Deputy Fields: Perpetrator or (Second) Victim?

Deputy Ben Fields, the South Carolina police officer of the infamous desk-flipping incident at the Richland County Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, was fired a day after the incident.

An internal investigation by the Richmond County Sheriff’s office concluded that the “maneuvers he used in the confrontation were not acceptable.”

Uh-Hun.

Ya think?!

Before you send me a virtual high five, though, because you think you’re about to read a piece on the condemnation of this man, you might want to hold back on your high fives.

In no way, shape or form do I believe that this grown man should have abused this child,  and he needs to bear the full responsibility for such a unconscionable  act. 

It was abusive.

It was wrong and it was an unacceptable use of force on a student.

Before you condemn this man to rot in hell for eternity for his abominable, unacceptable, abusive actions, though, let me ask you these questions:

What created the environment that had Deputy Fields in this position to begin with?

Why is it necessary to have police officers on our campuses today to assist with these “little behavior problems” that are steadily increasing with each passing day?

Where are the support systems for these hard-working, over-worked, under-paid, abused officers and teachers who are entrusted with educating this challenging group of children?

Obviously, these are multi-layered problems, with multi-layered solutions.

I would just like you to consider the position that these officers and teachers are placed in EVERY day of their working lives, before handing down a judgment on this man.

I was a teacher of SBD (severely behaviorally disordered) children many years ago, and I can tell you, from firsthand experience, it’s a war zone in some of these classes.

Our school was the last hope for some kids, before they got carted off to juvie hall.

So, you either made it with “Miss B” or off to kiddy jail you went.

I can honestly say that all of my kids stayed out of juvie hall, but I can’t claim that some of them didn’t end up in the prison system, as they got older.

Unfortunately, my intuition and instinct tell me otherwise.

Things at my school got so bad that the staff had to take a special training called, PART (Professional Assault Response Training), to learn how to predict, assess and respond to aggressive/challenging behavior of our student population.

During the training week, the school staff called a “special meeting on ME”, one afternoon, because I innocently announced, at the previous PART meeting, that “I didn’t spend all my time, money and energy getting an education, so that I could get a job learning tactical strategies in how to take down a kid.”

“After all,” I naively informed them, ”I was a lover, not a fighter and I’d be damned if I’d put ME,  or one of my staff people in harm’s way taking down some kid twice my size, from their junior and senior high programs.”

“My body’s meant for giving hugs, not doing take downs,” I empathically continued.

Uh-Hun.

Well, hugs are real hard to give when your 8 year old student, without any provocation or warning, abruptly stands up, starts swearing “F–K You” to who knows who and commences to throwing student desks around your classroom at everyone and anyone near him!

The only thing I could do was safely get my other kids and instructional assistant out of harm’s way and let him trash the room, while I called the Police.

Did you ever watch an 8 year old get handcuffed?

Not fun.

You know what else wasn’t “fun”?

Watching a very patient, loving police officer get spat on, kicked in the groin, bit and hit on by an out of control, totally wild 8 year old.

After the boy was handcuffed and placed into the back seat of the police car, I watched this thrashing child, who looked like a “caged animal”, somehow kick-in the back window of this officer’s vehicle, and I wasn’t sure who I felt sorrier for – my 8 year old, that was handcuffed and kicking, in the back seat, the frustrated, defeated-looking Police Officer, slowly driving out of our school’s parking lot; the concerned, very involved staff people, who didn’t have a clue as to how to deal with him, or me, his caring, naive teacher, who wondered if she somehow could have read his mind and avoided the whole scene?

Maybe I felt sorry for all of us.

And maybe, just maybe, there’s a small part of me that feels sorry for all the School Resource Officers and staff people out there who are doing their jobs, day in and day out, with a throw away population of kids that not a lot of people want to deal with on a regular basis.

There’s no excuse for Deputy Ben Field’s actions with the 16 year old, South Carolina student.

