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.

18 Replies to “Bullies”

  1. Brilliant post, so well put. I suffered a couple of years of bullying at school, not by any children close to me, but by some in a different class who took a dislike to me, even though they’d never had anything to do with me – one of the downsides of being a tall redhead I think. Not one teacher ever succeeded in doing anything of use to stop the bullying and sadly, I begged and begged my mum not to speak to the school about it, even now I’m not sure why I was so adamant that she stayed away. The effects of bullying stay with you for life. If each and every adult can recognise this and behave in a way that ensures they are a good role model, then bullying would end up being a thing of the past.

    1. As a redhead too, I also suffered many years of bullying by the girls I walked to school with each day. Luckily, my mother did step in numerous times, and being strong personality, I was able to survive. Teaching adults to recognize and step in, is a long process but something that still should be worked on daily.

  2. I was bullied by children, a teacher and later by employers. It has made me who I am, someone with strong principles, but someone who will likely be on medication for the rest of my life. I now find myself trying to support my 13year old daughter. Subjected to 18months of verbal, and at times, physical abuse, we are now awaiting residential mental health placement to help her sleep at night and be able to go to school. Never underestmimate the damage bullying can do.

  3. My kids, one in gr 10 & one in grad school now, were never bullied but had friends that were, and they certainly knew who the bullies were & feared them. The worst bullies had parents that were also bullies. Elder daughter (psych student, much wiser than I) told her sister to pity the bully, because his parents are as mean to him as he is to others. And she also noted that the 3 worst bullies from her school either dropped out of school or never went to post secondary education. She says they are all working at minimum wage service jobs now, and when she runs into them, they can’t even make eye contact with her. Sad, indeed.

    I made it a point to always tell my daughters to never be a victim. To be strong & confident, and stand tall, because bullies are cowards & will take the path of least resistance every time. So don’t be a target. I told them some teachers are mean, because they are unhappy, and that the world is full of unhappy people trying to make people as unhappy as they are. Our job is to move past and rise above. Mostly that other peoples sadness, meanness & unhappiness has nothing to do with them. Also, be tech savvy, make your kids smart about privacy online & how to keep undesirables from interacting with them online.

    If we don’t teach our kids how to deal with this segment of the population, how on earth will they ever survive at life?

  4. We, as adults, definitely have the responsibility of setting the example, most especially if you are an adult who mentors/teaches children. I’m so sorry for everything your daughter went through.

    1. I agree we have the responsibility of setting an example. I also think that we should be calling each other on any inappropriate comments/behaviours made. As adults I don’t think we step up to the plate often enough, whether we are scared, don’t care, or we don’t see it as a big deal.

  5. I was bullied all the way through school: in infant school for being a bookworm and in comprehensive for being the class lesbian (I’m not a lesbian I have no idea how these rumours got started) but I hated school. I had next to no friends, and it affects me now as I have tremendous difficulty trying to make friends with new people or to talk up in a crowd. I was lucky though, and had a few teachers I could talk to to make things a little better. But it doesn’t change the fact that those bullies still affect me now, six years after I finished school.

    1. I’m am so sorry for you. Sadly some kids are just plain mean. It is a horrible truth. I only hope that the friends you have now are not only supportive but just plain fun to be with. I wish you only the best in the years to come.

  6. When I was at secondary school (11-16, is that high school in America?) the head of drama hated me. She wasn’t one of my teachers, I doubt she even knew my name, but when she saw me in the corridor she would make fun of my teeth. I stood out from the crowd as a teenager, I was taller than most of the boys, let alone the other girls and I admit I have big teeth. I think it was also obvious to anyone who saw me that I was shy and unsure of myself. How on earth a teacher (in charge of the dept who should help people with confidence) thought that pointing out my teeth to everyone around wouldn’t be damaging to a shy teenager is beyond me. I was a good pupil, never had a detention, always handed in my work, the kind of pupil you would think a teacher would want in their school, but she didn’t.

    1. I find it amazing that such a teacher could be a teacher. You would think other teacher’s would be aware of his/her behaviour and stop it. I am so sorry you had such a bad experience, secondary school (grades 9-12 in Canada) should be fun and to have a teacher bully you is horrid.

  7. Your poor children, I’m so sorry they’ve experienced this, thank goodness they have loving parents like you.

  8. I absolutely agree with you! Children should be raised to respect one another and giving a child negative names like that is anything but respectful. Well done for keeping your cool with that horrible teacher, if someone shouted in my face like that I wouldn’t have stayed that calm!

  9. Well, that’s a bold conclusion. First time I actually encounter an idea that bullying can be caused by adults. But there’s undeniable truth here. Hope your child doesn’t fight fire with fire. Cheers

    1. Children are led by example. As adults we try to bring our children up to be positive, caring, respectful individuals, but there are bad role models out there and sadly some children follow.

      My husband and I have always been very involved with our children’s lives, and fighting fire with fire just doesn’t work for us. Obviously they get angry but we listen, let them vent, and come up with desirable conclusions.

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