by Barry Kareful
As parents, many of us are living in our own version of utopia or "wonderland" when it comes to bullying in schools. Upon hearing reports of school bullying, we shake our heads or make other empathetic gestures, perhaps verbalize how terrible the increase in school bullying incidents are becoming, and then turn away and go on with our lives thinking "bullying will never happen to my child".
Does this sound like you? Well, it was me, until that life changing day several years ago involving my eldest daughter who was in grade 5 at the time.
I arrived home from work to find my wife an emotional wreck and our daughter mildly sedated in her bedroom. Our daughter had arrived home from school, walked into the house and collapsed on the floor, sobbing and crying uncontrollably.
Over the next few hours we learned about the tragedy the had been playing out right underneath our noses for over a year. A group of girls had targeted my daughter and relentlessly, day after day, made her the victim of put-downs, ridicule and threats while at school.
She was too frightened to tell us what was going on and for our part, we were too naive to recognize many of the tell-tale signs of school bullying that she had exhibited over and over again such as missing school, headaches, not sleeping, and just a series of on-going illness to avoid having to go to school in the morning.
Within a few days, our daughter became severely depressed to the point that she began to talk about suicide and at this point we finally "got it", that this was more than just adolescent bickering, and contacted the school and sought professional help. Within a week, our daughter, who was only 11 years old at the time and who had never been away from home, was in hospital on a "suicide watch"!
It took nearly 6 months of weekly counseling, and being schooled at home, before our child could return to school (a different school in our town) and start to rebuild her self-esteem and confidence in herself as a worthwhile person.
The real "kicker" in all this, was that I was her part-time classroom teacher during the early phases of her torment and never suspected what was going on!
So I implore you, please be proactive about bullying in school and find out what the signs of school bully are and how to support and protect your child against this social terrorism. As my story illustrates, you cannot always depend on your child to say "Help me, I am being bullied!"
It no longer seems to be a case of "if my child is going to be bullied at school" but rather "when my child is going to be bullied at school".
I am very thankful to see how over the past few years, the topic of bullying has taken on a very high profile in society, which has led to massive amounts of information online to help parents and children, such as this impressive website, and bully prevention training workshops being held across the country for parents and kids.
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