By Samuel Lieberman
NEW YORK — It was dismissal time. Everyone had left the classroom, but John Sadler had to run back to pick up his backpack. Three of his classmates, boys who were constantly picking on Sadler, were blocking the door on his way out.
“What are you doing, are you stealing?” they asked.
Sadler, 13, knew they were trying to get a rise out of him. “I already knew what was going to happen,” he said.
The boys blocked his exit so he pushed them back forcefully with his stocky legs. He ran down the stairs but was no match for his swift pursuers.
“I got to the bottom of the steps and they jumped me right there,” Sadler said. “They were stomping on my knees, my ankles. They kicked me on my side.” Sadler limped to the shelter where he and his mother were staying.
His mother came to school the next day. “But I couldn’t tell them who did it,” he said. “‘Snitches get stitches’ they said, and I didn’t want that to be me.”