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Modern Parenthood

Student suspended after disarming gunman: A week of heroes and bullies

A student suspended after disarming gunman gets a mom thinking about the cast of characters – heroes, bullies, and victims – in the justice vs. safety ethic schools must deal with.

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The teen told ABC News he “wrestled a gun from a football player” during an altercation on a school bus, was suspended, and has been informed he can return to school Monday. The teen and his parents are baffled by this action, as are my own teenage sons, but I am starting to get the point.

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Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

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However, when I called Cypress Lake High this morning I was told by Office Receptionist Jill Cornell, “The media is not reporting the full story in this case. The district will be putting out another release this afternoon and I think that will tell you what you need to know.”

All I know for is that news reports say a loaded .22 caliber RG-14 revolver was in the hands of one boy and then another. Under those circumstances, if it was a case of hot potato, and the police arrived and found a gun in a boy’s hands and an administrator had to make a snap decision, when in doubt take the time to sort it out.

In the case of Bailey O'Neill, who died Sunday morning, a day after he turned 12, his attackers have not been named. But according to a CBS News report, school officials were aware the alleged attacker of the boy who died had a history of bullying other children: He was suspended and subsequently returned to class.

CBS also reported, “Bailey told his mother, Jina Risoldi, that he was at recess when the boy, who was taller, challenged him to a fight. Risoldi said last month that her son declined to fight, saying he was worried about being suspended. She said a boy then pushed him from behind and he was struck in the head about five times.

"This is not a fight between two boys," Risoldi told CBS. "My son didn't fight back."

The suspension of the bully was too late to save O’Neill and Lord only knows if having that bully out of school may have saved another from a similar fate.

We couldn’t save O’Neill, and right now thousands of children are at home because they’re afraid of someone on a bus or in the school.

O’Neill suffered seizures that started nearly two weeks after being allegedly jumped by two classmates during recess at Darby Township School on Jan. 10, according to NBC News reports. The boy suffered a concussion as well as a broken nose in the fight. After the seizures began, doctors put the boy in a medically induced coma.

RELATED: The top five bullying myths

In a statement on the school’s website there is no mention of any identification or punishment of O’Neill’s attackers stating only, “The school district continues to work with local authorities in their investigation into the cause of Bailey’s death.”

What caused his death appears to be an epidemic of students who feel a kind of entitlement to vent their rage and gain their power by destroying other kids and our public schools. They may even feel a bit of untouchability.

It’s time to stop these domestic terrorists with the same level of community engagement and commitment we displayed after 911. Our children are at war and we need to break out the full arsenal of tactics to back them up.


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