Often when I speak with other adults about my love for William Golding’s 1954 novel “Lord of the Flies,” they react with revulsion. “I don’t understand how you could like that book,” they intone, casting their words with lingering disapproval.
I understand why. If you’re not familiar with it, “Lord of the Flies” is a book about a group of British boys who end up stranded on a tropical island after a wartime evacuation goes wrong.
Left to their own devices, the boys turn to all sorts of crimes, from bullying and intimidation to assault — and even murder. It’s not cheery reading, but if you’ve spent time among adolescents, you know it’s true to life.
Fortunately, adults and kids alike are taking steps to dial down the meanness youngsters so often aim at one another. And they’re doing it during one of the most prime seasons for hurtful actions: homecoming.
According to MLive.com, Chelsea High School in Chelsea, Michigan, took the radical step of doing away with homecoming kings and queens altogether. On Sept. 21, the school still had a group of evening-dress-clad girls waiting to receive honors from their peers.
But the reward wasn’t a homecoming crown. Rather it was an Award of Excellence, and it was partially instituted to deal with the oppressive competition and more-than-occasional bullying that would crop up every year.
“We don’t want one of the biggest awards at our school to be associated with ‘pretty’ or ‘popular’ stereotypes or to be limited to a specific category of students,” Student Council President Drew Vanderspool said. Other schools have needed to intervene due to more severe situations.
Rumson-Fair Haven High School called off homecoming when administrators found out students had rigged the voting for king and queen, WABC reported. At first, that doesn’t sound too bad.
But the reason why the students had rigged the vote is mean enough to break your heart. They’d done so in order to elect an “unlikely” (read “nerdy”) homecoming couple — and then publicly mock them.
Administrators shut down the celebration before it could happen, leaving many students disappointed. For her part, mother Jennifer Sullivan said, “It’s disappointing that they would be mean-spirited to other students.”
A girl from Mobile, Alabama, found out herself how mean-spirited people can be at homecoming. According to WPMI, Laura Garmon wanted nothing more than to enjoy the homecoming dance with her friends.
But soon after the event started, her peers turned on her, flinging cruel taunts and jibes. Memes making fun of the way she looked had been posted online and shared over 1,000 times. Laura only made it through 45 minutes of the dance before running out in tears.
“She was devastated on the ride home,” her mother, Odessa Garmon, said. “One of her friends contacted my mom saying, ‘Laura is trying to kill herself.’”
Fortunately, Laura calmed down, and the situation didn’t escalate any further. What’s more, a group of local businesses decided to step up and make her feel special.
“I had two photo shoots,” Laura said. “I got my makeup done and got myself to feel comfortable, and I thank the women for everything that they did for me.”
Photographer Ragan Bridges said the goal was simply to encourage the young girl. “I just wanted to bring her back to her normal self to embrace her beauty.”
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