Blind Kid And Sighted Kid


Blind Kid And Sighted Kid

     “HEY, BLIND-BOY!”


     “MR. McGOO!”

     “TAP, TAP, TAP.” Mark ignored the taunts. He continued walking toward school. There were only a couple of blocks yet to go to the relative safety of the school and his closest friends. Teachers would be out on the playground monitoring what kids were doing and especially what they were doing to one another. He kept his gaze fastened to what he could see through the telescopic bubble of his right lens. The lighter-colored surface of the upcoming sidewalk appeared clear; no cars parked across it, no bicycle setting up-right leaning on its kick-stand in the center of the walk. Nevertheless, he knew he’d better continue to arc his long white cane to his immediate front, because there still might be something out there about the same color as the gray of the walk, invisible to his limited sight. he was remembering a time when some kids had put a cement block in the middle of the walk to trip him.

     “WATCH OUT!”


     This didn’t happen every day. Sometimes kids would walk with him, the new ones usually asked questions. Sometimes kids would just stand quietly until he passed. His parents and the teachers had talked to him about things he could do to develop friendships. He’d tried some of it, but it hadn’t always worked. "What else can I do?" He thought over and over again.

e-mail responses to

**1. “My advice to the kid would simply be, "hold on tight, kid...and survive."
You can never control the actions or thoughts of another. All you can do is
learn to love yourself and walk with your head held high. This won't come
through preachy lectures from parents, teachers or counselors. It comes
through life experience and meeting other positive, life-affirming people
who can teach you that blindness isn't something to be ashamed of. If kids
physically bully you, don't take any crap. Give it back to them, in spades.
If they verbally or emotionally assault you, learn to live with it. It
sounds harsh, but its reality. Many of us are emotionally battered by our
peers as we grow up and we can outgrow it and learn to turn it to our
advantage as we strive for a more positive, healthy societal image of

RyanO(Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “Might I say, this response comes from the hip. Can’t you see maybe some attitude coming out on this one? Or, would showing some attitude be bad”)

**2. “This short scene truly provokes many emotional feelings for me. and things which I have not remembered have come flooding back to my memory.
Being a Visually impaired female with the desire to come with my sister where ever she went also gave way to sneers and physical abuse of sighted peers
who called me wobbly eyes 4 eyes. and retard. I so desperately wished to fit in and be a part of what everyone else was doing.
For awhile my sister would defend me and she always stuck up for me when those instances of abuse occurred. But however when she was not around one
girl especially came and physically kicked me and hit me and knocked me down on the cement. Now mind you the only time I ever had to defend myself when physical
altercation was present was with my sister. and so I never knew how brutal someone could be until this girl attacked me on a daily bases. Until I came
home with some scrapes and a cut on the inside of my mouth. then I and my sister had to tell my parents what was going on.
and my sister showed my mother where this girl lived and she then spoke with her mother. now this girl never became my friend but she never touched me.
and for the longest time the fear was still there each and every time I went to the city pool.
I never had a fear of being ridiculed by my friends who were blind or visually impaired. There was a safe haven in being with people who shared a commonality.
But I like so many other before and after me have to take the plunge and expand out horizons.”

S Barth (Ohio USA)

**3. “First of all, I remember what it was like to be a blind kid. My parents were
military, so we moved all over the place, and my sister and I would make new
friends wherever we were stationed. I got called Blindy, but I just laughed
it off, (possibly retorting with another name.)

I think the way a kid will approach blindness is the way he is taught to
approach it by his parents. I remember mom saying, "If you think someone is
staring at you, go up to them and make friends. Most people aren't mean,
just curious. They're dying to ask questions but don't know how. You can
make it easier for them." Whether this was true or not, my mom was wise to
teach this approach.

One story mom remembers is when we first moved to Colorado. I became
friends with a girl across the street. I was six and she was four. One day
when we were playing outside, she said, "What's wrong with your eyes?" With
no anger or embarrassment, I calmly said, "I'm blind, stupid." She said
"Oh." We continued playing where we left off and became best friends for

I started attending kindergarten while living in Turkey. Since we were
there with the NATO forces, there were Turkish, Greek, Italian, British and
American kids. Living in different places, I found the initial language
barrier more difficult to overcome than the blindness barrier. I came home
from my multilingual kindergarten desperate for a bathroom! Our
kindergarten was a long room with tables in rows, a pot-belly stove and
abacus in front, and a playground surrounded by outhouses for potty
purposes. I had to go, but couldn't find anyone who could understand me to
help me locate a potty. Fortunately this was near the end of the day, and I
made it home. To this day, I still remember how to say, "Hurry, I have to
go to the bathroom" in Italian. I never had that problem again.

In Germany, if the German kids didn't like you, it was because you were
American, blindness really didn't enter the picture. Many German kids
didn't quite know how to feel about us, because many of their WW2 relatives
were still alive with their stories and experiences.

I can remember walking with kids and running with kids. When we were little
we would hold hands. When older, sighted guide. I don't remember teaching
anyone this; we just sort of fell into the guide mode.

In the scenario, if Mark had been taught to respond, smile, wave, realize
that kids are kids, by the end of the week he could have a new friend. I
also remember getting the "Watch out for the cliff" phrase, but don't
remember that bothering me. We just interacted.

I realize not all kids are outgoing, but it's important for parents to set
the stage.”

Judy Jones (NFB-talk, Tacoma, Washington USA)

**4. “Unfortunately, the hard lesson this child's parents will have to teach him
is that some children are cruel. They make fun of anything different...fat
kids, girls, boys, kids they see as weaker than they, and yes, any kids with
disabilities. But, the important thing to learn is that the kids who will
do this are only a small group of the entire school. So, it's going to be
up to the blind child to learn to be outgoing and participate, as much as he
can, in school activities. When the other kids see that he is really just
like them, he'll make some friends. He may not have as many friends as
others, but those he makes will probably stick with him longer than most.
It's not going to be easy, and he will have more hard, uncomfortable days
than his parents would ever like to see. But, it's all part of growing up
as a blind person. Even though we have made a lot of progress, we can't
change attitudes without a lot of work. For a child who is still in the
process of learning about himself, it's harder to teach someone about his
abilities, when he's just learning them himself. But, they'll all grow
together. It just takes time, and that can seem like forever to a growing
child in an uncomfortable position. So, I guess all of this can be summed
up by saying, It isn't easy!”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA

FROM ME: “What about this? If you are different you must expect to be treated differently, even poorly. So get use to it, it is part of being blind. However, there are still a few people that will like you. How is this best taught? Or, how might this dynamic of being ‘different’ seen and learned?”

**5. “This is a subject which is very close to my heart as I went to a segregated
or special school and had the time of my life. The reason why I did have
the time of my life is that for about 12 years I didn't think I was any
different to any other children. The first time I went in to mainstream
college I failed my course because I felt so different and generally
excluded from the sighted world. So I feel very sad for this little boy who
is learning that he is different.”

Best wishes
Jayne Connor (High Harrington, Cumbria England

FROM ME: “’…is learning he is different…’ Is what this lady is saying is going on. If we go along with this, how do we explain it to him?”

**6. “That's a good thought provoker. When I was growing up I attended the
Foundation for the Jr. Blind recreational program. I went to a public
school with a V I program. I had a lot more blind friends than sighted
friends. When I went to public school without a VI program in my last two
years of high school, with an itinerate teacher, I had some sighted friends.
I still have a lot of blind friends, most of which I grew up with. Great
friends. I had teachers tell me that I needed to make sighted friends. I
argued that friends are friends. I'm not discriminating whether they are
blind or not, but they are. I was in a blind group for most of my childhood
life. So I made friends within that group. I don't regret it at all. It
would have been nice to have some sighted friends while growing up, but I
think it is more on how they approach you than how you approach them.
I would just say on every opportunity try your best to make new friends,
whether they are sighted or blind, you will be fortunate to have good

Tom Rash (Yucaipa, California USA)

FROM ME: “Having more blind friends then sighted friends opens up several questions. Like is there opportunity to meet other blind kids? Is it easier to befriend someone else with similar major characteristics? What else…?”

**7. “Wow! This does bring back memories! Sadly, many of the memories are not pleasant. Having been mainstreamed since day one, I was an experiment for our school district. At times, I felt like the whole school ganged up on me, teachers included. As far as making friends, I had some close girl friends,
but, I found the teasing and pranks stopped after junior high. By that time, everyone was thinking about dating and not how to make me feel different.
My parents were sensitive enough to allow me to have various pets, horses, goats, rabbits etc. I developed friends who also enjoyed these animals. Most
of the time, they were older than me or significantly younger. The maturity of the older friends helped them to understand that I was just another person.
The younger, had an opportunity to learn about diversity. Put it all together and I managed a social life. Ironically, the teacher that was the most difficult, later had a daughter born blind. I hope I made a difference in his perceptions.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan USA)

FROM ME: “One interesting social phenomena this lady brings up, is that older more mature or kids or those younger than her were the ones more accepting of her; her peers were not accepting of her. Think about that, what is it?”

**8. “I had two gut level responses to this story.

1. I wanted to go beat up those sighted kids.

2. I wanted to say to the blind kid to just keep persevering and learn those blindness competencies such as Braille and cane skills. When he grows up, he will be able to enter a profession and make more money and have a career. Most of those sighted kids who taunted him will turn out to be the minimum
wage workers in dead end jobs.

I was just like that kid when I was little. I had a tiny amount of vision except the professionals in my life were insisting that I learn to use my residual vision and that I did not need Braille and cane travel. I desperately needed Braille and cane travel instruction. These blindness skills is what will
make the difference in whether or not this kid will be able to earn a living.”

Rita L. Howells (Belleville Illinois USA)

FROM ME: “What would you say to a person who was severely visually impaired and needed to use blindness skills like a long white cane and Braille and was refusing to use them because of not wanting the public to see them doing it?”

**9. “I think the best way for kids to meet friends is to join a group with a
similar interest. It might be Scouts, ham radio, drama clubs, sports clubs,
Civil Air Patrol, and on and on.

It does not have to be school sponsored. It can be a community based group.
Having friends with a special interest builds comradely while building the
skill in the specialty.

That has been my secret of the years. I met my husband through judo
classes. (a little self defense wouldn't hurt this boy at all) We've done
lots of special activities together. My latest is learning to play the
bagpipes .”

Jody W. Ianuzzi (Florida USA)

**10. “Now *this* is a provoking Thought Provoker! Sounds like you must have been watching during my elementary school days!!
Although I did not use a cane, the comments made by the other kids in this story were painfully familiar to me. I had a little vision in my left eye, but
my right eye was totally blind, and looked it, so I also received the unwanted nickname of "one-eyed pirate".
Although I did endure a huge amount of teasing, I did have some close friends. Most of them lasted throughout my childhood, and a few still endure today,
despite the fact that I'm now over thirty. Thus, my first piece of advice is, if someone has questions for you, just answer them, and maybe those who aren't afraid to meet someone different than themselves will become your friends.

