Thursday, March 26, 2009

When is Enough...Enough?

My daughter came home from school yesterday sobbing. She had a bad day. She told me she hates school and does not want to go.

It breaks my heart.

My daughter is in the fourth grade at a small Catholic grade school. I have considered transferring her to a different school. The only reason I haven't is because she likes her school. (Hard to imagine.) The kids are another story. The ironic thing is that just the other day my Mom saw a notice in the Diocesan newsletter that the school has been awarded a grant from a large insurance company. The grant is for a bully awareness program. I have heard there are kids leaving school due to the pervasive bullying.

When is enough...enough?

In the first quarter of third grade, we went to the Principal. My daughter was sick...a lot. She did not want to go to school. We took her to the Pediatrician and he wrote the school a note. The note was very daughter's stomach problems are a direct result of the treatment she is receiving from the other children. We also had a note from the second grade teacher acknowledging the bullying but not able to catch the perpetrator in the act. We informed the school that we taught our daughter basic self-defense and she had our permission to use it when necessary. (The school was not happy about that.)

I was expecting the Principal to be defensive. I was waiting for the "but your daughter...". Not one negative word has ever been said about her. Not from a teacher, school nurse, sports coach or office personnel. The very next day there was an assembly addressing bullying. The third grade teacher pulled us aside and quietly told us that they found the bullying to be more wide spread than they thought. I was impressed that the Principal responded so quickly.

My daughter's fourth grade year started out fine but it is gradually disintegrating. There are a few boys who make nasty comments. Girls are just as bad. The other week a boy tried to pin her against the wall. He grabbed her wrists but she did an escape. She ducked under his hands, wrapping his arms up, and got behind him. He was off balance an fell to the ground. Did anyone see this? No adults. Just a group of fifth grade girls watching the whole episode.

What is wrong with these kids? I really do not need to ask...I know.

I attended a small Catholic grade school in the late 1970's. My sister and I got on the public school bus each morning. Our school started early, so we were on the bus with the high school students. The bus ride was a nightmare. There were two high school boys that thought it was fun to torment two elementary school students. When my mom found out, she waited at the bus stop. When the bus arrived she asked the bus driver if she could talk to the two boys. The boys got off the bus and my Mom told them that they were going to stop picking on us. Bus rides were no longer a problem. (Way to go, Mom!) I doubt if this tactic would work for this generation.

I am going to contact the school...again.

Enough is enough!


Slop -n- Goulash: Dinner of Champions! said...

Reason? Two-fold.

First - the parents. They don't care.

Second - the school. The rely on parents' donations & tuition.

My daughter went to Lutheran School and there was a child who got away with EVERYTHING - not all bullying - but getting perfect attendance when she didn't really have it, perfect grades because her mother did her work or hired scientists at her work to do her science fair projects (and everyone knew it including the teachers/principal) The reason the MFH (Mother-From-Hell as we all called her) got away with it? Her family gave lots of money to the church/school.

We also had an incident when a troubled child threatened my daughter and another boy by saying he'd bring a gun to school and kill them. The principal/school board president met with us parents and asked that we "forgive" this child and take the Christian high road. They said they'd be careful but would not elaborate how they'd protect our kids. 10 minutes after that meeting, they met with the troubled kid's mother, who cussed them up one wall and down the other. The told the mother she'd have to find a new school for her kid. Now, what happened to the Christian high road?

My kids are in public school now, which is absolutely not perfect, but I'll tell you - I'd rather them go there than deal with the hypocrisy (sp?) and double-standards we dealt with at the parochial private school where we struggled just to pay the tuition. Okay, I'm off my soap box now. I hope it all works out for your daughter.

Sue C said...

I feel sorry for your daughter, it sounds like her school experience is being tainted by this bullying. I expect teachers over there are as powerless to discipline kids as they are over here. Fortunately neither of my children have suffered from bullying but I know it can have long term consequences for the victims. I hope it gets sorted out soon for her.

Steve said...

I'm truly pissed and disappointed as I read your post. What a shame that this is a private school where this bullying is tolerated. You should really consider taking action by going public. I'm sure the school wouldn't appreciate a story with the local newspaper or tv about bullying in a PRIVATE school. Make sure you ask the administration first what they would think about such a story. And then maybe the bullying will stop.

Dan Prager said...

Michele: What a sad -- and all too common -- state of affairs for your daughter and you.

Good luck with your next round with the school; I am sure that you will handle yourself well.

It always pays to have a plan B: If I were in your shoes I would be actively looking at other schools (of all stripes).

John Lyons-Sensei Universal Goju Karate School said...

Michelle, move quickly to protect you daughter. It is impossible for the bullying to be that widespread and adults not to be aware of something. Someone is not saying enough.

My 10 year old went through the same thing at the beginning to this year. When we approached the teacher she said she wasn't aware, but would keep an eye out. She fond out that it was taking place in the school yard and during an after school soccer (sorry football for the UK crowd). The school was extremely aggressive in addressing the situation. Things worked out for to our delight. Our son loves the school and his teachers.

I will say this to you, no school is wo important that you should jepordize her safety and self confidence. So, everyone please do not jump on me but I teach my students this. "There is no time that ANYONE is allowed to put thier hands on you without you handling them right away." And "when in doubt knock them out." "Make them never want to put thier hands on you again."

All of my students know that they will face the "wrath of Sensei" if I find out they were in a fight outside of class. They also know that if we find out they were bullying, they will be bullied at class so they come to know what it feels like to be on the other end. To date we have only had two instances of bullying other kinds. They never did it again.

I have had to go to a few schools with the concerned parent to speak with the school administration. I have even been asked to address a few classes on bullying prevention.

Be aggressive.

Michele said...

MAM: I know...same situation here.. even down to the science projects. It is sad but true.

Sue: Thank you for you supportive comment.

Steve: Thanks. One would think that in a private school, especially a religious based one, the values taught in religion class would be enforced.

Dan: Thank you for your supportive words. A plan B is a good idea.

John: Thank you for your comments. I am glad to hear that things worked out for your son in school.

We also teach that "no one has a right to put their hands on you". As to the next step, we inform the students and parents that the way a situation is handled is between the parents and the child. We offer school yard self-defense options as well as a higher level self-defense. We have informed our daughter that she has the right to use self-defense when necessary.

I think my husband has made a similar "wrath of Sensei" speech in regards to students bullying or starting fights.

Father said...

WOW- Martial Arts Mom you said it all. I also took my kids out of Catholic school (the same one) for various problems that were not addressed. Michele, you said you were impressed that the principal responded so quickly. ARE YOU KIDDING? This has been an ongoing issued for a long time. Get your butt to the school and be one on those parents TODAY!

Romilly said...

It's not just in private schools. And it's always been pervasive. But it needs to stop. I picked up a copy of "Please stop Laughing at Me" on a whim - I'm now in my 40s and don't have kids, but I went through it - Fabulous memoir The author is now an activist against bullying -

I hope it works out for your daughter. As Jodee says, "the perpetrators never remember, but the victims never forget."

Rick Matz said...

On school bullying:

Michele said...

Romilly: Thanks for stopping by and providing the link to Jodee Blanco. I am going to buy her book. In one section of her web site, she describes the characteristics of children who are bullied. My daughter fit the "old soul" with compassion beyond her years. Thanks again.

Rick: Excellent article. Thank you for providing the reference.