Kudos to Molly Sprague & Eastridge High!

Molly Sprague is a student at Eastridge High in the East Irondequoit School District. This is our neighboring district (we are in the West) and I feel compelled to share my heartfelt thank you Molly and her peers for creating a new anti-bullying video.

I have never met Molly, nor do I know the teens in the video. According to a piece on the news (13 WHAM, Molly wanted to create an anti-bullying video because her brother and his friends have been victims of bullying. Together with some of her fellow Eastridge classmates, Molly’s simple message is clear–that we can all work together to combat bullying before it is too late.

 The world needs more people like Molly Sprague. 

 

Sharing Some Thoughts…

It has been quite some time since I posted and I do apologize. Day to day life has kind of gotten in the way of me updating this blog.

So, what is new these days? Nicholas is doing very well. He is a resilient, positive boy who sees the good in people and he has really done remarkably well since his October incident. Thankfully, the bully has not bothered him and Nick chooses to hang around with his supportive, caring friends, especially G. down the street and his Ninjago-loving pal E.

I guess you could say that we have returned to “normalcy.” Please do not read this as total acceptance. I am extremely disappointed in our school’s handling of things and I do not hesitate to share my thoughts with others.  And I am quite certain that if anything happens again and gets shoved under the rug, that I WILL pull him out of the district and let the world know why.

After this happened, I had a decision to make–I could use my voice to shout from the rooftops via the media outlets here about how our district didn’t address the matter the best way they could, or I could remain vigilant in other ways by engaging in ongoing discussions with other parents in our school and others.

While more would have been done if I had gone the route I mentioned first, this wouldn’t have been the best option for our son. Nick knows I fight for him and will always do so. He faced some flack from classmates about me sharing my voice. My blog posts were shared by some parents with their children, who teased Nick and picked on him for having a loud-mouthed mom who “talks about other children” on her blog. One peer told him that his father “hates” him because he was a “wuss”. This really affected my son and bothered me enough so that I have had to choose some other options for our son’s extracurricular activities because I do not want our son ending up in a group being led by that dad. It’s a shame that there are those who do not have empathy for others or who believe bullying is a rite of passage. I can shield my son from people like that and have done so. That is my job as his mother.

I have continued to read your emails.

Are you in Michigan?  Attention Shelby Public Schools — there is a bullying problem that is not being addressed. I’ve been contacted by a mother who says her son and others are being repeatedly bullied and that despite going to the superintendent on numerous occasions, no one has protected her child. This is unacceptable.

I was pleased to see a front page article today in our daily paper, the Democrat and Chronicle, about bullying and the new documentary called Bully.

Here is a trailer from Bully:

I would like to see school districts offering screenings of the documentary for parents, teachers, administrators, and students to watch together. It really takes a whole community for change to occur and I think that this could spark true action and dialogue.

Do you plan to see Bully?  Will you take your children?

Schools get an F at protecting our kids.

The subject of bullying is back center-stage in the Rochester area lately, as it should be.

Nearby in Wayne County, the Marion Central School District is being sued by the mother of a high school student because they say that the district didn’t do enough to stop the repeated bullying of their son.  Here’s a story by WHAM’s Rachel Barnhart about this: click here.  According to the story, the child has been tormented for more than two years and over 30 complaints to the school’s administration were made.


In Spencerport, a girl took her own life last week.  Cameron DeVeronica was just 14.  Friends set up a Facebook page now with over 10,000 followers in an effort to raise awareness for what they believe was a suicide caused by bullying. According to reports in both mainstream and social media, this young girl was being bullied by female classmates.  The Ogden Police Department and Spencerport schools held a news conference last week trying to debunk the bullying rumors despite the fact that students have said otherwise. This hasn’t been sitting well with their community.


Another child has died. Once again, it looks like another local school district wants to look the other way and say “not here” and pretend bullying isn’t a cause for concern.


I have to applaud the Spencerport community, though, as a protest involving approximately 300 students and parents was held outside the Spencerport School District to demand an end to bullying. Due to this increased pressure from students who are sick of bullying, it looks like the district and police department might be pulling their heads out of the sand to do something….one can hope, at least.


In our own situation, it has now been 2 months since the incident at our school. I’ve given two full months and have gone through the cycle of anger, disappointment, sadness, etc. 


My son is OK now. His concussion has healed. He smiles and laughs and plays like a normal 8 year old. He has friends and is a good boy.  The big egg on his head may be gone, but I can assure you that the scars of bullying remain. This has affected all of us–I think the grown ups have taken the situation even harder than our resilient son.


If you know me at all, you know I am a pretty calm and collected person.  Deep down, though, I am furious. I am pissed off at our school for allowing this to happen and DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT. I am pissed off that their solution would be to have my son and the BULLY (it is what it is, folks, he’s a bully) go to the school counselor together to try to become friends. You know, if an adult was attacked, would the judge say that the victim of the assault should make nice with the criminal? No. So why should that be the solution here? I pulled Nick out of that joint counseling because he wasn’t comfortable and to be frank, I do not want my child to be friends with a bully. Would you?


The bottom line is that bullying occurs in nice suburbs and at top-ranked schools. Not just “other schools.” Our districts are failing our children.

A Must Read From My Friend Sarah

My friend, Sarah, recently posted something of great importance on her blog.  I think it’s a must read. Her son’s pal has been tormented with cruel words and picked on for being “different” (I think different is good–why don’t people get that???).


