“My heart is in pieces right now…my soul feels like it’s ripping from my chest…this beautiful young man my son Jackson has to endure a constant barrage of derogatory comments and ignorance like I’ve never witnessed. He is called ugly and freak and monster on a daily basis by his peers at school. He talks about suicide…he’s not quite 8! He says he has no friends and everyone hates him. Kids throw rocks at him and push him shouting these horrific words…please please take a minute and imagine if this were your child. Take a minute to educate your children about special needs. Talk to them about compassion and love for our fellow man. His condition is called Treacher Collins. Maybe even look it up. He’s endured horrific surgery and has several more in the coming years. Anyway…I could go on…but please educate your children. Please…share this. This shouldn’t be happening…to anyone.”
Not knowing what to do when his ex-wife called and told him the because of bullying their son, Jackson Bezzant wanted to wear a hockey mask to school and was talking about killing himself, Dan took to FaceBook, probably in desperation. Dan and Kelley live in Ammon, Idaho a good place to have social media. His post went viral and because of it came the support of strangers and neighbors, Jackson now has some joy in his life.
Jackson has Treacher Collins syndrome. That is a genetic disease that affects bones and tissue development of the face. Treacher Collins syndrome results in the jaws and chins being small. Added to that are misshapen ears and eyes that slant downwards. Jackson was also born without cheekbones. At 13 months he underwent facial reconstruction.
I’ve seen individuals with this syndrome although I didn’t have a name to put on the malady. I learned the details of jackson’s story in today’s Washington Post article by Ellie Silverman. The first two paragraphs drew me into the story. It read:
“School bullies threw rocks at their young child, while calling him a monster, a freak and telling him he was ugly — all because he has a condition that causes him to look and sound different.
Seven-year-old Jackson Bezzant’s self-esteem dropped so much that he wanted to wear a mask to school to cover his face and he talked about killing himself. His parents, Dan and Kelley Bezzant, a divorced couple who live in Ammon, Idaho, didn’t know what to do to stop the bullying.”
The article quotes Dan as saying he hopes people get the message about bullying. I can only hope but I don’t hold out much hope in today’s climate of bullying being accepted by a third of our population. Yes, I’m talking about the people who voted for and still think Trump is a wonderful president and give tacit approval to his actions.
I’ve called him, Trump a bully and there is ample evidence of that being true. I’ve said in several blogs about bullying how I feel about it and the people who do it. Bullying is not instinctual but a learned behavior, at least I believe that. Bullying in peer groups can be seen as unifying but I think only through fear. We should be taught how to behave in the society, without discord, with others. If there are aberrant behaviors in some I think it was learned—usually, it’s in the home.
I think the Ammon, Idaho school system let down Jackson and so did all of the parents of those bullies. The others that went along with the bullies are just as guilty co-conspirators and probably they were too afraid to stand up for the bullied boy.
Still, I’m glad that circumstances worked for Jackson and his parents. Silverman closes the article with the following:
“Despite his newfound confidence, Jackson told his mother he still didn’t want to go to school this week. He had not been back since last Thursday’s Facebook post and he was nervous.
Even so, he went. Jackson’s teacher told Kelley that all the children were kind to him and by the time he came home, Kelley said, Jackson seemed happy.
When Kelley asked Jackson how school was, he replied: “At recess, I had 165 friends.”
His parents make no claim that Jackson’s difficulties are over. But for the moment, they say, he is filled with pride.”
Here’s a photo I cribbed from the Post.
Oorah Jackson. Live long and prosper.