Category Archives: Bullies

My memories of Valentine’s day are not positive ones, are yours?

My memories of Valentine’s day as a child are not positive ones. My mother always made sure that we had a card for everyone in our class and with four kids this was no easy task for her. She did this for a number of reasons, mainly though it was because of what had happened to my younger brother one year. In his class of around 25 to 30 children, he received one Valentine’s Day card. It not only broke my brother’s heart, but it broke my mother’s too.

My brother was born with a cleft palette so he looked different, looking different forty-five odd years ago was not a good thing and he was teased a lot. His cleft palette also added a lisp when he spoke thus requiring speech therapy (our other younger sibling copied the way our brother spoke, so he too ended up having speech therapy). The cleft palette needed numerous operations over the years, then he lost his hearing in one of his ears (due to an infection during one of his hospital stays) requiring more surgeries. So receiving one card at school in front of children who didn’t want to be your friend was at the time, the end of the world.

When my kids started elementary school I explained to them my reasons for always writing out cards to every single child in their class, friend or not. I would ask them how they would feel if they received only one card, because there were and sadly still teachers who allow this to happen. Of course you may ask how can they stop it? Well you could ban the practice of giving out Valentine’s Day cards, but I’m sure that would not go over well with some. Then there are parents who maybe can’t afford to buy cards for everyone and worse yet, there are parents who will say my child doesn’t like so and so, so I will not make him/her write a card out for that person. Whatever the reason is, we as adults should not allow it to happen.

When one of my children did not like someone in their class we would always talk about why? If they said that child was mean, we would try to figure out the reasons. Sometimes, I explained that a child may be a bully because they are unhappy at home, or their parents were bullies and they learned that behaviour from them. Now I am no saint nor are my children, who is for that matter, but I have always tried to let my children see the other side of the coin.

So when Valentine’s Day arrives this year, as adults let us try to make it a positive experience for every child in the classroom.

Bullies

I recently read a post titled “Child Receives ‘Catastrophe’ Award” on the Yummy Mummy Club website. This article saddened me. Why? Because this is where bullying begins – with adults. A child was given an award from her Teacher labelled as ‘Catastrophe’ which she defined as missing or uncompleted assignments. Now when I looked up ‘Catastrophe’ in the dictionary, “missing or uncompleted assignments” did not appear, instead “an event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering” did. So tell me, did the Teacher in question have any idea what she was really doing? Even if the child in question had missing or uncompleted assignments did this really cause great and sudden damage or suffering and if so, why didn’t the Teacher contact the parents?

Of my three children, middle child has been subjected to bullying on more than one occasion. When in grade three, she had a morning teacher and an afternoon teacher. Her afternoon teacher absolutely loved her, could never say enough positive things about her. Whereas her morning teacher hated her. I don’t use the word hate lightly, but she hated her. When I went to speak with the teacher about the differences between the two of them, she moved so close to my face that she was only maybe an inch or two away from me, and then proceeded to yell. When she finally had to catch her breath, I spoke loudly and firmly saying if she spoke to my daughter the way she was speaking to me, no wonder my daughter did not respect her. I understand teacher’s can lose their temper and they do not have to like the children they teach but they do have to show respect.

In grade six, the bullying came from two girls and the teacher at the time was of no use. On numerous occasions my daughter would leave school crying and would explain that the teacher did nothing to stop the bullying when told of it. I tried speaking directly with her but she just brushed it off as kids being kids. Oh my goodness, I was speechless, my daughter was a mess in grade six. Thus I took the next step and spoke with the Principal, (who knew me quite well from my years of volunteering in all of my kids classes), and took immediate action by speaking with the teacher. Sadly this had to happen more than once. Eventually parents were called because of the bullying.

For grade seven and eight, middle child was sent to another school for two reasons, one being the bullying. The new school had a few problem students, and my daughter who was friends with everyone was an easy target. She would never take sides, always wanting to be a mediator. One day, while walking home from school with other students, one young boy decided it would be fun to throw rocks at them. One rock hit my daughter directly in the face.

Damage to middle child's face

A doctor’s visit, then x-rays and relief that there was no permanent damage. The police were called and an incident report was filed (apparently this was not the first one for the young boy). I also felt it important to contact the Principal even though the episode happened off of school property. The Principal was appalled and felt some sort of punishment should be given. We both agreed that suspension was not appropriate since this child’s parents would not care and the young boy would just have fun being off school, thus he would remain in school with punishment.

Above are three different examples of bullying but where does it start? I believe it starts with adults, if we do not show our kids how to treat others they will grow up just repeating the bad behaviours. Was the teacher who gave an inappropriate award a child bully? Was the teacher who said kids will be kids bullied herself? Lastly, the little boy who threw the rock has parents who really don’t care what he did, will he continue his bad behaviour or can he be saved by the school system?

Adults can be role models, let us begin this journey now.

Note: Middle child, along with the eldest and teenage boy have had lots of wonderful teachers over the years.