But maybe gathering more background information on the situation can explain part of what caused this horrific scene to take place, in the first place, and we can use this incident (and other incidences like it) to go forward as a society, and put into place the necessary programs and support systems to help future Deputy Fields and the unsung, hard-working, dedicated teachers and staff who work with this population of children.

Until that day, I’ll simply ask that you try not to judge him as anything other than what he is, “an imperfect human being, who committed an egregious act.”

Let the judicial system take care of Deputy Fields and his inappropriate behavior, and let’s put our limited time, energy and monies into helping the teachers, staff, guardians and students themselves, with these behavioral problems; so that we, as a society, can learn from this heinous act and avoid having other future student and staff victims.

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Little Lucie Fails Catechism Class!

As a dedicated, former Roman Catholic, who “paid, prayed and obeyed” with the best of them, my childhood was a mixed bag of catechism lessons, church school, Saturday confessions, Sunday mass, “sinful thoughts” and a whole lot of undeserved childhood guilt…that eventually led to  narcissistic adolescent guilt…which ultimately resulted in a buttload of unwarranted adult guilt…and…well…you get the picture.

Years ago, I came to the inauspicious conclusion that psychotherapy sessions were designed for two categories of Catholics–guilt-ridden ex-Catholics, who needed to purge their souls of eternal guilt and perpetual sin; and current, practicing Catholics, who needed validation and permission to love their Buddhist, gay neighbors and celebrate “diversity” in the truest sense of its definition.

Being an Ex-Catholic, myself,  I spent an inordinate amount of time, energy and MONEY, lying spread-eagled on a couch; revealing my inner most secrets  to a number of  overworked (underpaid), exceptionally tolerant therapists, trying to find the “exact combination” to crack open the safe to my captivating (highly amusing) psyche.

I wasn’t an easy patient, to say the least.

But I think all of my many (and solicitous) therapists would agree-I was a “worthwhile wacko” and at times, even an entertaining one.

Me, entertaining.

Go figure.

It’s unorthodox how constant guilt, occasional sin, and never-ending childhood dysfunction are innate pre-requisites for highly talented, quick-witted, perceptive humorists, isn’t it?

“OK, so I’m not too talented, quick-witted and perceptive. Ya gotta admit, though, I get a chuckle or two out of you, once in a while, eh?”

It’s almost like God/our Higher Power (in his, her, or its) benevolent wisdom, is out there and carefully selects those of us that “he” believes is best suited for having a formidable, difficult life and says, “Yep, I’m gonna let this precious munchkin get his/her butt kicked and then dropkick him/her again as an adolescent and adult. If he/she successfully rises to the challenge enough times, I will bless him/her with the ability to make people laugh, and encourage all who benefit from his/her silliness, to go out into the world and pay it forward.”

Why else would I be here, writing this-with you reading this?

It was preordained.

I was supposed to bring some kind of happiness to your life today.

It’s the only logical, reasonable explanation.

That’s why he had me, 7 year-old Lucie Benedetti, enrolled in Reverend Mother Bonaventure’s catechism class at St Francis of Assisi in upstate New York in the 1960’s.

It was my job to pepper the stoic (over-the-hill) Mother B. with inane and stimulating questions every week-a job that I took seriously; and diligently and enthusiastically did everything in my power to excel at it.

It was, after all, my sole mission in life to get that “metallic red star” pasted into my First Communion Catechism book.

Praise didn’t come often or easily with Mother B., so receiving one of her “red stars” was an honor that was dear and highly desired by those of us, who were under the age of reason and highly impressionable.

I recall one such lesson, I really wanted acknowledgement from this constipated, humor-less nun, and she just wasn’t “giving out” that morning.

She was in her routine aisle march, vigilantly strolling up and down the aisles, methodically slapping that damn, thick wooden ruler in to the palm of her right hand; trying to “snag” an unsuspecting student “snoozing” during the lesson, so she could callously smack the ruler down on the front of his desk to maliciously scare the beejesus out of him; when she suddenly started an animated discussion about the blessed Virgin Mary.

