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On January 10, a sixth grader at the Darby Township School in Darby Township, Pennsylvania was attacked by two bullies and suffered a broken nose and a concussion as a result.  A few days later, he started having seizures, and was placed in a medically-induced coma. The DelcoTimes indicated that, as of February 8, this student had been in a coma for over two weeks.  Since then, the coma lasted another two weeks.  Fortunately, it appears that the student is now out of the coma, although still in recovery.  

Unfortunately, the punishment meted out by the school for this attack on a student - which left that student with a broken nose and over four weeks of being in a coma - was a measly 2-day suspension.  What you'd expect a student to get for showing up late to classes a few times or talking back to a teacher.  Not what you'd expect a student to get for a particularly brutal attack, even as assaults and batteries go.  

And it doesn't seem like Darby Township School principal Ashwina Mosakowski and district superintendent Stephen Butz have followed their own policies in meting out such a trivial punishment. Darby Township schools provides for four levels of infractions, and reads, in pertinent part:

Violence to another person or property posing a direct threat to the safety of others and is clearly criminal in nature may include but is not limited to the following:
-    Possession, use and/or transfer of weapons (real, fake or suggestive of) (Act 256 of 1995)
-    Sale and/or transfer of unauthorized substances (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, chemicals, etc.)
-    Major theft (includes possession and/or sale of stolen property)
-    Arson in or around school buildings or on school buses
-    Tampering with fire alarms and/or extinguishers
-    False fire alarms and/or bomb threats
-    Breaking and entering
-    Assault/battery to teachers and other students
-    Vandalism
-    Any other criminal acts committed at school or during school related activities

The disciplinary options that may be used include:
-    Parent Conference
-    Out-of-School Suspension (Up to 10 days)
-    Expulsion
-    Referral to School Police and Authorities with possible citation
-    Additional Outside Agencies as needed
-    Alternative Placement In/Out of the District
-    Restitution of Property and Damages
-    Other Appropriate Board Action

If this incident didn't necessitate expulsion, or at least more than a mere 2-days suspension, one can't help but wonder what might?  If this doesn't merit the maximum penalty, what exactly would?  If a student threatened to hit someone with a fake weapon, would the school have treated that so leniently?  If, instead of sending someone into a coma, the bullies had been caught bringing marijuana into school, would their punishment be a mere 2-day suspension?  What if they had pulled a fire-alarm?  What does that say about our priorities?

On the plus side, NBC reports that police are now investigating this attack.  Although whether they actually do something about it, or try to sweep it under the rug like the school administrators have, remains to be seen.

And, in other news, bullying victims are over 4 times as likely to develop many psychological disorders lasting into adulthood than non-bullied students.  But I suppose that such things aren't as important as someone pulling a fire-alarm.

Originally posted to btfsilence on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 07:42 PM PST.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is monstrous. (13+ / 0-)

    I immediately start wondering about the politics of the situation. What was the principal's relationship before the attack, if any, to the bullies or to their parents? How did the perpetrators fit into the community?

    It's possible the principal is simply a spineless nitwit, who will go on record, appallingly, as blaming the victim for the attack. (In my own community a few years ago, a student was seriously injured in an attack at an elementary school, and the principal went on to make a complete ass of herself in this manner.) It's also possible there are complexities to this situation we still don't know.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 07:50:28 PM PST

  •  I have a pretty good idea why kids who are bullied (24+ / 0-)

    have emotional problems later on. It's because they have to internalize all that rage and impotent frustration. They're too afraid to fight back because sometimes literally the bullies might maim them in some way. They frequently have nowhere to go, won't "snitch" for fear of further retaliation, and so on.

    I know. I was bullied as a kid and wanted to kill these bastards but felt completely powerless. I was little, overweight, and couldn't take the kind of merciless name-calling and teasing that some kids can dish out.

    Now? I'd rather die than put up with senseless torture like this. And when I see kids being bullied I react with a kind of biblical ferocity. I just won't tolerate it anymore. I'm a volunteer at a school and witnessed a bullying a few years back. I was furious, and told the bully that if I saw him doing it again I wouldn't call his teacher. I wouldn't call his parents. I wouldn't call his principal. I told him that I'd call the fucking cops. He got the message because he knew I meant it cold.

