Feb 16, 2012

Keep Kids Safe At School

Photo from: http://www.nobully.com/

I'm posting a letter here that I wrote to the editor of our local paper today.  I am not naming the particular school here, because it's not relevant, so the words in parentheses are edits.

"On Tuesday during lunch-hour, my niece was walking on (her) school grounds when a girl approached her and punched her in the face. A second girl stood by and watched. My niece went directly to the office and reported the assault, but unfortunately did not know the girls' names.

She was told to look through a year book, but my niece could not identify the older girls by yearbook headshots. She described their appearances in detail, including the exact clothes that they were wearing, but no action was taken to go into classrooms and seek out these girls.

What is really disappointing is that the school did not call a parent to inform them of the assault. After waiting 24 hours for a phone call from the school, her father contacted the principal.

Our schools are supposed to have a “no bullying” policy. This, unfortunately is not the case. My niece has been verbally bullied for months, leading up to shoving incidents and finally an assault, with no apparent action being taken by the school.

I understand that school is not a babysitting service. Children are there to gain an education and social skills and teachers are there to facilitate that. We try to teach our kids to “tough it out” and not to let others get them down, but what happens when our kids are no longer safe at school?

There is a startling epidemic of teen suicide and teens undergoing psychiatric care as a result of bullying across North America. Should we wait until we are at a funeral service before we talk to our kids about the devastation of bullying?

Please, if you have a child in (any school,) talk to your children about the destruction that bullying causes to a child’s emotional, mental and physical well-being. A child should not be full of fear and despair every time they walk through the doors of their school."

If you haven't talked to your child about bullying - now is the time.  If your child is experiencing bullying, make sure you contact their school about ANY inappropriate behaviour aimed at them.  Google "anti-bullying" programs in your area - there are so many out there now.  No child should have to face this.


Diandra said...

Good letter. Plus, get your niece some self-defense lessons. Nothing like a good punch to stop bullying. (That is what my father taught us when my older sister was bullied at school. She applied the advice and was never bullied again. I know, it is sad to have to resort to physical self-protection, but it works.)

L. Starkey said...

I'm sorry to hear of your niece's experience. It's disappointing to know that the officials at her school have done very little to stop this ongoing situation. Every child deserves a safe environment in which he or she can thrive and learn. My daughter's school has had a zero tolerance policy on bullying since she was in first grade 10 years ago -- long before NJ's anti-bullying legislation took root -- and it has definitely worked to create a nurturing environment for all students. Please keep pushing your niece's school officials and, if necessary, seek advice from the local police department. They often work hand-in-hand with schools to craft their bullying policies. Best wishes.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

The reports of bullying in the media just make me feel sick. I am SO glad not to be a kid today.

Your niece should report the assault to the police, if she hasn't already.

Lois said...

The no bullying policies are often laughable. My heart goes out to your niece who has to go back to school knowing that the girls who hurt her are still at large. Makes me sad that the bullies still rule, like they did when I was small. Good for you to write this letter!

brandi said...

~oh rue...this is the kind of situation that drives me mad...i am so sorry your niece has been subjected to such cruelty and i applaud you for writing and speaking out on this matter...i pray that there will be no more of this for your niece...that she will remain safe and out of harms way...no child or adult deserves such...sending much love light and blessings upon all of you~

petoskystone said...

In Connecticut, if the assault happens on school grounds, it is a matter for the police. They are immediately called, a report taken, &, if the bullies in question are not identified & dealt with immediately, an attorney is called. I advise Nieces' father to contact an attorney at once....before this situation deteriorates any further. Don't know how it is where she lives, but here a parent is responsible for a minors' actions. File the reports, send legal notice to the parents that you will be seeing them in civil court & expect a great deal in damages. Money talks.

Knickertwist said...

That's awful. Kids should not have to 'tough it out' at school. I totally understand that we need to let kids work out their own issues sometimes (how else will they learn to function socially?) but school should be a safe place. I would be livid if I heard that happened in my childs school.

Kathy said...

Excellent letter. I'm so sorry your niece had to go through this. There is no excuse for the school not taking appropriate action on it. Why wait until someone dies or kills themselves before the school takes a stand?

MANY STARS said...

Your niece... I am so sorry, and I am also very angry she has been going through this. I can't imagine how she is feeling inside. Bullying... can do so much damage... smh.

Jeanne said...

So sorry to hear that your niece has had to go through this! My youngest son was subjected to bullying in school and I well remember the ordeal that Hubby & I had to go through to get anything done about the bullys.
Your letter is very well written. I hope there is a swift resolution to the situation. No person should have to be subjected to bullys. My thoughts are with you and your family.

CB said...

i had a problem like this myself some 15 years ago when i was in school and the vice principle did nothing so i walked into the office and dialed 911. From that day on i never had a problem with my school taking my reports of being bullied seriously. Suggest to your niece that if it happens again that she do the same. Just walk into the office and dial the emergency number for your area.

Bird said...

I am so sorry that this has happened to your niece. So many children are being abused this way by other children and it's simply heart wrenching that children would be so cruel.

My son was bullied so much and beaten that I took him out of school and home schooled him. He came home from school with bruises from the back of his neck to the back of his ankles... all the way down. His classmates held him down face first in the snow and the rest of them took turns jumping from a snow hill knee first into his back, legs and arms. They school barely did a thing. That was not the first incident. He'd also been beaten with sticks by a bunch of older girls. My son has Asperger's Syndrome and was not doing anything other than walking near them, talking a bit to himself and handflapping. That was all it took.

I have Asperger's too and was bullied, beaten, teased and ridiculed not only by students but also teachers. I do not trust schools to keep our kids safe. I just do not.

I do hope that this will be taken care of for your niece. You may want to call your local police and describe what's been going on. They may be able to help you further.

Again, I'm so sorry your niece is going through this.

Hugs and lots of hope for better times to come soon,
@ http://takealeftatthemoon.blogspot.com/