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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Public School System has Effectively Castrated my Child (update)

Small got up early by himself this morning. Which is normal for him. He complained a bit about his feet hurting, watched some cartoon and ate. Then complained about his stomach hurting. I pressed him about going to school. He has been missing way too much. He is averaging missing 1 day a week.

He finally told me he is getting punched by a kid at school. So we talked. This isn't the first time he has been bullied there.

If you get hit, hit em back. Most of the time a bully will stop bulling you if you defend yourself. But with the policies put into place by the public school system this is not tolerated. The defender will get the same punishment as the bully. We learned this with Large. Large was picked on for years. He is a good kid. It wasn't until his protagonist started beating up on another kid that Large finally did something. After years of abuse from this child and Large never standing up for himself, he defended another child. The bully is not a problem anymore.

Small has never cowered to anyone. Not his brothers, not to any of the kids in the area. But at school he is left defenseless. He has been told that fighting will make his teacher sad. And to Small that is a big no no. He adores his teachers, wishes to please them. He doesn't get into any trouble. He does have a speech problem and though it has been improving there has been a couple of students that has marked this out as something to tease him about. Small and I have talked about this. It bothers him, but he is trying harder to speak properly and ignore the others words.

Yes I know many will say that doesn't matter. That they will find something else to pick on him about. Possibly. Everyone got teased or picked on when growing up. And if you claim you didn't then I am not calling you a liar, but you might be mistaken. People might not have done it to your face, or you consider being completely ignored by your peers not a form of abuse. In any case, it happens.

But the schools give too much power to the bullies. When you leave the good kids no alternative to defend themselves, be it with words or fists, you create a necrotic child. Small so much wants to show this boy that he is not a victim. He tries to ignore him, walk away from his fists. But the taunting only increases. Here Small is a child that can be pushed around. A child that you can do whatever you want to and he will never retaliate. The perfect victim. This causes a domino effect. Once you get a child to cry or to put up with the abuse no matter how stoically, others see this as an opportunity to be a dominate personality.

They claim that the policies in affect help the victims. How? You punish them just as severally as the aggressor. And how long will the victim be able to tolerate not only the abuse but the punishment issued by authority figures when he does defend himself? Why are we teaching our children that defending yourself is a criminal act? When did it stop being ok for a child to try and work out issues before tattling? Once upon a time, boys would argue, they would get into fist fights and they would either end up best friends for years or they would respectfully avoid each other.

Suicide rates among the bullied are on the rise. This is unacceptable. Our children are getting to the point that they see no other alternative?

Sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me

is now being taught as

Sticks and stones will break my bones and words will break my heart.

Were my peers so coddled by their hippie parents that we have begun emotionally stunting our children. No more bucking up and allowing the name calling to slide off your back because you know that what they spew is not the truth. That we should all be victims no matter the circumstance and dutifully play the stereotypical part.

We should intervene when we see bullying. We should also unbind the hands of the victims. We should punish not on a whole but on a case by case basis.

Small is unwilling to stand up for himself, to protect himself, to defend himself at school because he fears the consequences. He'd rather suffer quietly than suffer the wrath of his authority figures there. But at home in the neighborhood he will not put up with it. The consequences he suffers at home differ depending on what has happened. He knows that bullying will not be tolerated here but hitting another boy in self-defense is. He knows not to ever hit first.

Many reading this will think me in the wrong. That violence of any kind should be quickly stopped and all parties should be disciplined. Maybe I am too old fashioned, maybe I am too Heartland, maybe I grew up with all boys and have seen the interactions. Whatever you feel about me, my sons will not be involved in the woe is me pseudo victim party. They have our permission and blessings to stop the bullying, to stand up for themselves and what is right.

No, I will not be pulling them out of school for homeschooling. We discovered that over the summer that homeschooling just isn't a good fit for us. I am headed to the school with Small in a few to talk with the principal. I will get his hands unbound.


The meeting was interesting. Very short. Guess the principal saw me coming from a mile away.