    Yes, I know that bullies need help, too. But first interrupt the goddamned torture.

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 07:56:37 PM PST

  •  They are not bullies. (13+ / 0-)

    They are criminals. Period. The word "bully" needs to disappear, IMO, because its connotations are disproportionate to the consequences of their actions.

    An adult assaults anyone (of any age) and they go to trial. Same should be true for kids - no exceptions. I have had enough.

    Oh, and the victim shouldn't have to "press charges" for a crime to be tried in court; it should happen by default. Murder victims don't have to "press charges" now, do they?

    •  How do you know? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, TooFolkGR

      I read the articles and I don't know that. The family says two kids jumped him and it's on video, and if that's true then the police should have done something by now. But the police chief says numerous witnesses said it was a one-on-one altercation, and doesn't say anything about a video. If they're still investigating over a month later, maybe it's just not clear what happened.

      One article says he started having seizures the day after the incident, and the other says he went back to class for the rest of the day and went to school for another week before the seizures started. It sounds as though the doctors have not been willing so far to say that the incident was the cause of the seizures.

      If someone doesn't press charges and there aren't witnesses testifying that one party attacked the other, how does anyone know it's assault and not a fight?

      The police were called and started investigating the day it happened.

      I don't see enough information here to say that the school or the police were remiss.

      We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

      by denise b on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 10:26:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK, putting on the skeptical objective hat (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The hospitalized kid had a concussion before the seizures began. Let's suppose the seizures were some kind of coincidence. Let's suppose it wasn't an "assault".

        An "altercation" that leaves someone with a concussion is a law enforcement issue.

        Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

        by Dogs are fuzzy on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 10:54:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Or maybe the police are investigating... (0+ / 0-)

        with the same urgency that they "investigated" Trayvon's Martin murder, or the way they used to "investigate" domestic violence or spousal rape?  Especially me crazy...a few police officers might happen to have been bullies growing up.

        There is a reason police now have to make an arrest whenever they get a domestic violence call.  And it isn't because women never used to get beat.

        "If someone doesn't press charges and there aren't witnesses testifying that one party attacked the other, how does anyone know it's assault and not a fight?"

        This is pretty much the same argument raised whenever someone wants to defend a child molester, rapist, or domestic abuser.  Why raise it against victims of bullying?  I mean, most of the time, child molestation, rape, and domestic abuse is just a "one-on-one altercation."  And what an odd euphonium for an attack that landed left someone with a broken nose and  a coma.  And, hey, the Trayvon Martin murder was just a "one-on-one altercation," so I assume you will next be defending George Zimmerman?  Or just schoolyard bullies?

         A few minor discrepancies in varying news reports notwithstanding.  (And is there any news story reported by more than one source that doesn't have minor discrepancies?).

         And of course its always a 1 on 1 fight when bullying is involved.  Unless the bullies loses, than his friends (who also happen to be the witnesses most of the time...) jump in.    The victims generally have far less social capital than the bullies.  And its well-known in the psychological literature that people tend to side with the aggressor.  

        With all due respect, you seem woefully uneducated about the dynamics of bullying.

        Calling it a fight is no more accurate - or progressive - than calling domestic violence "a fight".  And punishment is just as appropriate.  Even if the police and a certain segment of society sympathize with the bullies and don't think its a serious offense.

        •  And you seem woefully (0+ / 0-)

          willing to abandon the presumption of innocence.

          We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

          by denise b on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 12:32:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Considering the severity of the assualt, why (6+ / 0-)

    weren't the police called? These kids need something a lot more than a couples  days suspension. Mandatory counseling at the very least. I hate the idea of sending someone only 11 to juvie but jeez.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:38:59 PM PST

    •  A Lot More (5+ / 0-)

      If I push you in anger and you hit your head and go into a coma I am going to spend a lot of time in jail. If you die I might go to jail for manslaugher.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:45:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Depends on the state at that age (6+ / 0-)

        Unless they try him as an adult, he'd likely spend no more than 10 years in juvie and be released at 21.  A kid with that level of anger may need to be incarcerated--but there's some serious problem there, and I want him to get help--because he's likley to get worse not better. Stats show bullies have a really good chance of substance abuse or violent criminalk behavior as adults.  

