Bullying is evil. There is no other word for it.
Unfortunately it is something that goes on daily in probably all schools up and down the country. The problem is without constant adult supervision it is nearly impossible to monitor and with the financial restrictions on schools presently, there are too many times when there are gaping holes in the supervision ratio.
Now, I am personally aware that bullying in far from a modern problem, but it is far more talked about these days. When I was at school, I hated it, because as the fat kid, I was an easy target for anyone who felt it was fun to have a go at someone. By the time I had progressed from infants to junior school, I had learned to not eat in front of other people, because seeing me with food set many of the bullies off. By the time I reached secondary school, I had such poor self-image, it was no surprise I learned how making myself sick gave me control, even though it didn’t stop the bullies. The vicious cycle of binge eating in private began and lasted for a very long time. My bad relationship with food, and poor self-worth was a direct result of bullying, and it has affected life choices I have made along the way. The attitude of family and teachers when I complained was basically that being name called was not harming me – sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you, well that is just not true. As a child, when you see nobody cares, then you give up caring, and you stop complaining, and in fact you learn to believe the nasty things that are said to you are true and that you deserve any physical punishment they give you.
This week M has again been the victim of bullies. He had said nothing to us about it, on the first day it had happened, but luckily for him, I witnessed it on the second day and was able to frog march him away from the group of children who had circled him to use him as a kicking post.
Unfortunately, I wasnt able to go into the school to talk about the incident. I just get so upset by bullying that I get over emotional and then I am anything but rational which then takes away from the situation my child is in. I have therefore learned that the best course of action is to act calmly. This often means Hubby has to do the talking, or in this case the emailing. He said what had been witnessed and who was involved – I recognised 2 of the group of boys.
Nothing was heard from the school that day, but this meant I was able to talk to M about the incident when he got home from school. He said they had started on him the previous day and had attacked him again at break time that day. We pushed him as to if he knew why they had done it and he was adamant he didn’t know – M is very good at lying by omission but terrible at making up lies and will easily crack and tell the truth. We therefore had to believe him that he hadn’t knowingly done anything to provoke these boys.
The next morning Hubby received a response from the Head that Ms teacher had been told and she would talk to him and the boys involved would be spoken to. It was reassuring to hear it was being taken seriously. Ms teacher came out and spoke to me just after the bell to say M had given her some more names – he goes in before the bell as the playground first thing is very disturbing for him. She said the matter was being taken seriously.
After school I asked M if he had spoken to the head teacher, and he said she had spoken to the boys. He also told him that he was allowed to go back into the school at break or lunchtime if he didn’t felt safe. He was really pleased that he had been listened to and had feed back – previously it had been left to us to talk to him afterwards which is why I think he never felt anyone had taken him seriously. The head fed back to Hubby and said the boys excuse was M had pushed one of them – now, I may not be the sharpest tool in the box, but even I see the huge flaw in their defense – a gang kicking constantly on 3 occasions is over kill for one push on one person, the level of violence was just beyond belief. When M gets upset, he tends to raise his arms over his face to defend himself and if he was feeling stressed he goes straight into flee mode, and so may have pushed someone out of the way to get away from a situation that was upsetting him and this is what is believed to have happened.
The following morning going through the playground the gang all glared at M as he went past them but he said there was no trouble that day. Hopefully the soft target that a friendless ASD child is can now be seen as someone who will tell when he is threatened or attacked.
It is not just reassuring to M but to us as well that for once he has been listened to so an incident is properly investigated rather than the attitude of its easier to blame the additional needs child.
The saddest thing about this whole incident was when I asked him how he felt once it was sorted out and he said he was sad. He wasnt sad because he had been bullied – the reality is he is becoming used to that, but because one of the boys who attacked him was someone who he had bonded with in nursery. M said of this boy that “he had promised to be be his friend forever but it now seems like he has forgotten that!” For a child who finds the whole concept of friendship alien to be hurt this way is heartbreaking. I just hope incidents like this don’t take from him the last spark of hopefulness that he might make a friend.
I hope the gang of boys learn that hiding behind each other to hurt a vulnerable child is not clever but based on my own experiences at the hands of bullies, I doubt they will learn that lesson anytime soon and I really hope next time they decide M is worthy of their attention he remembers there are people on his side and he has to speak out to get help.