Bullying in Schools Challenges CF Parents
My children are no strangers when it comes to bullying.
The most recent episode was when my oldest daughter was in Grade 11. The bully had moved away and then returned to the school after March break. I assume she bullied because she felt threatened by my daughter. So the bullying started. My daughter’s after school mood would usually depend on what the bully did that day.
The bully was mean, cruel and relentless, but what was worse was how my daughter’s friends responded in the beginning as the bystanders. I repeatedly offered to go to speak to the principal and had fits of anger and rage because the bully wouldn’t leave my daughter alone. But my daughter wouldn’t hear of it because in her mind it would only make things worse. Towards the end of the school year the bystanders became, “upstanders” and they started to tell the bully to lay off, and quit being mean. Eventually the bullying calmed down, until the beginning of the next school year.
Fortunately our school started a week before Labour Day so when the bully sent a text on the Friday of the long weekend threatening to make my daughter’s life a living hell for the year, my daughter had already been at school for a week. You see, the bully transferred to a different school. I am not sure why, but she did.
My daughter came racing from her room, phone in hand, yelling how much she hated her. I was done. I asked my daughter to call her back and she complied. The bully was with a group of girls, having a great old time – texting threats to my daughter, which is where I hoped, prayed and felt we had her.
I was swift and honest. I simply told her: you talk to her, text her, or touch my daughter, and I will be going to the police. Enough was enough. Having a little knowledge about bullying I thought that once she started texting threats we had something against her. However, the bully wasn’t finished. The phone rang two minutes later and it was apparently the bully’s mother apologizing for her daughter’s behavior. However, we know it wasn’t her mom. By the next day there was gossip and hearsay courtesy of the bully. That is when we decided enough was enough; we tracked down her parents and brought them up to speed about their daughter’s bullying behavior over the last four months of the school year and how we, as a family, had had enough.
I count my lucky stars the bully’s parents understood because I know that is not always the case. Within hours of our initial phone call, we, (my daughter and I) received calls from the bully. The bully phoned to apologize. As far as sincerity goes it didn’t matter; I think she understood that she wasn’t getting away with it anymore. What I do regret is that I let it go on for months, believing that my 16 year-old daughter could handle it. In hindsight, I should have gone in to speak to the principal, which I did this year when my son mentioned that someone had started picking on him. The funny thing was I didn’t even have to name the student – the principal simply said, “Don’t tell me, is it so and so?”
Last week was Bullying Awareness week. Here in Ontario people marked the week with different events to encourage bystanders to become “upstanders,” a term coined by students in the Toronto area with the idea of encouraging students to stand up to the bully, rather than stand by and watch it happen. The week is over, but unfortunately bullies operate all year long. If you have a child being bullied please read this issue’s article on bullying for warning signs that your child is being bullied and what to do.
Also in this issue, Laura writes about the Canadian Forces Art Program which gives artists access to life in the trenches, so to speak. The program offers them the opportunity to portray the frontlines artistically. Sears has their Operation Make a Wish program back, Laura Earle joins the team with her inaugural article about the new Highway of Heroes book by Pete Fisher and Jill writes about Wreaths Across Canada, a fairly new initiative to remember those members of the Canadian Forces who now lay in military cemeteries across Canada.
Of course we have our bloggers: Kate, takes on more than she bargained for, Laura marks this Remembrance Day as a Civvy, Teresa recounts her family’s emotional visit to Vimy Ridge, Julie discovers how little lies can result in big beliefs and Leslie shares her comical reflections on her return to the workforce.
Until next time,