Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Root of the Issue ~ Pour Your Heart Out

Today I am linking up with my very dear friend Shell at Things I Can't Say.
Hop on over and check out her Pour Your Heart Out feature!
Maybe you may have a tale of your own to link!

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Sometimes life seems to careen out of control. While we don't see the forces behind it, there is generally a reason for this being amiss or going awry.

My daughter has been struggling with ADHD and ODD for the majority of her life.  While she was not diagnosed until she was 6, she has exhibited the behaviors of these diagnosis since infancy.  Within the last year, we have seemed to find a medication that truly affected her positively.  After scares with violence, weightloss, and other scary side effects, I was afraid we would never find something that suited her.  You can imagine my relief when something seemed to be working.

In the year since begining this medication, she has made amazing progress.  She has met many of her long term IEP goals at school and has been progressing toward personal goals with her in home therapist.  I was finally beginning to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

As you have read recently, things have been declining in my home in regards to her behavior.  After talking at length with her in home therapist, I learned that there had to be some sort of catalyst setting her down this path of regression.  Knowing that her home life has been consistant and stable, I began to dig into her school life.  What I discovered was sad and frightening.

It turns out that my daughter has been the victim of some serious bullying.  To quote her principal, the aggressors are "gifted at making others feel badly about themselves."  While I had known there were girls that had picked on my daughter for years, I never had any reason to believe it had gotten past girls just being brats. In the last week, I have come to learn that my daughter (while no saint by any means) has been singled out and routinely verbally attacked on the playground before school.  The bullies have been calling her a bitch and a slut, telling her she is ugly, has ugly clothes, that everyone hates her, and that no one will ever be her friend. She has been told that kids are afraid of her because she's different, and comments have been made about her requiring medication to get through the school day and about her requiring special education services for EBD (emotional behavioral disorders). She has also been told that she will get her ass kicked if she doesn't stop talking to certain boys in her class.

Most recently, one of the attacks was videoed by another girl on her telephone and sent around the 5th grade via text. Yes. This is the 5th grade.

While my daughter is receiving consequences in our home for her in appropriate response to these acts (name calling and threats of violent retaliation), no consequences have taken place at school for any of the girls involved.  In fact, until I called my daughter's special ed teacher AT HOME on Thursday night, no one at school knew any of this was going on.

The principal called me on Friday to tell me he called all girls involved to his office to talk.  He told them all they were receiving their 1st and only warning for this and if it continued, consequences from ISS to expulsion would occur. While I believe this has curbed the issue for now, I'm not sure what this means for my daughter going forward.

First of all, why did it take so long for me to figure out what was going on? Why had she not told anyone until it got to this point? How do we protect our kids from home if the people at the school don't even know it is happening?

Secondly, while I appreciate the school jumping on this on Friday (remember, I called a teacher at home on Thursday), why didn't the principal hear my daughter's plea for help on WEDNESDAY when she tried talking to him? When I brought that up in our conversation on Friday, he admitted to dismissing her when she tried to talk to him. What does it take for a little kid to be heard?

While I agree that bullying is not a new issue in our world, I believe that it is starting much younger and that kids are far crueler. Have you or your children ever been the target of bullying? How did the school handle it? Do you think it was dealt with satisfactorily? Did the bullying end after school intervention?

Me and my beautiful and very trying girl.

26 comments:

Shell said...

Oh, girl. I really hope this comes to an end.

I was bullied in junior high. And I never told my mom b/c I was embarrassed. And I didn't tell teachers. Eventually, someone noticed and talked to the girls involved- but they thought that I tattled and it was worse. It eventually ended b/c the next year, their ring leader went to a different school and w/o her, they didn't have any steam any more.

Sending you hugs and prayers.

Linked you up.

Amanda said...

I am so sorry both you and your daughter are experiencing this. I know that I was a victim of bullying in middle school and I honestly hated it--I didn't want to go to school, I stopped trying, etc. Hoping things get better, and quickly!

singedwingangel said...

OH hun it sickens me when our children are tormented because of their differences. My son got it too, in high school it even extended to a the principal. Stand your ground. Keep checking back to ensure they have been dealt with. I am not sure I would not attempt to contact the bullies parents. If their parents are not aware of their behavior they need to be made aware. Can you get a copy of the movie hat was made?? I would get my hands on that and allow the parents to see it as well so you have proof of their atrocious behavior.
I think she didn't tell because of the threats if she did. But now she knows you will find out regardless and she can depend on you.. shame on that principal for dismissing her the day before.. I hope he has learned his lesson

MommyLovesStilettos said...

That is awful. AWFUL!!!! When I hear about things like this I ask myself what kind of parents do these children have??? To be honest, I can't imagine my daughter EVER making someone feel that way because I make it a point to explain to her how words can hurt and you can't take them back. So I have to ask myself, what kind of parents do these kids have?? These kids are so insanely cruel - something has to be wrong in their home life cause that's just SAD. I'm so sorry to hear that your daughter has been dealing with this and I hope it gets better. *HUGS*

adrienzgirl said...

