5 votes

Judging character (even at a young age)

"Be nice to everyone."

"Be extra-nice to kids who don't seem to have any friends."

These are words my wife shared with our niece before her first day of school at a new school a few years back...

I was brought up along the same lines and always took on the role of defender of the bullied on the playground as a kid. I was reminded of one bullied kid in particular last week.

I'd met Scott when we were in 7th grade. He was geeky and chubby and he was often the target of bullies. I befriended Scott... I felt bad for him. As I got to know him, I felt worse for him. He said his dad hit him often and that he'd not seen his mom since he was very, very young. His life was chaotic from the get-go.

As a 12 year-old he was into petty theft as a rush. He'd steal pointless items for which he had no use just for the high associated with getting away with it... He was the single worst influence ever in my life. I never got in trouble for any of the things we did, or the behaviors I picked up in hanging out with Scott, but I knew even at 12 that he was bad news.

Scott moved away freshman year and we lost contact at that point. I joked with other friends that Scott would end up dead or in prison by the time he was 35... A friend shared this link the other day:


I guess I'm a good judge of character after all.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
deacon's picture

I loved your personal story

But not the outcome for your friend.
Your story rang true for me as well,brought back memories of being the advocate for the ones on the outside looking in.I was the one helping the poor
the weak,meek and mild.
Later in life I became friends with a slew of under privileged youth,None of this was my doing,they would just show up,needing advice,help and at times,a place to stay for the night.
Then came youth from church,these kids,of all ages would single me out and for the same things I had already been dealing with around where I live.
Sorry your friend ended up in jail,it does read like that was what he was taught in life.

If we deny truth before your very eyes,then the rest of what we have to say,is of little consequence

Yes it is sad!

I have volunteered to be a child advocate, being a voice for foster children in court. I visited the child (children) often, their parents, teachers, foster parents and anyone else involved in their lives. I read all their records, medical, CPS, police records, 911 calls from home.. All that. Then write written reports for the judge and also speak in court. I was able to say my opinions since I was a volunteer and a voice for the child.

It is horribly sad what abuse and/or neglect does to children. I have so much respect for the foster parents who take care of these children and many end up adopting them. Of course foster parents get a bad rap & some are awful, but many of them are nothing short of angels (IMO)

I have seen some crazy things in court while waiting for my case to come up, sometimes I would be there for hours watching other cases. It was very emotional and often brought me to tears. But I enjoyed it because I felt like I was making a difference.

I don't do it now, because I've been moving too often and they require a longer commitment. But I plan to again as soon as I can.

I am all for children's rights.

If you are interested, it is CASA or Guardian Ad Litem (same thing) and is in most every county. 75,000 volunteers nationwide. You can have a few cases at once or just one. You go through training first and they do a background check. They require a year and a half commitment.

Michael Nystrom's picture

That is an incredible story

Thanks for sharing.


To be mean is never excusable, but there is some merit in knowing that one is; the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity. - C.B.

it's these experiences... and interactions...

It's an interesting piece to work into a personal matrix... This guy grew up in suburbia and from the outside, you'd think he had money and every opportunity in life... The reality was that he and his father were running various hustles to get by.

I wonder how much his influence has shaped me... and mine him... and if I could have done anything to help make his life any different.

At their inceptions, the #Liberty, #OccupyWallStreet and #TeaParty movements all had the same basic goal... What happened?