Bullying and Columbine
Bullying and Columbine
The Sept. 24 edition of The Miscellany included an article entitled “Jodee Blanco tells parents bullies can cause serious harm,” which details a recent speaking engagement at St. John Neumann School in Columbia.
I completely agree with Ms. Blanco’s mission to educate students, teachers, school administrators, and parents about the realities of bullying and the devastating effects it can have. It is a very important message and I hope lives can be changed through her dedication to reveal how bullying works and how to respond to it in appropriate ways.
Blanco said her life goals changed after the Columbine High school shootings in 1999, when two students who had been ostracized and teased over the years shot to death 12 classmates. Recently I read “Columbine” by Dave Cullen.
Mr. Cullen has spent the last 10 years researching police reports, legal documents, and conducting thousands of interviews to produce this book. I was shocked to learn the sheer number of myths that were perpetuated through the media about this awful event. One of these was that the shooters were bullied when they were not. He stated they had lots of friends, active social lives, and were far from being ostracized or bullied.
This small detail certainly does not change the importance of Ms. Blanco’s message nor does it diminish its value. I am glad schools like St. John Neumann are taking proactive steps to educate and assist school communities and families with this difficult topic.
Having read several letters concerning health care reform I am compelled as a physician to try to give a more balanced perspective.
I saw a woman at one of our county emergency departments. With her ninth grade education she works cleaning homes and has no health insurance. Unfortunately she has diabetes. She cannot afford to go to a doctor and was last prescribed pills for her “sugar” in the emergency department a couple of months ago. She has run out of them.
Because her diabetes is so poorly controlled she developed a toxic foot infection: limb threatening, potentially life threatening.
Our orthopedic surgeon came in emergently and she was whisked away to surgery. I do not know whether we will be able to save the foot though we have saved her life.
She may tragically lose her foot or leg. Ironically she will then be eligible for disability and then able to get insurance. If she already had been insured her diabetes could easily have been controlled thus preventing this crisis.
What is the cost to society for not insuring her? The current bill will be in excess of $25,000. Doctors bills will be written off but hospitals have to run in the black. Costs will be absorbed and they are passed on invariably to everyone through inflated bills, rising insurance premiums, and higher out of pocket deductibles.
By no means do I believe President Barack Obama’s plan is perfect. He has taken very seriously Catholic concerns with this health care reform in respect to abortion and conscience clauses. I believe any reform that does not honor these tenants would be non-negotiable from a Catholic perspective.
However, it is church teaching that we have a social, moral responsibility to help those in need. Jesus states clearly what you do to the least of my brethren you do to me (Mt 25:31-46). All the more telling he gives this teaching specifically in relation to the last judgment.
Catholic teaching concerning our social responsibility has been unequivocal in the modern era. Each pontiff starting with Pope Leo XIII’s social encyclical “Rerum Novarum” has reiterated our collective rights and social responsibility.
This isn’t left wing ideology as some would imply, but rather the Gospel in action.
As a country why do we spend more on health care than any nation on this planet and yet rank about 25th in terms of what we receive?
At the county hospital where I work as an inpatient specialist, more than 60 percent of my patients, and the same number of emergency department patients, have no insurance. Many have no primary care doctor with no one to follow up with after they are discharged. They are on average much sicker, stay much longer, cost much more to treat and are more likely to be re-admitted for the same problem in less than one month.
Health care reform isn’t just good ethics, it is good stewardship. Let’s not fight with our president on this critical issue. Sure we must negotiate with him and yes we must pray for him, but let’s also work with him to get the best health care we can for all concerned.
Martin Sheldon, M.D.
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