My second piece of advice is not exactly politically correct, but here it is, nonetheless. I continued to endure a great deal of abuse at the hands of my schoolmates until I finally pounded one kid. My parents had always told me to "just ignore" the ones who made fun of me, but that was the worst parental
advice I could have received. All it did is allow my self-esteem to be chipped away, little by little, making me more and more socially isolated from my peers.
One day, this big bully kept at me on the bus for an hour straight. I guess it was just my turn that day, but I had had enough! We got off the bus, and
he kept blocking the sidewalk. Finally, I said, "Move, or I'll punch you!". He didn't, and I did punch him, over and over, until he was a quivering mass of Jell-O. That poor unfortunate fellow was the object of years of pent-up frustration. Remarkably, the next day, news of this got around, and people
started to leave me alone, which is all I wanted to begin with. I still got the occasional jeer, but nothing compared to what I had put up with before. Now, don't misunderstand me; I'm not suggesting that blind kids everywhere go around beating up other kids. I am just saying that, just because a kid is
blind, he shouldn't put up with that kind of teasing. Sure, you may get a black eye, or a bloody nose, but you won't be a crawling, cowardly, groveling
object of ridicule. Kids will say to themselves, "That kid may be a blind weirdo, but don't mess with him, he'll stand up for himself.” The old "turn the other cheek" advice doesn't work. Teachers don't stop bullies, and parents don't care if their kids are bullies. All turning the other cheek will get you in this case is a bruised other cheek! It is better to have your nose bloody and your self-respect intact.
My sympathies to anyone who is currently enduring this kind of treatment.”

David L. Thurmond (Atlanta, GA, USA)

FROM ME: “What about a blind kid standing up to a bully and duking it out? When and under which circumstances?”

**11. “When I was growing up, my parents told me that when kids teased me, no matter for what reason, I should try to ignore them. That's really about all any kid, blind or sighted, can do.”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, USA )

**13. “What would I do if that were my son? I would deal with the problem in a way
that ENDED it! "Just ignore them" never works. I know. I WAS that kid! The
solutions are as follows: For light harassment, friendly teasing, go along
with it, try to befriend the ringleaders and defuse the situation. If that
does not work, go to the teachers, parents, administrators and COMPLAIN!
Get an attorney and file a lawsuit.

For more severe situations, take the child OUT of that school. Either
home-school, go into a school for the blind, or perhaps, if the kid is old
enough, go for the GED test and get that high school certification and move
on to college early. The concept of mainstreaming a disabled child is
vicious and hideously cruel and must be stopped. Children can be sadistic
and are never to be fully trusted.

If the teasing is severe and the child cannot be moved out of the school,
then you arm the child. He or she should be given lessons in martial arts,
the use of firearms and equipped with items that can be used as weaponry. A
sharpened steel rat-tail comb, a book bag with a chain threaded inside the
strap, a stun gun. Teach the child to use these weapons and give the child
the assurance that IF he/she has to do so, you will defend against any
charges filed. EVERY time a child tries to bully your kid, go to the
police! File assault charges and sue the offender's parents in court.
Remember that placing obstacles in the path of a blind child is assault
with intent to injure or kill! Pushing a child down a flight of stairs (as
happened to me) or throwing rocks and bottles (ditto) is attempted homicide
and should be prosecuted as a felony!

These situations are NOT to be taken lightly! A child can be shattered
inside. I attempted suicide many times before I was able to flee at
eighteen. To this day, I have flashbacks, fear of children and cannot trust
or relate to others. My grades were failing because I could never
concentrate in class. I only reached the top grades in college AFTER I left
high school.

I suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome and will never be the person I might have been had I not endured twelve years in Hell. I have scars, physical and mental, from those years. I was verbally harassed, beaten, stoned, tripped and kicked DAILY. I moved 350 miles away from my home town,
changed my first and last name completely, have served my former school with papers preventing them from contacting me for class reunions and will never have, or tolerate children of my own or of relatives.”

Sylvia Stevens (USA)

FROM ME: “What might be the breaking point for you?”

**14. “Having been in exactly that situation, I can tell you what I did, and what I should have done. The big difference was that I didn't even have the safety-net of a white cane to fall back on. I had the telescopic glasses with a very narrow field of view, so I often didn't see the things that were in front of me, but would nevertheless have tripped me up. I kept trying to make everybody think I was just like them, could see enough to get around, and that I only needed help from others in reading. It didn't work. the "four-eyes" wasn't the only thing they called me, also "bug-eyes" and Martian, etc.
I sure would limit my use of the telescopic glasses to when I'm at home so I could watch a little TV, or use them for the computer for things I can't get my screen-readers to read for me. I would also use the cane in public, and if absolutely necessary, use a folding cane to keep it from getting "moved
out of the way" by prankster students.”

Alan Mattison (Rancho, New Mexico USA)

**15. “This reminds me of some 50 years ago plus. It is hard to be accepted when a person is different, but it can be done. One of the things I found over the many years is not to pretend to be some thing your not, be assertive, but not rude. Do what you can do for yourself, but yet be willing to except help when needed. Don't cry about your disability, but learn how to laugh at yourself, as you would laugh at others. If one keeps themselves in a positive attitude most of the time, others will pick up on it and can't help to relate to you. One thing people can't take to much of, is the why me attitude. It just doesn't
work for the long haul.”

RJ Fugagli Franklin, Pennsylvania USA)

**16. “I used to have the same problem Mark had. Kids used to push me down in the halls and tell me to watch where I was going, and things like that. I hated it and would become very depressed about the way people treated me. I think that the boy in the story is doing an excellent job, and I'd tell him to hang in there because things do get better after junior high and high school.”

Lisa (Mokena, Illinois USA)

FROM ME: “We have heard several times now, that when you enter junior or senior high, the teasing drops off. Why? If it does carry on, does it take on a different form?”

**17. “As a retired teacher and being legally blind, I can all to well identify with this young man. There are also many adults that have this same concern. Part of it is the problem that all children fear - of being different. Parry of it is unique to physical disability that is fairly difficult to conceal and therefore makes it difficult as one doesn't get respite as some kids can at times. I would talk to him about the general feelings that all kids have about being different. I would encourage him to get involved in school activities that interest him and try to be interested in what other kids are doing. I would recommend he seek the assistance from the guidance counselor or other
school personnel in mapping out strategies. I would have him try to
concentrate on how he is like other kids rather than different.
Mainstreaming is a tricky issue - one can write all the IEPs and set all the goals in the world, but it is ultimately going to be the child himself that will integrate himself - the school must give every form of assistance to help the child be independent and integrated in the system.”

Catherine Alfieri (Pittsford, New York USA)

**18. “Though I was rarely the target of overt meanness like this, I remember the friend-finding woes I had as a child. Trite as it may sound (and, Alas, it does sound awfully trite) I found that the best way to get through this sort of loneliness was to do whatever I did as well as I could and to excel at what pleased and amused me. Friends found me. Good ones, too, not those weasels who are told to be nice to the blind kid, but kids who were also doing what they could to be the best at what pleased and amused *them*. Like attracts like, despite artificial barriers.”

Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen (Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio USA

**19. “As a mother of a blind teenager, my first reaction was "where is this town?” I guess this happens to some children, of all types, but thank goodness no one has been that mean to my son. My son walks quite a ways, including a crossing at a lighted intersection, to his middle school. He has never hinted at this type of taunting by other kids. Sometimes boys will catch up to him and walk with him, other times he is by himself, but continues on his way unharmed. (I've followed him discreetly many times in the beginning, just to be sure of his safety)

Then my second thought is where are the professionals that are inservicing the school children? From early on my son's specialists have educated the whole school about his blindness, sighted guide methods, approaching him, interacting with him, etc. including some blindfolding simulations for those that wanted to participate.

Perhaps these taunting children should have that experience of walking with a cane and a blindfold on, or fuzzy glasses, simulating low vision.

And lastly, but not least, hurrah for the O&M specialists that have trained this child, in the scenario, how to continue safely on his way using the cane. That at least is helping his confidence.”

Kelly (AERnet)

FROM ME: “What about having classmates trying a simulation of vision loss? How far do you need to go with it; what level of understanding, negative or positive, would be desirable?”

**19. “Kelly,

I got to say I totally agree with you and so 100% Kudo’s on your answer as it really rang a bell in me first reaction was sheer anger at the pack mentality and my second was to blindfold those kids and set 'em loose with a boot up the backside for luck and a happy song on my lips .... I don't nor will ever apologize for attitude in this area - I have seen this oh so often and visual kids tend to cop a lot as they are so out there if that makes sense with the cane etc not being able to see makes them in bullies which is what they are even easier as they figure the kids can't see them or identify
them and they get their jollies by putting things in the way of the cane or the comments from here there and over there ... like you I have nothing but admiration for this kids unwavering concentration - but at what emotional cost ... any child should have the right to walk to and from school free of fear .... I had a student where for a while it was quite a hoot for other kids who knew she had only LP and was beginning to use her cane in the school yard to place large branches in her way and then as she bent down to clear them take off with her cane or their other let's put our foot out in front of her cane and sit there silently frustrating and scaring her to bits ...that is until one time I had an earlier than normal visit and was able to catch her complaining to her teacher on it ...teachers reaction still shocks me 'oh but they are such good kids' 'I'm sure it is a once only even' my response was it should be a none only event and this had been a constant source of concern from the mother as this lil chick did mention it ... the teacher did not to my mind address the situation at all preferring to put it in the too hard basket so I solved it and I rarely yell or raise my voice but after my offer to not only contact their parents and have them up to discuss what both girls had been doing, and also devote an entire lunchtime to me giving them blindfolds
and a cane to wander around with and then that magical question "Why" is amazing when confronted by kids like that when you ask why how stumped they get and suddenly it all becomes someone's idea, or we never meant to be mean d'ohhhh then WHY do it this case it is outright harassment and should be dealt with at a parental, and school level and stringently ... it never occurred again whether or not because I earned the title 'Queen b!tch visiting teacher' but those kids knew at that school there was no way I was going to ignore what was happening and I would tackle it with them outright and to their
face ..... I still shake with anger remembering my students face so confused as she was trying to explain the teacher trying to minimize it and those girls standing back smirking thinking they were safe and sound until my student told me their name and I just turned and gave them the look ... this is not boasting and maybe others would have reacted differently but this had been an on going issue which I was never able to witness or be around until then at the right
time try as I might - it was just fact I had a badly frightened blind kid who no longer even felt safe in the playground and no one seemed to care or want to sort the issue so I solved it....

my oldest boy with ASD faced a similar situation where because of his different habits kids would surround him and taunt him calling him retardo etc and there were kids of 16 - 17 years who should and did know better took us forever to find out on this then ages before we could locate the bully thanks to other students who began to form a protective group around my lad ...but gee it took a toll on him and me together always amazes me how stoically
kids accept bullying as part and parcel of their life and like you I would love to know where is the school and people supervising him to and from school and why aren't they doing something - we do not need to baby kids but we do need to make occasional checks even with the most adapt of kids to check they are maintaining good habits and also for hidden factors we may not be aware of such as is happening here

I don't apologize for my hard-line as like other parents I have seen and picked up the pieces for my kids when they hit home and collapse literally emotionally and physically. I see their tears and puzzlement as why me and why are there people like that and the zillion other questions. Kids get bullied and it should not be happening. Kids who have disabilities get bullied and they should not be. The onus comes back to us I feel to find out what is happening in my child's life and give them advice, and where needed stomp on up to the school and leave footprints of anyone's head who thinks that if they ignore
this behavior it will go away ... it will not go away until thugs like this are asked one simple question why? I am so glad none of my kids attends such a ghastly school as the one described I really am they are the place of true nightmares””

Julie Robottom (AERnet, Melbourne)

**20. “The research on school violence traces the origins to precisely the kind of behavior being described in the recent posts on harassment of students who are blind. Put-downs such as these are really verbal violence, which if left unchecked, eventually escalate to the kind that makes kids bleed.

