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An Open Letter to Ginger Kids

Dear Child with Red Hair,

On behalf of all Canadians who didn’t know what was going on the day you were assaulted for having red hair, fair skin, and freckles, I offer my sincerest apologies.  If I had known, surely I would have taken some kind of proactive action.  But I only found out after it was way too late.

I was in the Newmarket hospital’s emergency room with a friend on Tuesday night when a young girl was brought in.  She appeared to have a broken finger, and possibly a broken leg.  I wondered what she had done to injure herself so badly.  To my utter horror, another woman there explained to me that the girl had been attacked at school and kicked because she was a “ginger”.  That day was designated as “Kick a Ginger” day.

I recognized the reference.  I’d seen the South Park episode myself.  I remember thinking as I watched it that some moron could possibly take that idea and run with it.  Even though Eric Cartman gets his in the episode, any positive message would be lost on some immature and angry individuals. 

There have always been bullies, and there will always be bullies.  You keep hoping that somehow the Disney movies would counteract the violent shows they are exposed to, but that’s not how it works.  Like attracts like, and these knuckle-draggers probably identify with the bad guys in the Disney films anyway.

You also hope that witnesses to these assaults would intervene and stop it.  For the young girl I saw in the ER, that was not the case.  You wonder how these kids can live with themselves for either perpetrating these assaults, or standing idly by while an innocent person gets assaulted to the point where they need emergency medical care.

Shortly after the young girl was wheeled away (she had to be in a wheelchair, as her injuries made walking difficult), a boy came in with a large bump on his head.  He too had been assaulted for being a ginger kid. 

I’m sorry too, if you were hurt (and the wounds would be both physical and emotional), and the authorities at the school you attend did nothing to help you or to punish the bullies.  They should have called the police and they should have made sure you received medical treatment.  Anything less and they are just as guilty as anyone else who stood by and did nothing.  Apparently, the young girl I’m speaking of had reported the incident to the school, but no action, to my knowledge, was taken.  She didn’t get to the hospital until her parents returned from work and found her injured and in pain.

The parents of the young girl that I saw were outraged, as they should be.  They were planning to call the police once they knew their daughter was going to be all right.  As it turns out, her thumb was broken, her leg only sprained.  Can you imagine the anger and the energy it would take to kick someone until bones broke or severe injuries resulted?  Did no one learn anything from the Jonathan Wamback case?

I know it’s tempting to blame the creators of South Park, but really the blame should go to the parents of the bullies.  Do they not screen what their kids are watching?  Do they not take the opportunity to have a discussion on what is and isn’t appropriate behavior, and do they not explain to their kids that cartoons, and live action shows, for that matter, are NOT REAL?  And can they be that oblivious to their own children’s anger management problems?  Those questions are, of course, rhetorical. 

Unfortunately, violent kids tend to come from violent homes, so they learn what they live.  I’m sorry that you are the target of their anger, hate, and self-loathing—for if someone is lashing out at others like that, they must have a lot of self-hate and insecurity.  It’s small consolation to know that unless they get counseling, they’re not really going to have happy or successful lives.  You wouldn’t have seen Bill Gates kicking gingers as a kid.

Rest assured that most of the people in your community are appalled and care very much about the harm that has been done to you.  We think it’s intolerable and unacceptable and it should never be allowed to happen again.  We’ll be more vigilant, but it would help if you talked about it to the adults in your life that you trust.  There are people out there who know what to do and can help you to stay safe.

This story was already in the news last year.  Please watch the following video and it will let you know that action was taken, and I expect is being taken again now.  The person who started all this was being investigated by the RCMP and it was treated as a hate crime.  Let’s all be vigilant so that there will be no “International Kick a Ginger Day 2010.”



Val Tobin, ATP® with Advanced Training


One Response

  1. Hi, Val. I’m writing this twice! Somehow I had a typo in my email address and I had to hit the back button.

    Anyway, I wanted to say that I, like you, watched that South Park episode and wondered, as I’m sure others did, about copycat activities.

    I think, too, that instead of blaming the South Park creators, the responsibility is with the parents and administrators to monitor this behavior and take appropriate action.

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