First off I did not go in angry. I went in concerned about my child and what the school would do to protect him if they were not going to allow him to defend himself.

The principal reassured Small that he would not get into trouble for telling. Then sent Small to class so we could chat quickly. I asked the Principal if he could see how anxious Small was. He almost cried walking out of the office. The principal assured me he would do everything possible to find out who had hit him and punish said child. He understood Small's worry about getting in trouble, in fact, he said, most of the kids that get pushed around are more fearful of getting into trouble by the teachers than they are of the bully.

Well skin me alive and call me luggage. Really Mr. Principal? I could have told you that. Of course I didn't say as much, I merely gritted my teeth and tried to stay the calm cool parent that I am. He knows were I stand on Small defending himself.

After a bit I got a phone call. The principal had taken Small to the 3rd grade classrooms. The principal pretended to talk to the teacher as Small scouted the room, looking to ID the perp. What a bad idea that is. Of course Small couldn't id the child. Not surprising on many levels. I think it was more wouldn't than couldn't. My boys will tattle on each other until the cows come home (and that's only cuz the cows get home very late at night and they are sleeping) but when it comes to other children, my boys will typically deal with it themselves. They come to us when the situation warrants it. They have yet to get in over their heads. And if they do, they are reminded often that they can come to us. Large came home after defending that one child, very smug and proud of the fact he hit the bully.

The principal once again emphasized that he was on top of the situation.

My worry for Small isn't so much the bullying. He will make it through it like the millions of the rest of us have. My worry is what happens when he can no longer take the bullying and hits the kid and the same size fits all punishment he will receive for doing so. The ramifications of having to sit idly by, seething of course, while he is abused all for the fear of an unjust punishment.

When he returns from school we will talk again. We will talk about right and wrong, crime and punishment, just and unjust, and that if he defends himself he will not suffer by my hands and that I will still adore him.

And I will take it up with the school board if he is suspended for ever defending himself physically.

I understand the need to punish for fighting. It is the policies that treat the children the same (victim and bully) that I take issue with.


Anonymous said...

Oh I am so sorry. I was bullied as a child and as a teen and it has taken me a while to learn to stand up for myself. I hope the Principal helps you. Keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

Good for you. My son was picked on for years from 1st to 4th(he is now 25). He was never supposed to defend himself. One day the boy pushed him down a flight of stairs. He could have been severely injured. He stood up and lit into that boy. That kid NEVER bothered him again. The school called me and I went in and told them-you didn't protect my child. He has to protect himself. We need to teach our children to stand up for themselves. The bullies know they can get away with it, because the "good" kids are told not to stand up for what is right. Now is the time to teach our children to stand for what is right!

SkippyMom said...

oh no Phe - what the hell?

Far be it from me to say anything about how you teach your children, but this is simply out of hand and if the schools can't do something, then certainly Small needs to take care of himself. Protect himself.

I can't imagine the frustration and the pain you all are in right now - and I am so, so very sorry - our kids are our world and to see them in pain is the hardest thing to take.

The school had best step up and take care of this. I hope your meeting goes as you want and something is done to stop this kid from bullying Small.

I wish there was something I could say or do, but I am at a loss. Please give your son a hug from us and, again, I hope it works out today.

TexasWren said...

You go girl!! Your children depend on you to defend them. Above all, they need to know that you are on their side and that it's something they can always depend on.

Give him a hug from me and tell him that I know he's one of the cool kids, even if the bully is blind to it!

Carolyn said...

Kind'a like how some (most) politicians want to take guns away from lawful citizens. It all boils down to leaving the victims unable to defend themselves.

I know it may seem off-topic, but is it really??

The schools are "training" the little children to act like "big" children; proper "law" abiding citizens.

Good luck with your conference; give 'em hell.

small farm girl said...

FINALLY!!! Someone has said it! We have all been bullied one time or another. The only difference is WE got to stick up for ourselves. Stop tring to "talk" everything out. Sometimes all it take is a "punch" back. Thanks once again for giving this problem a voice.

