School has been out for just over 3 weeks now, and we are deeply entrenched in the laid-back ways of summer. So you can imagine my surprise when the discussion with my 9 year old daughter about managing her anger over her sister stealing her lollipop turned to a confession that she was bullied for the last 3 months of school.
We knew that something was happening for her during that time period because she was quicker to anger, late almost every day for school, and her final report card was definitely not what she is normally capable of. But after asking the teachers at school about what might be going on, we chalked it up to the medication changes that we have been making over this year, trying to find the right formula to help her concentration and anxiety. She also had a teacher change in March, and standardized testing looming over her in May. The kid had a lot going on clearly, and good reasons to be kind of ragey.
But what sickens me is that a group of kids was singling her out at almost every nutrition break when the teacher wasn’t in the room, teasing her, and then getting most of the class to laugh at her. We asked her repeatedly if something was upsetting her at school, or making her not want to go, and she always said that she couldn’t think of anything. It took 3 weeks after school was over for her to be able to talk about it.
She said that she was afraid to tell anyone.
And that’s about when I wanted to vomit.
Because although I feel so incredibly sad and angry for her about what happened to her, I am even more scared about the thought that people could have that power over her to make her hide the pain they have caused her. If a group of children has this power, then what could a scarier and more manipulative adult hold over her? And how can we make sure that she trusts us enough to come to us with problems that feel larger than life?
We asked our kids what they tell them to do at school if they are being bullied, because our suggestion was to ignore them, and we wanted to see if that is what the school is encouraging. What I really wanted to suggest was a well-placed kick to the groin. Neither of the girls could remember what they were told because the assembly was too long ago.
So much for effective bullying education.
If the kid weren’t already smarter than I am, homeschooling feels like the best choice for her. But I think that might just be my mama bear instinct kicking in, wanting to pull her in close. Plus I don’t want to teach her that running away or hiding at home is how to solve problems.
I looked up the school’s policy on the website, and it says that parents should report the incident to the office, and they would speak with all the kids involved, as well as the parents.
Have you ever had any experience with your kids being bullied? What did you find worked? Because honestly the only solution I can focus on is the scene from This is 40 in which Debbie tells the kid who is picking on her daughter exactly what is wrong with him and makes him cry. But then it would lead to a whole meeting with Melissa McCarthy in the Principal’s office, and who needs that?
(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)