Some very courageous administrators are taking a stand against bullying by having their teachers make classroom rules, and by making school rules that apply positive consequences to civil speech, and negative consequences to teasing, bullying, and threats and intimidation. It's just not tolerated, regardless the reason (the target child is blind, or fat, or freckled, or poorly dressed). Bullying is not protected speech under the first amendment. Teachers and administrators can positively influence the behavior of children, even when what is modeled and tolerated at home is less than we would want it to be in school.

Some schools have effected dramatic reductions in the negative behavior, and an increased sense of safety and security among the students. This is a bandwagon onto which I feel very good about jumping!”

Carol (AERnet)

**21. “I would tell this boy how courageous he is to not let the kids taunting and teasing get to him. Unfortunately, this teasing also extends to the sighted community. I know this because my kids were sometimes the butt of being teased or excluded. My daughter had a problem with her ears and had to wear tubes. Because she asked to be seated near the blackboard and the teacher, the kids taunted her and asked her if she was retarded too. She didn't tell us this
right away but we only heard about it when her teacher said that she didn't seem happy and we questioned her about it. Hopefully, as this boy gets older, the kids will be nicer to him, more understanding and interested in him as a blind person.”

Mary Jo Partyka (Trenton, New Jersey USA)

**22. “I have just read the new thought provoker about this blind kid, and I have a few thoughts about this. First of all, I feel that he was doing the right thing by ignoring the taunts of the kids that he passed as he walked to school. Although I remember when I was growing up, and I had the same taunts thrown at me. I feel that all blind people have had these taunts and insults hurled at them as they wee growing up. How can we deal with it? I feel that the first thing he should do is try to have some of his friends walk with to school, so then he doesn’t feel so alone and he can talk to them about how to deal with this problem. Also, if he makes friends at schools, he'll have a support group other than his parents and teachers to help him. I also feel that he has to have a positive attitude towards his blindness, since this is the key to overcoming any situation. if we as blind people have the positive attitudes and proper training, e can overcome any situation.”

John TeBockhorst (Davenport, Iowa USA

**23. “In this case where the sighted kids are taunting off the school grounds, the blind student will have to run the gauntlet. It is the ignorance of prejudice that is speaking. If someone put a gray chunk of cement to trip the child, then I would think an older sibling or adult could accompany the child, or trail at a distance to intercept the bullies; do some advocating and intervention. Hopefully in the Middle School where I work this year, we will do a training that I participated in at a staff training. There are glasses that simulate
various visual impairments. After the glasses are donned, the "newly blinded" person is put through several relay stations. Playing catch, walking an obstacle course, and using a cane to guide the way. It is these type of activities that children really identify what it might be like for them. Also having a student advocate for themselves at class meetings is very empowering. They bring up what is bothering them and discuss it with the teachers and all of their classmates. It is empowering for them to deal with these issues on their own if possible.. A strong voice will be listened to. When
things get really out of hand and a bully situation rears it's ugly head, we have our students do conflict management resolution with their peers as the management team. This works very well and they tend to respect each other when it is done according to the format.
My final thought is, I truly believe that a play group for blind children is so wonderful. They can make friends with others who are visually impaired and have fun in ways that is good for them. I think with a sighted classroom they might always be comparing themselves to other children who do things "faster" or in a different context than them.”

Suzanne Lange (Chico, California USA)

**24. I am Cindy Ray from Iowa. I would praise the boy for using his cane. I would probably recommend that he continue ignoring the taunts, though it would be hard to do so.
If the boy has good cane techniques, I might suggest to him that he not use the glasses but, rather, use his cane alone for the travel to school. It seems that his vision isn't all that useful. Perhaps that would cut down some on the taunting. I would remind him that he could use his hearing, and if kids are around walking near him, he might try initiating conversation with them. He might consider getting in touch with kids he knows to see if they would like to join him in a walk to school or home from there with a stop at, say, a QT for a soda pop
or something. I would remind him that though what he has tried didn't always work, that doesn't mean he should give up trying it because, after all, different
things affect different people different ways. As for the things he hasn't tried yet, I would really emphasize the importance of his trying those things to see if they would work.
Although I'm not recommending that the child become a bully, it seems that he was relying on friends and teachers to protect him once he gets to school. Maybe it would be necessary for him to learn ways of protecting himself in dire circumstances, and I would try to discuss with him what some of these alternatives might be.”

Cindy Ray (Leon, Iowa USA)

FROM ME: “What about the suggestion of not wearing the glasses, because of the taunting? Then, how about no cane, if that too brought on stares and comments?”

**25. “I would say that the kids who are shouting "Foureyes!" etc. need a steady dose of what is called "character education." They need to understand that in our world there are people who are different from the "norm". There is curriculum available that addresses "diversity." I recently reviewed some literature through Very Special Arts NH that helps us to understand and embrace diversity. Generally, I have not met children who make fun of blind kids, but I know they are out there, as reported by families. The world can be a cruel place and so that blind child needs to learn about these possibilities and understand how to respond to the taunting and bullying behaviors of some other children. Only through exposure will he recognize this. We can't protect these kids from certain harsh realities all of the time. They simply need to learn about this and confront the issues head on. There are opportunities for blind children to get together and discuss situations like this. It is
helpful for the kids to discuss their own feelings and reactions amongst themselves and teach each other ways in which to cope with what I would call the nastiness of others. Unfortunately, it's an intolerant world out there and although I have met people who are more enlightened then maybe 20 years ago, this issue still prevails and will take generations to change.”

Jane Kronheim (Harrisville, New Hampshire USA)

FROM ME: “How about this as a question- ‘do you know some blind kids that make fun of others, of kids that are different than them? Like a kid that talks funny, different?’ Are the blind just as in need of ‘character education’ as the next kid?”

**26. “Blind kids aren’t the only ones who get teased. I am an adult who is blind and I get those taunts and names thrown at me too. Sometimes the name callers are kids and sometimes adults; mostly teenager types. When I was a kid it happened more often. Now not as much, but it still happens. Funny, most times it is some one yelling out of the window of a passing car. Could that be called, ‘A drive-by taunting?’”

Robert (USA)

FROM ME: “That wasn’t me, Robert Leslie Newman, but I will tell you that this does happen to me too; to this very day. So when we counsel with kids about this issue, we must tell the whole story, the life long story of it all, right? And, how about this topic for adult one-on-one or group counseling sessions?”

**26. “I think that the boy could just be himself and try to act as normal as any other kid. Try to ignore teasing or kids will tease more. Best of all, tell someone about it.”

Beth Kats (Iowa USA)

**27. “How is it you always know when I need a particular story? A friend of mine had suggested I ask you about a matter similar to this - getting respect and understanding. Now I can ask everyone.
A few weeks ago, because of a terrible heat-wave, the governor of New York closed state office buildings down at two p.m. He was trying to conserve on the over-drain in the power supply. I was at a loss suddenly. It was a great idea, having a free afternoon off, but how was I going to get home. My office's new location (we moved about 2 years ago) isn't bus accessible. My husband or my mother help me out. What was I to do. My husband also works for the state, but he had taken a sick day and instead of being home when I tried to reach him, he was at the doctor's. Everyone in my office knows I don't drive - I could have used a ride to the nearest bus stop. Not one single person offered that to me and a good many of them, not only go in that direction, but actually have to pass my house on their way home. But I wasn't asking for a ride home, a lift to the bus stop would have been great. I didn't ask of course, but somebody could have offered, and nobody did. I'm a friendly enough person, though not particularly all that sociable, but I would have been very much appreciative and they all knew that. So how do I explain to them that it's okay to be around me? It's okay to offer me a ride? Then there's another thing that recently happened. I don't know if it fits this same scheme, but I figure I can mention it. A girlfriend of mine and I went to a concert at a local theater. She was in a bad mood, though it had nothing to do with me. She started walking too fast. I did my best to keep up with her. Not seeing a curb, I tripped up it and fell flat on the cement - ripped my pants and bloodied my knee. A complete stranger from behind me helped me up. My friend just stared at me. After that I took her arm, though she still tried to walk too fast. How do I ask people to slow down a bit, without making myself look like some sort of hindrance to their routine.”

Patricia Hubschman (New York USA)

**28. “This story certainly hits home for me as it most likely will for many of us. I have vivid memories of being teased in late elementary school, but particularly in middle school. I had a pretty good amount of light perception in my left eye and could usually tell that something or some one was blocking the light source whether it be the sun or some other source. I couldn't distinguish between a person and an object, but could tell there was something there just the same. Many students, I recall, would come up to me on the playground in elementary school, tap me on the shoulder as if wanting my attention and by the time I turned my head around, they were gone. I
remember telling my vision teacher many of these stories and she did all she could to stop it. However, there were still occasions when it happened.

The scenario about the cliff and the cement block in this PROVOKER reminded me of a time when people would tell me there was a wall in my way when I knew very well there wasn't. Once in a while, if I was really lost in my thoughts, I would stop just to double check my steps. I certainly would not have wanted to crash into it.

Finally, I remember being in my late middle school years and moving around a particular person who I knew was in my path. AS I ventured around her, she purposely walked in front of me to allow me to step on her feet and get a big tangled up between and my cane.

These memories are probably just the tip of the iceberg, but they really seem like yesterday as I read this thought provoker. I think this will be a very interesting topic for discussion.”

Stacy (Wisconsin USA)

**29. “I attended Perkins in Watertown Massachusetts until eighth grade when I transitioned to public school. I faced many of the taunts encountered by the boy in the thought provoker. For much of that school year, I focused on schoolwork and sort of went into a shell. But in my freshman year, I joined the wrestling team. That seemed to reduce the teasing and made it easier to make friends. This boy needs to join one of the many after-school activities. It's not easy at first, but it can make things better. Get a roll in the next play, learn a musical instrument, or join the debating team. The key here is to continue
to reach out. While I conquered the teasing of other boys, I never did conquer dating in high school. Also, we as blind adults need to encourage communities to include disability awareness as part of the elementary school curriculum. Kids who have been through that sort of training are far less likely to tease and taunt. Lack of acceptance is one of the negatives associated with mainstreaming.”

Bob Hachey (ACB-L)

**30. “Hi Dawn,
That story really made me think. I would probably see if I couldn't find a few kids who could walk with him weekly. I would also try to help him to build his confidence by practicing what to say or not to say to bullies. I would also try to walk a few times with him myself and then role play the situation with him.”

