Viewpoint: Schools shouldn’t have to make up for bad parenting

By Ashley Davis
News editor

There comes a point in every teenager’s life when everything, simply put, sucks. School, friends, parents and everything else seems to have a deliberate and vicious agenda against your happiness. Problems – emotional, physical and intellectual – abound as we try to figure out who we are.

As we enter adulthood, the goal is to become wiser, calmer, more logical and not so self-centered. Unfortunately the parents of Kathleen Mulvey in Orland Park, Ill., seemed to have missed that step.

Kathleen Mulvey was a student at Carl Sandburg High School, struggling to make her way like any other teenager on the face of the planet. Huffington Post reported that Mulvey endured “intense bullying” by other girls on the basketball team. Mulvey’s parents say that both Kathleen and her sister were bullied several times but the coach did nothing to stop it.

In one such incident in June 2009, Kathleen was pushed by a teammate during basketball practice, giving her a severed tendon in her right foot. It is now three years after the incident, and Kathleen and her family are suing the basketball coach and Carl Sandburg High School $500,000.

If that amount seems excessive to you, don’t worry. It did to me too. In determining the lawsuit amount, Mulvey’s parents have factored in the cost of surgery, physical therapy and psychological trauma as a result of the post traumatic stress disorder Mulvey was reportedly diagnosed with. They also added the $50,000 it cost for them to relocate Mulvey to a private East Coast school.

My outrage at this situation isn’t about the money. Though the amount demanded in the lawsuit seems excessive, it may in fact be an accurate account of the damages incurred by a series of incidents. Without having seen the actual lawsuit, one can never know. The bulk of my umbrage is directed towards the audacity of Mulvey’s parents in suing the coach and the school instead of the other player’s parents.

Mulvey’s mother, Ellen, said in an interview with CBS Chicago, “The coach [Chris Hellrung] knew what was going on. He saw it on a daily basis; he heard it. If this is accurate, then Mulvey’s parents also knew what was going on and were either too distracted or too lazy to stop it themselves.

As parents, it is their job to intervene when a situation has obviously gone too far, not the school. Mulvey’s mother reported that Kathleen would come home depressed and would have trouble sleeping several nights at a time. These aren’t symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder – these are symptoms of being a high school student. Heck, they’re symptoms of life.

This is a matter of accountability. It’s a matter of common sense on the part of the parents. There are several alternatives in this situation that would have saved Mulvey a lot of heartache and allowed Joseph and Ellen a little more pride as parents.

Every parent has their own way of preparing their children for the outside world. My mother always told me to either ignore it or duke it out in the playground with a dance-off when dealing with a bully.

I made up the dance-off part. – my mother was a little more frank with her word choice. But I digress. My point is that Mulvey’s parents seemed to have missed addressing that crucial part of parenting.

Ashley Davis is a junior journalism major from Killeen and is the Lariat’s news editor.