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Posted September 9, 2003 

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 and Bethel Boys Academy of South Lucedale.

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 correct."

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 picture either.

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?

This article was reprinted with permission from
the George County Times

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