Here is the dramatic photo of the boy’s face who took a beating at an Oklahoma junior high school. Preston Hodge, age 14, was left with broken bones, contusions, and police were originally concerned he might have injuries to internal organs.
School bullying at middle schools is a problem receiving a lot of attention in the media this year. We all know the stories of boys or girls who have been tormented into suicide from public ridicule on the internet or by bullies at school. Preston Hodge is the latest such case that is raising public awareness of bullying, although there may be more to this story than meets the eye as I will soon explain.
Preston attends Longfellow Middle School in Enid, Oklahoma. School officials say there was an altercation between the two boys that initially began as trash talking and shoving. Then they got into a fight. Who threw the first punch is an open question but the school administrators say that the beating was a “hate incident” whatever that means.
When the perpetrator (who is unnamed) was interviewed by police, he claimed that all he did was bump Preston accidentally and Preston responded by shoving him and yelling a slur. Read more here. Preston underwent surgery at a local hospital in Enid which was apparently successful, because he tweeted on Thursday from the hospital bed that he wants to go home.
The photo of Preston laying beaten on the pavement is heart wrenching to say the least. Every mom and dad viewing that picture sees in their mind’s eye an innocent boy who looks about 8-years old. It was posted by his mom and dad on Facebook through a friend of the family, a local attorney named Jeff Rust, who reportedly started a fundraiser on Facebook to help pay his medical bills. Information on how to make a donation can be found here.
And yet a review of Preston’s Twitter page which you can find here reveals a long-haired teenager obsessed with NFL football who likes to talk a lot of smack. The header of his Twitter page contains two profanities (out of six words) which you can blow up below and read for yourself.
The day before he got beat up he retweeted a message from someone else that read “Teenagers are either drunk, stoned, texting, having sex, or asleep.” Whether or not he agrees with these sentiments about teenage life in Oklahoma is anyone’s guess, but there may be more to Preston Hodge than the sweetheart in one still photograph suggests to our heartstrings.
Preston’s Facebook page is here. It contains a photo with another crass reference to what your mother might like to do with your winky. You can blow that one up too below.
Now a lot of kids act this way of course. It is the stuff of coolness (for some) as they find ways to act independently and work their way into adult life. He may very well be an outstanding teenager who is an innocent victim of a hate crime.
But jumping to conclusions in this case would be a mistake until all the facts are out. Who was the aggressor is still an open question, although it is obvious that the other boy went much, much too far. Still, the Preston Hodge beating case in Oklahoma may not in the final analysis be a textbook example of school bullying.
(click twice to enlarge)