Called "gay" and "faggot" for years, 14-year old Eric Martin was bullied so severely that one day, he fought back. Several of his classmates beat him into unconsciousness and he spent nearly two weeks in the hospital. Now, the school is pressing charges – against Eric. He is facing two charges of assault despite suffering a traumatic brain injury, multiple contusions, and a broken arm, while his assailants were largely unharmed. If convicted, he could face jail time and fines.
Guest author Tammy Motola, Eric's family advocate, explains what's happening, and it will frighten you.
Almost six weeks after his brutal beating, while still recovering from a traumatic brain injury, Eric Martin walked into a Virginia courtroom last week to face two assault charges. Verbally abused, harassed and bullied since the first grade in an obviously failing school system, this kid is the poster child for "brave." Eric has decided to fight these charges, and fight them is exactly what our team is prepared to do. The judge has set a trial date for November 21.
Since the attack, Eric is still under a doctor’s care and is making progress. However, the long term effects of the injuries to his head and brain remain unclear. He and his family are taking things one day at a time, and are very grateful for all the cards and letters they have received from all over the world. These have indeed been a great source of inspiration and validation for Eric.
Eric is now attending a different high school, after his family having to pressure the school system despite the attack. All he really wants is to be able to go to school.
Is it too much to ask that a school provide a safe and hostile-free environment for him? For any child? Is it too much to ask a school system to implement the very anti-bullying policies that have been put into place to protect him and keep him safe from poorly behaved, undisciplined and self-righteous students? Is it right for school administrations across this country to continue to turn a blind eye to what now has become a national epidemic, simply because it’s easier just to brush it under the rug?
Bullying kills our youth, and it almost killed 14-year-old Eric Martin. He is just one of thousands that are subjected to anti-gay slurs, constant scrutiny and physical abuse daily in this country.
This must stop.
As an anti-bullying advocate, I am driven and inspired by the hate at times. Nothing surprises me anymore. Nor am I intimidated by the chosen, sometimes elected leaders who walk around with blinders, suffering from selective hearing when it comes to their role and lack of accountability in what has now become the great bullying debate. It’s not getting better, despite what the numbers say.
The ugly truth of it all is that kids are just not speaking up anymore. After all, given the current tolerance for such otherwise intolerable behavior, why should they? When they do, too often nothing happens to the perpetrators, and they are only ostracized even more. I’m truly confused as to a school’s definition of zero tolerance. I’m over their anti-bullying policies. What’s the point in any policy if it’s not mandated and enforced? I know, with absolute certainty, that every kid deserves to walk into a school and receive an education without prejudice or persecution. For Eric Martin that day is long overdue.
There is a GoFundMe account for Eric to assist with his legal costs.
Eric's family has started a campaign, Letters for Eric, to show the bullied teen support. The address is:
Letters for Eric, P.O.Box 993, Sandston, Va. 23150