Thursday, July 19, 2018

‘Bullied to Death?’ by Judith A. Yates

Cover, 'Bullied to Death?' by Judith A. Yates. Image depicts a black-and-white, head-and-shoulders photo of 14-year-old Sherokee Harriman, taped to the door of a school locker. Subtitle below it reads, 'A Story of Bullying, Social Media, and the Suicide of Sherokee Harriman'
“What exactly happened on September 5, 2015, in Mankin Park is difficult to decipher. Eyewitness testimonies vary. The whole truth will never be known.”

Author Judith A. Yates explores the last hours of 14-year-old Sherokee Harriman. The official explanation is that Sherokee killed herself by stabbing herself in the stomach after she and another girl got in a fight over a boy.

Sherokee left the park where this altercation took place, and returned a short while later with the knife.

Sherokee’s family contends that the exchange was no fight. The girl and her friends bullied Sherokee and, when she returned with the knife, she either stabbed herself on accident or one of them forced her to stab herself. No charges were brought against any of the teens who witnessed Sherokee’s death.

The media and public outcry latched on to “bullying” as the cause of Sherokee’s death — and as this book documents, throughout her time in school, Sherokee was subjected to continual taunts about her appearance and hygiene. When she became older, her classmates also called her a bitch, a slut, and a “ho.”

Any attempts to report the bullying left Sherokee branded a “snitch.” Sherokee eventually “tired of it all,” and stopped turning in reports. When asked at home for an update she’d simply say school officials were “looking into it,” or that they “took care of the problem.”

But whatever bullying Sherokee endured, was on top of additional trauma. Her mother, Heather, came from an abusive home and suffered from poor self-esteem.

Heather bounced from job to job, relationship to relationship. (Sherokee and her older sister Shyloe came from two different fathers.) Heather also had difficulty managing her anger; she would shout and use obscenities and accuse the other person of deliberately “pushing [her] buttons.”

Sherokee and Shyloe were both sexually abused by their mother’s husband Ronnie (who was also Shyloe’s father.) It left the girls with lasting psychological scars.

Sherokee additionally struggled with bouts of severe depression. She was emotionally immature and lacked the coping skills to get what she wanted in any other way than by throwing tantrums. Sherokee often threatened to kill herself when she did not get her way. And like Heather, Sherokee tended to blame others for her behavior and responses.

Ultimately, this book poses more questions than it concretely answers. What — or who — actually caused the death of Sherokee Harriman? Was she “Bullied to Death?” Or was it one of many factors that were cumulatively too much for this damaged young person to bear? Reading this story was difficult and painful, but worth thinking about by caring adults who want to combat bullying or want to foster resiliency in children.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, July 13, 2018

Free Bookmobile of Sonoma County

Talk about fortuitous timing: the Free Bookmobile of Sonoma County was parked in downtown Santa Rosa while I was walking there one day this week.

The Free Bookmobile gives away free books at locations throughout the area. (The schedule is listed on its website.)

It got its start as a weekend service project by a local family. Today it operates as a program of the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation, an organization that also supports “The Big Read” and Sonoma County public libraries.

Job-search help via Sonoma County Library

Among my research projects this week: job-search help through for Sonoma County Library cardholders.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Orientación y apoyo académico gratuito

Dos mujeres en un sofá, hablando
Fuente de imagen: Santa Rosa City Schools

(En español / In Spanish)
Orientación y apoyo académico gratuito, a el Centro del Bienestar Integrado de Santa Rosa City Schools:

Elección en noviembre para Junta de Educación

(En español / In Spanish)
​Del boletín del Santa Rosa City Schools para julio 2018: Candidatos para la Junta de Educación de Santa Rosa City Schools deben de presentar sus documentos entre el 16 de julio y el 20 de Agosto de 2018.