Will The Bully Be Held Accountable?

10170737_10151962442902653_7163878646663327259_nI have a story that it’s time to share. It’s not entirely my story to tell, but hey, are any of the stories I share here. A huge part of my role as parent is to advocate for my children. And as the kids get older the lines get a little blurred when it’s best to step in and when it’s best to let them advocate for themselves. It’s very tough for me to not butt in when I see something bad happening to my children. Here is the story of my 12 year old daughter’s bully.

It all started over a year ago. In December of last year (2013) my 12 year old sent me a text message that a boy on the bus cut her hair with a paper hole punch. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how this came about and trying to get the story from her via text message while she was on the bus wasn’t easy. I called the school to see if they could shed some light on the situation.

I was told they would look into it and call me back. And later that night after my daughter was home and I was able to question her more and find out if there was any visible damage to her hair (there was not) I was able to piece together what happened. The vice principal of her school called me and assured me that he was handling this situation and he spoke to the child’s parents and consequences were given. He couldn’t tell me what those consequences were, but he felt that this was an isolated incident.

The school year went on and from time to time my daughter would come home complaining about this boy (we’ll call him Z) on the bus. Z said rude things and disgusting things on the bus today. Z called me a name. Z stripped naked. Z poured water on me. Every time I told my daughter to tell the Vice Principal. Eventually I called and spoke to him again about the water incident. I was told he was going to talk to him and would check in with my daughter frequently to see how she was doing.

Okay, well I guess they are handling this. Things were better, the school year ended and not much more happened.

A new year just brought new problems.  At the beginning of the school year this same boy ended up threatening my daughter, chasing her, and pushing her into a fence. This scared me because now he really put his hands on her in a violent way. I called the school and didn’t have my fears squashed. I wasn’t able to get in touch with the vice principal. I left messages and he wasn’t calling back. I was becoming angry. I called after days of being ignored and left a message saying that if I didn’t get a call back that I would have no choice but to go to the police about this situation.

Amazingly, threatening the law has a way of getting people to do things. I got a call right back then and discovered that the Vice Principal in all of this time hadn’t really investigated much of anything because he was shocked when I told him what exactly happened. He had been told about the situation, but I guess didn’t think it was as severe as it was. He assured me that consequences would be taken (but that he couldn’t tell me what those consequences were) and that he would continue to check in with my daughter to make sure things are going better.

3rd time’s a charm, right? Well, no not quite. Last week I got a text message from my daughter asking me if she could get breakfast at school. Knowing she had taken food from home I was curious why she would need to use her lunch money to get breakfast on this day. She said Z stole my breakfast and wouldn’t give it back, I had nothing to eat. I asked if she told the Vice Principal, she said she did, I asked what he said, and she said that he would talk to him. So he didn’t offer to get you breakfast? Nope. So I’m frantically calling the school at 7:30 in the morning trying to find out why no one is making sure my child had food when she was given food by me.

I was told they would get her breakfast and I asked to have the VP call me back. They assured me that both would happen. My daughter told me she did get breakfast, but she thinks she had to pay for it. I didn’t hear from the VP until dinner time that night.

Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise because it had given me a chance to get the whole story from my daughter. On this day she wasn’t even sitting near Z. She was several rows in front of him minding her own business. Z got up out of his seat and walked up to her and snatched her breakfast right out of her hand. The bus driver said and did nothing because as my daughter says, he doesn’t bother anymore because Z doesn’t listen.

My daughter got up out of her seat and confronted Z who told her that she could have it back if she gave him all of her RAFT Tickets (school incentive for good behavior). She refused so Z said, okay then give me your DS for the day. She refused that as well and then the bus driver yelled at her to get in her seat. She explained to the driver that he took her breakfast and all he did was tell her to take her seat. So two adults failed her on this day. I was livid.

So the VP talked to me about this situation and gave me a lot of nice words like usual. There will be consequences, we’re dealing with this, your daughter had breakfast. Yeah, only because I called to make someone feed her. I demanded that he be removed from the bus. He told me that that wasn’t going to happen and that he would have to talk to my daughter and this child and then would call me back the next day.

The next day was actually two days later. His plan was to put an aid on the bus and give Z and assigned seat. I said no way, I myself have had to speak with you about 4 incidences, you had to call me to speak to my daughter once because of something else this boy did to another child on the bus, he doesn’t deserve to be riding the bus. This is the only place the two see each other (Z is a grade ahead of my daughter). Seems to me that the safest thing that makes the most sense is he doesn’t ride the bus. And round and round we went.

I requested a meeting with the boy’s parents and the school principal. I got a meeting with just the vice principal. He said we would discuss the bully report that he is now FINALLY going to write. Now, after 4 incidences that I got involved in, but countless others my daughter had brought his attention to and he did nothing about.

That meeting happened today. Prior to going I talked to my daughter more. I knew there were some more times she had reported things to the VP, but she was always super vague about what happened. I pressed her about exactly what kind of things Z said to her and some of her friends.

He had asked the girls about their period and if they had it yet. He told them he would stop bugging them if another one of her friends would just go on a date with him. And he also talks frequently about condoms.

The period thing and the extortion of course are the biggest issue here. I also checked out the CT laws on bullying and there is an anti bully law which the school has been violating by not taking action sooner. So I went armed with all of this information today.

The Vice Principal I will say is a very nice man. And I do have to say this school is great. And this is a huge part of why I want the boy off the bus because the only place she has to put up with him is on the school bus.