Kristie Smith (OandM list)

**31. “I read this and realized too that similar stuff still happens to me as an adult. But what I really wondered about is how our children, who are accustomed to Blindness, would feel. Although our children would not feel the pain of the Blind kid, I am sure they would be offended because of their familiarity with our Blindness. They might want to defend the Blind kid, but I hope they might just try to show support to the Blind kid.”

Glenn Irvin (Northfolk, Nebraska USA)

**32. “I'll tell you what I did back in the 60's when I went to public school. I pounded the sighted kid and a few of his friends. They soon learned not to call me names. Don't think his parents would like this answer but it worked for me. Now I think about it I think it has more to do with the way you carry your self. If you are a wimp everyone will pick on you even if you are not disabled. My Brother was the wimp of the family growing up. Everyone picked on him and he has 20/20 vision.”

Charlie Web (blindfam)

FROM ME: “Would you say that good blindness skills would be in order to ‘not look like a wimp,’ not looking too different, weird, helpless, etc.?”

**33. “Not much you can do here except to help the kid to know his own
worth. Ignoring teasing is usually the best policy, IMO. However, no
reason why the kid shouldn't take up karate or some kind of self defense. If he's a witty kid, suggest word matches. If he's a
physical kid, maybe he does need to fight. Depends on the kid.”

Ann Parsons (blindfam)

**34. “My name is Henry Macphillamy and I am 16 years old.
I live in Sydney, Australia, and have been integrated since I started kindergarten. I consider myself pretty lucky to have had the positive experience that I did. I did have to put up with some kids with attitudes, or just plain ignorance. Anything that they did to me wasn't nasty though. I think the most important thing I've learned from these experiences is to have a sense of humor, and not care what people say or think. I moved schools a year and a half ago, and that was pretty difficult. The most important thing to do, or at least what I found to do was to break down the barriers, to get involved with as many things as possible, and to not just sit around letting people think that you can't do anything. I found that once I had gained the respect from other students, by swimming, playing guitar etc things went, and still are allot better. I believe that respect is the key.”

Henry Macphillamy (Sydney, Australia)

**35. “I think I would respond to the blind child that he is not the only one being singled out as different even though it may seem like it at times. Children often single out boys and girls who have different traits that are considered undesirable and subject those children to teasing and taunting. Sometimes
the children doing the teasing and taunting are themselves very insecure and engage in this behavior to prove that they are not different and, thus, not undesirable as friends. For example, children who wear eyeglasses or braces on their teeth are targets of teasing. Children who are overweight, unusually
tall, or unusually short are also subjects of teasing. Children who don't wear the current clothing styles are also subjected to teasing. Some children are subjected to teasing because they are perceived to be ugly, even if they are in fact quite attractive. It's often hard to explain exactly why someone
tends to be the target, except they seem to project insecurity. Blindness is an easy trait to pick on because it is so visible, but it's only one of many traits that are the subject of teasing. My parents told me that learning to put up with this kind of teasing would make me a stronger person -- I can't say I appreciated the advice very much at the time, but it was true. The other thing I would say is that children are at least open with their discomfort with blindness, although that openness is sometimes quite cruel. Many adults share the same discomfort with blindness as the teasing children do, but you will often not know it. Frankly, there are times when I wish some adults would express their negative attitudes about blindness more openly because then I could at least understand their motivation, try to help them improve their attitude, or write them off as not worth the trouble.”

Jeanine Worden (Arlington, Virginia USA)

**36. “ With more mild harassment it may be best to just ignore it acting as though it isn't worth his time to deal with them. When it is to the point that it can't be ignored the blind child should try to fight back
verbally if taunted and physically if physically attacked. Acting like a wimp will only make it worse. When there is significant harassment, or physical or sexual abuse the perpetrators should be treated like the
criminals they are.

I had to deal with this stuff a lot as a child as well as many other blind kids I knew. Junior High was the worst. Many days were full of harassment, including sexual harassment, threats, and physical attacks.
The school was unwilling to put a stop to it and even seemed to approve of it. And unfortunately my efforts to fight back weren't especially successful since a lot of kids would gang up on me. Finally I told the
school counselor that I had thought about killing the brats. I wasn't really planning to go on a shooting spree or anything I just wanted to
scare them. I knew that any threat of harm to the sighted kids would be
taken seriously even though it didn't matter to them that a blind kid was
threatened with a saw and a lighter. I of course made it clear that there was no imminent threat just that it was possible that a sighted kid could get hurt if the abuse continued. And that immediately changed their tune.

Now I'm not suggesting that blind kids threaten to hurt or kill sighted kids who bullying them. That was just desperation on my part. In fact today with all the fear of school shootings it would only make the
situation worse for the blind kid. I know of blind kids who have gotten into trouble for fighting back when attacked and hurt and the sighted kid
got away with it. So I think the best thing these days would be for the blind kid to fight back and the parents to fight with the school and the parents of the sighted bullies to put an end to it and make sure that the blind kid doesn't get punished for self defense. Karate or Judo lessons
would be really helpful for the blind kid to learn how to effectively defend himself.”

Anitra Webber (Salt Lake Utah USA

**37. “I have further thoughts as I've read these messages.
First of all, in defense of my own response before. I was suggesting that the cane and the glasses were being used by the boy, the cane was probably useful, the glasses maybe not so useful. I think if the boy were to discard the use of both, he would be taunted more. If he was really benefittingc from the
glasses, he should continue using them, too. If he wasn't and discarded the use of the cane, he would look more like a wimp; this would add to the taunts.

I don't think a child's complaints about treatment by others should ever be minimized, and I applaud the person who got in the girls' face about what they were doing to this student. I think there often needs to be intervention.

I believe that all of us have character lapses and will make fun sometimes of someone who is different. I am ashamed to say that I've probably done so myself. I think all tend to ridicule people sometimes who are different enough if we don't understand them.

I wonder why we are afraid to ask for rides? If we need a ride home from work and we know people go by where we need to go, why wouldn't we ask them. Our not asking assumes we don't need it. It would be nice for them to offer, yet sometimes haven't we been a little hostile if someone offered us help
and we refused it. Of course, it might not have been an appropriate offer of help, but those people don't differentiate between the appropriate and the inappropriate. If we usually have a way home and circumstances have changed, can we really expect them to automatically assume that we do? If someone
is walking too fast for us, shouldn't we be able to say, "You're walking a little too fast for me to keep up. Would you mind slowing down?" If we're with friends, they should respect that.
I think we need to spend time with our kids blind or sighted and makes sure things are going well for them; keep talking to them; make sure we know what's going on with them. That's not always easy, but if we keep talking to them and letting them know we are there and understand, we'll get information from
them about what's happening. I always did this with mine. A couple of years ago she told me that she didn't know how she could have a relationship with another guy because of having blind parents. I told her she could pretend she didn't have a mother and I could handle it. She visited with a counselor who told her the critical guy with whom she had recently ended a relationship would have criticized anything she did, and she now laments that he tried to ruin our relationship.
I think I've babbled long enough here.”

Cindy Ray, (Leon, Iowa USA)

**38. “I remember being in Mr. McGoo position. People thought I was a klutz. It was really difficult to make friends. Some would pass me or just stood there. Some didn't know what to do.
Many times I would go home after school and just do my homework. My parents wondered why I wasn't socializing. It got to the point where they had to practically get me to go out with friends. I was very fortunate to have parents like that. I could remember reading on a list called Blind in Debt. Some many of these blind individuals hadn't had the experience of what it was like to or were not given the opportunity to socialize. Some feel that it is so difficult for us blind people to socialize. I find that when I get involved in the community I find it is easier to make friends than trying to wait for somebody to come to me. Thanks for let me express what I think about this article. Smile! Smile! Smile!”

Soo Kee

**39. “My heart goes out to this boy. I went through the same things. I lost my central vision at six and was educated with sighted people from school to university.
Here is what I would say to the kid:

Boy, what is happening now will continue throughout your life. It is par for the course as a blind person. Laugh at your mistakes and get used to being a fool. You can cry inside, and you will many times. Always being made out to be a fool is no good for one's self esteem. Learn blindness skills like Braille
and computing early and make yourself as independent as you can. Enjoy what you can enjoy in your own way. Stretch yourself by learning new things. Cultivate
interests. Talk about your frustration and your pain with blind friends who will understand. Sighted people cannot empathize. There will always be those who are critical of you, and who are patronizing and prejudiced. Try not to let it get to you. Do not keep your feelings bottled up inside. Pour out your
heart in letters to an imaginary friend. Do not develop the attitude that blindness is something to be ashamed of. Learn tricks of body language that let you appear to be comfortable with yourself. Assert yourself and speak loudly. Be gracious and courteous when help is offered, even when you don't need
it. Smile a lot and laugh heartily. Good luck!”

Brenda, (South Africa)

**40. “This PROVOKER hit home with me, because it reminded me of a lot of the stuff that happened to me growing up, though I was never physically assaulted as has been described in other people's
responses. First off, let me say that I totally agree with Ryan O's
response, though it can be hard to see it so at the time. We're writing about all this looking back on it with a different perspective. It's harder to just live with it while it's happening,
though it is ultimately what needs to happen.

One thing in particular in this PROVOKER struck me. The story said that this boy's parents, teachers, etc, has talked to him about different things he cold do to build friendships. However, I always
found that, as well-meant as the advice of those people was, it almost never worked. You can't control what other people think, and if they decide they're not going to like you, they won't. A lot of
times, trying to fit yourself into all these groups where you're clearly not wanted only makes things worse instead of better, parents, teachers and counselors say it will. Secondly, involving a
school guidance counselor often makes things worse as well. One of the rules I learned most quickly was to keep the adults out of the picture as much as possible, because they simply didn't understand,
and often made me feel as if it were my fault that I was being picked on or didn't have friends. They made it sound like if I just tried harder, it would get better, and that is not always the case.
Certainly, some children need to be taught social skills, but I think I had those...My parents were good about that type of thing. Either way, I guess my point after my tirade is for adults to remember not
to make the child feel like they are to blame, but to support them, and help them to live with it and grow stronger through the experience, as lousy as it is at the time."

Alicia Richards student at the NFB Colorado Center for the Blind (Denver, Colorado USA)

**41. You should have a THOUGHT PROVOKER on teasing and name calling for adults. Though I do not get it as much now as a 37 year old, I will still get it from time to time. It might be a person driving by in a car yelling something like, “THREE BLIND MICE!!” Or some one jumping out at me and saying, “BOO!” And as someone else said, it seems to be a younger sounding person that will do it; you wonder if they are high or what. I believe this ‘hazing” of the disabled has been for all time, I’m not sure we can wipe it out; make it better yes.

You know, with being discriminated in employment, some times in finding living space like finding an apartment, in dating, etc, there are times I feel like an alien, like a stranger in a strange land.

The thing to remember is that most of life is totally wonderful!!! Some of this poor treatment we get is just some thing we will have to live with.”

Kit (USA)

**42. “From reading the responses to this Provoker I am struck again with the
frequency of what I call the "feel good" answers to the problem of
bullying, teasing and harassment. I will explain why these answers do not work.

