A year ago this month I watched a sixteen-year-old boy dressed in a hospital gown and handcuffs being lead to a police car…his name, Alex Hribal.
Alex had gone on a stabbing spree…injuring 21 students and a security guard. It was splashed across screens…giving the media much to speculate about. The big question everyone wanted to know was why! Why would someone do the unthinkable…how does one make sense out of the senseless…how do we explain tragedy?
Just a year later the new’s cameras have all gone away…but that young boy (with acne and no facial hair)…not yet a man remains in a juvenile detention center, while his lawyer tries to get his case moved to juvenile court…rather than try him as an adult.
I imagine, in a few more years, it will be nothing more than a statistic to all except those who were directly involved…the victims, Alex Hribal, and his family.
I haven’t been able to get this young boy out of my mind, but before I go any further let me make one thing crystal clear…I do not, in anyway, think taking a weapon and using it on another person is okay! I’m not condoning Alex’s actions! I hope all that were wounded during this horrific event are recovering and will not have lasting consequences! I’m deeply saddened to know that children can no longer go into school without fear that they may be harmed.
Yet, it bothered me to see a young boy (16) maybe 110 pounds shackled and escorted by police. I could only guess at how frightened he must have been…and yes, I can only imagine that his victims were just as terrified, maybe more so.
If we want to make sense of the senseless we’re going to have to be willing to sort out all the facts. Since I was not present at Franklin Regional High School the day of the stabbing I can only present my case based on what I have read. By all accounts Alex was a good kid with no previous record of getting into trouble, therefore, I do not believe for one moment that this young boy woke up one morning and for lack of better things to do decided to go to school and start harming people…there has to be some extenuating circumstances and from what I’ve read bullying played a factor.
Ashlie Hardway Pittsburgh Action News 4 WTAE.com wrote this:
(Psychologists, Dr. Bruce Chambers) Chambers testified Hribal told him he wasn’t bullied any more than any other adolescent, but his witnessing of other children getting bullied is what caused him to want to “change the world because people are hypocrites.” Chambers testified Hribal never told his family or school officials about any bullying issues.
“He was reacting to the general idea of bullying, actually observing people being bullied. This idea that people were hypocrites certainly affected his sense of his own social isolation. He identified with the Columbine perpetrators in that regard,” Chambers said. “The bullying factor did not appear to be an issue. We investigated that in a lot of detail, a lot of depth. As I indicated, adolescents get bullied all the time and it’s a horrible thing, but I don’t think there’s one person who didn’t go through something like that as a teenager and adolescent, so we didn’t see it out of the ordinary.”
(Psychiatrists, Dr. Bruce Wright) Wright disagreed based on his interview with Hribal and testified Hribal told him he was bullied “every day or every other day.”
“‘I was afraid if I opened my mouth, someone would say it was the stupidest thing they ever heard,'” Wright read the statement from Hribal from his clinical report.
Chambers said the conflicting reports to different doctors isn’t uncommon as Wright interviewed Hribal in July, which was after Chambers’ first two interviews with Hribal.
I also read accounts that Alex was bullied the night before the incident occurred.
TRIBLIVE News By Kari Anden wrote this:
A Franklin Regional parent said Saturday that police have been alerted to an online taunt sent the night before to a 16-year-old student who went on a rampage at Franklin Regional Senior High School on Wednesday morning.
A screen shot of the posting by another student that called Alex Hribal, 16, a “rat face” was turned over to police on the same day he slashed and stabbed 20 students and a guard in the school.
Timothy Graham said he is concerned about the issue because school officials ignored his pleas to intervene in bullying that targeted his daughter and escalated into her being attacked in the cafeteria.
Alicia Graham, a freshman, was assaulted on Jan. 30 by a girl who jumped on Alicia, hit her with a cafeteria tray and beat her until a teacher pulled her away, Graham said.
His daughter suffered a concussion and missed three days of school. School officials declined to tell Graham what punishment was received by her attacker.
Graham said he took a list of bullying text messages and social media posts “four to six” students sent to his daughter — some that encouraged her to kill herself — to the school “sometime around Halloween.”
“I felt like they kind of waved a gold wand over it. They said it’s an affluent (community),” Graham said. “My daughter just said that’s how it is at Franklin. Everybody bullies everybody.”
I don’t know all the details about what really happened that day…none of us can truly know what goes on in another person’s heart and mind, but I do believe that bullying played a role in this unfortunate tragedy.
Children are sent to school…they have to go…it’s the law! School policies and school officials do little to deter bullying which gives bullies free rein to inflict their reign of terror. Day after day some children endure constant abuse at the hands of a bully. They enter a cycle of abuse with no way out…they become backed into a corner with nowhere to go.
If children report their abuse usually very little is done to stop the abuse which results in further bullying and often the abuse is worse! When someone is pushed to their limits and they can’t escape abuse…who knows what someone might do to find relief.
If you pull a cats tail long enough it will eventually scratch you!
When are we going to say enough is enough? When are we going to stop sweeping bullying under the rug and hope it goes away? When are we going to stop saying “kids will be kids”…really! Do we say “terrorists will be terrorists” or “abusers will be abusers”…no we take action!
Perhaps, we should ask ourselves how someone can…day after day…intentional inflict abuse (the unthinkable) on another human being. Have no remorse and take pleasure in the act.
If Alex was bullied…then he was a victim. And most likely if someone would have stepped in and stopped his abuse he wouldn’t have taken matters into his own hands. He wouldn’t have made victims of his own…he wouldn’t be sitting in juvenile detention center possibly facing life in jail.
Bullying is very personal to me and I plan to continue writing more on this topic in the coming weeks. Bystanders…those unwillingness to do something to stop bullying are part of the problem. If we do nothing…remain silent…than we can put ourselves on the list of one of the contributing factors of bullying…rather than the solution.