You know that we've experienced bullies this year as well. Poor Kooper who wouldn't hurt a fly. Sweetest kid on the planet. UGH!

I do agree with you, it's always been around, but the lengths that children go to now to belittle and degrade others has escalated to new lows!

Hugs and love to you and your beautiful daughter. Love you both!

Evonne said...

I think many kids don't speak up because they're embarrassed or the bully has threatened then to not speak up. Sadly, I also think many adults turn a blind eye and use the "kids will be kids" excuse.

I'm sorry your beautiful daughter has had to go through this, but I am glad to hear that something is being done to stop this.

SingleDatingMommy said...

This breaks my heart...for you and for your daughter. I wll never understand what it is about people (children included) who feel the need to pick on others for their differences. I'm so, so glad that you've been able to find the route cause before it got any *worse* Your daughter, she is beautiful and so fortunate to have such a wonderful mom on her side.

Daffy said...

It sometimes can be such a fine line of when to step in... frustrates me to hear of the situation. I see this day in and day out at work and it drives me bonkers if I allow it. *warnings* that are never followed through on by administration. The kids know they'll get away with it. They know all they have to do is threaten to involve their parents and the *authority figures* will back off. Its unreal. The children are in control...argh...I'll back off my soapbox.

Sending you support in anyway I can :-)

Sarah said...

i hope the quick action taken by the school will be enough. Bullying takes so many forms and is very abusive. I think I would mention the bullying to your daughters counselor/therapist if she has one and maybe they can help stay on top of it and help her deal with the long term effects.

Sammy K said...

I work in an after school program at a local elementary school and came in direct contact with the bullying. One of my girls, who is stubborn as all get out, came in one afternoon in a funk and after much convincing, she told my male co-worker that there was a boy picking on her. When she told her teacher, the teacher said that she didn't have time for her. We told the girls grandmother that afternoon and didn't she march right on down to the teacher's classroom.
It's scary to think that bullying has become so prominent in our society. The worst part is that so many parents and teacher do nothing about it.

Renegades said...

Oh my heart goes out to you. Our daughter was physically attacked on school grounds. 4 other children and her brother witnessed it and told the principal. The genius as I now refer to him just told the bully to stay away from our daughter because they are like oil and water and don't mix. Keep in mind our school as a zero bullying tolerance. I documented it and the teacher did too.

You need to document all your conversations and with who. Date them. No opinions just facts.

When bullying is handled inappropriatly it makes me wonder then why school officials are shocked when violence enters the school as the kids get older?

Kimberly said...

Oh my word that is so horrible. My sister was a victim of bullying in gradeschool and my parents had to resort to getting a lawyer and threaten a lawsuit. I hope that this isn't the case for you. Sending prayers.
PS. She is a doll and is so lucky to have a great mom like you ;)

Losing Brownies said...

That is such bullshit. I'm sorry, but the principal blew your daughter off? WTF is going on at that school were a legit complaint is dismissed? I'm so sorry for your daughter. Those girls are beyond brats and if it doesn't stop I'd go one step further and ask for their parents to be involved. And 5th graders have cell phones? And they are texting threats? That needs to be stopped.

Jenn said...

Oh, I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. But please, please don't be too hard on yourself. I remember being a master at keeping things from my mom, especially things I was embarrassed about. Your poor daughter. I wish I had some kind of genius advice, but for now I'll just keep y'all in my prayers.

Crazy Woman Moonlighting as Normal said...

Love you and your precious girl, who is nothing but sweet, kind and loving to me and the kids every time we see her. <3

Kia said...

Seriously don't beat yourself up. My daughter hid her bullying from me for a really long time. I found out becasue she told her grandmother in a completely flippant way and i got the angry call. I had zero clue so of course i couldn't get the school to be involved,

My daughter is autistic so she sticks out even though if you ask her she'd rather fade into the background. We had a bully (male) in 4th grade who we got transferred out of school and removed from the afterschool program. The mean girls were grade 5 but after the year of the male bully the mean girls were nothing. I took them down swiftly and their brand of torture really goes over the head of a child who can't process emotion or sarcasm. They let it go when they told her her clothes looked like they were out of an old magazine and she took it as a compliment.

She still gets bullied becasue middle school is far worse but she's managed to handle it better and the school is much more aware that bullying happens in that age so they are more proactive. Right now we are dealing with a fake facebook page a classmate started.

All i can do is be the mean mom because i'm old enough that making friends with her classmates parents is not important to me. they have no power over my social circle so i will and do make a ruckus. I'm scared of no one.

The No Wonder Mom said...

It absolutely breaks my heart to hear what your daughter has been through at school. My daughter is just one grade behind yours and it scares me to think what is happening in our schools, especially at such a young age! I am so glad that you were proactive in calling her teacher and that the principal followed through on what needed to be done. I hope those mean girls got a wake up call. I wonder what their family lives are like that would allow them to be okay with treating someone like that, let alone using the language they did and videotaping it on a phone?! It's all so sad. I hope things get better for your daughter and she can understand that she is beautiful, both inside and out. Good luck to you. I'm a new follower! Thanks for pouring your heart out!