"Feel Good" answers are responses that come from people who have observed
bullying, by people who have dealt with it in the past, but not from those
who are currently experiencing it. Since harassment by classmates and other
children is such a pervasive and difficult issue, solutions are never as
easy as one would wish. Any solution to bullying needs to take into account
the social nature of the group involved, the prey-drive of those doing the
bullying and the psychological realities of both tormentor and victim. Any
solution proposed that does not take these factors into account does
nothing but give the person offering it a nice feeling that they have done
something. Nothing more.

Here are some quotes and why they are not effective as solutions:

> "I would tell the child that he is not the only one being singled out as
different...\ Children often single out others with different traits that
are considered undesirable and subject those children to teasing and
taunting. "

This is a feel good solution because it does not address that one child's
personal suffering. "You are not alone." is cold comfort. Think of telling
a Jewish person who had a swastika painted on his house "Well, you aren't
the only victim, Blacks get it too!" The point, which this answer misses,
is that NO child, blind, sighted, black, white, gay, straight or ANYTHING,
should be teased for ANY reason! To be told "Others are singled out also,"
is to be told "You are no different, so give up, already and accept it."
Sorry, but that is a non-answer. EVERY person who is abused is an
individual with individual circumstances that need to be met on a
case-by-case basis. Two, or two hundred wrongs do not, and will NEVER make
a right.

The sociology of rejection of difference is an inherent trait in any
species. Place a red spot on a white chicken and put it back in the flock
and that chicken will be pecked to death in an hour. The solution is either
to minimize the difference, remove the different one from the flock or make
it clear to the ones rejecting the different one that such actions will be
met firmly, forcefully and effectively. Then follow through.

Feel Good Answer #2. "Just Ignore them." This tactic does not work for a
very obvious reason: those doing the tormenting are doing it to get a
reaction. If they are willing to make themselves look stupid in public by
acting in a manner that provokes the target child, there is no reason to
think that they are NOT willing to "up the ante" when there is no reaction.
Logically, when a person calls out to another, the person addressed will
respond. "Hay Larry!" "What?". This call-and-response cycle is natural.
When a child fails to answer, he provokes the tormentors and they go to
louder, firmer measures to get the child's attention. If the person fails
to react, they will go to shouting, touching, pushing, shoving, striking.
If the child being harassed continues to refuse to react, that child then
is made to look the fool AND is in danger of real physical violence. I was
thrown down a flight of stone steps once because I steadily refused to
acknowledge the children who were trying to get a reaction from me. The
"Just ignore them" answer flies in the face of logic.

The solution is the same as before. The adults in charge must let the
children know, in no uncertain terms, that bullying, harassment and teasing
will be met with force and discipline. To fail to do that is to encourage
the actions.

Feel Good Answer #3
"Being teased and tormented makes the child a stronger person."

This may be true in some cases, but in others it fosters damage to self
esteem, ego structures, encourages lifelong suffering and suicide. Is rape
to be tolerated because the person raped might become stronger? NO. Rape
and abuse, assault and battery are crimes in the adult
population. Tormenting and teasing in school are simply younger forms of
the adult crimes.

Feel good answer #4
"They're just children."

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. Children, who are forming their
idea of what society is like, are taught by bullying, being bullied or
witnessing bullying, that society is not civil, humane or lawful. The
child being teased learns that he is not entitled to protection. He or she
learns that society will accept unfairness and permit attacks based on WHO
the child IS. Children who are teased can be shattered by the experience.
Those who witness teasing learn that those in authority permit it to go on.
There is the same chilling effect going on that went on in Nazi Germany
during the Holocaust and in the South during the rampages of the Ku Klux
Klan. Witnesses are silenced by fear of the bullies, making them tacit
accomplices to the crime. Those who bully are damaged because they feel
that their actions are permitted and justified. When they emerge into adult
society, they can become the bigots, racists and criminals that prey on the
weaker members. If they have never met with stiff resistance, they may
well continue to bully and torment others and never really fit in,
themselves. ALL are harmed. If we are to STOP racism, prejudice, crime,
domestic violence, abuse and cruelty in the ADULT population, we MUST stop
it in the schools and among our children.”

Sylvia Stevens (USA)

FROM ME: “Check out the main theme in the above response, ’…feel good" answers to the problem…’. She says its wrong, not enough. What is your feeling on this one?”

**43. “I have several things to say about this "Thought Provoker." I think that first of all, it's one thing to teach a blind child ways of coping and reaching out to sighted kids, but schools also need to make it clear that taunting, bullying, and or physically /emotionally harassing another student because of their disability is absolutely unacceptable! A large urban school board near where I live just passed a resolution clarifying a zero-tolerance policy on harassment or intimidation based on sexual orientation, and I think schools need to have similar policies concerning blindness and other disabilities. I believe that the main reason why teasing goes on is a lack of understanding, and there are many curricula to sensitize kids and adults to disability that schools are using. When I was in school, I took part in a program called "Everybody Counts" where I spoke to first graders about what it was like to be blind. It was amazing how fascinated the kids were when I showed them the telescopic aid I used, talked about how I get around, etc. I also agree that blind or visually impaired kids need to be active at making friends and find a role with sighted kids. I was mainstreamed all through school, but didn't experience a lot of taunting or teasing. I think a reason for this was that I had great math skills in school and was known as the "human calculator." I also hung around a lot of the academic kids growing up and participated in the Math Club, Academic Team, and the like in junior high and high school.”

Chris Sabine (Cincinnati, Ohio USA)

**44. “I was in public school in the forties and fifties. I lost about ninety
percent of my peripheral vision due to RP when I started school. It was a
small town, so, eventually I became part of the scenery. I always had a few
friends, and I still have them now. There was no "mainstreaming", resource
rooms, IEP's. I was pretty much on my own. The main problem was adult
teachers, guidance counselors, and school principal who thought I just
wasn't in their job description.

What I'd say to this boy is that friends are something well worth waiting
for. Know what you have to offer, and develop skills and interests.
Eventually, friendships will develop naturally. In the meantime, find
someone you can trust with your feelings. Most of the time, it's not about
you. People just need time to deal with people who are different. Some
people will never deal with it, but that's their problem. If you're so
inclined, write stories, poems, songs about your feelings about being blind.
Don't get upset if people don't understand. The songs, poems and stories
are for you, not them.

I wish I could have had other blind role models or peers, but I didn't.
Sometimes other blind people can be helpful if you need validation and
reassurance that you're not crazy. Other times they will be critical and
want you to act in a way that validates THEM.

It isn't easy, but life is certainly worth living as a blind child or adult.
Hang in there.”

Abby Vincent (Culver City, California USA

**45. “I'll weigh in with my opinion. When I was in school, it was known that I had poor vision, but I did not know I had RP until my late twenties. Nonetheless I was tormented by the so called "popular" group throughout my public school years. Always picked last for teams in gym. Once I was even hit full force
with a volleyball thrown at my face from a teammate about 3 ft. away. Also, girls were forced to wrestle each other in front of my perverted gym teacher. My family physician made sure that I never had to take gym again. Reporting these events to school officials only brought on more viciousness. When
I went to school (the 70's) they were not permitted to teach morals, so people like myself were left out there without any protection. My feeling is that there are a lot of bullies in school who will find any reason available to pick on someone weaker. After numerous 'kick me' signs, pushes down the stairs,
bra unhookings, name callings, even a trampling on the playground that resulted in a broken arm that still bothers me today, I feel the sum of all of these experiences made me stronger. I would never wish what happened to me on anyone else. I also think my sense of humor sustained me as well. I was able to occasionally make alliances with kids that scared my tormentors, which, in the 70's, were kids bussed in from the city. Also, my mother went to great lengths to make our home environment a safe place, so I had a safe haven to go to after school. I had to get therapy to understand that what happened
was not my fault. I also learned about the psychology of being a victim and have learned how not to be one. Attending my high school reunion was the most empowering event. I found I had more friends than I had realized. I also found that I was not alone in incurring the wrath of these girls. They
were there, too and they were quite pathetic. They were still playing high school hierarchy games while the rest of us had moved on. Also, their viciousness was beginning to show on their faces in the form of lines and bad skin. I am a firm believer in that what you put out, comes back. If you put out nastiness
it will come back to you. It's karmic justice. This way I don't have to worry about revenge or carry a grudge and it makes my life much more serene.”

Val Hyatt (Clive, Iowa USA)

**46. “This situation is so unfortunately typical. I have thought and thought and can never find any way that it can be avoided or changed. There will always be those who taunt and ridicule anything they don't understand and, sadly, blindness falls into that category for some.

What would I tell this boy? Hang in there? It'll get better as they grow up and realize how stupid they sound? Just ignore them and they'll go away? Things which are all true; however, not very comforting to a young child only trying to fit in and make friends. So I guess I don't really know what
to say specifically. But I would make sure to tell him that whatever anger he's feeling is natural. Help him find a healthy outlet for it. Be there for him just to listen to him vent if need be. I feel for this child. Yes, ignoring the taunters is probably the best thing. But you can smile and laugh
until your face hurts and some people will never have that moment of clarity that shows them they are hurting someone else and suddenly realize the error of their ways. As someone else observed, this kind of torment is not exclusive to people who are blind. Call me a cynic but as long as there are human
beings on the earth there will always be a few who feel they must taunt others for whatever reason. Yes, it gets better as you get older. I'm not always sure if it's because the frequency of the taunting lessens or if we get older and so it doesn't bother us as much. I know I still feel the effects to
this day. Not all negative. I never make fun, or allow to be made fun of in my hearing, anyone with a physical or learning disability. I am quite vocal about this no matter who is doing to ridiculing. There have been so many wonderful responses to this PROVOKER. It is very definitely something that hits
home for a lot of people.”

Wendy McCurley (Texas USA

**47. “This is an interesting subject, one that I think each
of our opinions is influenced by our own experiences.

I had many bad experiences, from about 7th grade until
I graduated from high school. Many have said that one should fight by, fight verbal abuse with words and
physical abuse with physical force, however, I'm not
so sure that is a good idea. I tried ignoring all the
verbal slams, names, and other verbal abuse and then I
tried fighting back verbally. When they pushed me into lockers and through things at me or played tricks
on me I never did anything because what was I going to do, punch them and then get in trouble? And to be
truthful things got worse when I fought back. I was told by the school counselors at by my junior high and
high schools that I was taking it all too seriously, they really didn't mean it like that. Everyone turned
their back when they saw it happening. It would start from the minute I got there in the morning until I
left in the afternoon. The only time I ever said anything to a teacher, a teacher that I knew would
help me, was when I was a junior in high school and two girls in the next lower class said to me (this is
the cleaned up version) that morning when I got to school "we're going to beat the crap out of you after
school, you're dead" This wasn't an empty threat, they meant it. I had never done anything to any of
the kids in that school. I went to school and did my work and went home to comfort myself listening to the
radio because I had no friends, not one. I was informed that the principals and assistant principals
would be watching as I walked down the hill to go home. This was fine except that I had four blocks
more to walk that were not in sight. I've never ran so fast in my life to get home. My mom was obviously
very upset when I told her and called the school, this was the only time I ever let her do it. I did that
time because my family has already been touched once by murder and I knew how serious those girls were. I had no idea why me but I knew they meant it. In this
instance, the girls were told by the principal never to approach me again. I got out of that situation but
the abuse continued. Now I understand that maybe my situation was an extreme. But the fact is that this
kind of treatment by other kids can cause deep depression and even suicide. I admit that I was very
depressed and did think about suicide during this period in my life. No one, blind or sighted, can be
expected to deal with this kind of treatment day in and day out all day long and not be worn down to their
very core.

