Tattling Vs. Bullying

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Parenting | 1 comment

Tattling Vs. Bullying

Is your child’s school protecting the bullies?

My daughter was six years old and attending the public school in our neighborhood. She was always a sweet child; gentle with animals and kind to her friends. She was a bright enthusiastic student with a proclivity for math. She loved going to school. She was eager to learn and make new friends. Always the social buff.

She also had a lisp that sometimes made it difficult to understand her, and it made her different.

Approximately two months into the school year her happy attitude began to change. At first I just thought maybe she was tired or coming down with a cold–some simple thing that would be easy to resolve and life would return to normal in a short time.

Over the next few weeks, however, the situation deteriorated to the point where she no longer wanted to go to school. In fact, she cried every morning and insisted on staying home. This was not just a red flag. It was a field of red flags blowing in 40 miles-per-hour wind.

Every single day I asked her, “What is wrong at school?” Each time she told me the same thing. “Nothing”. I talked to her teacher, who was just as confused as I was by the sudden change in my daughter’s personality. I had no idea what was wrong or how to find out. Her doctor assured me that she was perfectly healthy and the problem was with something at school.

So, it’s nothing medical. It’s nothing in the classroom that the teacher is aware of. So I asked myself “What else is there?”

The next day I decided to go at lunch and maybe check things out for an hour or two and see if anything looked off.

When I arrived at the playground during lunch recess, I didn’t see her anywhere. I was beginning to get upset when I spotted her sitting alone against a cement wall far away from all of the other kids.

“Why are you sitting over here by yourself?” I asked her. She replied that the teacher on yard duty had told her to sit by the wall because she was “In trouble” but she refused to tell me why she was in trouble. Up until this point she had told me everything she had ever thought (usually 5 or 6 times) so this made no sense.

With my child in tow I located the yard duty teacher and asked what she had done to be punished for. Mrs Yard teacher said that it was time for her to be “off the wall” because her time was up and tried to pass the whole thing off as if nothing had happen.

We went to the Principal. He asked the yard duty teacher what had happen.

It took some doing but eventually the entire story was told.

A group of first and second graders were making fun of my daughters lisp during recess every single day. For a time, she was able to avoid them by leaving the area they were in but eventually the bullying got so out of control they followed her to the new location. At that point they also began to kick dirt in her face and bump into her. That is when she decided to go the teacher to get help.

Instead, she was told that tattling was not allowed and told to sit by the wall. Day after day this school employee allowed this bullying to continue and punished my child for asking for help.

I was further told that it was in fact true that “tattling” was not allowed but it was never intended to be interpreted this way. My child was unable to tell her parents what was going on at school because a yard duty teacher told her that she was tattling and she would be in trouble for doing so. Also it was never meant to apply to a bullying situation. In fact because of the young age of the children involved all it took was for the principle to tell the bullies to stop bothering other children or they would spend some time sitting by the wall at recess.

Now, Damage Control. According to Caldwell College’s Undergraduate Research Community’s Publication, Test results indicate that bullying is a serious problem that can cause children to experience chronic stress, trauma symptoms, and negative impacts on their reading comprehension performance, an area that is critical to many areas of the curriculum.

My child was assured by her teacher, her school principal, the yard duty teacher and her parents that Mrs.Yard-Duty had made a mistake and that any time anyone bothered her in any way she was to tell an adult immediately. Further, it was explained that if for any reason that adult did not assist her, she was to tell her teacher or her principal. Most importantly, she should always always tell her parents. These concepts were repeated often and gradually she began to feel safe at school.

Have a conversation with your children. No matter what age they are, find out about their school’s tattling policy and make sure your child understands that it is okay to tell their parents anything, and that no other adult should ever tell them not to tell their parents something. If they are not sure about something, they can ask you and you will help them figure it out.

You never know–someone at your child’s school may be protecting a bully!

–Deb

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