And the bully strikes again.

Today my son came home and was quite upset. His friend, a classmate, was punched in the stomach and shoved to the ground by the very same bully who has been bothering my son. The incident occurred today at recess.

Nick and his friend checked to see if their friend was OK and ran over to tell the recess aide what had happened. According to the kids, the bully admitted what had happened, but said it was “an accident.” Were there consequences for this incident –yet ANOTHER bullying incident from this same child? NO. The recess aide told the bully to go play elsewhere, so he left to go play with other kids. There were NO CONSEQUENCES yet again. A child was first knocked to the ground and then punched in the stomach and YET AGAIN, the bully was given that message that this type of behavior is acceptable. TWO CHILDREN told an adult what happened. One child was left crying after being punched. What is it going to take for SOMETHING to be done?


Note:
*I will be contacting the child’s parents to make them aware in case he hasn’t told them.
*I will be making the school aware of this incident. 
*I will keep you posted.

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Spirit Day is October 20th

Tomorrow is Spirit Day. If you’re not familiar with what it is, it’s a day started by teenager Brittany McMillan to show support for those in the LGBT community, especially for those teens who’ve recently taken their own lives due to bullying.

If you know me at all, you know where I stand on this issue. My best friend is gay. I have many gay friends. A much beloved person in my life who passed away years ago was gay, although she only revealed this to a couple of people she knew would be accepting of it not long before her passing. She was married but soon was divorced, which was very rare back then. She felt she had to be someone she wasn’t. She had a roommate for many years whom was just known to most of us as her friend, but she really was the love of her life. They were a couple, but because of the times, they didn’t feel they could tell anyone.

I know of others struggling right now with this issue. Being gay is not a choice. It is no more a choice than me “choosing” to be straight. I was simply born that way.

In honor of Spirit Day, people across the globe are wearing purple to show their support and acceptance for the LGBT community.

I’d also like to share a video:

{Non-accountability}

Today I would like to talk about this culture of non-accountability. It runs rampant in our schools when it comes to bullying. No one wants to stand up for the victims of bullying and say “This is wrong.  It will not happen ever again on our watch. There will be consequences for what did happen.”

Schools would rather look the other way or brush bullying incidents aside or make excuses. There’s no accountability. No one is willing to stand up and say, “ENOUGH.”  What happens, though, is that when one is allowed to get away with acts of harassment, intimidation, verbal and physical bullying, these behaviors will most likely escalate. When schools send the message that bullying will be tolerated, they send the message that they are not accountable for the safety of our children at school.

For example, if a child is exhibiting signs of aggression and bullying at 4 and nothing is done to put an immediate end to it, it will likely continue at age 5, 6, 7,  8, etc. That pattern on non-accountability and a sense of acceptance tells bullies that they have the green light to continue harming others with their hands, their feet, or their words.

I was reading some information on  schools’ responses to bullying the other day and was struck by a comment schools in terms of how they handle bullying:


“Bad schools deny it, ignore it, justify it, rationalize it, handle it inappropriately, sweep it under the carpet, blame the victim of bullying, blame the parents of the victim of bullying, say they’ve ‘ticked all the boxes’ and make lots of impressive noises but take no substantive action.”



This quote really resonated with me. I feel we live in a great school district in terms of academics & opportunities. I have never thought otherwise until these past 2 weeks. Now I have mixed feelings about a school community I have loved so much and spoken of so highly when it comes to how bullying is handled.

We’ve been exploring our son’s other options for next year.  We chose to move here to be in this school district and quite honestly I feel let down. I truly feel like the school doesn’t fully have my son’s back and that’s not a good feeling for anyone.

The main outcome of the meeting the other day is that the other child gets no punishment for his actions. No accountability. If this child Nick was running from–the same one who had just knocked him to the ground a few minutes earlier–had directly pushed Nick’s head into the metal rung, that would’ve been a bullying incident.  Since Nick was running away from the kid who had just physically shoved him down in fear that he was going to hurt him again, then that gets called an accident. Really?

Schools teach kids to find a trusted adult to talk to when they are scared. They say that grown ups will help you. “If you think you’re being bullied, go tell someone.” I really think that some of the kids who are being bullied are getting mixed messages and wonder, “Why bother?” They want to feel like the school has their back and will help them, but is this the reality?

Each and every child has the right to go to school everyday and not be bullied, harassed, or abused in any way.

In fact, our district’s 2011-2012 Code of Conduct, the issue of bullying is addressed. What happened to my son clearly violated this Code of Conduct, yet there have been no consequences.

Prohibited Conduct

Bullying

No person, alone or with others, shall:

1) Engage in “bullying” which shall mean repeated attempts or acts to intimidate or coerce
others by the real or threatened:

• Infliction of physical, verbal, written, gestured or electronically transmitted (cyberbulling)
emotional abuse;

• Attacks on the property of another;

• Verbal taunts, name-calling and put-downs including ethnic, gender or sexual
orientation based verbal put-downs;

• Efforts to extort money or possessions;

• Efforts to exclude others from peer groups.

2) These prohibitions shall exist regardless of whether the person against whom the conduct is
committed participated in, consented to, or acquiesced in the conduct deemed as “bullying.”

