To the Editor,
I am writing this letter on behalf of my 11-year-old daughter.
She is a Grade 5 student, likes hockey, lacrosse, nature and being with her friends.
She is interested in helping others, caring for the environment and always tries her best. She loves to learn and share her discoveries with others.
My daughter will not be finishing the school year at school. We will be completing her Grade 5 year at home.
My daughter was bullied by four students. She was called “obese, mean, stupid, retarded and an idiot.” When she broke down in tears she was laughed at and told to “shut up.”
This is not the first instance of bullying that she has experienced.
Should my child not feel safe, nurtured and a sense of trust while at school? Should I not rest assured when I say goodbye to her in the morning that she is safe, guided, validated and respected?
She is not safe, not validated and is disrespected by her peers as well as the leaders of the school who do nothing.
Bullying is a constant topic in the media. Children kill themselves over this exact behaviour. They harm their own bodies, spiral into depression and turn to substance and other self-harming behaviours to numb the pain experienced at the hands of their ‘friends.’
When will something be done so that we, as a community, do not lose another child to senseless, mean, vindictive behaviour that is reported and pushed aside?
My daughter will not be a statistic in this district. My child will not fear walking to school and wonder if she can get through the day without being hurt. She will not have to be tolerant and, as her feelings are depleted, watch the very child who stripped her of her self- worth receive a “strike on the board for negative behaviour.”
I am not one to run from issues and I am an advocate in this community. I operate a childcare facility and would never allow a child in my care to harm or mistreat another child. I am actively involved with the PAC and volunteer for everything that needs help.
I am simply exhausted with a school system that allows children to be verbally, physically and emotionally harmed because they don’t have the courage, manpower, or necessary skills to deal with this.
I am not alone. Perhaps rather than sinking money into extra staff development days and writing and rewriting contracts, the district superintendent and trustees could invest some money – my tax money – into anti-bullying education that reaches far beyond wearing pink shirts and saying “that’s not nice.”
Help these kids who are acting out in vicious and aggressive ways by meeting their needs. Return to the ‘old’ school ways of dealing with these issues by suspending these children and sending the message home. The message they receive now is that their behaviour is acceptable and their consequence is a ‘think sheet.’
Here’s my ‘think sheet’ … thousands of dollars spent developing a new logo for the district while children in that very district are afraid to go to school, being assaulted on the playground and going without basic social education and consequence.
All that time and money spent surveying parents about the proposed changes to the school calendar that could have been spent surveying parents about the level of effective anti-bullying services.
Reach out to your communities and you will find a generalized sense of disappointment in how the schools, district and province handle bullying.
You may be surprised at what you find.