Create a Code of Ethics for Students Attending Public Schools
Create a Code of Ethics for Students Attending Public Schools
My son spent his 17th birthday being hand fed liquids through a syringe.
He is the victim of an assault that left him with a broken jaw in 3 places, a severe concussion, and whiplash. And while my son has been at home with his mouth wired shut, his attackers and those who applauded and cheered his attack, continue to attend school and play Varsity sports.
On July 21, 2021 I received the call that every parent dreads. My son Nicholas had been assaulted and was severely injured.
Upon arrival at our local hospital, my son was rushed into a CT scan. Given the baseball size lump that had now formed on the back of Nick’s head, the doctor had concern that there might be internal bleeding in his brain. He also needed X-Rays to rule out a broken neck and ribs because Nick was unable to turn his head, and even the slightest movement caused a great deal of pain. His mouth was bleeding so profusely, doctors couldn't identify the source.
Words do very little to adequately express the emotional turmoil a mother goes through while awaiting the results of tests such as these. As the daughter of an Emergency Room nurse, I had heard the stories of blunt-force brain trauma.
It wasn’t until the police officer arrived at the Emergency Room, that I gained full understanding of the attack my son had endured. Watching the video playback of my son’s assault is something that will forever be etched into my mind. My son's head had been slammed onto the hardwood floor so hard that it bounced. He had been punched to the point of unconsciousness, and hit his head against a concrete wall as he collapsed on the ground. It is both horrific and heartbreaking.
That heartache was multiplied a hundred-fold when I heard the laughter and cheering from those who videotaped his assault. This was not an accident caught on camera. This was a blatant and hate-filled attack on a victim that had no idea it was coming, and no chance to defend himself. My son's attackers found joy in his pain, and posted it on their social media accounts for all to see.
The days and weeks following the assault are hands-down the hardest we have ever had to endure as a family. Nick’s mouth was so swollen and misshapen that he had to wait 3 days before surgery could even be performed to correct it.
My son has endured things I would not wish on my worst enemy, including multiple bouts of vomiting through his broken jaw on his first night home due to the severity of his concussion. I held his shattered jaw in my hands as his teeth chattered from the adrenaline crash hours after his attack. His whole body was shaking uncontrollably, and there was quite literally nothing I could do to ease his pain. For 3 days, I fed him one child’s syringe of liquid at a time. His mouth was so swollen, he could not swallow more than a ¼ teaspoon at a time.
Surgery to fix the 3 breaks in his jaw was 2.5 hours long, and will require my son to have his mouth wired shut for 6 weeks.
Nick, who is claustrophobic, is quite literally living his worst nightmare. Watching your child struggle to breathe through nostrils that are inflamed as a result of surgical intubation, unable to open his mouth, and pleading for you to help him is the most traumatizing thing I have ever experienced. I have never felt so helpless in all my life.
The depth of physical damage as a result of this assault continues to unfold. My son is unable to play baseball, his beloved sport, due to on-going concussion protocol. We have no set date on when he will be cleared to resume full athletic activity.
His jaw, once unwired, will need additional weeks of bands to strengthen and retrain his bite. He also faces 6 months to a year of braces to realign his teeth, several of which were knocked and twisted out of place. While the physical injuries will heal... the emotional burden is far more complex.
And if the aforementioned isn't torturous enough, it's the lack of support from our educational system that leaves me utterly appalled.
Although I have pleaded my case directly to the 2 high schools my son's attackers attend, and made countless calls to the local Superintendent's Office, neither school has rescinded the student's participation in Varsity sports or extracurricular activities. While my son is still unable to do more than 15 minutes of "light physical activity like walking" due to his ongoing concussion symptoms, these students are living life as usual, without consequence. My son, an athlete himself, is missing his entire fall season of his elite baseball team, while the students who laughed, danced and cheered my son's assault continue to receive college scholarship offers to play sports at NCAA schools.
The high schools, citing a recent Supreme Court Case - Levy vs The State of PA - say they are unable to issue consequences for behavior that happens outside of school property. The problem? The Levy case was a matter of freedom of speech. My son's story is a matter of violence.
Sadly, we are not the only family fighting this very same battle at this very moment. Just weeks after my son's assault, a teen in AZ was lured into the woods where he was beaten by 2 Varsity football players. He too, was rushed to the hospital, and in eerily similar fashion, he also required a 6 hour surgery to wire his jaw shut. Much like our case, the school is refusing the suspend those athletes from participating in sports or extracurricular activities.
I understand and respect that our 14th Amendment ensures the right to a public education. However, I fervently oppose that our tax payer dollars be spent on extracurricular activities for students who commit violent, hate-filled, bullying or otherwise offensive acts.
I hereby call on the Department of Education to immediately and without hesitation enact an Ethical Code of Conduct for all high school students attending publicly-funded schools. At the very minimum, violations of said Code of Conduct, whether on school property or not, should result in the immediate termination of participation in extracurricular activities for a length of time determined appropriate by an unbiased school board. We cannot, in good conscience, continue to turn our backs on instances of bullying, violence and hate. To stay silent is complicit to condoning aggression in our schools.
This assault happened at a local recreation center. There was nothing at stake. No championship. No reward. And yet, it almost cost us everything we hold dear.
And for the "powers that be"... the decision makers... our leaders...
I ask that you read this petition as if it were your own child being beaten to the point of unconsciousness. As if it were your loved one you had to feed through a syringe for days because their mouth was too swollen to even sip from a cup. As if it were the most precious of your kin that you had to hold during their night terrors, while they cried and tried to defend themselves against an unseen foe.
I ask that you see your own family in the faces of our family.
The only ray of light throughout this tragedy is the hope that our story will somehow inspire positive and impactful change. The hope that violence and hate cannot come without severe and significant consequences. The hope that one voice can make a difference.
I pray I am not hoping in vain.