3) The reasoned and civil exchange of opinions or debate, protected by state or federal law, is
not prohibited by this section.

Also, as many forms of bullying would fall into the realm of criminal activity and endangering another child’s welfare, here is what our handbook states:

Criminal Court Complaints; Juvenile Delinquency Petitions


“Violations of this Code which constitute criminal acts and/or which endanger persons or property
will be reported to the superintendent and to the police…”

The system is broken.  Not just in this school district, but in districts across the country.  Since I started blogging about the incident which occurred exactly 2 weeks ago, I have received literally hundreds of emails from people around the world — from as far away as Australia to as close as our same neighborhood. The concerns are eerily similar when it comes to a culture of non-accountability.

There may be no consequences we view as appropriate for the person who caused our son to suffer a concussion, but you can rest assured my mission of standing up for my kids and helping others stand up for their children through this blog is far from over.

What is a Bully?

At the school meeting yesterday, the mother of the child I refer to as “a bully” mentioned how she was told about this blog and my understanding is that it makes her unhappy and/or uncomfortable to see the label I have given her son. Me blogging about this incident also has made people uncomfortable. Will I stop blogging about this? Should I stop? No and no. 

Yes, I have referred to the other boy in my posts as a bully. As you know, I use no names when it comes to any of the other parties. 

Moms Fighting Bullying is a new site. My intention was not to make this a local blog and it is not. Bullying is a global crisis.

98% of people reading this blog actually are from other parts of the country and the world (hello to my new readers I see are actually visiting from Hong Kong)! On my primary blog, Chic & Green, I also shared my story. I have done so because that is the blog I have worked on day in and day out for 4.5 years and I am frank with my readership. Again, no names were ever mentioned. No names will be mentioned. Only 30-35% of readers are local. I also have not given this child’s name to other parents other than my closest friends and others who have heard about it from their own kids in my son’s class who were aware of what went on that day.

I mean not to offend anyone. ALL people deserve to be treated with respect and kindness and this other child’s parents are no different.  I really feel that this child’s mom believes in her heart that her child isn’t a bully. I will not be removing my posts, nor will I stop letting my voice be heard when it comes to this issue. I will continue to talk about this.

I am quite sure the other mom would do the same if she were in my shoes. 

When your child has been bullied, it truly breaks away little pieces of your heart one at a time.  You can’t fall asleep without thinking of what happened, or worse, what could have happened. Sometimes you feel helpless. Other times you realize that you have to take what happened and instead of dwelling on it, take what has happened and attempt to do good and try to push for changes so other children are not bullied. When your happy go lucky child is sitting in a hospital bed at the ER with a huge egg coming out of his forehead and is in pain, it changes you in many ways.

I believe that we all have to be our children’s best advocates. We have to fight for our children. I am fighting for my child.  As members of a community as a whole, I feel we need to look out for all children and make sure they feel safe and secure. And that is my intention.

“Bully” can be a strong word. I get that.  However, when one conducts the actions described below, that person would be considered a bully, right?


Today, I would like to talk about what a bully actually is.

Here’s the definition, according to Merriam-Webster:


3 bully verb
bul·lied bul·ly·ing

Definition of BULLY

transitive verb

1: to treat abusively
2: to affect by means of force or coercion

intransitive verb
: to use browbeating language or behavior
: bluster

Synonyms: brutalize, abuse, ill-treat, ill-use, kick around, maltreat, manhandle, mess over [slang], mishandle, mistreat, misuse


My son clearly has been bullied.  If we look at the above actions, the person performing these actions would then be a bully.

I am sorry if me blogging about this has made people uncomfortable. Watching my son suffer makes me uncomfortable.

*I’ll write more at length about what happened at school with the meeting early next week. Was I satisfied? Truth be told, when someone faces no consequences for something this serious, it bugs me. “Bugs me” actually doesn’t even cover it. An acceptable resolution did not occur. I feel like the solution was like putting mailing tape over a water main break…

Today’s the day…

Today at 4pm we are meeting at school with the principal, school psychologist, and the parents of the child who has been doing the bullying.

My stomach is doing flips because there is so much I want to say. I want to ask HOW they could be aware of the fact that their son has been picking on kids since PRE-SCHOOL and not act…not prevent this…not help their son STOP doing this to his peers. I do not know what I will say or what I will do if the turn a blind eye to their son’s actions. How do you ask someone how they can ignore what has been going on?  How do you ask someone why they let their child be a bully?

I will update you all on this meeting.  I do not want to get my hopes up and believe that by having one meeting with the parents that things will magically be better and that I can begin to lessen my son’s fear of recess. Nick just returned to school today and hasn’t had recess yet this week, so I cannot tell you yet what changes have been implemented to protect kids on the playground. He was off for Columbus Day on Monday and was sent home sick early Tuesday (walking pneumonia).

I know I have to listen. I know I have to keep my cool. I know I have to make it abundantly clear, though, that if this kid touches my son again I will not hesitate to do more to make my voice heard by even more people–bullying is a very real problem in our schools. I cannot believe the stories I have heard from other parents. I do not want to have to go that route, but I will not stop my fight on Nick’s behalf until change–real change–has occurred.