Adrienne said...

This is awful! My heart was breaking reading some of those names she's being called. No one should ever have to hear that! I'm sorry that your daughter is going through this. Kids can be so cruel, and I think bullying is a much bigger problem than most schools admit. I hope she will find some comfort now that the girls have received that warning. Please keep us posted.

bigguysmama said...

What the blankety blank? Do these parents know what's going on? If my kid were the bully I'd want to know. I'd kick my kid's a$$ if I knew they'd bullied someone. It starts at home and if the parents haven't been contacted, I would INSIST they be told. Look at all the crap that has gone on recently with bullying.

This needs to be dealt with severely at school and at home. If they aren't being held accountable other than being told this will be their only warning, they have solved nothing.

Oh my goodness, getting on my soapbox. I'll go to her school and be her body guard. They want to pick on someone, they can try me on for size. Little punks. I have no time for little stinks like this.

Oh my, back up on my soapbox. I better stop while I'm ahead. If you need some back up sister, call me and I'll come to you. Think I won't? HA! I've got your back.

~Mimi

Babes Mami said...

I hope this is handled if it becomes an issue again.

I was picked on in school starting in about 5th grade (must be all the puberty). I never told my mom because she always made me feel as if I was a whiner who couldn't defend herself so what was she going to do? When I told a teacher it only made it worse. That was 10-15 years ago and I know that schools take bullying a little more seriously now and in light of recent events I hope they don't mess around with that situation.

Heather said...

As everyone else has already said, I am so sorry this is happening to you and your daughter.

My daughter is a type 1 diabetic and because of school bullies (that I was comletely unaware of at the time) she still tries to hide her differences from others.

She was diagnosed at age 7 and is now 15 years old. She tests her blood sugar in the bathroom at school and keeps things very close. It drives me crazy because it all goes back to those little horrible monsters way back in elementary school that bullied her -drove her to react to her world like she does.

She isn't upset about it anymore. I am the one who has held onto the anger. I was mad at the kids, the teachers, the administrators, everyone! Because our daughter has a 504 plan (very similar to an IEP)I was constantly told by the administrators that they knew what was going on with every one of the kids. Well either they knew and didn't care or they were lying to me. SO I GOT MAD!

My daughter never talked about it either. Even though we talked every day. I can comletely understand how you feel.

It does get better. For them, I can't say I will ever forget or forgive. But shes my baby!

We do know what to watch out for and how to talk to all our children because of it. And deal with any problem in a very offensive way (with the school, I mean).

I would look into what your schools bullying program is. Chances are the principal is not adhereing to their documented policy on it and you can easily get some results in this manner. Most schools have a Anti-bully program and they get federal funding for it. (Especially since your daughter has an IEP in place, if your daughter is being discriminated then they can loose all of their federal funding for not handling it immediatly and as their policy dictates.)

Ok I am done with my rant and rave... remember she has a disability as far as the federal government is concerned...so if she is being harrassed and bullied based on any of that you have way more power than you thought you did! American with disabilities act...it protects you both!

Sending love and hapy thoughts to you both!!!

Go Mommy said...

I love the picture of you and your daughter! She is adorable.
I am so sorry to hear about the situation at school, it seems that bullying gets worse and worse. You can't blame yourself for not knowing what was going on. Sometimes in bullying situtations the child doesn't want to talk about it.
My hugs to you and your daughter.

Anastasia said...

It is scary and frustrating. There are teachers who don't pay attention, but then when they do know, there isn't always much they can do. I sometimes feel like that kind of behavior starts in the home. And the parents should be held responsible.

M-Cat said...

I've always wondered if I would feel worse if my child was the one that was bullied or was the one that was bullying.

It has been recently brought to my attention that I have both.

If I had only known sooner, I could have intervened and protected. I'm glad you acted quickly, and now you just stay on top of it.

Good job momma

Frugal Vicki said...

Your sweet girl stole my heart with the simple smile on my face. What a beautiful smile.

This is heartwrenching. Why is it that more often than not we hear of schools doing nothing. In my opinion, if the attack can be proven, then the first warning should be suspension, after that it should be expulsion. When are people going to wake up and realize enough is enough. Why is it okay for the kids that are being bullied to risk college by not being able to focus on school, but the bullies find no consequences whatsoever. Seriously!

Imaginative Me said...

Wow! Just got to this post, I'm a little late.
I was bullied. I went to many different elementary schools growing up and had a hard time making friends. I was always different and felt like the outcast, which was backed-up with me being treated like the outcast. I was made fun of because we were poor, didn't have nice clothes, and many other reasons. Kids can be just as cruel as adults.
One thing I learned from it all is that I am who I am. It doesn't matter what others want to say to me or about me. I am happy with myself and letting others' ideals of ME bother me just isn't an option. Tell your girl to hold her head high and be proud to be who she is, because if she's happy with herself, nothing else matters.

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