Never quite understanding this “virgin” concept, I innocently inquired about “the blessed Virginia Mary”.

Not missing a beat with her systematic “ruler slapping”, or habitual “aisle march”, she actively continued strolling for snoozers and impassively remarked, “No Lucie, it’s blessed Virgin Mary, not blessed Virginia Mary.”

Yeah, well, being a know-it-all 7-year-old, and really wanting that damn star, I initiated a discussion with the Reverend Mother that I’m sure nuns aren’t really prepped for, at the nunnery, before taking their sacred vows.

In all innocence and ignorance, I shot back at her, “Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but we don’t have any Virgins in our family.”

“Don’t have any Virgins as friends, either,” I innocently continued.

“We’ve got an Aunt Virginia on my Dad’s side, but I don’t think we’ve got any Virgins in Italy, either. Sounds like a stupid name to me,” I naively remarked, as Mother B. abruptly stopped her “aisle march”, s l o w l y turned  around and proceeded to quickly goose step down the classroom aisle to where I was seated.

Yep.

Uh-Hun.

Let’s just say, I didn’t get any “red stars” that day and found myself nervously squirming in my seat, innocently looking up at the towering, formidable Reverend Mother Bonaventure, as she irritably glared down at me, over the rims of her Ben Franklin spectacles; while methodically slapping that damn, thick, wooden ruler of hers on her sweaty, right palm, and callously eye-balled me into a guilty submission.

Oh well.

“Sometimes kids say the darndest things!”

Go out and make someone laugh today, People, and remember: make sure to cherish your childlike qualities, and I’ll catch ya next adventure-looking at life from my shoes!

Boo’s Uninvited Playmate!

Over a year ago, before we clipped her wings and turned her into a furry, four-legged, “jailbird”, our cat, Boo, was what you might call a free range cat.

She had total access to the neighborhood and enjoyed life “on the lamb’’.

To our dismay, though, her previous free life style gifted us with many a furry creature, both winged and 4-legged, and cost us thousands of dollars in vet bills, due to her indiscriminate and highly unhealthy eating habits.

Rather than get a second mortgage on the house, in order to maintain her lustful lifestyle, the Princess and I decided to permanently “ground her”.

Unfortunately for us, before we had the chance to implement “said new grounding policy”, one evening, the little bugger decided to introduce us to one of her more unhospitable, rat friends.

True to our loopy lives, the “introduction” had to be with a LIVE, slightly comatose rat, during a rather frustrating conversation that we were having with our inept (rarely accessible, now EX) cable company.

Ms. Delilah Dinwiddie, customer service representative of our illustrious, local cable company, was not comprehending (for the third attempt by me that evening) why our costly (rarely functioning), cable service wasn’t working on that particular evening.

As I was patiently attempting, for the fourth time that night, to reach some level of comprehension with the dull-witted Ms. Dinwiddie, I heard the Princess jump out of our Lazy Boy rocking chair and commence to using expletives that even I, with my colorful repertoire of descriptive adjectives, found utterly unfamiliar.

Being thoroughly preoccupied with my phone conversation, with the delightful Ms. Delilah, I saw Boo casually drop a fury, inert object onto our living room floor, and indifferently assumed that it was one of her toys, or some other play thing that she regularly found entertaining.

I really didn’t understand what the Princess had her knickers in a knot over, at the time, and I continued my ditzy dialogue with the ever daft Ms. Dinwiddie.

Suddenly, I noticed what I mistakenly thought was a toy, take on a life of its own, and regain consciousness, only to scurry across our wooden floors; adroitly disappearing into our home’s entryway area, in front of the closet.

At that point, the Princess had become even more descriptive and animated in her oral depiction of what was happening, and I aptly decided that maybe we needed to continue the conversation with the didactic Ms. Dinwiddie at a later time that week and forego the palatable pleasures of watching cable tv for the remainder of the evening.

“After all,” I calmly assured myself, “my reading habits had become atrocious, lately, and missing one evening of reruns might actually be beneficial.”

