School Safety; It's something that should be a given, but in era of bullies and violence, it's simply not. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not referring to the "those kids were mean to me" kind of bully that will unfortunately always exist. I am talking about actual acts of violence and rage that are happening every day in school.
This issue touched me personally while both of my children were in school. The issue that happened with my youngest daughter still haunts me. My then third grader was assaulted by a bully. The first time she was attacked the bully received a misdemeanor assault charge. The second time, the 10-year-old bully became a felon for her assault on my daughter. Each time the school's principal did nothing other than a two-day in-school suspension citing the child's extraordinary bad circumstances. How is that teaching any lesson to the attacker or my daughter for actually standing up and discussing it? It's no wonder so many of these stories go untold with results like that. Even after going all the way to the school board president with no results, I ended up pulling my daughter from that school and putting her in a safer school district. My older daughter was constantly made fun of from Kinder through even her first year in college. Once again, not just the "those kids are mean" kind of bullying. The vilest things that could be verbalized, and then they attacked her via the internet. She ended up switching schools half way through her senior year to get away from the attacks after one incident left her Facebook page filled with 95 negative comments in less than five minutes.
But, what if the circumstances were different and I didn't have that choice? What would I do? What about in a case like Misty's (read full story here) where there is video evidence of a teacher slamming my child to the ground and the school still refused to do anything? How does a parent truly protect their children while they are at school?
How is it possible we live in a world that would allow this? Bullying is bullying. Assault is assault. This is not a grey area and it is a current epidemic within our schools nationwide. As a parent, the last thing I should have to worry about is my child's safety while trying to gain an education. Yet, the system is broken and parents do worry everyday with good reason. According to www.nobullying.com, "More than 160,000 kids stay home from school each day to avoid being bullied." What?!
Where are the parents in all of this? No one wants to believe their child is bully, but guess what, yours might be. What are you using at home for conflict resolution when your child acts out? Are you aggressive either physically or with your words? Parents need to remember that children are sponges who learn the behavior. When my children were going through their personal attacks I taught them both kill them with kindness and you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. In my case this worked.
I really wish I could answer more thoroughly than one parent at a time needs to stand up for their children for the downright abuse that is happening in our schools, but that is the unfortunate truth. Each incident needs to be reported and each teacher and school staff member needs to take those reports seriously. Perhaps then we can accurately provide training on how to defuse situations. Train those teachers to really see the abuse and assault that is happening every day on our school playgrounds. Thankfully in my situation, changing schools stopped the issue. But what about the case I mentioned earlier? How is this child supposed to move on when a teacher he was supposed to trust, was his attacker? Gone are the days where children are respectful to each other and the sad truth to that is that is a learned behavior. Instead of raising entitled, mean, arrogant jerks, parents need to really step back and look at what their children are doing to others. Monitor their social media and phones. Take your control back from an unruly child and give him the hope of a real future full of love. This can be learned and the hate filled rage can be unlearned. It's not an easy process but I've seen it done. Give the children back their voices and their simple human right to feel protected at school. This is what we need.
Below is a video my daughter made with my niece, un-prompted, not for school. Just because they felt it was an important message to be shared.