As I read yet another news report of yet another child taking his own life as a result of bullies I take a look at my families situation, what we have been through and experienced and consider how lucky I am and hoe shameful our government and school system is.
When I look back on the physical and emotional bullying that I endured most of my school life I am saddened by how many times I informed relevant adults of what was going on, the cries for help, the truanting, the accusations…… I know my dad was called into the school as the head would rather have blamed my own terrible behaviour than look at and consider the bigger picture. When I was attending the first aid room after being physically sick, I was sent home with no questions… no one was concerned that the reason I had been sick was due to being hit so forcefully in the stomach. No one was interested when I was concussed following a shove down the metal stairs in the science block but heaven forbid I get caught sneaking out of the school gates!
My daughter was bullied. We found there was a number of girls who appeared to get away with talking to their parents using awful language, it became apparent that by giving their parents what I consider to be verbal abuse they would get their own way. This resulted in the girls learning that to give abuse and get incredibly nasty and bitch earned you what you wanted. This did not bode well for my daughter.
Meanwhile my son who has a strong sense of right and wrong couldn’t get his head around the lack of justice within his school. He witnessed boys bullying others and getting violent and aggressive and he didn’t like it. He would stick up for children when he thought they were being wronged, and as a result the teachers labelled him unkind, immature, trouble maker. The other boys in his class picked up on this and the bullying increased. The school and the head denied any bullying was going on, despite witnessing it with their own eyes.
The common problem is, that bullies are cowards. They act in gangs and often with no independent witnesses. Therefore when a victim tries to speak out it often becomes a case of 1 word against several, and the majority voice wins unfortunately. In my daughters case I was able to gather physical evidence of what was going on via emails, text messages, recorded phone calls and using a handy little hidden camera gadget that looked like a pen in her blazer pocket.
The problem is that when school staff either don’t believe or won’t accept that there is a problem, there is very little a parent can do. There is no power to deal with bullying. The police are limited in what they can do, they are also faced with no real evidence and one word against several….The board of governors in our experience were also beyond useless and failed to acknowledge let alone respond to our con plants, The local authorities offer no advice or support. Yes we complained to ofsted but there is no quick solution. Unfortunately many parents are unaware of all of their options. My dad was threatened with prosecution if he did not get me to go to school and this is true in a lot of situations. Why won’t the government and local authorities step up, try to discover why a child’s attendance is so poor, try to find a solution and make sure the parents are informed of their right to remove their children from formal learning?
I sit here, watching my son take part in a lego young engineers workshop. I see him reading and following instructions, building the challenges and enjoying what he is doing. In the last couple of months I have heard him utter the words “I am proud of that” about something he has achieved. The angry sad and hurt little boy who had no belief in himself and who had the rest of us walking on egg shells is rapidly disappearing to be replaced by a happy confident and polite little monkey boy who is happy to try new things with no fear of failing.
My daughter is independent, helpful and has rediscovered a love of learning that doesn’t need to be hidden for fear of being picked on.
They learn what they want when they want to and as a result they are learning loads! Most importantly they are happy.
My heart goes out to those parents who are not do lucky. Whose children have been failed beyond repair by the educational system. Whose situations have ended in utter tragedy at the end of a long line of “nothing we can do’s” and I hope that as the rate of home ed families continues to rise and legal rights become more widely known that these tragedies will stop occurring. I hope that authorities be granted more power to deal with bullies. That more schools be fitted with cctv so that stories can be checked and the 1 word against another can be gotten rid of… without drastic measures I fear that the situation within schools will only continue to get worse as the bullies of today will raise the bullies of tomorrow.