        I hope the victim's aprents sue the school and the assailant's parents for shitloads of money.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:54:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh I Am With You (5+ / 0-)

          I don't think for a second that kid can't be helped.

          When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

          by webranding on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:57:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Better get him help now (7+ / 0-)

            than later--or spend a fortune  when he gets the death penalty (FYI I oppose the death penalty because you cannot restore the life of an innocent man who was wrongly convicted).

            On the other hand if the kid is a budding pyschopath, a real possiblity, only an institutional setting or court-ordered cousneling will be effective because he'll blow it off--said my old shrink whose first job was in a prison. Sadly many good shrinks don't recognize a psycho because they are very good at jerking people around.

            But he might be redeemable. ANd there might be something a lot worse going on with him that has nothing to do with school.My friend's son, always stubborn and difficult (made more so by teachers who couldn't handle a very bright, high energy kid who was bored stiff) started becoming a real problem a few years ago-=-suspended,  lots of stuff.  It turned out he had been raped repeatedly around age 10-11 by a neighbor. School didn't care. He got worse. Refused to talk to his counselors (my friend said most of them were about as helpful as Mr. Rogers, well-meaning but clueless about how to handle his situation, and one was downright incompetent). I don[t know what will happen to him.

            Some bullies do what they learn at home. Others are the popular kids from good families (Draco Malfoy Syndrome) and everyone lets them get away with it. The Malfoy types need to have someone come down on them hard to get the message across.  The thers--need help.

            I was bullied in 7th grade--social buklying in a girls' school, hard for a teacher to detect.  WHen thenuns finally found out, they put an end to it.  They told the parents that if it happened again--and now they knew what toi look for--their daughters would be suspended, and might not be accepted at their high school.  Parents put a stop to it FAST, They left me alone after that--the nuns also moved me to a different seat at lunch and gave me stuff to do to build my self confidence.  Good teachers and principals can do ownders for victims.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:18:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good for the nuns. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I grew up in the late 60s and early 70s, and the idea that the schools would do a damn thing about bullying was unheard of. When these kinds of problems got handled at all, they were handled by the kids themselves -- i.e. the brothers/friends/whatever of the victimized kids would catch the bullies on some dusty dirt road and beat the holy hell out of them. That only happened, of course, if the victimized kids had siblings or friends who would, or could, stand up for them.

              Not an ideal solution by any means, but if I read that the two bullies in this situation were found beaten to a bloody pulp by "perpetrators unknown," I wouldn't grieve very much. A good ass-whipping at that age can go a long way to teach kids to keep their damn hands to themselves, and save a great deal of grief in the future.

              •  This was in 1961-2. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Black Max, Chinton, RamblinDave

                They just were horrified that their school which taught us to curtsey and to speak a little French starting in first grade=-==to be well-behaved young Catholic women--would be harboring girls that mean.  aNd when the one bully who physically bullied on the bus--which they also heard about--got a well-placed kick on the rump by a friend who'd seen her in action, that wonderful nun, Mother Ste. Jeanne,  looked the other way.

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:36:03 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yeah, I've been known to downplay my reaction (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  when a victimized kid lit into a bully...

                  •  The girl had tried to trip me as I was about to (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Black Max

                    cross the street. My friend Terry aimed onr well-placed foot on Roxanne's butt.  Mother Ste. Jeanne taught the little monster (she was 3 years younger than me but 2 inches and 10 pounds taller  than I was; I was a shrimp) and, one suspects, didn't much care for her.  Loved that lady.  She taught us History and geography. My other teacher was equally wonderful. I had soem very good nuns.

                    At least one lay teacher in 3rd grade was a horror story==she was a professional bully.

                    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                    by irishwitch on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:51:13 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  One thing we must get over (6+ / 0-)

              is the idea that what happens in other peoples' homes is none of our business.

              BULL-FUCKING-SHIT!!! Sometimes what goes on in others' homes is EVERYONE'S business.

              liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

              by RockyMtnLib on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:29:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  LOL at Draco Malfoy Syndrome. (3+ / 0-)

              Those kids can be the worst kind of malignant narcissists, and they WILL maim or even kill you if they feel the impulse to do so.

