What makes you think your child isn’t a bully?

As parents we dream about our children and their futures. We always hope that things will be better for them, and that they might be spared from pain or mistakes of our pasts.
However, parents who do not believe that their child can bully, are making huge mistakes that can ruin a child’s future. People seem to think that this is a new subject, or that it is more prevalent because it is now in the news.
It is not. It is simply being recognized after the school shootings in the last decade. It took a tragedy at the national level to bring this age-old suffering to the forefront.
I went to the same school that my own son attends. I spent years alone and suffered from being hit, kicked and teased. I was also subject to theft of my property in locker rooms and my hallway locker.
I had hoped that my own kids would never endure such abuse. The cycle continues.
My son has Autism and ADD. When he was young, he almost lost his life due to a deep infection in his bones. As a result, he needed therapy for his gross motor skills and his legs. At 4 years old, he had the skills of a year-old child. He spent a long time getting help at the I.S.D. He wore leg braces and was immediately a target in kindergarten when he began mainstream education.
Since then, my son has endured constant abuse from his own classmates. Even though he has healed from some of his physical problems, his mental health is deteriorating from teasing. He chooses to spend recess in study hall-detention instead of going out to relax. He goes to the library first thing each day to find safety with the librarian so he is not harassed in the mornings.
Can you imagine being so afraid of your own classmates that at 12 years old, you say you want to die? As a parent, this declaration devastated me.
My son’s principal has gone out of his way to help him. He goes to classes early and leaves 10 minutes early for the bus to be safe from other students. He has a no-questions-asked-pass from the principal to go to his office to talk. School staff is doing its best to be vigilant.
So you may be asking, “Why are there no consequences for these bullies. What is the principal doing?”
The principal has his hands tied! He has done all in his power to help my son. Kids are sent to RTC, or as we used to call it detention. Letters get sent home and reports are made. The parents of the offenders though, have made this situation worse. They say that their child would not do such a thing, even though other kids witness it. They make excuses about the difficulty their children face at home.
My family has not had it easy, but I expect my children to behave at school, as well, or better than they do at home.
The result of the abuse is that I now have a 12-year-old son, who is suicidal. I cannot take him out of school, until next year for home-schooling. His services through special education need to be rendered. It is imperative that he gets the help he needs from school staff.
My son is terrified of going to another school, because he is afraid of new kids being just as mean and that a new school staff may not keep him safe.
I am asking parents to open their eyes to the fact that we live in a world where children are suffering. We see our kids pick on their siblings, and we know that we were picked on as kids at some point for some reason. We even did some teasing ourselves, even if we won’t admit it.
So why is it that your child now in this day and age is suddenly incapable of this behavior?
Not all forms of bullying are physical. Some forms of bullying are done with dirty looks; others are done with name calling that is painful. Kids seclude each other and even sexually harass. This list is long and very serious.
I am begging parents in the community to be realistic. Our kids do things we are ashamed of, but we should never ever ignore the information from school officials. It may be the last thing that we can do to save the life of another student.
My son’s life is at risk. Can you handle that?
I can’t.
Josie Dalton-Gow

Filed in: Letters

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