It’s chaos!

It’s out of control!

It’s Lord of the Flies!!!

If you’ve been paying attention to local media at all over the past month or two, you’ve undoubtedly gotten wrapped up in the hysterical coverage of Bettendorf Middle School. It all began when a group of parents went to a school board meeting to complain about the behavior of some students at BMS who were bullying other kids, teachers and staff.Media Should Cover The Good Kids At Bettendorf Middle School Too

Now, I know this may come as a stunning shock to you. “Bullying in a middle school, Sean? Pre-pubescent and early pubescent kids who have some behavioral issues??? Well now, this is certainly an unusual turn,” says the lone Amish person on Rumspringa reading this right now.

As for the rest of us who haven’t spent much time churning butter and raising barns, our reaction is probably more along the lines of, “Yeah, that sucks, but that’s not exactly unusual for middle school.”

And it isn’t.

Now, my son went to Bettendorf Middle School, and so did a lot of his friends. He also had friends at Moline, Rock Island, and East Moline schools that he talked to on a regular basis. And one thing all of them could agree on is that there were behavior issues at all of their schools.

Another thing they could agree on is that the behavioral issues were due to a relatively small group of really obnoxious kids who kept getting in trouble over and over and over again.


The same thing was said to me when I asked a few teachers and faculty members at the school about it after the media histrionics erupted.

“Is it REALLY that bad here?” I asked about a half-dozen people. “My son has said there are some kids who are jerks and disrespectful, but that most of the kids aren’t bad.”

And to a person, they said the same thing: Most definitely there were some bad apples, some of them pretty rotten. But the vast majority of the kids were good kids, kids just getting by, hanging out with their friends and making the most out of middle school.

Media Should Cover The Good Kids At Bettendorf Middle School Too

And if you talked to middle school staff around the country, you’d probably hear the same thing. If you, like me, look back at your middle school experience, you probably remember the same thing. Some parents stink. They don’t teach their kids to behave or be respectful. In my opinion, those kids should be suspended as a warning, and then expelled. Let their parents deal with them. Maybe once Mom or Dad has to take enough days off work, they’ll decide teaching their kids how to behave in a proper way is a good use of their time and energy.

However, I digress.

What’s annoying about this whole thing is that while the media is well within its right to report upon the bad things that might be happening at Bettendorf or any other middle school around the area for that matter, their reporting seems to follow their usual template — always negative, always sensationalistic, very rarely positive.

Not that long ago, I wrote about a group of Bettendorf Middle School kids winning Wayne Cheramy Citizenship Awards for being good citizens on and off campus. It was one of many stories that we at have written about positive things happening at Bettendorf Middle School, Davenport schools, Rock Island, and others.


A Google search shows that we were the ONLY local media to report upon this.

Now, according to my about a half-dozen sources, the number of kids who won Wayne Cheramy Awards is actually MORE than the number of kids who have a really serious behavioral problem and are causing all the issues at BMS. So, is it really an accurate representation of the community, is it really more newsworthy, to cover the smaller number of negative kids than the positive kids?

This weekend, about a half-dozen Bettendorf Middle School students will be playing with the Quad City Strikers U14 boys soccer team at the Midwest Regionals of the Presidents Cup in St. Louis. The Strikers boys are ranked #1 in Iowa in their age range, and had to defeat all the runners up in the state tournament for the honor of representing Iowa down at the Midwest Regionals. There, they’ll be facing off against the Presidents Cup winners, the top teams of different states around the Midwest, and in the Strikers’ bracket they’ll be going against the top teams from Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri.

Media Should Cover The Good Kids At Bettendorf Middle School Too

These boys practice at least three nights a week, two hours a night. They also practice on their free time. They work hard, they’re determined, they’re positive, and they strive to achieve their goals. They’re well-behaved and as their coaches, Juan and Christian Nuci can attest, they’re very receptive, respectful and coachable.

Not many teams from around the Quad-Cities can say they win state titles. Even fewer can say they go on to represent their entire state in a competition playing against the best teams from around the Midwest. It’s a special achievement. It’s a great honor. And it represents a terrific amount of work, determination, and positive action by these kids — including those half-dozen from Bettendorf Middle School.

And yet how many local media entities are covering this?

That would be THREE — us, Hola America, and KWQC. You can see that here with a simple Google search.

Why is that?

It can’t be because they didn’t know about it. I personally sent out a press release three separate times to over 50 members of the local and regional media. I reached out to folks to bring it to their attention. I posted something on my Facebook in front of my 5,000 followers including many local media folks and nobody reached out to me.

But pretty much EVERY local media outlet reported on all the terrible things at Bettendorf Middle School.

Now, I’m not saying don’t cover the negative. That’s part of the picture. That’s part of the news.

But that’s PART of the picture. That’s PART of the news.

The other part is the positive. The kids doing good things. The kids achieving amazing things due to their hard work.

Don’t they deserve the same, if not more, attention than the kids doing bad?

I think so. Don’t you?


Media Should Cover The Good Kids At Bettendorf Middle School Too
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
Media Should Cover The Good Kids At Bettendorf Middle School Too

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