4: Community

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.

 

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Comments

    • shoffman says

      More coming very soon…..so much has happened but I’m putting so much time into that stuff that I can’t keep up with the writing!

  1. Jane Kelley says

    Sending positive energy your way. I went through it with my son. I hope your community is able to stand behind you.

  2. shoffman says

    From a reader who emailed:

    Good luck with the administration, Sarah! I know you’ll keep us posted, and I am praying for changes at Sam’s school, especially hoping to hear that a professional is going to be called in to stop the bullying. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!

  3. says

    Sarah,

    Hang in there with your wonderful son. If your school brings in someone for a one-time anti-bullying assembly, it will not make true changes at the school. Bullying prevention needs to be an ongoing process that involves teachers, staff, administration, etc. Ask if your school uses programs such as Second Step, Steps to Success or Bully Busters- any of these three research-based programs is recommended. Katie’s school uses all three. You can look them up and propose them to the principal. But remember, no program is successful without teacher buy-in and principal buy-in. The teachers MUST approach bullying from the standpoint that the other kids are choosing to behave in a mean way, NOT that Sam is “inviting” the bullying because he is different. A fundamental problem with the way adults view bullying is they blame the victim and urge him to conform. The victim is not the problem- the problem is the bullies who are not empathetic and tolerant of those who are different. Sam does not need to change to fit in; the teachers and the bullies need to change to accept him. This is a critical shift in thinking, and until it happens, bullying will continue. You are doing a great job and Sam is lucky to have you! XOXO Carrie

    • shoffman says

      Carrie, thank you for these resources and the encouragement!!! The school has asked for our help in finding such programs and I can’t wait to research them and pass them along. Your support means so much….

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