Bullying has been on my radar for a few years now as my daughter had a hard time for nearly an entire term at primary school when she was in year 5, and we felt like it was handled pretty poorly.
We met with the relevant teachers (and had requested the presence of the Principal but she didn’t turn up due to being too busy… shame!), and while the teachers were sympathetic listeners to our plight (or is that empathetic?) and said they would keep their eyes and ears open for more of the same issue, as well as move our daughter to another seat in the classroom (which is almost like punishing HER and not the bully!) BUT what they wouldn’t do, which is what we wanted more than anything else, was to talk with the bully-girl’s parents. They said that they couldn’t involve (or even inform) the parents as we were lacking evidence. EVIDENCE??!! How much evidence do teachers need, when something like this happens???! This same girl had bullied many kids throughout her years at primary school, and each year she seemed to pick a new victim (for want of a better word) and that year it looked like it was going to be my daughter. No way! NOT ON MY WATCH!
Why did we want the bully-girls parents informed? Because if it was our daughter doing the bullying, we’d want to know! We’d want to have the discussions with her, and have the opportunity to work through the issues and show and teach our child better ways of communicating frustrations and difficulties. So, after all the years that this girl had been bullying she had never been pulled up on her behaviour, or given the opportunity to learn better behaviour, because of the school rule of requiring more bullying evidence. This made me so cross!
Fortunately for all, the bullying stopped once my daughter had been moved to the other side of the classroom and was no longer directly in eye contact of the bully-girl, BUT we never felt supported by the school. And that’s difficult, as we all put our faith and trust into the school we choose for our child/ren and want to feel supported and heard.
In this instance, the outcome was positive, but the process wasn’t. All our daughter learnt was that if things get really difficult you can get moved away from a situation and hope it won’t continue. That’s not the learning outcome we’d have liked from this.
Last week our friend’s daughter Harlem was bullied on the bus home from her primary school. After speaking with her friend the following day, they found out who the little bully-boy was & what he'd said, so Harlem’s folks went to see the Principal immediately. The Principal phoned the bully-boy’s father to let him know what was happening, and naturally, the father wasn't happy at all. Just a couple of days later, when Harlem was dropped off at school, the little bully-boy apologised for what he'd done & gave Harlem a bag (pictured) with a couple of goodies & a card he'd made to say sorry. Harlem’s mumma cried when she saw it, and said her heart felt like it was going to explode. “This right here is parenting done right!! It doesn't take much to be a good parent, or person for that matter. This has made our day!”
What’s the lesson here? When parents are given the opportunity to help their child/ren learn from a difficult or challenging situation, there can be a great outcome for all. Harlem can hold her head high on the bus, knowing she had been heard, understood, and is safe. The boy learned a lesson, and will no doubt think twice next time a mean thought pops into his head that he might previously have vocalised. Way to go Harlem’s school!
Parenting done right!