being a teacher, being me

After the Bullying Ends

Many have asked how our daughter is.  Whether the bullying has stopped?  Whether she is okay.

And to that I say, it’s complicated.

The short answer is, yes, the bullying has stopped.  After further incidents where Thea once again was targeted, was hurt both physically and emotionally, the girl who continued to seek her out was removed from her classroom and so it stopped.  They don’t see each other and so there has been no room for any kind of incidents to happen.

The long answer though is different.  Sure, Thea is no longer in an active bullying situation but as any parent of a child who has experienced trauma will tell you, it is not over.

Her foundational belief that school is safe for her is gone.

Her belief that adults can keep her safe is being rebuilt.

Her positive attitude toward school and what it entails to be a student is often missing.

Instead, we are left with a child who sometimes still asks to not go to school and wonders what will happen if…

What will happen if they target me again?

What will happen if they hit me?

What will happen if no one likes me?

What will happen if my teacher doesn’t believe me?

And whenever we need to, we remind her that we are here to help.  That her teachers are there to help.  That we have a plan.  That we have a system in place.

And yet, telling a child that you have a plan who has already witnessed that plan failing to protect them seems cruel at times and laughable at others.

And yet she goes to school.  She laughs with her friends.  She smiles about boys (where did that come from?), she tells me of her interest in Rosa Parks and how one day she hopes to be as brave as her.  She shares the good, the trivial, and sometimes the bad.  We speak of before and after, having found a new time marker in our life that we never wanted.  We speak of next year and wonder whether 3rd grade was just a year to forget and that next year certainly must be better.

Her father and I wonder what the long-term changes will be.  Will she continue to distrust school?  Will she continue to reach fight, flight, or freeze much faster than her siblings?  Will she continue to wonder when someone says or does something unkind to her whether they will repeat it and a new bullying situation will happen?

I wish I could say that it’s over and that she is fine.

There are days I believe it but then there are days where we see the pain from it all rear its ugly head again and we are left to pick up the pieces of a kid who so much wants to love school, to be successful, to be liked.  But who just doesn’t know if it will happen.

So all I can say, to those who have wondered.  It’s better, we believe that, but we still have a long way to go.  And our daughter?  She continues to amaze us because that is all she ever has been; amazing.  And tough.  And kind.  No child should have to experience bullying, what can we do to stop it?



5 thoughts on “After the Bullying Ends”

  1. I’m very thankful that your daughter has lost some of her fear and your family can relax a bit. She is such a brave little girl who is fortunate to have the support of loving parents. I join you in your hope that fourth grade will be a better year and will bring more laughter with friends and more trust of school. – Susan

  2. I am so sorry your daughter had to go through this. Often parents don’t know when it’s happening or that it happened. As a retired principal I think the school-wide message that it won’t be tolerated needs to be delivered daily. I used Project Wisdom to give daily messages, but also suspended kids for bullying. I was not always supported by top administration. And now I see that retributive justice is being promoted. I hope schools are careful with this. I don’t believe in forced fake apologies, especially for violent offenses. Also, girls bully differently than boys. It takes longer for the bullying of girls to come to light, and it’s usually more subtle. For example, a friendship of 3 girls often ends when 2 start rumors about the third and then exclude her. That third often doesn’t know what hit her and is flabbergasted. Sometimes the parents get involved, believing lies. This can go on for months or even a school year. So, education about what bullying looks like needs to be done and parents should constantly talk to their kids and know their friends.

  3. I feel like schools need to take more responsibility and have several assemblies a year with speakers to whom children can relate to regarding bullying. It should also be realistic. Playgrounds are where this happens. Most conflicts happen on the playground because it’s a non structured often poorly supervised environment when students outnumber the staff who are usually Not the teachers but teachers assistants who have little to no training or experience. At my sons school I call the teachers aids recycled parents. They are former or current parents who decide they want to work at the school. Most have zero training. How do we prevent the bullying? Not sure it can be completely prevented but once it starts to happen and the victim is promised they will be protected, they need to be on it and shadow the perpetrator. The focus should be on the child with the bullying issue. Why is that child doing what they are doing? What is getting in their way? Do they have special needs or circumstances that need to be looked into? Punishing the child will Not solve the problem. Partnering the child will. Helping to heal the bully, listen to them and collaboratively help them with what’s going on inside of them will change things. If they are not transformed and healed, how does this prevent them from going into the next kid? I knew a boy who had severe adhd. He honestly could not control himself. He was a bully to my son. As soon as the parents addressed what was getting in his way and made some changes, the boy transformed into a good kid who always said good things about my son. During a hard time, I told my son to not get discouraged and that this kid could actually become one of his best friends some day or maybe even save his life. He could not imagine it and said NO Way! That will Never happen! Well, he never became his best friend and has yet to save his life but, is now a friend who shows him the upmost respect and has not said another unkind word or physically bothered him again. It’s amazing what a child can overcome if only given the chance. So, we often say horrible things about the bully, but the bully is who we need to make sure is listened to, concerns listened to and helped so the cycle is stopped. Detention, suspension will not fix the problem. It’s a temporary bandaid. It just tells them they are bad and where do you go from there? Find the root of the problem and fix it. This is how we stop it from happening over and over again and also educate the people who oversee our kids, the aids who are out in the battlefield every day. No child should become a victim of a kid like this, so let’s get down and dirty and help the trouble maker because they are obviously disturbed souls who deserve to be saved as much as the victim. These kids are young. They have so much growing up to do. They also lack a ton of self control. I look back at my sons early education and that very age and can relate. How wonderful it was to see things changes in those children as they got older and more mature. I do see how when things are let go, they do escalate. My daughter was a happy kid and had no issues until some girls in her first grade class started becoming mean and aggressive. They would push each other. My daughter never did anything physical
    Like this in school. She started exhibiting anxiety and OCD like behaviors. She told me she wanted to die and her teacher would embarrass and shame the students including her. Teachers can be bully’s as well. My daughter exhibited the fight part of flight or fight in second grade when she was provoked. She was ready to defend herself and ready for anything. It was a bad situation. She could not handle the aggrevayors. She had sensory issues and anxiety which stemmed from some of her earlier school years so I know how this can effect a child. She is no longer at that school as she could not cope. The staff was aware of the situation but never saw what happened on the playground. Why? They were not watching. They were conversing and not monitoring. I know this because I observed on several occasions the chaos and lack of staff. It’s sad. It did not need to happen. I have been on both sides of this. Training for staff and compassion for the perpetrator and the victim. It’s a group effort. I pray your daughter can overcome this and move on and doesn’t inyernalize it like my daughter did. It changed my child for the worse. My son on the other hand persevered. Maybe he was the Flight part . Two kids, same house, same rules, completely different.

  4. I’m so sorry that your daughter has been through this. This has clearly been a difficult time for all of you. I recognize in your description of your daughter’s situation how I felt when I was bullied. For me it wasn’t as a student but rather as a librarian in a school. I was bullied by my manager to the point where it made me physically ill. I ended up in therapy. Work for me was tainted by this experience. I no longer felt safe. In the end I had to leave and find another job.

    It’s been six years and I’ve come out the other side with renewed confidence and a sense of calm that has been missing for a while. It might take a while for your daughter, but she will come through. She has all the love and support of your family around her which makes all the difference in the world.

  5. So sorry for all that your girl has gone through :(. No one should have to endure this, Enormous hugs for her ❤ <3.

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