Billy’s Dream Rodeo Credits:
Electric Guitar on “Canco Incerta,” from the Catala album
About Billy Youngblood:
Billy Youngblood is a Native American music artist that plays Electric Guitar, as well as Cello. He has toured as a guitarist with the band “Days of the New,” and is currently developing a foundation called The Jungle Vine Network. The Jungle Vine is designed to be a Community Network of Specialized Care Experts (CNSCE) that creates a way of linking specialized services and professionals to pool their expertise to treat and support children and adults who have developmental disabilities and mental health needs and/or challenging behaviors due to spectrum disorder disabilities.
To find links to video and social network discussion on this story go tohttp://BillyYoungblood.com/StopBullying
(Fort Wayne, IN) – William “Billy” Richards is a single father from Fort Wayne, IN. He is better known by his native brand name, Billy Youngblood. This Native American artist believes that his life’s path has positioned him to raise an urgent awareness to the increasing trend of bullying that is touching every home in the United States, including his own.
Youngblood’s son, David Richards, is 10 years old; and he has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). He currently attends Adams Elementary School, a subsidiary of Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) in Fort Wayne, IN. David says that he is continuously in fear of his safety at the school. Both Youngblood and his son claim that there is a substantial amount of bullying happening to school-aged children. Worst of all, it is not being effectively handled.
Bullying Literally Hitting Home
David’s third physical attack left him with marks and bruises all over his body; and it happened on school grounds. Youngblood had to step in and stop the attack himself, and then personally walk the assailant to the school office. Numerous attempts to approach trusted school officials have so far been unsuccessful.
Youngblood said he has “gotten the runaround” from school administrators and police in his attempt to protect and advocate for his son. A police report involving his son being battered by another student at the address of the aforementioned school was filed with the Fort Wayne Police Department on November 12, 2013; and so far, it has not been addressed by anyone from the city or from the school system.
An Ongoing Problem
David has been bullied since kindergarten [by various classmates] and by the same group of peers since he began to speak up about last year,” said Youngblood. “I personally home schooled him for 2 years (2008-2010) after numerous failed attempts at trying to take a stand on his behalf.” He went on to say, “We returned to Fort Wayne Community Schools last year; and we have gained a lot of successful ground towards overcoming his disability’s challenges; however, the bullying has gotten worse.”
Youngblood continued, “If the foundation of the learning program isn’t allowed to talk about effective teaching methods – ones that are specifically focused on an inclusive and engaging curriculum which includes bully prevention awareness and a whole-school approach to positive behavior development – then we are failing to address the ‘gorilla in the room’.”
Taking Matters into His Own Hands
Youngblood said he put their story on Facebook, along with a picture of his son, out of desperation. He was seeking help after picking David up from an incident that happened at the Fort Wayne, IN school on December 5, 2013. This incident involved the trusted school official and his child; and he was consequently “flooded with emails and comments from parents in similar situations.”
Youngblood claimed that he was surprised by the overwhelming response on Facebook. He received nearly five hundred shares as well as hundreds of comments on his personal Facebook page, all in less than 1 week.
“My desire was to stand up for my son and his “normal” frustrations from not being helped, especially when he was trying to reach out. I never imagined that all this would blow up on my Facebook page – with hundreds of friends and fans worldwide sharing their own bullying experiences within the first few hours,” explained Youngblood.
This Time it’s Personal
Youngblood states that he has written music and created art throughout his lifetime as a way of overcoming the lifelong damage from his own experiences of being bullied, abused, and abandoned by the time he had reached his son’s age. He is now on a dedicated mission to raise awareness and to take a stand against bullying by releasing a series of PSA videos from his YouTube channel that include poignant messages which foster bullying awareness.
On his YouTube channel Youngblood also posted a recent video of little David returning home from school this Wednesday (December 18, 2013), documenting that he tried to reach out to the “trusted” school officials, immediately reporting another incident of bullying as it was occurring. The disabled child was then sent to the office for allegedly being a disruption. The video has reached over nine hundred views in just over 48 hours and it is gaining attention from others who are currently going through similar experiences with bullying.
Standing Together to Make a Difference, One Student a Time
One by one, parents, students, family members, and young adults have offered glimpses into the terrors that they say their own children have had to live with as a result of school bullying. This includes numerous frustrations that they have had to face trying to effectively overcome the situation.
These concerned people have shared incidents which explain how their children were threatened, harassed, mentally abused, and physically beaten by their peers. In one Michigan case, a young woman committed suicide this past Sunday after making several attempts to reach out to trusted school officials. The 14-year-old girl was a victim of “intense bullying,” said family and friends in the social network thread.
Other parents have shared how they eventually have given up on getting cooperation from school officials. Many have opted to homeschooling their children in an effort to ensure that they are being taught in a safe educational environment. All of these people agree that the bullying problem isn’t being adequately addressed with a whole-school approach. “It’s time to quit playing politics in our schools and start being family-focused communities,” said Youngblood.
Taking it to the Top
Youngblood has also pleaded with the local school district, begging them to become more aware of its policies and to act appropriately. His attempts to reach out to Fort Wayne Community Schools’ Superintendent, Dr. Wendy Robinson, have neither yielded a reply nor a resolution to the ongoing bullying crisis within the Fort Wayne Community School District.
A case conference was held at Adams Elementary School on Thursday (December 19, 2013); and it was attended by Youngblood as well as Fort Wayne Community School officials, including the elementary school staff. An agreement was reached that addresses making changes to David’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and also assigns advanced training to certify school officials that are trusted with administering education to those who have spectrum disorder disabilities.
The numerous incidents involving bullying were not addressed during the meeting; and any attempts made by the parent to do so quickly were quieted by a security officer who then told Youngblood that he would be asked to leave if he brought the topic up again. Youngblood is now filing a complaint at the state level with the Indiana Board of Education and seeking recourse to due process. These efforts are meant to bring a solution to the ongoing problem of bullying in our schools and the continued silencing of concerned parents and others who attempt to speak out on behalf of bullied children.
Inspiration: Paying it Forward
“It’s time for awareness; and I have to do something” vigorously said Youngblood. “Bullying affects all of us. I have so many friends, family members, and direct fans around the world who are speaking out against this rampant bullying crisis.”
He went on to say, “The people who I have met through my music career have connected to a deeper relation with me; and I am blessed to be able to use technology which gives us all the ability to get to know each other and to grow together to overcome our shared experiences.” He added, “I believe I am using my God-given creative gifts to speak out and stand up for my community; and I feel the importance of joining in with my fans as contributing members of this stand. Together, we are all humans being part of bringing awareness to the crisis of bullying, especially among our children and the youth in our schools;” said Youngblood.
Hundreds of people have now joined in the discussion; and they have encouraged Youngblood and other parents to band together in an effort to demand some sort of solution, including action by public officials that will address this issue effectively. Youngblood has also launched a new page at his professional website (BillyYoungblood.com) which is tracking this story and its timeline of events. The page includes the original Facebook post from December 5, 2013, as well as the PSA videos that have been created for documentation and awareness.
“It takes the biggest trumpet to be the one voice that is heard in a city government. It requires a hundred or more voices at a school board who demand accountability for their children and their community;” said Youngblood in a recent interview. “When you take a stand together as a team that is when you start seeing the real changes being made.”