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GOOD NEWS Bulletin Board:
Marcus "loves cats so much" that he often brings home strays to care for them. He also loves computers, earth science and collecting rocks! This "intelligent, loving" 5th grader used to love going to school, too... until last year when one of his friends began to call him names. Name-calling soon escalated to physical violence. Marcus does not know why he is being bullied.
Marcus' grandmother told us he has been physically assaulted 5 times in the past 3 months, prompting trips to the emergency room and police reports complete with pictures of bruises and scratches. Classmates taunt him, twisting words like "special" and "gay" to hurt him, and they make obscene gestures at him. He was burned by a lighter. He was punched in the face just walking down the hall. Last week, his grandmother, who is his legal guardian, took him out of school for his own safety.
Marcus has ADHD and is being tested for Asberger's, a high-functioning form of autism. His Grandmother, Linda, believes this is at the root of the bullying because his classmates see a smart boy who doesn't "look" different, so they expect his behavior to be just like everyone else's. She says Marcus is a "very good person" who gets frustrated sometimes in school and can have trouble containing his emotions. He knows to take himself to a quiet room called the "Bridge Room" to calm down. Like all kids, Marcus loves to have friends, yet it is difficult for him to join friends out in the community because he is very sensitive to loud noises and stimulation.
The bullying incident last month that finally made his grandmother remove him from school was recounted by Marcus to local NewsChannel 10 reporter, Nicolette Perrone, as follows...
Marcus says one of the boys showed him a pocket knife and told him "next time I am going to kill you."
Typical of bullying, this incident happened out of sight of adults in an unsupervised hallway. Marcus had the physical marks to prove it, but the bullies denied it all and the school administrators, not knowing who to believe, could not take action except to install cameras in the hallway and give Marcus an aid to walk him through the hallways. But bullies still found a way and his grandmother removed him from school. She hopes to find a new placement better equipped for children with special needs.
If you're being bullied, Marcus has a message: "Ignore them." He has begun to advocate for other bullied kids by posting videos of support from home. His message to the bullies is "to stop hurting other kids."
Because he says he's experienced that hurt first-hand, he told NewsChannel10 that he is "afraid, that I can't do anything in life to get away from them." His grandmother says,"I want him to stop being bullied, because I don't want him to end up doing something stupid to where he's going to kill himself or he's tired of it."
WE CAN HELP MARCUS STAY STRONG WITH YOUR MESSAGES OF PEER SUPPORT!!
DUE DATE for LETTERS FOR MARCUS is FEBRUARY 28th! :)
Marcus reads on a 3rd grade level but his grandmother will read letters out loud for him, when needed.
AN IDEA: MARCUS COLLECTS ROCKS! FIND AN AWESOME, SMALL ROCK...
Mark it with a Sharpie or put in a small cloth or mesh bag with a message or what state it comes from!
But we beg of you to make sure it is a very small rock so our delivery postage does not break the bank! :)
The Be-A-Friend Project does not give advice, therapy or intervention.
Our one purpose is to send letters and cards of encouragement and caring from kids to kids.
11-year-old Texan fears his life will always be full of bullies.
Help us make him FRIEND STRONG!
"I was threatened for my life," said Marcus. "One of the kids jumped me and then I dropped my tray. He started punching me and he told the other kids. 'There you go, he's all yours.' Then they started pinching me and punching me."
TAP TO READ MARCUS' FULL INTERVIEW ON THE NEWS
Be-A-Friend to Marcus
WATCH A FEW SECONDS OF MARCUS TALKING TO REPORTER, NICOLETTE PERRONE OF NEWSCHANNEL 10 AMARILLO TX...
Mail Letters for Marcus by February 28th
TO: See The Wish/Be-A-Friend Project
246 Main Street
Cold Spring, NY 10516
Or, you can skip the postage and email your letter or drawing (embedded in the email or a clear picture or scanned letter) to email@example.com.
We'll print it and include it in his "Friend Mail" package!
Entering middle school is when children begin to notice differences in themselves and others and, because of insecurities, might work to "fit in" rather than standing out and/or embracing differences in others... a child that had good friends in elementary school might suddenly find their friends turning away from him or her, such as a boy as unique and interesting as Marcus. This is often the sad beginning of bullying behavior.