My heart has broken a million different ways since the story of Phoebe Prince started to come to light a couple weeks or so ago. She isn’t the first child/teen to end their own life due to bullies in the past year, there have been many. The stories that will come out during the coming weeks, about the things that this child went through, that her parents went through will rip me apart.
School bullies have more of an impact than you may want to admit.
We spent many years fighting for Hunter, his rights and his physical/mental/emotional safety. We spent countless afternoons meeting with the principal at his elementary school trying to figure out a way to stop the kids from what she called “picking on” Hunter, but what we called out right Bullying. She would never call it that word…to this day I don’t know why.
As he moved to Middle School we met a principal that cared, for Hunter and his entire school. He had the student council create a campagin on bullying, had the Police come talk to the student body and went the extra mile.
The bullying hasn’t stopped. But now Hunter has the tools and resources to get the help he needs. I couldn’t be prouder of him, ask my family about the BARRAGE of phone calls they got on Wednesday night!
But it isn’t that easy for so many children. These are children, whether they are 7 or 17. When a child is bullied they feel so alone, they don’t always tell until it is a breaking point or too late.
I know, because it happened to me.
I was often the child that was bullied growing up. I was a tom-boy, but also a bit boy-crazy. I am petite (I say short but think Ma might be mad if I say that here…) so size was always a good starting point. I “blossomed” early so there’s another reason. I was friends with the middle ground kids and the not-popular kids and didn’t care, why not put a HUGE target on me…
In 5th grade there was a boy that sat behind me in class. It later came out that he wanted to be friends, but didn’t know how to do it so he tortured me. I would have bruises all down my back, my arms and legs. I had hair pulled out of my head, and my chair would be tipped back to the point of almost falling.
I never told.
This went on for some time before I hit breaking point, where I just couldn’t keep this inside my 11 year old body any longer. This is when I climbed into my mom’s lap and cried. After the initial shock of her child crying in her lap, Ma turned into Mama BEAR and took charge. She asked me a ton of questions, called my Dad and they made things happen.
They met with my teacher where she may or may not have said “there is nothing I can do” and where my dad may or may not have lunged across the table at her…
Things changed after that. The boy was no longer allowed to sit by me, and the next year was not in my class (not easy since there were only two classes).
But then things moved to Jr. High. And this boy was in my Language Arts class. I told Ma “I got this” and we moved forward until he “bumped” my classes off the desk and they scratched badly.
Ma was on the prowl again.
WE met with the Dean of Students and the meeting went well. He listened, took notes and told us HE would take care of it.
He called the boy down that very day, during homeroom.
He called Ma later and said “What did you do to that boy? All I said was Mrs. K called and he turned GHOST WHITE”
That’s right people…that’s MY MOTHER! Mama BEAR takes no prisoners.
This taught me so many things, that my Jr. High was WAY ahead of it’s time, but mainly how to FIGHT for my children. This is something Ma was always ready to do, always the first we would go too.
As time passed, the wounds healed. I grew up, and moved on. While it wasn’t the last time, it was the most memorable.
Then I had children/met Hunter and the Mama BEAR instinct was HUGE. Bigger than I ever though possible. I would do anything for my children.
In Kindergarten we had our first Bully interaction, and my instinct was to fight. To go to Hunter’s school and let the heads roll. I would go in calmly but firmly and let them know it was not okay. We met with teachers, principals and talked to many people. The fear of numbers alone had people jumping to make things better.
Our state has a Anti-Bullying law, and while is is ranked a C- by BullyPolice.org it is better than nothing. Having a law on the books forces schools to take action when a student comes to them if they are being bullied. It forces Hunter’s school to take care of him, to protect him and make sure he is safe. It forces other parents to face the fact that their child MAY be a bully.
Tonight, this weekend, next week and at every opportunity talk to your children about Bullies, and how they affect them. Watch for the signs, a more in-drawn attitude, drop in grades, lack of appetite and more. Talk to your children about your experiences, about your sisters or brothers experiences. Don’t LET THEM BE A BULLY. Bullies are people that need an outlet and take it out on a another child, even a former friend. Being a bully does not make your child a better person, no matter what you may thing.
There are only 9 states left that don’t have a Anti-Bullying Law, find out if yours is one of them.