First off, I am going to start by saying that I had a really hard time writing this.
I had a chat with my son prior to me posting this for a few reasons.
I have a policy that I will never ever post anything about my children (whether it is a photograph or something written about them) that will make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed in a month, a year or 10 or 20.
I also needed his permission to tell his story.
So here goes. I hope I do him justice.
I think that I can safely say that as parents, the one thing we want for our children above all is to be happy.
Well, happy and safe.
We want them that way wherever they may be, whether in our home, at school, at an after school program etc.,
Well there was a time when my son was not so happy.
When he first started kindergarten he was over the moon to finally be a big boy and go to school!
We all went to drop him off that first day. With his backpack -that was almost the same size as him-and his big smile, I felt good.
I felt that all was right in the world.
My son has always been happy go luck and friendly with all kids. He doesn’t like to be mean and he doesn’t like it when people are mean to him.
When he was in grade 1 and 2 we went through a lot with various aspects of bullying.
From being punched, kicked, choked to verbal abuse.
One boy used words to bully him. He was told that he wasn’t a good friend, and that he sucks, and he’s a loser.
All because my son wanted to play with other children and not just with one child consistently for every single recess or lunch break.
He invited this boy to play with him and his other friends…but the boy didn’t want that.
This boy eventually started hitting my son. Punches, kicks, pushing, etc.
When I spoke with the teacher and the principal about it, they said that they would try to keep them apart.
Reality is that is very hard to do. One teacher in a classroom of 20+ kids cannot keep their eye on each and every child. They try…but it’s not feasible.
A lot of back and forth went on. A lot of me getting upset as how my son was being treated was an on going issue.
Then other kids stepped in.
They saw that there are certain things that they can get away with…for a time at least.
They started excluding my son from playing together. The same children he was in school with from junior kindergarten started excluding him.
He was hurt and he was embarrassed and he was quiet about it.
Then another child decided it would be cool to grab my son by the throat a few times and choke him.
They told me they have an anti-bullying policy in place.
This anti-bullying policy unfortunately is turning our children into victims. I found that while the focus is in discussing with a bully what they did is wrong and all that nice stuff…what my child is being taught is
‘If you are hit, run and tell a teacher.” “If you are made fun of, run and tell a teacher.” “If you are bullied, in any way shape or form, run and tell a teacher.”
We are teaching our children to run away, and have others deal with the issue.
We are teaching our children to not stand up for themselves in any way.
We are teaching our children to be a victim imo.
My philosophy is this: My child has the right to defend themselves against (thank you R for this little bit of eloquence) man, woman or beast.
If they are attacked, they need to protect themselves.
If they feel that they are going to be attacked they need to protect themselves.
Does this mean that I want my child beating up any unsavoury little twits that feel entitled to treat people like garbage?
No it doesn’t mean that at all.
What it does mean is that I want my son to be able to stand up for himself.
I want him to be able to assess a situation and know when to back off and leave and have the confidence to deal with it if need be.
My son had none of that. He couldn’t understand why people would be mean or even want to be mean to others.
I told the teacher and the principal that I had given my permission for my child to hit back if he felt that he was about to be hit or if he was actually hit.
I told my son that he has my permission to smack back if someone is hitting him.
I told my son that he has the right to defend himself…but never to bully another.
Here was the problem though.
My son did not know how to do that.
My son did not know how to defend himself.
He did not have the confidence to do that.
He was scared.
He was lonely.
He was sad.
I hated that my child was scared and made to feel this way. I am not a crier, but this whole situation that transpired for over a year made me cry and wonder if today would be the day that he would be seriously hurt… and it also made me feel like I wasn’t doing the best I could to protect my child and have them be in a safe environment.
My son had nightmares about it. He also had a break down. He’s a tough little cookie that doesn’t like to cry but that day…while he was trying to hold his tears in, he told me how miserable he felt. How alone at school and how he was being treated and he could not understand why. What had he done to be treated that way?
To say that I had enough would be an understatement. A severe understatement.
I was tired of dealing with parents that did not care about what their children did.
I was tired of dealing with parents who did not want to have a role in their child’s life.
I was tired that the schools hands were efficiently tied by a district school board and their policy and there wasn’t much to be done.
I was tired that the police could not step in to intervene because the law says that the child must be 12 years of age before anything could be done.
I was fed up and tired and didn’t want to sit back any more just crossing my fingers that policy would fix a situation that was having a very serious toll on my child’s well being-both mental and physical.
So what was my solution?
I’ll be posting that in the next few days…
Edit September 10, 2014: Part II was added here: http://www.merryfieldsphotography.com/my-son-was-bullied-part-ii/