Kelly said...

I think we agree on many points in your post. I feel that society will soon be wrapping our kids in bubble wrap so they don't get hurt. What ever happened to pick yourself up and dust your self off and go at it again? We are teaching our kids to sit on a couch, play video games and by no means go out and get dirty. When my oldest was in school he had the same problem and we handled it the same way. When he was suspended for fighting I made sure to let him know in front of the principal that he was not going to be punished at home. We spent the week going to the beach. The kid did leave him alone after that. We have to stand up once in a while or we become chair bound.

QuiltedSimple said...

I've read your blog faithfully for several years but never commented. But this struck close to home. My 11 year old daughter was being bullied by a boy this past fall to the point he backed her into a corner in the GIRLS bathroom poking her with a pencil. We told her to a) never hit him unless provoked, b) I'd like for her to have a witness that he did bully her and she defended herslef and c) make the punch count. She did make that punch count, and had 2 witnesses and when they would have given her out of school suspension for 3 days, dropped it when the witnesses spoke up and I went into the school. The kid who bullied her? Doesn't even look at her anymore...The bullying did have to go on for about 10 weeks before she got fed up (she tries to like everyone) but when she got fed up, she meant it. She did tell me that it helped her that we (and her teacher when he was clued into what was going on) were fine with her getting the out of school suspension if it was for defending herself. Hope you can get it resolved!

mallardhen said...

You are the sole advocate for your child as his mother this is your right to stand up with; and for him. Please don't expect to much from the principal as he will not go so far as to put his own butt in a sling for the fighting that is happening in his school, but do give him a day or two and see if he does get something accomplished, miracles do happen, then if nothing happens your next step is the superintendents office not the Board of Ed. One step at a time girl. Board of Ed is the last place after you have done the chain of command thing.

I am with you don't punish a child for standing up for themselves they have every right to do just that, but as a retired teacher I have see children beaten over and over and no one would or could do anything about it because of the policies of the school this whole bulling thing makes me so sad and angry, my question is why do schools punish the wrong kids they know who is at fault before the fight even starts as 99% of the time the kids starting the trouble have done so before.

OK now I have had my say and feel better maybe.

Be calm it will get done.

JenniferO said...

I agree with you 100%! I was raised in a family that felt it was never ok to hit and was constantly bullied in school. One day I did defend myself and (dispite my parents anger) learned that it worked and that kid left me alone from there on out. My husband and I recently discussed this topic and agree that when being bullied you tell the bully ONCE firmly and directly to leave you alone. After that, you defend your self as needed. My children will be taught just as yours have been. Good for you for being their advocate!

Phelan said...

I did and am dealing with it calmly. I have not been irate toward anyone. (school board and the Board of Ed are 2 different things here.)

We have had problems with another boy at school. And not just Small, but he has been shoving several different kids into fences. We parents were told that the school would deal with the problem multiple times. Nothing seems to have changed with this child. This newest ordeal has frustrated me.

The school is suppose to have a zero tolerance policy on fighting, hence both students getting the same punishment. And a bullying policy.

I am being patient and allowing the principal to work the issue out with this current problem.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you and Small. We raised our son to not solve problems with fighting back. After school couldn't stop the bully, we told our son our new policy: never strike first but you have our FULL permission to stand up and protect yourself and you will NEVER get in trouble with us for doing so. The bully got a good ole fashioned butt whooping and both our son and the bully were punished. Thats ok though- we celebrated with lunch out and now our son can hold his head up high. His self esteem has improved and he hasn't been bullied since. IMHO- Bullying has became a bigger problem when parents started teaching their kids to NOT defend themselves.

Anonymous said...

