Things That Matter

This Little Girl Went Missing And A Teacher Blamed Her Parents And Mexican Culture

It seems that these days, we’re inundated with horrific stories of children suffering abuse, going missing, or suffering at the hands of an adult that they placed their trust in. But, it’s less common to hear about a teacher’s opinions about those stories. Well, one teacher decided to weigh in on a recent abduction – and while we’d like to think that most teachers would share words of wisdom in a troubling situation, it seems that this teacher needed some education herself.

Let’s start with the abduction.

Instagram / @empressempire144

Five-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez went missing from a playground in Bridgeton, N.J., in broad daylight on September 16. It was sometime around 4pm, when Dulce and her three-year-old brother were playing together at Bridgeton City Park, after getting ice cream with their mother, Noema Alavez Perez, and a younger family member. They had only been at the park for ten minutes, when the little boy ran back to his mother, crying. It was then that Noema realized something was wrong, and went to look for her daughter. “We thought that she was just hiding, playing around and we went looking for her but we couldn’t find her,” she said in a recent interview with CBS Philadelphia

As soon as the girl’s disappearance went public, the online trolls came out.

Instagram / @hklawfirm

While Noema had notified police of the situation shortly before 5pm, she has faced intense scrutiny in the aftermath of her daughter’s disappearance. Revelations that she was 14 when Dulce was born, that the girl’s father lives in Mexico, that she once smoked marijuana and that she ate a slice of pizza after accepting her daughter’s disappearance all invoked the wrath of both online and offline critics. Because heaven forbid a mother take a break and grab a bite to eat while the police search for her daughter.

If you think matters couldn’t get any worse – this is where the teacher comes in.

Instagram / @ad12590

It was in the midst of this whirlwind of criticism against Noema that one teacher decided to join the fray on Facebook. Jennifer Hewitt Bishop, an elementary school teacher in South Jersey, responded to a post that questioned why Noema sat so far away when her children were playing in the park with, “They’re Mexican, it’s their culture. They don’t supervise their children like we do.”

The school board of where the teacher works, has taken her off of her post.

Instagram / @bring_kids_home

Once officials from Vineland Public Schools became aware of Bishop’s post, they launched an investigation into the matter, and Bishop was promptly taken out of the classroom. It’s not clear whether her absence is simply forced leave, or a suspension. However, it seemed that the school board overseeing Bishop’s position would decide on the matter this coming Wednesday. The president of the Vineland Education Association, Lou Russo, seemed reluctant to publicly condemn Bishop’s remarks, saying that comments online are “often misunderstood and taken out of context by a virtual crowd that rarely takes time to think and reflect or seek clarification before they react with verbal attacks of their own.”

Rest assured, the Twitter community also took the teacher to task.

Twitter / @dogz005

Some were quick to identify that ignorance isn’t really an excuse when it comes to racist remarks – and that Bishop should be fired. And, in fairness, racism is something that is not innate, but learned. It unequivocally doesn’t have a place in the classroom – ergo, there’s no need for racist educators, please and thank you.

Many pointed out that they shared similar parenting styles – allowing children to develop.

Twitter / @trillian215

Others were inspired to defend Noema’s parenting, in light of Bishop’s unfair commentary. In the same way that we shouldn’t blame victims of sexual assault for being assaulted, it’s not a mother’s fault if her child is kidnapped. At the end of the day, the fault still lies with the person who commits the crime – not someone who was unable to prevent the crime.

While others pointed out the teacher’s bigotry and noted it needed to be punished.

Twitter / @CopperSiren

This user smartly pointed out that people who are in positions of authority should not be perpetuating discrimination – and that it’s important to challenge bigotry when it does appear from people who wield power.

The thing is, the real focus should be placed on finding Dulce Maria Alavez – not ridiculous online commentary from a member of the community who should know better. The only positive that can be taken from this situation is that, hopefully, the teacher’s comments and ensuing media coverage can continue to keep Alavez’s profile in the spotlight while she’s missing. On that note, reports say that a light-skinned man with facial acne was seen leading Dulce away from the playground on that fateful afternoon, to a red van with tinted windows. Anyone who has information about the incident is to get in touch with either the Bridgeton police on 856-451-0033, or the State Police Missing Persons Unit at 609-882-2000, ext. 2554.

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