Today I want to talk about something weighing heavily on my heart. I learned yesterday of a little girl (10 years old) who passed away after being bullied and was in a fight in her classroom at her elementary school. Much of what happened is still unknown as an investigation is taking place and minors are involved. The bottom line is that someone beat this little girl so badly that it killed her. There are so many emotions and thoughts that have been running through my head since I saw the story. I am angry at the school, the teacher, and all the people involved. Where was the teacher? How could this have gone on long enough to cause that much damage without an adult intervening? How does this happen in an elementary classroom? They are 5thgrades for goodness sake! I am broken-hearted for the family of that precious child. Most of all, though, I am terrified. I am terrified because I keep hearing more and more stories of kids being bullied and more and more kids taking their own lives because of it. I am terrified because this little girl was the same age and grade as my youngest daughter. I see my daughter when I look at pictures of that precious life lost.
My child has had several incidents this year of being bullied by a girl that is twice her height. The girl has taped things to the back of my daughter’s shirt. She has called her names and teased her. I heard last week that this girl is doing the same to other kids too including possibly getting in-school suspension for hitting someone (I do not know that this is fact). Hearing that and learning of the little girl that passed away, makes me terrified for my child. My daughter is small and frail. She would not be able to defend herself in a situation like that. I also have a friend whose son has been bullied all year long in middle school. It took my friend numerous phone calls, emails, and meetings for the school to do anything about the situation. He was finally moved to new classes away from the bully. I don’t know if anything happened to the child that was doing the bullying or not, but my friend says her son is thriving away from the bully. She is seeing an improvement in his confidence. One of the things that my friend’s son was picked on about was for wearing khaki pants; for bing the nice kid. My friend has since decided to start the #khakipants movement. I am 100% in it with her on this. Let’s celebrate the nice kids. Let’s shower them with praise and admiration. Let’s tell their stories of triumph. Maybe it will make those bullies think twice about their behavior. Here is what my friend had to say about her son’s situation:
“Middle school has been rough. <My son> has been bullied all year whether it be because of wearing khaki pants or being asked “to fight” in the bathroom at school multiple times. As a parent, I kept telling him to ignore, find different friends, rely on teachers, and report. After months of continued bullying and not being able to make any friends, which deflated his self-esteem, I intervened. During these times, something became very clear; being the nice kid is hard. And I HATE THAT. I despise using the word, hate. But I am so tired of the nice kids having to accommodate the bullies. I asked the school to change <my son’s> entire middle school schedule to allow him the opportunity to learn, grow emotionally, and be social without fear. We are 1 week into the new schedule and <my son> is HAPPIER than he has been all year! And those khaki pants were pulled from the bottom of the closet and worn again! So, I am here to motivate, to listen, & to help change. This is my #khakipants movement and if you want to join me, I would love to read or hear your story. I want stories of SUCCESS- no downers please. Stories of triumph, overcoming fears, amazing educators who helped and Thank You’s so we can celebrate our NICE KIDS. It’s all about the #khakipants.”
Something has to be done. As a former teacher in the public school system, I have seen bullying. I have seen it more times than I care to count. Every school system that I have worked in has an anti-bullying policy and has steps in place to try to prevent it, but it still happens. The school system is never going to be able to fix the problem. They just aren’t. Now, I do hold the school responsible for the little girl passing away (at least until I know the whole story) because a fight that bad should never have gotten that far inside of a classroom. However, fixing bullying overall isn’t going to come from the schools. Yes, schools should keep doing all they can and educate kids about bullying, encourage kids to report it, and offer a safe space to talk about it. They HAVE to take action when it is reported too. Every situation should be taken seriously. It shouldn’t take moms like my friend so much time and effort for the school to respond and do something about it. Those are all things that schools can do, but it won’t stop kids from bullying other kids. The real fix has to come from home. It has to come from the parents. Parents need to step up and do their job. If the school ever called me to say that my child had been bullying someone, you better believe the first thing I will say is, “Thank you for letting me know. I will take care of it.” You want to know what most parents would say these days, though? I have seen and heard it time and time again. They immediately give an excuse or try to put the blame on someone else including the victim. THAT IS NOT OKAY! There is NO EXCUSE whatsoever for treating another human like that. PERIOD! When a kid hears their parent making excuses or trying to blame someone else, do you know what message that sends that kid? It tells him or her that it is totally okay to abuse someone else as long as you can think of an excuse or blame it on someone else. Parents that do that are just giving their kid the green light to keep on bullying. THAT IS NOT OKAY! It is not something to be proud of. Your kid is not entitled to pick on another kid just because she may “get on your nerves.” Your kid is not entitled to make fun of a kid because you think his khaki pants are funny. I’m sorry. You have no right.
Please talk to your kids. Ask them how they are feeling. Ask them if there is someone that is hurting them or making them feel less of a person. Many kids will never tell anyone that they are being bullied because they are ashamed or afraid. Encourage them to report it. If nothing changes, call the school. Schedule a meeting. If you think your kid is the one doing the bullying, set an example. Put a stop to it immediately. Make sure your child knows that behavior is unacceptable. Don’t make excuses. Don’t put the blame on someone else. Take ownership and make a change. Pray for the family of the little girl who was taken way to soon. Pray for all the nice kids. Pray for all the bullies. Let’s end this before another life is lost. Join my friend’s #khakipants movement and celebrate the nice kids and put and end to bullying.