Those affected... ...Please stand up
MANISTIQUE – After passing “Matt’s Safe School Law” in 2011, Michigan set a precedent for schools statewide to tackle bullying. On Monday, Manistique Area Schools addressed one requirement of the law – educating staff, students and the public about the effects of bullying, how to identify and prevent it.
Ron Glodoski, author of “How to be a Successful Criminal: The Real Deal on Crime, Drugs, and Easy Money”, spoke to 4-12 graders, as well as staff and members of the public. During the high school presentation, Glodoski used his own life story of addiction and difficulties in school to convey a message of hope to students.
“The problem with drugs and alcohol is the addiction is such a monster to stop,” he said.
Glodoski said his addiction started around the age of six, when he was first offered alcohol. This addiction progressed over the years, peaking in adolescence. According to Glodoski, this progression is typical, as most children who become addicts do so at 14 or 15 years old.
As part of an exercise, Glodoski asked students and staff members to stand if they had been affected by drugs or alcohol. This included those who had someone close to them die, go to jail, get separated or divorced, experience violence at home, or some other negative effect from drugs or alcohol. The majority of the audience was standing by the time Glodoski was finished asking the questions.
“You’re not alone – look around,” he said. “You’ll never see that exercise on TV. They’ll never show you the pain, the ugliness, or the despair.”
Glodoski noted that TV negatively influences children daily, glamorizing alcohol use in particular.
“What TV is doing to our children – they’re lying, they’re seducing them, and they’re brainwashing them,” he said. “I’m sick of the lies.”
He went on to note a continuing problem with children exercising feelings of superiority.
“I have never met a human being in my life that was better than or less than another human being,” he said.
Glodoski explained children are bogged down with others’ negativity and eventually begin to believe the perception.
“There is no such thing as a dumb child,” he said.
Since children learn differently, Glodoski explained there is no right way to teach – only what works for the individual. He noted different labels, such as ADA (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), only categorize children, and do not address their learning needs.
“What do we label kids for? I’ll tell you why – money. It’s all about special ed(ucation) money and grant money,” he said. “I think we should label all kids ‘BBS’ … Brilliant Beyond Normal.”
For those who experience sexual, physical or verbal abuse, Glodoski said school and life become even more of a burden. To cope with this, many turn to one of the three “dream killers” – drugs and alcohol, negative influence, and/or abandoning hope.
“If you remember your hopes and dreams, it will happen,” he said. “Without hope, what do you got? Nothing.”
Glodoski explained that even “teasing” is bullying, so children who engage in this activity are causing just as much damage as those bullying more extensively.
“Every time one of you kids in this room calls another kid a name, it’s like taking a razor blade or a knife and cutting their spirits,” he said. “Don’t you get you’re hurting them?”
Glodoski, a former gang leader and drug lord, said he changed his life around when he decided to get clean and alter his surrounding influences. He eventually started a teddy bear company, wrote his book, and is currently going on 28 years of being drug free.
“You’ve all heard the saying, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’? Well, I’m an old dog that can be taught and learn a lot,” he said. “People can change anytime they want – it’s a matter of choice.”
While pointing out that change is not easy, Glodoski emphasized that, usually, the most difficult choices are the best choices to make. He said it is especially important not to believe the verbal abuse encountered in life.
“Sticks and stones can break our bones, but the power of a word can end up destroying your spirit, end up destroying your soul, and can make you numb,” he said.
By taking action, standing up against bullying and teasing, even if you aren’t the one being victimized, Glodoski said change can be made.
“We can make these schools safe,” he said.