I'm the mother of two adult children. We told them to never throw the first blow; but to throw the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and however many it took to stop the bully. We also told them they would never get in trouble at home for defending themselves. I'm praying for you and Small. This whole bullying issue has gotten totally out of hand because the schools are trying to treat the bully and the victim "equally". What a bunch of hogwash. Eventually Small will get his gut full and if he gets in trouble with the school, perhaps you could threaten to sue them for not protecting him. The word "sue" seems to be one of the only words the schools understand. Keep us updated - our momma's hearts are touched. Scarlet

Judy T said...

When my daughter was younger (in elementary school- she's now a HS junior!) she was getting bullied by an older girl on the way home from school. The thing is- she was a black belt in tae qwon do at the time (still is) and was afraid to hit back. Her TKD master had always been very strict about them using their knowlege aggressively. We explained it to her that she wasn't being aggressive, just defending herself- and TKD is a self defense art. Let's just say that after a swift kick- that girl didn't bother her again.
For the record- we had involved the school principal but since it wasn't happening on school grounds he said his hands were tied- really...
I hope all works out well for your son.

Anonymous said...

I'm an old fashioned guy. I would politely tell the principal that their PC bullshit does not apply to Americans. Fighting is a fact of life. Peace through strength!!

My children and grandchildren have the God given right of self-defense. The school nazi's exert way to much authority in places it's not wanted.

Folks, it is way past time to stop laying down for the school commies. Commies always take the side of the bullies. Look at the muslims.

Newark, Ohio

Yart said...

We had a problem earlier this year a girl punched Picky in the face in gym class. When we got to the school we told the principal that we had a "No Touch Policy" and if the school didn't do something then we were going to let our daughter loose! Needless to say the school took care of the problem. I understand how you feel... My hands have been tied way to many times when it comes to school and my kids.

I hope for Small's sake it can be resolved peacefully.... but if not I hope he beats the shit out of the kid....Just my opinion!

barefoot gardener said...

I am totally behind you on this one. I fell victim to the same thing twice in my school days, being punished for defending myself against bullies that had been torturing me for months before I finally did something about it.

My father believed as you do, that I did nothing wrong in defending myself, but the school disagreed. This resulted in two "vacations" from school when I was suspended for protecting myself, and many loooong discussions between my folks and the principal.

Good luck to you and yours!

Unknown said...

If I were 20 years old today - knowing what I know now... I'd never have kids. And even if I did have kids... there's no way I'd even think about putting them into public schools these days. The stench is getting worse by the day.

What they don't get is... they'll just get him on the street if he points out the culprit. And I mean "they" literally. That idiot having him "point" out the culprit would only set him up for the bad guy bringing his "homeboys" into the mess. Oh, wait - I forgot. The School District isn't responsible if it happens outside of school hours and off campus. What the heck was I thinking?!!

Amy said...

I have always told my kids to never start anything...but if they need to defend themselves then they need to do what they have too and I will deal with the fallout from it.

A child should never feel they cannot protect themselves from someone trying to do harm to them!!

Anonymous said...

I have told my children, boys and girls, "Never start it, always finish it."

I have taught them how.

There are other schools and other ways.

They know I have their back. Luckily that seems to have served them well. And one is getting ready to graduate in a few years.

FancyHorse said...

You are for your child. You are on his side. If he defends himself, and gets punished or "disappoints" his teacher, his parents and his family are still on his side, and that is worth more than gold!

You, go, Small! You are a great kid!

Alex said...

As a father of two boys, 5 and 2, this scares the heck out of me. One of my biggest fears. My biggest concern is that a lot of parents don't care enough to teach their children these life lessons. Being a "man" has a skewed definition in some circles these days. I wish you the best in resolving the issue.

Anonymous said...

Amen! So many BS school policies that inadvertently encourage a stratified hierarchy based on fear tactics and victimization. Totally unacceptable. And I can't believe the principal paraded your boy in front of a class to publicly tattle on the bully.

TM Frugal Gourmet said...

Thank you Phelan!! I so needed this. My son has been bullied this whole school year, no one will play with him because the bullies said that if they did they were next. My child doesn't want to go to school. Thank you for this post. I now know how to handle this situation.

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