“Who knows? I reasoned further, “I might even dust off my copy of Tolstoy’s, “War and Peace” and take another stab at it.”

I then deftly ended my conversation with Ms. Delilah and turned my undivided attention to the situation at hand.

In the meantime, the Princess had procured one of our garden rakes and was banging around in the closet, presumably to entice the rat to find another more hospitable establishment.

Shrewdly deciding that we needed another plan of action, I relieved Princess Leia of her lightsaber (lest she do any further damage to our recently painted closet), bent over, and stuck my head in, to methodically inspect the closet.

The wily, wiry-tailed, Willard, who was actually behind us the entire time, suddenly appears from out of the blue, and makes a mad dash for the closet between our legs!

This, in turn, frightened the bejesus out of me, and caused me to unexpectedly lurch, at the already wobbly Princess.

Totally losing her balance, she tumbled backwards, and unbeknownst to us, precariously on top of the front doorbell.

Upset with the rat’s presence in our home, and slightly agitated with the doorbell’s earsplitting rendition of the Westminster’s bells, I eye-balled the fallen Princess and accusingly remarked,

“We don’t have enough uninvited guests tonight, we need MORE!?”

Benevolently ignoring my sarcasm and blatant disregard for her well-being, the Princess astutely concludes that it was her fall that created the chiming doorbell, and then suddenly observed Willard’s wiry tail scrambling up my favorite winter jacket and across the top of the coat rack.

As the vertically challenged Princess quickly attempted to corral the little bugger into one of our shoe boxes, I  decided (just as quickly) to relinquish the “relocation of said creature” to Princess Leia and her lightsaber; and auspiciously chose to retire to the comforts of my boudoir, to get a jump start on Tolstoy, and soothe my otherwise unsettled nerves.

“After all”, I reasoned, “I handled the simple-minded Ms. Dinwiddie, and this rat invasion has me totally out of my bubble and thoroughly wigged out!”

Twenty minutes later, the Princess stoically informed me that “Willard was gone”, and was pathetically soliciting my impartial assistance with “the little mess on the patio deck”.

Hm…

Ok.

I reluctantly opened the bedroom blinds of my patio door, and ostensibly noticed the Lazy Boy, along with a number of other  living room furniture pieces, was precariously perched on the outside deck.

It was then, that I inherently knew, that Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” would be dutifully waiting another 30 years or more, before I had another awe-inspiring opportunity to read it.

Oh well…..

Remember, People: at one time or another, we all end up with “rats” in our life.

Unfortunately, some of them just may come in the two-legged variety, and require more than a gentle nudge of a lightsaber to handle.

Have a great day!

And I’ll catch ya next adventure, looking at life from my shoes!

There’s Water on that Dust-Blown Surface!

There’s a draught in California.

Just saying – in case, you’re unaware of this noteworthy, indubitable fact.

On September 28, 2015, NASA scientists proudly informed us that their Reconnaissance Orbiter showed dark, narrow streaks on Mars and that there may actual be WATER frozen beneath the crust of the Red Planet.

I started thinking maybe those local, elected officials, that I wrote about in May, who thought that “reclaimed sewage water for drinking” was the answer to some of our draught problems, should be taking note of this newsworthy event.

Yep.

And, according to astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, “On Earth, any place we find liquid water, we find life.”

Hm…

So, the Princess and I were thinking maybe we need to use our 30% off Kohl’s coupons this weekend and see if there are any bargains on “travel wear” for flying the friendly skies.

Yes-siree Bob!

I’ve always preferred traveling during the autumnal season, and it would be quite delightful to “git outta Dodge” and meet some new folks.

After all, the Princess and I are rather different ourselves, so I’m thinking that maybe we’d all get along quite amiably.

Un-Hun.

I’ll pack some Italian biscotti, to share with them there Martians, along with some clean undies and Thorlo sport socks, and we’ll be good to go.

Yes-siree!

Have a great day, People, and don’t forget to make time in your day for some silliness.

I’ll catch ya next time, looking at life from my nifty, new space boots!