George County Times
Both Sides Save Face
(August 28, 2003) Both sides can call it a
victory in the legal fight between the state of Mississippi
Actually, we didn't see how the State of Mississippi could
justify the closing of the "last chance boys school," especially
after considering the recent track record of the state owned
and operated school for boys in Columbia, MS.
Actually, we didn't believe the state would close the school,
although no one can understand or know the reasoning of a
group of people. No one can ever be sure what the concluding
reason would be.
From the first days of existence for the Bethel Boys Academy
of Lucedale, we have always considered them as a "last
resort" school. We are convince that no one can operate
a school of last resorts in the same way you would operate
Sunday School class or regular high school. In the first
place, Bethel is dealing with youth that the regular school
setting has failed. Yes, failed. Failed, regardless if the
situation is the fault of the school, the boys, the boys'
own families or the failures of all three entities.
Regardless, a school like Bethel is needed since some youth
in regular school fail to adjust to a regular school's requirements.
We really believe the State of Mississippi was "saving
face" by allowing the school to remain open. Especially,
after learning an assistant attorney general involved in
the case in his fading remarks stated,"… now the
children are safe." With that mentality, the people
probably think everything is "A-OK at the state owned
and state run boys' school in Columbia, MS.
Of Course these boys are not "safe," they are "at
risk." No way are these boys going to be safe where
their own situation has failed in a regular school setting.
One of the "minor" requirements Bethel has to
meet in order to stay in operation is to take down the electric
fence. "Minor requirement" because Bethel can continue
to function with or without electric fence. "Minor requirement" because
removal of the electric fence only makes it "more easy" for
the boys to escape. Then, on the other hand, taking down
the electric fence makes things look more "politically
Of course, taking down the electric fence makes it "easier" for
the boys to get away and get back out on the streets of America.
Get away they will, because most of these kids don't want
to conform to authority anyway.
Incidentally, we mentioned the "electric fence and
the children are safe" items because we agree most likely
the state will agree that taking only an item out of context
doesn't tell the whole picture. True, and taking one side
of the issue in the Bethel situation doesn't show the entire
Another point of contention is the mention of allegations
of "mental and physical abuse" at the school that
operate a boot camp disciplinary situation.
Well, has anyone who has ever served in the United States
Armed Forces ever been exposed to what they would consider "mental
and physical abuse?" Of course, you don't go through
basic training or a boot camp without going through rough
mental and physical abuse.
How can Bethel operate a boot camp type school without the
students having to cross this line? What does the state want
Bethel to do, become as big a failure as the state run boy's
home has become?
was reprinted with permission from
the George County Times