I've been reading a lot of your stories, and I'm in tears and so saddened that so many children... CHILDREN... are being bullied at such a young age.
My son recently turned 9 and I fear has been the victim of bullying since he was 4 and in nursery school.
A lot of it started when he first started nursery school. He was diagnosed with mild pragmatic language disorder, which made it hard from him to communicate with a lot of his peers sometimes. I was surprised to learn and see first hand that even at the young age of 4, kids were mean to him. He had difficulty communicating with his peers at times and one of the little boys who happened to live a few doors down from us seemed to make it his mission to be an ass to my son from the very first day. For fours years that we lived on that street (age 4-8), that boy made it his mission to get the rest of our neighbours and their parents to pick on my son.
When he was 4 and a half, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and it seemed like there was more of an understanding and level of compassion for what a 4 year old had to endure health-wise on a daily basis from the children than from the staff at his nursery school.
Entering into kindergarten at 5, we'd worked extremely hard in the months following up on getting his language where it needed to be, so that it wasn't going to be something that held him back. Or so I hoped. Little did I know that a mild speech problem was the least of my worries.
The crazy thing about him entering the school system is that the teachers and principle were all too quick to label my child as having behavioural issues, when in fact his was experiencing a low or high blood sugar. For those of you who don't know much about type 1 diabetes, it's an auto-immune disease that is non-preventable and requires my son to monitor his every bite of food, drink of anything that isn't water, level of activity, manage sick days and manage multiple daily insulin injections and blood glucose monitoring. All at the age of 4!
No matter how solid our healthcare plan for how to manage his diabetes was, it was like the school just didn't get it and the principle was already convinced that it was behavioural and had nothing to do with the symptoms he was experiencing from the diabetes. After several phone conversations and meetings at the school, it was apparent that the archaic messed up way of thinking was not going to change.
It got to the point where the safety of my child was put at risk when I got a call that his blood sugar had dropped severely low and they left him crying in the library. The children had picked up on the way the staff was carelessly treating my son, excluding him from activities, making him have his own play area away from the other children, telling him that it was his fault that his blood sugar went low or high. This is school administration doing this! It brought me to tears when my 5 year old told me that he wanted to know how many more sleeps there would be before he could go to a new school where they would be nice to him.
It was a phone call from a friend of mine who happened to be volunteering in the classroom one day and witnessed their behaviour towards my son that brought all of this to my attention.
I had it out with the school at a meeting I called, and withdrew him from school the following morning. I home schooled him for the remainder of kindergarten before finding a private school with a very small classroom size (16).
Grade 1 was glorious, he came out of his shell and it was a chore trying to get him to leave the school once the day was over.
The following year, the school decided to up the classroom size to 27 and left it to only one teacher to handle such a large class. It was a multi-age class (grades 1-3) so she was already spreading herself thin to begin with, let alone now having 27 students. That's a huge class, especially for private school.
None the less, the bullying started again when he entered grade 2. The children in kindergarten and grade 1 would pick on the older children and there were no consequences because as the school put it, "they're young and don't know any better". I was livid that they were allowing children from the ages of 4-6 pick on children who were 1-3 years older than them. My son soon became the target of taunting in the school yard about having diabetes, and to stay away from him cause you could catch it if you talked to him or touched him. His grades began to fall, he became almost reclusive. I approached the school several times, only to have it fall on deaf ears.
Unable to get him into a new school until this fall, he's had endure the pain that these rotten little buggers did to him everyday. Countless times he'd come home and tell me he was yelled at by the teacher, in front of the class and was dumb or stupid. That the kids were mean to him and that they wouldn't let him play with them and chanted out "he's got diabetes, he's got diabetes". Sounds trivial to an adult I'm sure, but to an 8-9 year old who already was feeling self conscious about having diabetes, this was enough for him.
This is getting quite lengthy so I'll wrap it up, but I just want to end by saying this. Adults, children see how to act and hear what you say. When you talk poorly about another person and they hear that, they think it's ok. I wish more parents would encourage their children to have manners and to treat people like they'd like to be treated. When you belittle someone and a child witnesses that, they learn that it's an acceptable behaviour and will turn around themselves and treat that person or another just like you did.
As a parent, you want to protect your children and if it was up to me, I'd probably have some words to exchange with the kids who were mean to him... but all I feel is somewhat helpless. I get the support your child and reassure them that it's not their fault, etc... what else can a parent do?
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