As far as what can be done, I think one thing we can do as a society is do our individual part to educate
society about the truths of blindness and visual impairment and help get rid of the myths. In the
school I'm student teaching in there is a girl who uses a CCTV. My cooperating teacher had her in class
last year and she is in third grade this year. I've seen the girl and she is well adapted and the other
kids treat her pretty well. Sure, you'll always have the few that are jerks but it doesn't have to be as
bad as I or others have had it. I think teachers can help a lot, looking out for those kids who have a
disability (blindness or anything else) and helping the child's peers understand. I remember my mom
telling me that it would get better as I got older, well she was right when she said that adults are not
as cruel. Adulthood holds a different set of issues, including being independent in a sighted world where,
in reality, the average person doesn't have a clue what it is like and may not always want to help. A
final thought, I think we also must remember that we are not the only ones who deal with crap, so do all
the kids and adults who are disabled. Take for instance the person in a wheelchair that wants to go
to a party someplace but has to ask people who probably can't remember if there is an accessible
entrance. They are shut out too, physically looked down upon. We're all in this boat together.”

Wendalyn (Nebraska, USA)

FROM ME: “Might it be that each of us has to both inwardly and outwardly cope and deal with this issue as individuals, in our own unique way? What works for one, wouldn’t necessarily work for the next guy?”

**48. “There is a song that the Muppet character Kermit the Frog sings entitled, It ain't Easy To Be Green. Any disabled child knows that being different is tough. I used humor and getting involved with things that interested me. I would probably have picked myself up after tripping over the cement block, and remarked
something like, "You guys really gotta get a life! If this is the only way you can find to entertain yourselves." I learned young never to play the victim. Never cry or acknowledge you are hurt. Save the tears for when you are alone, because showing you can be hurt just leads to more of the same. I remember
making kids tie sweaters over their heads, spinning them around and challenging them to find the school building. I think I was about nine at the time. Honesty about what you can and can't see, openness about answering questions and asking for help when needed usually worked too. I tried to understand
that those who needed to belittle me did so because they were in need and felt badly about themselves. Maybe they were overweight, didn't have good clothes, had other problems too and putting me down was their way of dealing with those things. Blindness was a part of me like my height, the color of my hair
etc. So, if others had a problem with it, it was their problem and not mine. I taught friends Braille so they could pass notes the teachers couldn't read. When troubled by frightening or tough situations, I would picture myself as a character in an adventure tale and try to imagine what that character
would do. More than once, Queen Hypolita of the Amazons found her way home when lost or Nancy Drew detected solutions to a problem. Teachers and parents can't always be there and learning techniques to get you through the tough times is a life skill as important as learning to use that cane or monocular.
Bitterness and anger or self pity just don't get you anywhere. So, when swimming up that mainstream, you have to use you're wits, learn to reach out to others rather than expect them to approach you, learn to put others at ease with a smile or joke. One of my imagery identities was to see myself as
a turtle. No one could get through my shiny bright shell. Only once did a friend see through me. She pulled me aside at school and asked, "What's wrong? I know you. When you bubble bubble till you foam at the mouth, something is really wrong." Usually if I could laugh at a thing long enough, I soon got
over it. My blind friends are a treasure to me because I can let my hair down and just relax instead of always putting on a show to prove I am worth getting to know as a real person, not a disability. Hope this rambling helps.”

DeAnna Noriega (Colorado Springs Colorado USA)

FROM ME: “I liked this sentence, ‘…So, if others had a problem with it, it was their problem and not mine…’ What does it mean to you?”

**49. “Well, I can sure relate. Being called lots of names, including Mr. MCGoo, cross- eyes, four eyes, and even "the ugliest bastard I have ever met (reference to eyes)". additionally, I recall being picked on by other kids, including having my face pushed into a book in high school. Of course , that guy did not
do it again because I knocked him on the floor with a solid right! But perhaps the worst thing ever done was for folks to pretend to let me play in a ball game, let me hit , score a run and then start "the real game"
without me. I think the response in # 1 while a bit aggressive has a lot to say. To me it speaks of dignity and not settling and trying to pass to gain acceptance. It identifies one group of kids who will definitely challenge those who are different from "the norm". I did a research project in college and came to the conclusion that the more visible a disability the more the negative attitude. Surprisingly then but not now, the group with the greatest negative attitude toward disability was the teen group. But is that true? Or is it that they at least are the most "honest" about their feelings? Let me explain. What is more demeaning , being called names and made fun of , or being patronized , excluded or very limited in terms of participation in employment, social activities, etc. ? Worse yet, what about being ignored?
I am talking about what is current within the adult population, you know the folks who do not call us names, the folks who accept and or contribute to the current lack of employment and lack of literacy among the blind population. And I am specifically although not exclusively pointing to those in the educational
and rehabilitation field who are paid to know and do better. What if we woke up tomorrow and found there is a 70% unemployment rate among all society? What if there was an illiteracy rate of 90% as there is in terms of those who cannot read and write Braille? I suggest all hell would break loose! But that is not the case. Society plays rehab games and has committees and blue ribbon panels. They have white cane days and Braille month. Most agencies and centers for the blind continue to do the same old thing to us that has not and does not work . Educators educate "vision" teachers and teach teachers to promote vision and only introduce Braille and the cane as a last resort to vision loss. The word "blind" is hidden and compromised behind politically correct terminology. They are afraid and perhaps in many cases afraid of the blind, blindness and the alternate techniques. Many of us follow their lead and put up with the negative
attitudes that not only contribute to the names but to the institutions that continue to support the status quo.
So let them call me names. They are just kids, products of a society that does something worse, a society that pretends or at least does not seriously consider equality for this minority of persons who are blind,
This society includes us too. Many of us who are blind, especially who have some vision are just as responsible. We not only put up with but seem to accept our status as an underclass possibly due to our buy out of entitlements. Only we can change these attitudes by changing our own first with a positive attitude
about blindness. It is acceptable and respectable to be blind. Alternate techniques are not substitutes for sight , but different ways of doing things. Educators and rehab professionals can have a role in this change, but we must educate them about changing what it means to be blind.”

Edwin Kunz (Austin, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “Well, could it be that the adult aged/mature group still harbor the same type of feelings now concerning the disabled/blind as they did when they were teens or younger? As in where they were open with disrespectful words and actions when young, they now as adults still act out these feelings, but in more ‘adult ways?’ What might be some of these ‘adult ways?’

Second, what about the study Ed did in college? That the more you look disabled, the more you will get picked-on? Then do you think this is why so many of us who are partially sighted and who need to use a cane, will choose not too?”

**50. “After reading your thought provoker dealing with the blind kid being teased, several things come to mind.

At first, you can't help thinking that the sighted kids are simply cruel by the constant teasing. I know that as a kid, I got plenty of teasing or people all of a sudden creating an obstacle course for me as I
Walked. how do you really handle that? Do you get angry and vengeful?
Or do you laugh? Or, can some of that spite turn into some educating and eventually get everyone laughing and realizing you're like everyone else.

I'll give an example.

I remember being around 11 or 12, and at a school that had kids from Kindergarten through eighth grade, one is bound to run into kids. One day, I remember I wasn't in the best of moods and was
walking to class using my cane. All of a sudden, you see these little first or second graders get freaked out, and you hear someone yell, "Oh no, here comes the blind kid!! RUN!!"
I was angry, so I perhaps first scared them by swinging my cane a little wider and then saying, "That's right, here I come!” They did get scared and started running, but one kid did see me
chuckling and asked if I was really going to hurt them. I got to
talking to him a little bit, and wouldn't you know it, he began telling everyone that I wasn't going to do anything and that if anything I was just having fun. From then on, I'd always get greeted by those little kids as I came through, and they felt like they needed to walk in front of me to tell
me if I was coming to some stairs. It was cute, but they learned soon enough that it wasn't necessary.

Sometimes, instead of just taking the teasing, I think the blind kid needs to actually get in and defend himself in teasing as well. Who says blind kids aren't regular kids with a little bit of an evil (but
harmless) streak? Sometimes, self defense actually teaches more than just staying quiet.”

“You know, I just had a second thought to your thought provoker.
Many of you might disagree with what I'm about to say, but in my
case, this has helped more than harmed.
If a blind kid (or even an adult) has the ability to use wit and humor
on himself in order to ease other people's misconceptions, then
use it. Blindness is like any other characteristic, and people will
be teased for anything (being too short, too tall, fat jokes, racial
jokes, and yes, being blind). If it's all in good fun, why not be able
to laugh at yourself and sometimes offset the teasing by you
actually being able to joke around.
Of course, one wouldn't want to make jokes that will add to
stereotypes or bad philosophies about blindness, but sometimes,
life is too short to take everything (including teasing) seriously.
It's been my experience that being able to laugh at myself or
making harmless jokes at my own expense has actually helped
ease other people's worries or hesitation in dealing with me as a
blind person.
It may not work for everybody, but it has worked when I use it right.”

Jim Portillo (Omaha, Nebraska USA)

**51. “Here is an interesting admission to your TP. I’m blind and when I was younger I know I use to make fun of other blind people. It wasn’t against those who were more blind, I’m a total! It was about those who didn’t act normal or I guess I felt weren’t socially acceptable, you know, we’ve all seen them, the one’s that can’t get around well or don’t look right because they rock or poke their eyes or don’t make any attempt to make eye contact and all that. Can you believe this?!?!? I guess they just piss me off because they help to give the rest of us a bad rap, a bad image. Sorry, for this but they are the ones that make us look different.”

Signed- Hiding Me, But telling what I feel.

FROM ME: “Interesting, do you think this is a common reaction by members of a group to be down on other members who do not live up to certain expectations?”

**52. “This is a universal topic. I was never physically abused, when I was growing up, but I was certainly teased. I was called blindy and blind bat. I was very shy and didn't know how to deal with it. I heard all the usual things from my dad and stepmother. As there was no physical abuse, I did try to ignore
it. However, I withdrew more and more into myself. I spent many recesses and lunches, standing alone in front of the class. sometimes, the teacher would force some of the girls to play with me, but I didn't like that either. who wants to think that people only come around you, because someone in authority
makes them. even as a child I had a lot of pride. I would never let anyone know how the teasing and isolation hurt my stepmother would fight for me, when she saw or heard. I remember one time, when another blind boy was teasing me. I was born with a disease called Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis--which is how I went blind--and I was having trouble opening the car door of the car that drove all the blind kids to the public school we attended. The kid made some crack about 'Can't you even open a door/' my stepmother lit into him and told him that he ought to try doing it with Arthritis in his hands. He pretty much left me alone after that. He didn't like it, when an adult nailed him. I think adult intervention is the only answer. I know that so many kids won't go to an adult, so the teachers and parents must be involved and aware. One message on this said that there should be a zero tolerance policy concerning abuse of disabled kids--like those concerning race or sexual orientation. I would go farther and say there should be a zero tolerance against abuse of any child. period. kids are teased for many reasons. Look at the sheer
hell school can be for the fat kid, the brain, the poor kid. I was miserably shy all through school. I was afraid to say hi to anyone. My parents didn't raise me to believe I wasn't as good as anyone else, but it
took lots of growing up to believe it in my heart. I can even remember the first time I reached out to a stranger and said hello. Wow! It was amazing.
I wish I had done that in school, because maybe, it would have been different, if I had known, that I could reach out, make friends, talk back to the tormentors.”

