Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Our First Bullying Experience: Help Us Put An End To Bullying

Now that my boys are in school, one of the many things I worry about is bullying. Bullying just seems to have gotten out of control over the years. When I was child,  I never witnessed the downright cruelty that is happening amongst American children these days.

Last year when my oldest was in first grade, we encountered our first bullying experience. My son (W) came home from school one afternoon and told us that a girl (S) from his class hit him in the face during lunch time in the cafeteria. I asked him if he told an adult and if they talked to S and while a lunch aide was told, nothing was done about the matter. Let me tell you, when your child tells you something like that, it is impossible not to get infuriated. Not only did another child put their hands on mine, but it appeared to be ignored.

After taking some time to calm myself down, I sat down and wrote an email to the teacher and principal. While my son isn't one to make up stories, I know that children can unintentionally exaggerate or leave out part of what happened, so I wanted to clarify what exactly took place. Here is just a snippet of my letter, in case it might help another parent out there who finds themself in a similar situation. I also recommend that if you find yourself in a situation like this, start the  communication process via email that way you have a paper trail of the conversations.

W told us that while sitting at the lunch table his classmate S punched him in the eye. I asked him if maybe it was just an accident but he replied that "it was really on purpose." I also asked if he had done something to upset S, but he says he did not. Then I asked if he told a teacher or grownup and what they said and W replied that he told Mrs. K, but she didn't say anything to S.

I realize that you are not in the cafeteria during lunch and this is probably the first you have heard of this incident. I also realize that a child's perception of the events might not be accurate and he very well might be unintentionally leaving out part of the story. I'd like to find out more about what happened and why S hit W and I would also like to know what the school policy is for something like this. Of course this happens time to time with children, but I would have expected more action and follow up to have been taken. Was S spoken to about her behavior? Was the teacher of each student notified of what happened? And I have to say I am rather upset that a note was not sent home with W to let us know about this.

I would expect that any time a child puts his or her hands or body on another child that parents of all involved are notified. And in this instance, W said repeatedly that he was punched in the eye, which is far more extreme than just a playground tap. In a time where bullying is such a huge problem in this country, I just would like to see more action taken.

I am so glad that I didn't ignore the issue and blow it off as kids will be kids.  My email got the assistant principal involved and both the kids were interviewed to find out what happened as well as other kids at the table. As it turns out, S didn't punch him but she did hit him. Apparently not intentionally as she was teasing him by putting her hand in front of his face and then she accidentally hit him. Regardless, her hand shouldn't have been near his face nor should she have been teasing him. We didn't have any issues after that and hopefully it prevented this child from doing it to anyone else. Perhaps even more importantly, I hope that the school administration will pay more attention to incidents like this and take even the most minor ones seriously.

I wanted to share that story with you because in this day and age, it is important that we stop ignoring bullying, no matter how small the incident may be. One small incident can snowball into more and more and leave a child tortured and miserable. If your child is being teased, pushed around or bullied in any way - get involved. And please, help us put a stop to bullying by taking this pledge.

For more information on what to do if your child is being bullied or on how to talk to your children about bullying, visit www.stopbullying.gov and www.antibullying.net.

This post has been brought to you by TakePart. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Participant Media, TakePart’s parent company, produces socially relevant films with the idea that “a good story well-told can change the world.” Films such as An Inconvenient Truth, The Help, Lincoln, and Waiting for Superman have helped inspire action in a wide range of issues. TakePart aims to further those messages with quality content. In our education and social justice coverage, we're committed to exploring important topics that impact our children. 


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