November 28, 2023

A Mothers’ Cry for Justice

5 min read

Photo By Tim Shortt/Florida Today

By: Sonya Mallard

Raising kids is hard, but raising children who face daily assaults on their mental being is especially hard. It’s way too common to hear stories about fraternities or sororities taking hazing too far and leading to severe and even deadly consequences, but did you know that similar environments exist on High School Football teams here in Brevard County? It happened here in Viera Florida a couple of weeks ago in the locker room while coaches were in another location space watching film, or so they say. 

A personal one-on-one interview was conducted with the mother of a young teenage son who aspired of playing high school football but was met with something other than a football being thrown at him in the middle of a hot afternoon in sunny Viera, Florida…. he found himself thrown into the fight for his life like he was Muhammad Ali in the 10th round of the ring with heavy weight Joe Frasier. The only exception was the fact that it was more than one person in the ring with him, and they were trying to pull down his pants, while simulating sexual acts on him while the fight of his life was taking place.

Meanwhile, a mother teaches her child the values of love and care. She teaches her child how to eat well. A mother instills in her child the ability to be happy, and the values and traditions of her family. This is exactly what Ms. Avanese Taylor did with her son. However, imagine receiving a telephone call that sends chills up your spine, as your hands become sweaty, and your pulse begins to beat heavily.  You lose your train of thought, and keep thinking this cannot be happening, but this one telephone call changes your life and changes the life of your family, and you can’t seem to understand why or what happened? You just sent your son to school. A place full of teachers, counselors, mentors, a principal, a safe place, or so you thought.

Pleae read below the one-on-one interview with Mrs. Avanese Taylor:

First and foremost, how is your son doing today?

“He is handling it the best way that he can.  We do have him set-up for trauma counseling, and he is trying to get back to some sort of normalcy.  Currently, we do not know what normal looks like.  This exposed him to things that I didn’t know that we will be having conversations about……like rape.  Re-enacting a rape is not a joke, and the fact that this was the varsity team….……he didn’t know anything about rape and especiall from his teammates.  If this happened to a female it would have been shut down.  Boys will not be boys! This is somebody life.  My greatest anger was having to burst my child’s innocence. Not because I wanted to… trust me I didn’t. I thought I had more time. I thought when he was older, I would have that conversation when I thought his mind would be mature enough to understand. However, our society and that dreadful day in school didn’t give me that option. The mother in me wants to protect and bubble wrap my child, but I can’t because some people in this country deem my child to be a pawn that they can assault, humiliate, and victimize. The only way to protect him is to empower him and be his voice.”

What do you want the world to know about the Viera Hazing that took place to your son in the Viera locker room without any coaches around?

“I want the world to know that hazing is an understatement.  It is one of the things that occurred, but cyberbullying, sexual assault should never be tolerated anywhere.  They should have addressed the root of the problem.  They put Football first, and we feel our child was an afterthought.  Especially posting it to social media for the whole world to see…lasting effects beyond this moment.  The mishandling of it…is what is a complete lack of communication from the school.” 

What would you like to say to other parents, coaches, and teachers?

“I would like to say that you are entrusted with our family members all day. I never thought this would have happened or could have happened…. this is negligence! If you are hired or watching anyone children in any compacity you have a responsibility to ensure that they are safe.  If you are not going to do that then find another job because this is unacceptable.”

What can the community do for you that the school board is not?

“To help apply the pressure to get answers! They are not being transparent.  I know they can’t name the names of children who were involved, but this should not have to happen to anyone’s child. Open the dialogue with your kids and grandkids because this very well could have happened before.  I got a call from someone in Connecticut asking for him and tips pertaining to his child about this very same thing.” 

As you can see, Ms. Avanese Taylor and her family had to inhabit a different understanding of motherhood to navigate American life.  If we merely accept the status quo and fail to challenge the forces that continues to keep our children held in a system that says, ok, it happened now let’s move on and play football.  Then we participated in our own and our children’s destruction.  Our voices must be heard, and her outcry is the outcry for every mother and family in America…because this could happen to your child or ask yourself, has it? This is a Mother’s Cry for doing the right thing not just for her child, but for every child in America.  For every child that attends school and participates in sports. We can not turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to this event, but we can turn the tables of the culture of this behavior. It will take all of us to make the necessary changes in our county, in our schools, and for our children.  Let’s not let this Mother’s Cry fall on deaf ears.   

*No comments from the school board were received for this interview.

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