Sherry Gomes (Kirkland, Washington

**53. “I am responding to message 42, which I agree is possibly an answer, however, the best solution to the blind child in this story, in my opinion, is to not only tell someone about the behavior and actions of
the bullies, but for this someone or a person in authority, such as a parent/friend/ or teacher, be there to meet the child and to confront these children. Of course, if the children see the person, they won't
dare do their normal "teasing," so the person must not be seen, and could then confront the individuals later at school. I feel that nothing gets a child worse than "being caught" doing something he/she
knows is wrong!! These children do reflect their parents and adults do this stuff too, but we have to start to mold children in not only what is right, but in consequences of their actions and being responsible,
otherwise these kids are going to grow up and be an exact replica of the adults we have now!! Change can only come when we start teaching the children responsible behavior so that they are eventually responsible
adults. As long as we have this: "do as I say--not as I do" attitude, nothing will change nor will these kids be encouraged to become tolerant and responsible adults. It's high time that we all wake up, talk our
talk and walk our walk!! Stop playing the victim and allowing our children to do this! It's not only blind kids but every kid who needs to except responsibility for his or her actions!! The only way to
change a bully is to "catch" him, embarrass him, and turn him around to accept differences and to be tolerant of others. We have to teach our children, and although it may not be too late to teach adults, a child is ready to learn and be molded into a future "good" citizen, which
means that you don't tease!! You don't make fun of!! and you don't harass!!

Our laws are there, our cries for help, however, are either unheard, ignored, or passed off as "I will deal with it later," or "it's no problem," or It will pass!"

In order to change a child's behavior, (any child's behavior) we must "be there!" We must punish the wrong doers, and not just that, but "teach" them the "right" way!! This process takes time, and each
individual will "understand" it differently!! Some kids learn fast! Some kids require stricter methods, and others never learn, but each child "must" be dealt with in this story,--not just the blind child, but all
of those other children too!! The problem, as I see it, with this, and some other provokers, is that the stories are, in reality, not just "simple" scenarios,--they are complex and require a lot of thought!! I
firmly believe in encouraging positivity, but I think that thinking about a situation in a positive way is one issue. The other and more important issue is "taking" a positive action!!! This blind child is
frightened, so it seems to me relevant to deal with his fears! Teach him that it's not his problem to correct the bullies of the world, and that it's "their" problem, not his, that they continue to behave
badly!!! The bullies are frightened too!!! They need to know that they are special, not just because they are of a particular color or wear this hairdo, but because they are children who have an important role to play in the future--that there is no need to tease, to get attention, to prove they are "masters" or anything!!

The next step is to do as I suggested earlier on in the message,--help him by confronting them with him or in private, once you know who they are!! All of the kids need assistance in learning and growing in order
to become good people--our future will depend on these children so we best deal with their behavior while they are still impressionable and can change themselves.

Sorry this is so long,--I just got carried away!!”

Phyllis Stevens (Johnson City, Tennessee USA

**54. “Personally I do not think giving this boy the typical feel good answers
is going to work. Sure friends are well worth waiting for, you can laugh it off, it is them not you, believe in yourself may make us feel that we are helping but are we. How will this relentless teasing effect this
boys self worth and how will it effect his attitudes as an adult. Relentless teasing does harm self esteem and does colour ones perspective on the world as a whole. When teachers are aware of the teasing and
continue to let it go on are they doing there job? Why for years have children who are different been bullied right in front of adults who are supposed to be supervising? I guess I am bitter on this issue because I went to school in the 70s in a public school with a resource room. Sadly the regular staff was quite clear they would just as soon not have us blind children in there school. Taunting teasing and even rock throwing and a blind girl being pushed down stairs was tolerated. I remember
going to the assistant principal because someone had thrown a large rock at myself and a friend and it hit her on the temple. What happened to me, I got detention for causing trouble.

I think we are letting people focus on the wrong issue here. It is not the blind boy with the problem here the focus should be on the sighted children and why they are taunting and why they get a thrill out of this
behavior? Where did it come from? How would they feel? We can tell the blind child all kinds of things but instead of always putting the focus on what they blind person should or should not do lets address the real issue. How can we teach these sighted children compassion and
understanding and most importantly acceptance. Remember young children are very accepting so this behavior is learned somewhere.”

Robyn Wallen (Saint Louis, Missouri USA)

**55. “Neat thought provoker, or just plan PROVOKER. The feel-good stuff is only a Band-Aid solution as far as I'm concerned. If a child learns that tears and showing anger will only make
things worse, it seems to me that will either become a pattern in the life of the teen and later the adult. If, however, the child is able to find support in either peer allies or teachers who will give the "tough love"
that bullies probably really want, all the better. Bullies come in all shapes, sizes and ages and they want people to play their game.”

Jo Taliaferro (Grand Rapids, Michigan USA)

**56. “When I was young, I may have been protected some from direct social abuse by
having a sister who was also blind so we played together most of the time in our growing up. My mom also fended off much of the bullying, including teaching our older, sighted brother not to tease us about blindness. He was very, unusually good to us.

However, I passionately agree with someone else on this list who mentioned that bullying doesn't stop after childhood. In fact, I think it may be getting worse the older I get and the more our society permits "freedom of speech," to the exclusion of decency and common sense. People don't seem to
be remembering or knowing the Golden Rule, either.
And I agree with someone on this list that bullying is not okay! This popular cliched "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names they do not hurt me," and "It doesn't matter what happens in your life, it's how you respond to it," or, the worst, "I'm doing this for your own good," mentality
is taken too far. In some ways, that kind of thinking, in the purist or purest form, actually gives abusers, including bullies, an upper hand. It actually gives them permission to hurt others, physically or
psychologically. It's like they could say "I don't care how much my beating you up hurts, after all, it isn't important what you're experiencing, it's how you respond to it. I'm just making you stronger." Constant abuse can and does have an effect on children and adults. Extreme abuse can cause
murder, and how can the murdered one respond to "It doesn't's how you respond to it. I was just doing it for your own good!" Some of us, who are still alive, remember the abusive words of childhood and have not been able to escape them in our adulthood. I think that many who say it
isn't happening or it doesn't matter that much are in denial, and, as the cliche goes, I don't mean the river in Egypt.

No, people can choose to some extent how they will respond to some things, but we have to again, as the old cliche puts it, pick our battles, and find ways to escape, move around, walk through, or stay on top of victimhood. The cliche, "there are no victims, only volunteers," is another one that
fits the list of verbal perks for abusers, as far as I am concerned.

And this comes from someone who was terribly victimized on many counts at a far too young an age to be able to fend for herself yet she's still hanging in there. But no way will I give abusers of any kind (which could be any of us at some time in our lives) permission to hurt oneself or to hurt another,
human, animal, etc.

We're all guilty and we're all innocent in some respects, but there is no excuse for abuse--except, as some put it--to the extent that it contributes to the overall quality of the old cliched "Big Picture."

Lauren Merryfield,
not bound by cliche and not held down by abuse! And not always reverently
concerned about "the big picture," whatever that is anyway.”

(Washington USA)

**57. “The thing that rings true for me is the suggestion that adults must stop allowing this kind of abuse. When I hear about blind children being picked on by other kids I feel angry, but it's worse when I hear that the responsible adults in those cases turn their backs on the situation or act
almost as if they think this abuse is a good thing that will make the child stronger and for which he should be grateful. This is nonsense!

Kids who harass blind children are predators and cowards who believe they can mistreat somebody who will be unable to identify them to authority figures. Perhaps the abused child could enlist the help of sympathetic peers and adults to unmask his tormenters. Perhaps he could conceal a tape
recorder in his book bag, and record the taunts, being careful not to let on that he is doing so. Later, he could play the recordings to his adult supporters, so they could understand the true nature of the abuse he is
receiving. Also, he could use the recordings to help him identify the culprits' voices. If they are people he doesn't know, he might be able to arrange to have recordings made of other classrooms in his school, and he could search those recordings for matching voice patterns.

We all know that life is difficult, and children need to learn to cope with life's difficulties. However, we shouldn't use the need to develop strength of character as a justification for the bad behavior of others. Surely, if the mantra, "changing what it means to be blind", is worth anything, it must
include advocating for a society where blind people of all ages (and sighted people, for that matter) are treated with dignity.”

Frank Welte (San Carlos, California USA)

**58. "First, let me say that in many places there is not 0-tollerance for racial
and ethnic differences.
Suspected differences in sexual orientation is clearly swept under the rug
and is not firmly dealt with.
I think that we need to realize a few things when examining this situation.
First, most blind children, like their sighted counterparts are average.
We can not fall back on our musical genius, strikingly accurate memory or
brilliant academic skills. This is not to say that some do not have these
qualities. And, it is certainly a plus if you do.
But, most do not.
2nd, one's senses have to be taught to be more aware. Some blind people may
be able to smell a person's scent and tell when they are in front of them
before they run into them with their cane.
But, honestly, these sensory clues have to be exercised.
They don't come instinctively or naturally.
I mention this because while sharing a PROVOKER with a friend, he mentioned
that one might be able to here the difference do to the space.
There is really no choice. One must endure.

Concerning asking for rides.
I live in a rural area and many times my children and I are out walking.
People will offer transportation and there are times that I accept and times
that I do not.
If it is a nice day or we have a short walk, then, I do not accept the ride.
Sometimes walking is a choice and a choice that we enjoy invoking.
We also only accept rides from people who know us well. Many times my
children's friends' parents will stop us and ask the child if her/his family
wants a ride.
We usually decline. First, the question was not asked to the adult and no
attempt was made to address the adult who would be making the ultimate
While it is nice to get offers, there have been people who have been
offended when I have declined.
Also, since I come in contact with many people, there are those who I do not
know by their voice.
Now, I know that there are blind people who can recognize almost everyone by
their voice and at one time, I could also.
However, as my scope of friends and acquaintances gets larger and my mind
becomes occupied with many things, this is less possible.
\The driver must tell me who they are.
We do not just get into a vehicle with someone who I think that I should
know, but am not sure.
Even in a small town, this has serious implications and consequences.
Lastly, there are five people in our family. Most vehicles can not hold
five plus their own family.
When I need a ride, I make arrangements in advance for one.
I realize that this could not have been done.
I think, if I were you, I might have asked, "Is anyone going passed the bus
(of course, you know that many are).
But, you have given the opportunity to respond and not put any single person
on the spot.
I know a bit off topic, but in case you are looking back, hopefully helpful.”

