This is the fourth post in a series about my son’s recent experience with bullying at school.
When a friend told us to start talking to parents at our school, we started talking.
We talked to parents in the hall, on the playground, by email, on the phone. We reached out to parents we never thought to talk to about these issues—because we assumed they didn’t face the same issues, or have an interest in them—and we’ve shared our experience. We told them Sam is being bullied, that he’s been bullied by some of the same kids for four years, and now, suddenly, by a group of new kids. We told them how disappointed we’ve been that the school promises to do something about it, and then doesn’t.
And we listened. We heard from friends, and friends of friends, and parents we’d never met. We heard stories about kids teased and harassed for their weight, their height, their learning style, their lack of sports ability, their bookishness, and yes, their gender non-conformity. We heard how fervently parents want their kids to be strong, empathic people, kids who know how to stand up for themselves, how to manage their own feelings, and what to do when they see a friend in trouble. We felt the support of so many people who offered to do whatever they could to help Sam and to make our school a safer place for all kids.
And after all this talking and listening, we made appointments with the school counselor, the principal, and the head of school. With less dismay, less resignation, some inspiration, and a great deal of hope. We don’t know where these conversations will go.
But now we know we are not alone.