July 9, 2009

A Schoolyard Full Of Champions Or Toads?

Anyone who has read here before knows that putting a stop to bullying is a subject near and dear to my heart. After my own daughter was targeted for years, culminating in her decision to harm herself over it, I removed her from the school. This was after years of fighting with the school. Begging them to do something, anything to take care of the brats that didn't just go after Ashley, they went after everyone they could. It was racial in some cases, It was not in others. It was boys in some cases and in others it was girls.

The schools' solution each time was to remove Ashley from the situation which always really just made me even madder for the most part. The toads were never punished, Ashley was. It's the same for almost all bullied children.

Schools say that they have measures in place, and some states say that they have legislation against such behavior. Sounds all warm and fuzzy doesn't it? Almost like your children are safe in schools where these "measures" have been implemented. Let me tell you, Madisonville High School told me the same exact thing about my daughter's situation. Want to know what happened to the offenders who almost drove Ashley to suicide? One boy got a swat, the teacher lied her ass off and was believed, the girl who offered to slap Ashley for the teacher wasn't even talked to. Hmmmmm, do you see a deterrent there? I don't. I mean really.........a 16 year old boy getting a swat for literally emotionally torturing Ashley while a teacher joined in the laughter and contributed to it, even telling Ashley to sit down and be quiet while it continued. Gosh a whole swat to cover the entire situation? Yeah that'll teach them all a lesson for sure. The teacher kept her job, i'm pretty sure she didn't learn any sort of lesson either, but at over 50 I think if she was ever going to learn it the time was long past anyway. The ahem, "young lady" got pregnant the next year and quit school. All I can say is I hope her child doesn't face anyone with his/her mother's behavior. The boy didn't learn anything, that was obvious when he did it again the next week and had to leave school eventually because he finally picked on the wrong person and he was targeted to get the crap beat out of him. There's a little part of me that hates that he quit before they got hold of him. I know that's mean and not very adult of me, but when I saw him in a store recently he's lucky he got out of there before i could get him lol. He'd have been much more embarrassed with a 30 something woman beating him with a purse I promise.

What brought this up today? Watching CNN yesterday as a mother described finding her 11 year old hanging by an extension cord after being severely bullied. I want to hug her, I want to duct tape little kids who don't know better and i'd like to have their parents sterilized so they can't breed anymore of the brats since they obviously aren't bothering to teach the ones they already have to be decent human beings.

There's no excuse. As much as people blame schools, it's a failure of the parents and no one else. I've heard excuses like "well I'm a single mom". My answer was "AND? So Am I, My 4 children have never been called in to the principal over cruelty to another child but your ONE is here every week". It has nothing to do with anything other than responsibility of parents to TEACH their children Empathy, acceptance and basic decency. I'm telling you my kids could steal and I wouldn't find it as horrifying as getting a call from the teacher telling me that my child was bullying another kid. I assure you, I'd get that call exactly ONCE!

I began teaching my kids when they were very small. Jonathon at 2, called an elderly black man, "chocolate". Even at 2 it was explained to him that yes the man looked different than he did but he was just a regular man like his dad or his pawpaw and should be described as such. It wasn't really Jonathon's fault, he was 2, maybe 3, i forget now and he hadn't seen anyone of another race before that he really remembered since we stayed at home a lot back then. The elderly gentleman just chuckled and said that was the nicest thing he'd been called in a long time. That in itself was sad but I realized that it's never too early to teach my kids about other people and differences.

Sadly other parents don't bother and in some oh so enlightened cases, even encourage bullying, racist behavior. That's where schools come in. The failure of the parent now becomes the job of the school. Some school officials genuinely want to help, others just don't see it as a problem. They say "I was bullied when I was a kid and I turned out fine". So? Because YOU survived, other children should go through it? That's a great comeback Mr School Official, feel free to resign now. Sure there are kids who grow up stronger as adults because of being bullied. Some are never affected. Some DIE! I am fairly positive that if I were a school official, i'd not want to be the one to decide how any child will deal with it in the end. I'd want to handle the situation to be sure that the child who came to me for help knew I would do everything I could to protect them. Period.

Even those who do want to help, they're hands can often be tied by what they can do. Personally, I don't care what the age of the kid is, I think if they demonstrate time and again that they aren't fit to be around other kids that they should just be removed from school. I promise when parents can't rely on public school to feed and watch their kids for free while they work because they can't behave themselves, parents will want to do a whole lot more to see to it that they teach their kids some humanity. Does the child's education suffer? Yes maybe, but who's problem is that? Not the child who was being bullied and that's all that matters.

In most cases though it would be a social stigma for the parent. In almost every single case that I know of, with very few exceptions, it's not the poor kids who do the bullying. It's the kids who have it all. The kids who have no reason to be cruel or mean are usually the worst. So let Ms Country Club Mom explain to her friends that her child/teenager was removed from school, can't walk at graduation, can't attend the prom, can't be homecoming king/queen over bullying other children. Of course her child will be innocent, it's all a misunderstanding........but the whispers about it by others will drive her nuts. Yeah that's a whole other kind of bullying but I'm okay with that. Sure the child suffers some indignity too but if you had any idea what these bullies deal out you'd have no pity for them I assure you. Besides all that.......if you're the mother of a child who drove another to suicide or if you are the one who bullied someone to that end.........how in the world do you deal with that??? You get to live knowing that persons death is on your conscience. I wouldn't want that, I can't imagine anyone who would.

Heart Of A Champion Foundation looks at the situation and seems to think they have a program that can help with these issues. I've only read a small bit about the organization and I can't say I honestly think they have the right formula, but I applaud the hell out of them for at least trying. BullyPoliceUSA does too. Heart Of A Champion seems to focus on character building, which is a great thing. I can see how that would be helpful in building the self esteem and teaching things that are being neglected in the home but it's still up to the school and parents to enforce standing up to bad behavior. Bullypolice focuses a great deal on awareness and getting laws put into place. Wonderful, but again, the laws they get passed have to be enforced to make any real difference and that's the hardest part it seems.

I'm not sure that it will ever be stopped. We'd have to be a much better society to see that happen and I'm not sure any of us can be THAT good, but I really feel that if ALL parents would step up to the plate and teach their children right from wrong when it comes to others, it could get a whole lot better. I can hope, I suppose that's something.


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