This weekend I watched a documentary on Netflix titled, Bully. I have never seen anything like it in all of my days. I was horrified, mortified, terrified, and unshakably frightened. It follows several families of children that are either being bullied or actually commited suicide as a result of the bullying that they endured in their schools.
There simply are no words.
My fellow preemie Moms, I don’t know whether my advice is to watch it so that you can be aware of what can happen if you let the line of communication drop with your child or tell you to please save yourself and never, ever see what I saw. One of the worst cases of bullying that was featured was a 26 week preemie that was now 13 years old. He had obvious social issues and glasses…oh my goodness, ladies, I cried like there was no tomorrow through the entire thing.
There were two things about this documentary that made me so infuriated that I saw red:
1) The laissez-faire attitude of the school systems and teachers alike concerning the bullying that was reported repeatedly to them.
2) The attitude of at least one of the sets of parents as to how to address a child that is being bullied.
First of all, I witnessed several different school’s administrators and teachers take a “boys will be boys” approach to the fact that these children were being bullied, repeatedly, by the same children, and do very little -if anything at all- about it when it was reported. I didn’t see parents of the bullies being brought in, punishments being handed down, and I even saw one teacher admonish a child that was being bullied for not shaking the hand of a bully (that had threatened horrible acts of physical violence that would be considered assault in the adult world) with the statement that, “not shaking his hand when he is trying to apologize makes you just as bad as he is”.
Hold the phone, here. If a child is being threatened with physical violence and is literally crying in your presence, how can you call yourself anything resembling a person that cares about children? My heart broke into a million little pieces for the poor children that just kept trying and trying to reach out and get help for what was happening to them and the repeated lack of understanding or action that was taken in their defense. There is no excuse. Boys will not be boys. This kind of occurrence needs to be addressed in schools and there is no reason for the things that I witnessed to continue after it is made known to the teachers and administration. Ever.
Secondly, one set of parents (that I am sure probably thought were doing their best) just did not do their due diligence in communicating with their son or following up with the school to make sure he was thriving or, at the very least, not being victimized by other children. This child obviously looked like someone that other children would target. He had already been picked on in the past that they knew about. Yet when the parents saw it for themselves (the documentary crew actually feared for his safety so much that they stopped filming and alerted the parents to the atrocity that was happening to this poor child) they had such sage pieces of advice as, “If you don’t stand up for yourself then your younger sister will be picked on when she gets to high school and what are you going to do about it?”, and “Do you like when they hit you?”.
Steam was coming out of my ears.
That child needs someone to stand up for him. He had issues with communication and expressing himself. He didn’t read social cues properly. What he needed was parents that backed him up and stood firm and told the school that this was not okay and if he continued to be treated like that then they would go to the school board. If the board didn’t listen, they would go to the state. Stand up for your child! Pay attention to what is happening in their lives. If he won’t tell you right away, keep asking. Don’t ever give up on them.
He was being brutalized on that school bus. Drive him to school. Look for grants for a private school. Get him in a martial arts class. Get him in therapy. DO SOMETHING. Do anything that you can. That is the number one job that we have as parents. Baking cupcakes and kissing boo boos is all secondary to keeping them safe. Accidents can happen and life can throw you something that you may never anticipate and that, in and of itself, is scary enough…don’t let your child continue to be mentally tortured where they are supposed to be safe.
The part that we have to truly see as parents is that children do not have the fully developed brain capacity that we do as adults. There is no “better tomorrow” for them. They haven’t developed that part of their brain yet so for them, everything is the here and now. If they think that people hate them and they are being put down and abused at school then that is the way they think that life will be forever. It won’t ‘make them stronger’ or ‘better people’. Some may not even survive it.
Kids as young as eleven years old are killing themselves. Dead. Forever. All because of bullying.
Talk to your children. If they say they are being picked on, listen. Go to the school. If the school tries to blow you off, take them to another school. There are grants and programs that will help you with transportation. There is no excuse. I guarantee you that the parents of the children that are gone from this world would tell you that they would give anything –anything– to be able to go back and do something differently.
Get involved. If your child seems like a loner and won’t talk…keep bugging them. Keep pestering. Open the lines of communication. Be active and be involved.
And if you are the parent that finds out your child is a bully…make it your mission in life to make them see what harm bullying can do. Don’t just ground them or take away their gaming system. That is a punishment, not a lesson. Go find every sad story, book, and video you can about the deaths that it causes. Make them watch it and write 1000 word essays on it. Take it seriously or they never will.
Boys will NOT be boys and words CAN kill. Take a stand against bullying with me.
I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.