This boy is just 11 and told Sarah’s son that he was thinking of suicide. Thank God her son and his friends sought help for their friend. They were raised right and know that you need to help instead of standing by and being silent.


Read it.

We need to do more.

With all that has been going on in the news these past couple days surrounding the Penn State situation, I have been thinking more and more about how not enough in being done to send a message to children that we as adults are here to protect them from the evil that lurks in this world.

There are multiple people at Penn State who knew of horrific abuse upon young boys by a coach–and turned the other cheek or did as little as possible, including one who allegedly witnessed a 10 year old boy being raped and did nothing at that moment to say “STOP! This is wrong! I will rescue you from this monster so you do not have to endure one millisecond more of trauma and pain.

Read the Grand Jury report here to see how many people were aware and didn’t do enough.

One person who actually witnessed one horrific act, walked away and DID NOTHING.

He allegedly told his boss. Not the police. He walked away and allowed this to continue. Can you imagine what went through this boy’s head–someone knew he was being harmed and didn’t rescue him–didn’t come to his aid, didn’t stand up for him. This attitude of “it’s not my place” to intervene is pathetic.

I am quite sure that it happens more than we know. It also applies to bullying.

I remember one night over the summer when I was sitting out on our deck enjoying an iced coffee.  It was getting dark and there was a boy who used to be in my son’s grade riding his bike.  I always had a soft spot for this boy, who is no longer in our district, because he was so kind and respectful.  He looked out for Nick–stood up for Nick. He lived with extended family and really was on his own most of the time without that strong sense of “normal” in his life.  There was regularly change and chaos surrounding his environment.

Anyway, I remember him riding his bike around the school and a group of older kids (15 or 16, I’d guess) followed him and then took his bike away and made him run after it.  They called him names.  They clearly were raised without respect for other people or property. I could hear him saying, “That’s my bike. Give it back. Leave me alone.” I couldn’t believe that this 8 or 9 year old child was being picked on by a bunch of teenagers. I jumped out of my chair, ran across the street and remember being so ticked that this boy was the hoodlum’s “entertainment”. The older kids ran off in different directions as I held the phone with 911 ready to be called and I  told them to never even think to bother this child again or they would have to answer to the police. Of course, they used the horrible language that seems to be commonplace in this society these days and took off.

I remember the look of relief in the boy’s eyes and he came over and hugged me and said, “Mrs. M., thank you for helping me. You didn’t have to do that.” Oh, but I did. When someone is being physically or verbally or emotionally harmed, isn’t is our duty as human beings to stand up and say enough is enough?

If one turns the other cheek and ignores what it happening, that person is enabling bullying and abuse.

When schools see the signs and ignore acts of bullying, they enable bullying.  When schools do not give consequences for acts of bullying, they enable bullying. Failure to act–truly act–to protect our children from harm is just as bad as the bullying, in my book.  We send our children to school and expect and assume that they will be safe–that they will be protected by the adults–all of the adults–in the building.

But that might take extra time.  It might ruffle feathers.  It might create an uncomfortable situation….or it is just quite possible that the reality is “We have a reputation to maintain as being a top school district in this area. Confronting the issue of bullying and acknowledging we have a true problem might tarnish that.” So what. School safety….the comfort level of CHILDREN ought to be the #1 concern. Nothing else.

Something we, as parents, can do is teach our children very early on that if they see something happening to another child, they have a responsibility to do the right thing. Sometimes even good kids turn the other cheek….or join in to be in the “cool group”.  The community as a whole needs to make sure that we are protecting our children from the evil in this world. Every time that we look the other way, we are sending the message that it is OK to harm another living human being.

Thursday Thoughts

I apologize for the absence these past several days. I’ve been extra busy at home, meeting writing deadlines,  and with volunteering at school and I do apologize. Frequent posts will return in the next couple of days.

Our son is doing OK….as well as can be expected for someone who has endured what he has faced in the past month. We still seek a satisfying outcome to this matter.

It’s been one month now. In this month, I have received 146 emails from people all over the world sharing their experiences. More than half of these people are from the Rochester area and more than 30 are from parents within this school district.

There is a bullying crisis. It happens in affluent private schools and inner city public schools.  It happens here, in our charming community with tree lined streets and friendly neighbors. Our school district has dropped the ball on this one.  As I mentioned before, this bully who has picked on my son and several of his peers since preschool continues to verbally and physically harm others (as in the case of punching Nick’s friend 2 weeks ago at recess bringing the boy to tears) without any true consequences.

I’ve received emails from parents of children as young as kindergarten sharing bullying experiences.

I don’t know personally if it is people turning a blind eye or districts not wanting to tarnish their good reputations, but until there is a true community effort to combat this epidemic, it will continue. We’ve been looking at area private schools at this point. I have an appointment to look at another next week. Unless there is true change, we will not be keeping Nick in this district. When a child who once loved every single aspect of school comes home and says he only feels comfortable in his main classroom, it is a problem.

I will keep you posted on this and next week, we will take a look at anti-bullying legislation in certain states.

Keep sharing your stories. We’ll work together to see what we can do to bring about change.

I also want to share something my friend MB had on her Facebook page:

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take out a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up, not to rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now, even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bullies another child, they may say they’re sorry, but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.

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.