For decades I have had flashbacks about being chastised in public. Yes, words can wound in ways sticks and stones do not. Healing has been slow.
The words of her teacher Eva Malikova at Harlem High School for Math and Science seemed to precipitate the alleged suicide of Omotayo Adeoye. She was 17. Malikova observed her using her smartphone to cheat on a German test and ripped into her. Witnesses confirm the intensity of the public reprimand.
Adeoye, who can't swim, jumped into the river. After bobbing a bit, she went under. Here is the coverage in the New York Post.
Yes, adolescents are very sensitive. Malikova should have had Psychology 101 to brief her on how that protected class mandates special handling until age 25. It's then, science confirms, that their brains mature to adult functioning.
However, all human beings are wired to discern threats in the external environment. Whether they be a crazy waving a knife or a sharp-tongued authority figure we usually suffer initial shock. Then perhaps deep trauma.
A 21st century new version of potentially killing words is the posting frequently taking place on Facebook. I am years from healing from the unsolicited advice supposed school chums from Seton Hill University (Greensburg, Pennsylvania) Class of 1967 provided me. Here is that saga. Of course, Adeoye's family should consider suing the New York Board of Education. I ruled that out in dealing with the advice-givers, at least for now. As a legal writer I recognize I have two years after the perceived harm to take legal action. Because the situation involves Facebook, lawyers are interested in it.