on this article because the subject closely ties in with what we recently discussed in class. I believe the story of Torrence Collier is very sad and unfortunate. It is terrifying to see the effects of racism and how it can push an eleven year old boy to think about putting an end to his life to end the suffering. I agree with Yacine when he says that parent’s must implicate themselves in teaching their child about race and racism and not to push away this subject. As we learned in class there are several activities which parents can do with their child to teach them about equality and inform them about racial conflict. There are several children’s books and poems for example which parents can use to inform their child on these subjects. I would also add that teachers have a great role to play in the situation concerning the young Torrence. It seems to me very unusual that teachers did not intervene earlier to stop the racist remarks. It is as if the school direction did not take the incidents seriously. I believe consequences for racism and bullying in school should be much more severe than they currently are maybe even going to the point of expelling repeat offenders. In the case of Torrence Collier, I am not sure if the school is making the right efforts to protect him; the washroom assaults for example. Do you think making him use a different washroom might add to the bullying seeing as it creates an even greater separation between Torrence and his peers?

After reading your publication about a child intimidation story, I felt compelled to comment for the simple reason that it revolves around the same theme as in my article response: “Education and Racism”. My article questioned the education curriculum and the white teachers compared to yours that spoke about the racial intimidation in a specific school. However, we both demonstrated the same solution which is to talk about the problem so that children are more aware of the impact of their actions.
For my part, I totally agree with your point of view that children do not always aware of what they do and its impact. Your personal example really illustrated that and made me remember some similar situations of my summers as a monitor in a day camp. Children say comments and act a certain way without thinking rationally, but when an older person speaks about the situation with them they do understand and correct themselves. The experience I had those delicate situation with children made me understand that racism must be a subject of conversation that needs to be approached in a proper and a simple matter very early in children’s lives. I strongly believe that everyone should be involved in re-questioning children about racism. Not only parents, as you mentioned, because they are not with the children a hundred percent of the time. In addition to the family, teachers, principals and even the neighbourhood needs to be implicated in stopping those negative innocent perceptions of youth to prevent situations like little Torrence experienced. According to the text “Children are not colorblind”, one can confirm that racial stereotypes arrive early in a children’s brain, because they can only classify someone with one characteristic. Therefore, it is comprehensible that the bulling that this 5th grade student faced was based on early stereotypes that were not questioned or corrected throughout the years. It is for this reason, that it radical to stop these negative racist ideas of children’s brain, so they do not associate colour or other characteristics with racial stereotypes like intelligence.
After reading both of these publications, I am conscious that education has huge role to play in eliminating racial stereotypes of children brains to eventually remove racism from schools. As I continue my path towards becoming a primary school teacher, I keep these article in mind because I know that I will have to do my part in talking about this ‘taboo’ subject in class. As I wonder about my future role of a white teacher to play to eliminate racism, I wonder if there is a course I can take to be more prepared to talk about that subject to children and to parents?

To begin, at first, scrolling through these articles, not a single one caught my attention. Luckily, I stumbled upon one entitled ‘’ Children can be cruel.’’ Customarily, children are rarely associated with being evil. They are usually portrayed as innocent adorable kids. Convinced that this would be an interesting and captivating article, I felt obligated to click on it. After reading the article and your critique, there are definitely some points I would agree and disagree with. First, I think living in a multi-ethnic and modern society, like you stated, it is very unfortunate that racism is still present, specially when it involves young children. I believe that Torrence Collier, an eleven-year-old black boy, does not deserve to live with stress, anxiety and fear. He has the right to attend school to learn, make friends and most importantly have a good time. I definitely agree with your statement that parents need to educate their children about racism/bullying and what they can learn from these situations. However, I think that even if parents do educate their children, when the child goes to school, it is not guaranteed that one will actually listen to their parents. Unlike what you think, I believe sometimes it is out of the parents’ control. In other words, a parent can be the best teacher, but once the child is out of sight, he can commit the cruelest actions towards another child. In my opinion, the school systems should be significantly held more accountable for the numerous bullying/racist situations occurring. To be more precise, others mistreat Torrence Collier when he is in a school setting. Therefore, I think the education institutions should implement severe sanctions (expel, detention) against bullying. The principal should establish more security (supervisor/guards) during recess and lunch-time. By making Torrence Collier use a different washroom, in my point of view, is a way to push away/get rid of the problem, instead of actually finding an appropriate and effective solution. At such a young age, he should not have to use a different washroom to be treated as an equal. Pushing him away from other students will not help him make more friends. Educating young children is important, but in my point of view, the school is not educating them in the right way. Holding anti-bullying presentations and supervising Torrence Collier’s actions are perhaps not the right steps to solve the problem. It could be as simple as putting the bullies in Torrence’s shoes. For example, holding an experiment like Jane Elliott’s ‘’blue eyes/brown eyes,’’ or even to involved law enforcement could be the answer. In some cases, in order to take control of the situation, you have to be strict (authoritarian). To conclude, do you think if the school supervised the other students and established more severe sanctions, such as expelling and giving detention to students, would decrease the bullying/racist comments?

Hi Yacine, you bring some very interesting points to light. It is evident that Torrence was profoundly disliked by his peers and this can be attributed to the fact that he was perpetually harassed and assaulted. In addition, your personal anecdote of life in Canada is extremely relevant to Torrence’s situation. Thankfully, your experience was much more pleasant compared to his, even though you were exposed to a degree of racism and xenophobia. Nonetheless, there are a few instances where your article is lacking a few elements to make it more cohesive. While I do agree with you that some children do not have the full capacity to understand the differences in race, it is very ignorant to say that the racism Torrence is subjected to is not purposefully racist. Children can easily observe that their only counterpart that is different is Torrence; therefore they pick on him solely because the pigments of their skin differ. You mentioned that we don’t know the full story, so we do not know whom the true aggressor is, however, Torrence just wanted to integrate and make friends. White people are not inherently racist, and in Canada we generally pat ourselves on the back for being more progressive and accepting. This implores the question of why he is forced to use a separate bathroom to avoid being hurt. This child, who has not even experienced one fifth of his life, already desperately wants it to end. Boys can be cruel and even they can embody traits of the man box. They are subconsciously taught to defend their masculinity, even with violence. Another characteristic is to dominate over the weaker or ‘inferior’ people. To conclude, I do believe that parents play a crucial in the formation of their children’s beliefs, and up until 6 years old, the child’s main interaction will be with his parents. Therefore, the parents should be re-educated and throw away all their predispositions to educate their kids.

Man Box Definition:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=man+box