There are so many things in the news these days that get under my skin, but the one story that breaks my heart completely is the Rehtaeh Parsons tragedy. The authorities failed this young girl when she needed them most, and although it appears changes may be made, there is nothing that will restore her to her family, or fill the void her passing has left. Not only did the system fail her, she also had her peers turn on her in so many vile ways. My heart goes out to her family, and breaks a little more for her.
Before I continue, let me first state that I am absolutely not comparing myself in any way, shape, or form to Rehtaeh Parsons or her case.
It disturbs me so deeply when I hear stories of bullying, because I was bullied, too. Actually, I was on the receiving end of relational bullying (the bully-girl specialty – turn the school against you via lies and subterfuge), and ultimately a savage beating. I recall having my arms held behind me by one girl, while two other girls took turns punching me in the head, face and torso. My lips were cut and bloody, and my nose was gushing. I was in 7th grade. The girls were in 8th. I remember a blurred amalgam of terror, rage and aching pain. The beating finally stopped when a woman stuck her head out of her window and shouted that she’d call the police if they didn’t leave me alone. It brings tears to my eyes to recall it, but I need to lay this stone down, and carry it no more.
My father was so angry, and called a meeting with the school principal and the girls involved. He compared them to a pack of dogs, and threatened to press charges. It was one of the few times I felt my dad truly had my back. I finished 7th grade, and we moved to a different area.
As a mother of girls, I have zero patience for bullying. When my middle daughter was at the end of 6th grade, she was threatened and pushed by one of the older girls she would eventually be seeing in her intended middle school. I went directly to the assistant principal (the principal proper was on early vacation) of her current elementary, and expressed my concerns and disgust. He held a meeting with my daughter and the offending girl (she was allowed a peer for support, my daughter was not), and I was ordered to wait outside. I was quietly seething over this, but once the meeting had concluded, I informed him that I would be in touch with the middle school principal directly, and inform him that I am aware of this girl, and will be keeping an eye on her.
I did just that. Actually, I said: “I will not tolerate this kind of maladaptive, anti-social behaviour, and if I hear one more thing about this girl threatening or posturing toward my daughter, I will immediately press charges with police and inform Child Protective Services. This girl obviously needs help, but my priority is my daughter. If her parents are unable or unwilling to get her some help, the police and CPS will.”
Since many instances of bullying occur at school, it’s logical for parents to enlist the help of the school, or governing school board, to help when their child comes under attack. It’s really important to remember that bullying is not a school issue, though, it’s a “person” issue. Parents do need to bring the proverbial hammer down on bullies, and take back their power. After all, there is no one who loves your children, or is as fiercely protective of them, as YOU are!