So, for the meeting, we still went round and round. I am not confident in our plan, but he is writing up something with clear consequences which he will go over with my daughter and Z so they are both aware of what is being put in place. The aid will hopefully start on Thursday. He will be positioned on the bus in such a place that he should be able to intervene with anything. However, he could not guarantee me that Z’s assigned seat would be next to the aide therefore blocking him from leaving his seat to go after my daughter.

It also doesn’t appear this is necessarily a permanent solution. If he behaves, then it sounds like they plan on letting up the reins a little for him. Needless to say I’m not super confident, but there will be a written plan that I will have a copy of and Z’s parents will also have a copy of. If he violates this with any child, not just mine he will be subject to consequences.

I told my daughter that if he does ANYTHING to her she has my permission to defend herself, whatever that means at this point. Because lets be honest, what we have in essence is a piece of paper saying behave. There will be an extra adult on the bus which hopefully deters any bad behavior, but the bus driver gave up on him so I’m not sure what will happen with this aid.

I never want to condone violence, but in this situation I think my daughter has done everything she can. I told the Vice Principal that I do not expect to be called because she gets suspended or expelled for defending herself against a boy who has been bullying her for over a year now. He kind of had this you do what you gotta do attitude about this. I probably will end up having to fight for her to be allowed to remain on the bus if it does come down to her hitting him. But since all she has to protect her now is a piece of paper, I’m thinking that’s not acceptable. I hope she never has to find herself in that position, but if she does I hope it wakes this kid up and he stops messing with girls. Since he thinks it’s okay to get physical with her, then I guess the school shouldn’t mind when she gets physical back, right?

So that’s the story of the boy, Z, who has been bullying my 12 year old. It might not be over yet, but I am hoping it is.

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  1. My daughter’s bully was J.

    Well, first there were several, and her whole first year at that school our complaints were answered by the Head of Year (we’re in England) calling the bullies out of class as a group and having a little talk about how wouldn’t it be nice if they left my daughter alone? They, of course, loved missing class together and it did nothing to make them stop bullying.

    The next year is when we started to get serious–and angry. First this boy J asked my daughter one day if she knew what rape was. I hit the roof and started using the phrase “sexual harassment” when I complained, but of course, J denied it. We started hearing about him calling her names and picking on her, taking her things from her. We kept complaining to the school, and they kept assuring us they would do something and what they did was a detention, or a talking-to, and that was it. They did finally switch the bullies’ schedules so they had no classes with our daughter, but they just sought her out at lunch and in between classes to bully and harass her. My daughter is not quite on the autistic spectrum but is close (tested just above it, but clearly quirky) and it was all very confusing and painful for her, and we were livid.

    At the end of last year, he punched her, and we’d had it. I told the school that if something wasn’t done I’d be calling the police, and that if they could not prevent my daughter from being abused in their school then she would not be attending their school and I’d make sure the local authority and the national school authority knew why.

    They suspended him for half a day. Whoopee.

    But. It did change this year. We started reporting every single incident (and luckily, we had the head of year for that year and her homeroom teacher–an angel of a man, seriously–on her/our side. Just as with your Z, an aide was assigned to J who accompanied him in the hall at all times. It helped…but not enough.

    We kept reporting, though. The principal of the school assured us that they were getting very close to a permanent solution being implemented (read: expulsion). We were also told that she wasn’t the only girl he did this to–as if that somehow made it better! Like you, I asked for a meeting with J’s mother but didn’t get one.

    The final straw came in December or so. Two of J’s friends approached my daughter in the lunchroom as she ate and plunked themselves down beside her, and J came up and stood right behind her, trying to block her from getting up and leaving. I don’t remember what they said, but she got up and pushed past him and left, and we called the school as soon as she told us about it that day.

    And glory of glories, J was expelled. Finally. After almost three years of torturing our daughter and other girls.

    It is shameful the lack of responsibility and action schools take on bullying, even when they claim to be a “zero tolerance” school. They’ll suspend a girl for wearing a skirt that’s a little too short, but boys can push, punch, harass, insult, and steal from our daughters and nothing is done.

    The best part is…I met with the Principal recently and he told me that he’d seen J’s mother in town, and she actually shook his hand and thanked him for expelling J. Because J had been put into a new school for kids with behavioral issues, and was thriving. I actually cried with relief, because–as I’m sure you know–as much as I would have liked to have wrung that scrawny little bastard’s neck. I felt awful about a 13-y-o boy’s life being ruined because he was kicked out of school. This is not an upwardly mobile country or one with lots of opportunities, and my husband (he grew up here) had known kids who were expelled and basically put into schools were no teaching took place and the best the kids could hope for was being a day laborer or something (usually they’d end up on the dole for life). So I was and am actually pleased that maybe he has a future–mostly, I’m hoping it means he won’t grow up to be a rapist now. Which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t slap him silly if he ever comes near my daughter again. :)

    I wish more parents spoke about this, and especially more parents of girls. My daughter has had this happen at two different schools now, where some boy has decided to continually torture and abuse her, and both times I’ve been told “Oh, she’s not the only girl he does this to,” like that makes it okay. Like the fact that he violates and harasses lots of girls instead of just one means I should be reassured!? Ugh. The schools do nothing to stop it and act like it’s just boys being boys, and thus teach our daughters that they have to just accept being abused as part of normal life. SMH.

    I really hope your daughter is able to get past this and that her school gets off their butts and takes some real action. Thanks for telling her story.

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