Jan Wright (Greensburg, Indiannna USA

**46. "This is the first chance I have to respond to Thought Provoker 46, and I'd like to offer my opinion from the prospective of a visually impaired college student. When I was growing up, I do not recall being teased in the fashion that Mark was, except in the latter part of sixth grade and the early part of seventh grade. Before I relate those incidents, I need to give some background information on my disabilities so it's better understood why I interpreted this incident as I did. Besides the visual impairment (20/400 in the left eye and an undetermined acuity in the right eye), I have an orthopedic problem, which makes my sense of balance extremely shaky in various situations. Risers are a prime example of my shaky sense of balance.
When we were preparing for the sixth grade recognition program, Mrs. Lund, the music teacher, assigned me to stand near the end of the third row of risers (the floor was counted as the first row as students were assigned spots there, too). Right then, I should have spoken up and said that the third row is not a good spot because of the balance. There were no railings or supports to grab if I felt myself falling, but I was only 12 years old at the
time. I did not think of that. Near the end of the practices, a student who was assigned to stand next to me began to push me off the risers. Every once in awhile, he'd push me,
and I'd try desperately to keep my balance. Luckily, he never went as far as to push me completely off the risers, but I thought he might on several occasions.
I talked to Mrs. Lund soon after this started, and she said if the pushing continued, she would find a different spot for me. However, by that time,
it was to late to reassign spots, and the pushing stopped.
I thought that was the end of that student's taunting and teasing, but when we were in a seventh grade art class, it started up all over again. This
time, I was smarter and went immediately to the school counselor. He said that he'd talk to the student's parents, and if this kind of thing did not stop, charges would be filed. After talking to the counselor, I never saw the student again. Later, I heard that he'd graduated from a different high school than the public school, which I was relieved about.
I think one reason that I was not teased as much as some of the people that I read about in the responses was because the size of my hometown. My family lived in a town that had approximately 13,000 people, and I was well-known in the community. Not because I'd done anything famous (grin), but because
of my visual impairment and the adaptations that I used.

Another point that I want to address that I think plays a large role in a child's development of the skills to combat teasing and bullying is his early years in school. When I was in Kindergarten and first grade, I had an aide, Marsha, that was with me allot. I cannot recall now if she was with me everyday or a set number of days, but I am sure in the beginning, she was with me everyday. This is something that should not be avoided if the child needs it,
but monitored by the parents and/or TVI's. The reason I say it should be "monitored," is because if the aide is constantly with the student, he or she does not have the true freedom to make friends and develop self advocacy skills. I am sure someone could make an argument that early elementary school years are to young to develop self advocacy skills, but I think Kindergarten is a good time to begin this training.

The final point that I'd like to address is the point about having more blind friends. When I was growing up in Williston, I would have loved to have more blind friends. All of my blind friends lived in the eastern part of the state, Grand Forks, Valley City, etc. When I was in third grade and attended the school for the blind in Grand Forks for the first time, I remember meeting three friends who eventually became good friends. All blind children, I
feel, should be given the opportunity, no matter what part of the state they live in, to meet other children who are going through similar problems. Even
if the children have vastly different visual acuity’s, they should still be introduced. The reason I say this is because one of my very good friends,
Ryan, only has light perception. Even so, we talk about everything, including how to deal with various issues related to our blindness.
I hope I've been able to help someone. If you would like to communicate further about anything I've addressed in this message, please feel free to write me off list. My e-mail address is included at the bottom of this post.”

Alexis Read (Moorhead, Minnesota, USA

**47. “Too me the saddest part is that the teacher, principal and even the child's parents assumed it was "his" lack of social skills and advised him to change
his behavior instead of helping the other child to realize that there are consequences to his harassing behavior. Yes he should be taught coping techniques
and also his own worth-does he really need such ignorant friends.”

Ruqayyah Muhammad

**48. "Like the boy in the thought provoker narrative and many of the respondents to this topic, I, too, have had my share of blindness-related taunts as well
as racial taunts. While there were times in grade school when I was included in playground games at the encouragement of an adult, there were other times
when I had to do my own insisting that I be included and that I was just as capable as all of them. While there were times when my own insistence and
explanation did work, there were also those many times when it did not work. In the beginning of those times when it didn't work, I would back away and
go find something else to do. Eventually, by sixth grade, I had had enough of being told "no" and being excluded to the point of outright hitting the
person denying me inclusion upside the head with my fist. No, this was not the right solution, as, in looking back, it made me look like an absolutely
spoiled brat fighting to get their way. Instead, I should have walked away as I had in the past. There was one incident, though, that same year of sixth
grade when my classmates tried to push me into getting into an all-out fist fight with some kids they had lined up for me on the playground. One of my
classmates even had the nerve to drag her kindergarten brother into the incident to see which of us would win. While some may say that I should have gave
in to show bravery (and there are some cases when it is necessary), in my situation, I refused to give in. For one thing, I did not want to risk the chance
of getting suspended or expelled for such violence. Second, I knew that to give into being violent left me open for accusation of having started the fight
in the first place. Not only was I blind, but I'm dark-skinned, so both of those things were on my conscience. I did not want to represent blind and
colored people as being violent by giving in. Of course, everyone claimed that the little boy won. Regardless of what I said positive and what they said
negative, I knew in my own heart of hearts that I had done the right thing of looking like I was going to fight but not actually fight. Now, of course,
if the kids started hitting on me, then I would have resorted to the same in return. In other words, physical with physical and verbal with verbal. I'm
not saying, of course, that the child in the narrative did not do the right thing by ignoring the taunting kids and concentrating on getting into the school
building, as he did do the right thing. In some cases, shouting back at the kids only eggs the taunting to continue, which can result into physical violence.
In this day and age of zero-tolerance of violence and weapons in school, for the child to act out would have resulted in he being suspended or outright
expelled for the safety of others.
Regardless of whether the child ignored the taunts or responded back to them, though. I can truly relate to what he must have been feeling inside.
All of us want to fit in and be accepted, so it's easy to base our own self-worth on how people accept us or lack there of. If we're constantly taunted,
ignored, alienated and all the other negative things, then we begin to feel like there's something wrong with us or that we're not worth anything to anybody.
If we're always praised and are asked questions about us with good intentions, then we feel like we're worthwhile and are able to accept ourselves better
than the other way around. Teachers, counselors, friends, parents, etc. need to be sensitive to those of us like the child in the thought provoker. As
Resp. 42 said, to give him *feel-good* solutions of "you're not the only one", etc. may be great. However, it minimizes the emotional turmoil the victim
of teases, pranks, and taunts experience. So, rather than feel-good answers and walking away, the best thing to do is to go and observe what is really
happening in the taunting and teasing incidents. Of course, we don't know where his parents or caregivers were in the whole picture, but there needs to
be support and intervention upon the parents or whomever the child's caregiver is. Not only does that supportive person listen to what he/she is saying,
but they show up at a distance from where these situations are occurring and observe the interplay. Once that is accomplished, then the caregiver
addresses the situation with school staff and provide the documentation they have based on their adhoc observation and the child's stories. Of course,
the child should be involved in this part of the process as well not only so that the child can give their side of the story, but the victim in question
is physically there where staff cannot turn away and not see or pretend that the victim is not there. Of course, this last step of approaching school
staff is only if the child has done all that has been suggested to remedy the problem--ignoring the taunts, bringing the issue to their teacher or school
counselor, etc. At last resort, then, is to transfer the child to a different school where there are other kids who are blind or have other disabilities.
This kind of support and intervention, which I wished I had back then, would prevent that breaking point--child coming home in tears daily, fear or refusal
to go to school, depression, and suicide attempts. When the intervention starts is when the child is constantly complaining about the taunts. Intervention
should never wait until the victim has hit rock bottom or is near rock bottom.
When I was in junior high, I not only was taunted because of my blindness, but I was one of a couple dark people in the entire school. It was at the
insistent of a psychologist who worked with overseas adopted children that I was moved to a school where there were students with other disabilities as
well as more racial diversity. Sure, there were taunts here and there but not to the degree as experienced at my home district junior high school. By
this time, the taunts were due to the fact that I would not use my cane. Students made fun of me because I was stumbling into everything in the haste
of trying to fit in with everyone else who did not use a cane to find their way. It was not until I got into high school that I figured this out, though.
In high school, I had no choice than to use my cane, as there were many more students to contend with and there were two floors to deal with (many of
my classes were spread out all over the place). Upon starting to use my cane, most of the taunts about watching where I was going stopped. The very few
taunts that were was due to their own embarrassment of having tripped over my cane when they felt that they should have seen me coming through. Of course,
I did not see all this then, but that was the case. In short, what I learned from that whole thing related to using my cane was that I would have been
less taunted had I been using my cane. The taunts at the second junior high school was just their way of telling me that, if the other kids in wheelchairs
and on crutches could and have to use their mobility aides to get around, then I, too, should be doing the same with my white cane. Sure, the message
could have been delivered to me more kindly, but I got their point either way. I did use my cane at the first junior high school, but I was made fun of
about the tapping they would hear over the loud hustle and bustle of passing time in between classes.
I not only think that it's important to have a mixture of sighted and blind friends, but it's also important to have a mixture of friends of different
races as well. I did had a few sighted friends during grade school who would try to walk around the playground with me with their eyes clothes or who
would try my cane out with their eyes closed at my house. Yes, blindness assimilation activities should occur in school as a stepping off point, but it
was more personal to me and more meaningful to me when interested friends asked me questions and would try seeing through my eyes as it were. The friendships
established were also through classmates asking me what color this and that was and them watching me hold the item up to my eye to decipher the color.
Every week, we would be sent home with school newsletters, which my friends would ask me what color the sheets of paper were. Unfortunately, since I
had to hold the paper up to my face to see the color, this got me to experiencing the different smells of mimeograph ink, which I got to liking too much.
Thus, I would use looking at the color of the paper just to smell the ink and get that buzz. I not only had more sighted friends here and there at the
second junior high school and in high school than I had blind friends, but I also had more black friends than white friends. I had some blind friends
to share a commonality with who were white and a couple white sighted friends, but most of my sighted friends were black. Unlike most of the white students
in both junior and senior high school, the black students saw me more as like them. blindness, though it was obvious, did not make a difference to them.
They were the ones who schooled me into what was more than anybody else did, and I learned a lot more from them. They were my role models over other
groups of people, including blind people. In fact, there were a couple black students who wanted to gang up on me in high school because I had an attraction
to their boyfriend (I did not know that he already had a girlfriend then). Not only did my main black friends defend me and watched out for me, but they
were the ones who made sure that I knew to just let the issue and my crush on the boy die. One of my other black friends, who happened to remember my
birthday, came into our social studies class and started rallying everyone to sing Happy Birthday to me. Though I was embarrassed, it still made me feel
good after all that I had gone through in previous years.
In conclusion, sighted kids can learn a lot from their blind counterparts, but they, themselves, have to want to learn and be accepting of that blind
person. You can have all the blindness assimilation activities for the whole school to participate in all you want, but that's not going to necessarily
stop all the taunting. It may stop some of it, but there will still be those who are hard-headed, insensitive and prejudice who don't want to change their
attitudes. Everyone learns to acquire attitudes towards different things around them based on their personal experiences or what they have learned from
their parents or most of their peers. If they see that most of their friends and family are intolerant of anybody different from them in anyway, then
they will emulate those people and carry on the tradition."

Linda USA