Family Support Essential For Alienated Kids

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Along with the rest of the country, I have been following the reports on the Littleton tragedy. It seems as though the prevailing explanation is that the boys felt alienated and ridiculed. Some of the other kids in school made fun of them, called them names, and ostracized them.

I do have empathy for these boys, because I have been Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. I too felt alienated, was made fun of, called names and was ostracized. However, it was not because I behaved differently than the other kids, or because I developed an interest in the obscure (Nazism, satanism, racism, and the gothic) or even because I dressed "different," Oh no, I was very much like the other kids in my school; I looked, dressed and acted like the rest of them.

My alienation was because of something I could do nothing about. I talk "funny." I was born with a cleft palate. I endured extensive surgery and years of speech therapy. But still I talk "weird." And let me tell you, the cruelty that -- not just other kids, adults too -- can exhibit is astonishing. The hurt, the pain and the humiliation are excruciating.

But never did I entertain the notion of shooting my tormenters, blowing their brains out or otherwise annihilating them. Punching them in the nose, yes; but killing them? No.

"How so?" you might ask. How could you endure on a daily basis the hurt, humiliation and name-calling without acting out in some way, shape or form? I won't deny that it affected me. I cried, oh I cried a lot! But ... I had a very strong family base. I knew without a doubt that I was deeply loved. And my parents were very involved in my life. Involved enough that they knew when something was bothering me (without my telling them).

And we talked about it. My sister (who was also born with a cleft palate) and my two brothers and I were very close. And they too were very observant and supportive.

I can't help wondering what the outcome in Colorado would have been if those two sad, pathetic young men had received a parental response when, by their actions (juvenile arrests) and their behavior (wearing black trench coats, espousing Nazism, satanism, racism and an intense interest in the gothic) they were crying out for attention, help and most of all, love.

My heart goes out to Littleton, Colo.
Kim Kunde
Payson

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