              •  They also becoem Horrible Bosses (4+ / 0-)

                amd Crazy Co-workers. I've worked for one and iwth two others. They make life hell because if they are co-workers, the boss is usually terrified to cross them, so if you go to them to ask for help, they blame you for the problem--even though they know that every other person in the office has been to them about the sme person. They don't want to deal with the angry aggression they will face until the day the person explodes and literally starts shooting.

                I wish I'd come up with Draco Malfoy Sundrome, but another writer/researcher ont he subject came up with it to differentiate the entitled brats from the kids who are practicing what is donr to them.

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:39:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Some of us are (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Black Max, irishwitch

                  trying to do something about workplace abuse and bullying.

                  Workplace Bullying Institute

                  There are now a handful of states where the Healthy Workplace Bill is being [or has been] introduced and may even be passed.

                  This effort in the US started about 20 years ago [other countries, of course, already have such protections in place].

                  The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

                  by dfarrah on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:12:00 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If they own the business (0+ / 0-)

                    not much you can do. And if the boss protects them, ditto. You can go to HR, but mostly nothing will be done--it's your word against theirs, and generally others don't wnat to get involved.  

                    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                    by irishwitch on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 11:57:44 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  These are the only bullies I've ever experienced (0+ / 0-)

                This mythical kid who gets beat by his drunk dad in his trailer every night bully is not real.  It's a lie.  The kids who are bullies are the rich, powerful, and popular.

                •  Not at my school (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Black Max

                  I don't doubt your experience was as you say, but I assure you I met plenty of Nelson Muntz types back in middle school.

                  Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

                  by RamblinDave on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:58:09 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  eh (0+ / 0-)

                  In a school with a lot of bullying, though, there are often a lot of kids in the middle (who may be the ones more likely to be caught).  Bullied, and then the bullies decide someone else is a better target and let their former victims into the gang, and given two apparent choices -- hurt or be hurt, go along with it.  They're kids.  They're not going to see there's a way to break the cycle of violence there.  They need adult intervention.  

        •  sending kids with anger issues into the usual (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          exlrrp, karmsy

          juvie system is just advanced training for a maladjusted adult life

    •  Police involved now. (0+ / 0-)

      Why do you hate the idea of locking them up?

      Is there any chance whatsoever that this is the first time they've done something like this?

      Is there any realistic chance that they'll stop because a counselor talked to them?

      Is there any likely chance that they will grow up to be citizens of net positive value?

      I hate the idea of every day they walk free.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:53:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Their age. (6+ / 0-)

        If you send them to juvie where the really badasses run the show, they'll only learn to be worse.  AT 11, I see some hope. At 15-6? Very little. I think regarding an 11 year old as an adult isjust wrong factually--their brains aren't anywhere near developed enough to understand and foresee consequences. WHilw a 16 year old's brain isn't fully developed in the centers that involve judgment,t they're a lot more aware of what happens if you seriously injure someone.

        By counseling , I mean mandated long term therapy 0outside of school setting with soemone with special training in dealing with abused children. AT this age, there's a chance they may be practicing what's being done to  them.

        And, yes, there is a chance.  Some kids can be saved, if you catch them young.

         And some cannot. I was a junior high teacher, and had to take a knife away from a kid who WAS a certified psychopath--he spent his time flipping from juvie, mental institution, and public school. This was in 1976. He was at most 14, or 13. AN 8th grader with a record long as your  arm already.  He threatened me.  I got him suspended, and shortly thereafter the went either to juvie or the hospital--and from t here to the school for kids with violent records, not back to us.

        There's an equal chance they are budding psychopaths00but a good counselor will recognize that.

        IN any case, a 2 day suspension is way off the mark.  He should at the very minimum be placed in a class for kids with major problems--we had a school for kids like this, violence prone types--would be good.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:30:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  been there, disarmed that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          irishwitch, 207wickedgood, chimene

          It's damn scary to have a middle-school kid waving a knife at you and screaming about how they're going to "gut" you. More scary when you get a moment afterwards to contemplate just how corroded their mental processes are to be capable of performing such an act.

          •  I am 5'3" and weighed 118 pounds. (4+ / 0-)

            I am not as tiny as say Kristen Chenoweth, but I am small, and I have back and ankle issues (I think this happened while I had my ankles taped from recurrent sprains). Tried tot ake shotokan karate and found out my back wouldn't allow it.

