My son Parker is 7 years old and will be 8 in two weeks. He just completed the second grade and is going to begin the third grade in the fall.
Parker has always been very popular with adults and his peers ever since preschool. He is well known by his teachers and peers at Linkhorn Park Elem. here in Virginia Beach, VA. I have always been amazed by the amount of people who know him by name at his school. We walk down the halls and you will here "hi Parker" all the way to your destination.
This seems like a dream come true for me. I was not very popular in school. I had 5 real friends my whole school career. When I started to witness his popularity, I thought...WOW he is going to have such a smooth ride in school. He will be free to just learn.
This past school year 2013, Parker started to act reserved and a bit emotional. He began to whine and talk like a baby. I became very confused by this as he has always been outgoing and a bit ahead of the curve developmentally. He is in the gifted program. In the gifted class is where he met his first bullies. It is here where the story begins.....
It took many nights at the dinner table to finally get it out of him that he was dealing with bullying. The abuse is not physical attacks of his body, but of his property and his mind. The kids in the gifted class that he was put in a group with began to put a lot of pressure on Parker. In the group you depend on each other for your grade during a daily morning lesson. Parker was not performing up to the standards of others in the group, so the comments began. The kids began to criticize his speed in completing the tasks. He was not moving fast enough for them. The concept that he did not belong in the gifted program started to form in his mind. The things the kids said to him were not in the form of cursed words of violent threats. They were on his character and abilities. They made him question his worth and affected his self esteem to the point where he began to digress emotionally. THIS IS IN THE GIFTED PROGRAM OF AN AWARD WINNING SCHOOL.
Parker attends an after school program, held in the school gym, facilitated by the local recreation department. The population in the group range from 1st to 5th graders from his school only. He is very close to the adult facilitators. He has known them for 2 years now. I am also very fond of these adults and feel that they care for Parker on a personal level. I feel that they are firm with the kids and watch the behavior and activities closely. I have witnessed them discipline children and seen that they have no tolerance for any misbehavior. Imagine my surprise when Parker describes how he is being bullied under the care of such highly regarded school officials. His bully likes to tear up his books, and steal his pencils during homework time. HIS BULLY IS A 5TH GRADE GIRL
LIKE I SAID THIS SEEMS LIKE THE BEGINING...,.
I have in response tried to arm my child with knowledge. I have explained to him that.....
HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE
WE CANNOT HELP YOU IF YOU DO NOT TELL US
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF
THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AND SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED
YOU NEED TO STAND FIRM AND SPEAK LOUDLY
I began to role play a bullying situation with Parker in which I was the bully and I taught him to speak firmly with the bully. To demand the bullying stop. To give fair warning that he would tell a school official, and me,his mother about the bullies behavior. I feel very passionately that this is a multi level problem. The children that are doing the bullying are victims on some level. I am choosing to arm my child with this knowledge. I do not choose to teach him to judge a person by their negative behavior, but to understand it and try to help them. I am not interested in enabling anyone to be a victim.
This year we have to move out of the expensive school district to a less economically sound locality. The school has not given its decision on whether or not Parker can continue to attend his school out of district. I am so afraid of what will happen in a school with a population who have much harder home lives. Children who are impoverished and live in less socially evolved environments. If he was being bullied at his posh school, what will happen in a more harsh environment??!!
Thank you for letting me share my story. I know this is just the beginning. Thank you for all you do and I will join this fight. For the bullied and the bullies. We all deserve to be free....
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