Archive for November, 2011

Bullying: Harsh Words, Harsher Realities

                Upon entering secondary education, every child fears the worst; getting picked on. Images of being chosen last for dodge ball or being stuffed in a locker used to correspond with the word “bully.” Today however, bullying leaves a much more lasting effect on teenagers, causing serious emotional and physical issues. Bullying destroys lives long after the bullying stops.

                The modern bully is a lion, pouncing on its prey at the mere scent of weakness and attacking any flaw of character or lifestyle. The trouble with this lion is that it hunted its way out from the confines of the classroom jungle and into the open world of the internet.  While we’re all familiar with the tragic tale of Jamey Rodemeyer—a 14-year-old boy from Williamsville who cut his life short in the bloom of his youth due to years of psychological abuse both in person and online throughout middle and high school—his story is one fish in a sea of recent teen suicides at the hands (and words) of bullies. Even more disturbing is the account of Ashley Billasano. Huffington Post reported last week that Ashley, a victim of molestation and forced prostitution by her own family, tweeted 144 cries for help before killing herself, receiving not a single response from any of her 500 Twitter followers. And if you think it can’t get much worse than that, Huffington reported just days ago that 10-year-old Ashlynn Connor hung herself with a scarf in her closet after being called a “slut” by her elementary school classmates. Amidst these tragedies however, peeks a ray of sunlight.

                Parents are beginning to turn to the justice system to combat this incessant wave of bullying.  After their son suffered a traumatic brain injury, the parents of David Osama Hadaad pressed charges against Lake Central School in Indiana for not intervening while David was brutally attacked in the hallway due to his Middle Eastern descent.  According to the Huffington article that ran last week, the family has accused the school of not only failing to intervene, but of violating David’s civil rights as well.  None of the attackers faced punishment and David was suspended 10 days for the single defensive punch he threw.

                Don’t let your children be victims any longer. It’s time to stand up against bullying. Call the Law Offices of James Morris now, 716-855-1118.

When Buildings Collapse. . .

        Buffalo hones the title “City of Good Neighbors.” Walking downtown, smiles greet you on strangers faces and “How do you do?’ follows. The intimacy of personal relationships in this city is like a Reese’s cup; better with every bite. Some Buffaloians though, take advantage of this hospitable instinct, maybe by parking their car in your driveway. . . or dining room for that matter. I bleed cordiality, but if you wish to come in, use your fist to knock, not your bumper.

                Since the end of August, an astounding 25 drivers have crashed into local businesses, many of which have resulted in death and serious injury.  The most recent came this week when an SUV struck the front rail of Laughlin’s on Franklin Street, causing noteworthy damage to the neighborhood pub. Another highly publicized crash occurred in mid-September, when an elderly woman barreled into the side of Chee Burger Chee Burger, killing two and injuring several more. The list goes on from there.  With this latest accident, a pandemic can only describe what’s happening. Can we really pin 25 separate car-fights-building incidents on absent mindedness alone? One leading psychologist thinks not.

                Though many of these cases involve elderly drivers, personality plays a role too according to Psychologist Dr. Amy Beth Taublib. She told WKBW that a common delusion among people, namely senior citizens, suggests that their perceived driving skills supersede their actual driving skills, which she believes has contributed greatly to the surge in building-front crashes. “I certainly don’t think it’s coincidental,” Taublib told channel 7, “I think people who do these things have a certain psychological mindset.” Another theory discussed by Taublib recalls the “copy-cat” phenomenon, which implies that an accident like this occurring once increases the likelihood of it occurring again because violent incidents have a way of embedding themselves in the collective unconscious.

                The Amherst Town Board has taken preventive action toward limiting the frequency of these accidents. In September, the board passed an ordinance requiring local businesses to implant concrete pillars in front of their buildings if the building lies within a certain number of feet from the roadside. Since the passing of this ordinance, there have been at least 10 more accidents of this nature.  Glumly enough, if any truth exists in the “copycat” phenomenon, expect more of these crashes to come.

Danger on the Curbside?

The Washington Post reported this week that “curbside” buses, those that pick passengers up at designated roadside stops as opposed to at a terminal, are five times more likely to be in an accident than terminal buses.  The National Transportation Safety Board claims that safety inspectors for these bus companies are unable to keep pace with driver fatigue, which is a contributing factor toward the increase in crashes. The lack of available inspectors, roughly 2,300 assigned to over 53,000 buses, is one reason that current inspectors cannot keep pace. The NTSB also believes that companies are frequently changing their names in hopes of slipping past inspectors’ radars, leading to an upsurge in unmonitored safety violations. A demonstration of the serious consequences of these safety hazards came in March, when a speeding bus hurdled off an elevated highway and smashed directly into a utility pole. The bus split from front to back, killing 15 and leaving 18 with injuries. Senator Chuck Schumer has since proposed that a letter-grading scale, charting a company’s cumulative safety ratings, be made available to consumers prior to selecting a transportation service. This still does not account for the lack of available inspectors.

Don’t pay for the mistakes of a negligent bus company. If you or someone you know has been injured in a bus accident call the Law Offices of James Morris now and receive the reparations you deserve.