            In my head I was hearing the "When You're a Jet" song from West Side story, because the kid looked like one of the cast.  I just got mad when he mouthed off, came out from around the desk when he told me if I reported him I;'d be in bigger trouble than he'd be, and replied I doubted that because I was hand-carrying the slip down to the office. He reached into his pocket. I told him "Give me that." He was sp surpised that he did.

            I only learned about the crazy's record later--my pal the security guard(the good one whoa ctually patrolled instead of sitting in the office) told me alter if I'd showed any fear or hesitated, I could have been seriously hurt.  

            My boyfirend, later my alte first hsuband, had 3 black belts--but he was only 5'11 and 145 pounds, though as one friend put it, he knew a 100 different ways to kill you.  He wasn't gonna look scary to 14 year old punks.  So instead we had his pal, who was 6'3", weighed in at 190 and gave the impression of being terrifying (in reality he was blind as a bat). Since he drove a crayon-gold ancient Caddie--it made a huge impression. And no one ever mouthed off or threatened me again.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:59:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Surprised the hospital didn't contact the police (0+ / 0-)

      There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it. ~Author Unknown

      by VA Breeze on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:48:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Things have sure changed since I was in school (6+ / 0-)

    The victim didn't get a lecture on "just ignore them", and there was even a token punishment for the criminals?

    It's beyond sickening that an outrage like this case is actually a step in the right direction.

    Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:44:14 PM PST

  •  I worked as a teacher for 21 years (9+ / 0-)

    (and am still mourning my old career -- I was "run off," as my dad would say), and I can tell you, this was hideously mismanaged.

    Those kids should have been given ten-day suspensions awaiting expulsion. The cops should have been involved immediately, and the school should have pushed to have charges filed. Obviously the kids would be charged as juveniles and not adults, but they should be charged and tried in juvenile court. The school system can't expel them permanently, but after 365 days of "long-term" suspension they would be allowed back, preferably in an alternative program for aggressive and socially maladjusted kids.

    I worked in more than one alternative program for years. The kid who was victimized by those bullies needs serious and immediate intervention -- long-term therapy. So do the bullies. And, from the sound of it, the administration and superintendent of the school involved need some serious intervention of their own.

    This is a damn disgrace. The family of that child should be working with lawyers to sue the holy bejesus out of that system.

  •  If that happened to a child of mine, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Black Max

    God help the bullies.

    If a child of mine was the bully, I don't know what I would do. I know my dad would have applied a belt to my ass, and, as he would say I "wouldn't be able to sit down for a whole month".

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:23:22 PM PST

  •  sadly, more than likely the resolution of this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, RamblinDave, karmsy

    will rely on the relative social position of the victim vs the bullies.  I would hazard a guess the bullies have some sort of "juice" or connections.  We already know what happens when cops investigate well connected people usually

  •  Failure of the principal... (0+ / 0-)

    From the principal's web page:

    I am honored and privileged to serve as Darby Township School’s Principal. For the school year 2012/2013 my priorities as Principal are:
    * Maintaining a safe and nurturing learning environment.
    * Ensuring that students are receiving quality instruction.
    * Supporting the professional staff on their journey towards excellence.
    * Ensuring that students and staff have fun at DTS.
    Not sure how a lax attitude towards beating fellow students into a coma fosters these priorities.

    And to be fair to the superintendent, with a last name like that he was probably bullied himself!

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. NYC's Progressive/Reform Blog

    by mole333 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:22:24 AM PST

  •  I have a similar story. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When I was in seventh grade, some jackass brought in a can of pepper spray.

    Supposedly, he was "messing around" with it, and "accidentally" fired it at me.

    Luckily, I wear glasses, so that blocked a fair amount of it, but I still got enough of it in my eyes to make me unable to see. But it was certainly the most painful experience, at that point, I had ever had.

    Said jackass received one, maybe two, days of in-school suspension.

    We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

    by Samer on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:01:29 AM PST

  •  Isn't there legal action, such as assault charges (0+ / 0-)

    they could file?

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - FDR. Obama Nation. -6.13 -6.15

    by ecostar on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:24:42 AM PST

  •  Burn the school down. (0+ / 0-)

    At night, without the children. Seriously.

    It's because of bullying that Adam Lanza went on his rampage years later against children who had done him no harm.

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