Friday, March 23, 2007

Disturbing Story

A little boy in California tried to kill himself while at school. He had been bullied to the point where he didn't think he wanted to live anymore, so he tried to hang himself. Actually he tried 3 times. What did the school do about this? Not much, they sent him home by himself and then notified the mother the NEXT DAY.

I'm usually annoyed when the school people feel like they have to be in every part of your children's lives, but come on folks, if there was ever a time to call the parents this was it. What if the boy had tried to kill himself on the way home, just stepped out into traffic?

He's only 9, so little to have so much pain. It's easy to say "what's wrong with him?" but that 's not really fair. I have 4 kids, have been on the PTA and a Scout leader for more years than I wish to count, and I have seen what happens on the playground. I actually pulled my older son out of school in favor of homeschooling after observing him on the playground and what was going on. Today he's a self confident, intelligent high school freshman. At the time he was a small for his age, quiet 3rd grader. On my daily walk I would often pass by the school during the time he had recess. On several occasions I noticed a bigger boy picking on him. More than once he had my son in a head lock. All of this went unnoticed by the teachers who were out there, but talking to each other, not watching the kids. Problems of this type happened less when there were recess aides, but the school budget cuts eliminated them. I spoke to the school, but the problem didn't go away, so I took my kid home. Not every parent has the ability, time or desire to homeschool, so it's not an option for everyone.

What's the solution? Well, for one the elementary schools need to bring back recess aides. Most of the problems happen during recess and the teachers are not always observant. They have lessons to plan, meetings to discuss and a lot on their plates. Designate a person who's job it is to keep track of the kids during their outside time. Actually our school had 2 people for ever recess. They stood on opposite sides of the playground and kept an eye on things. Schools do need to take a lead in stopping bully behavior. Middle schoolers might be a different story, but at the elementary school age school authorities can have a lot of influence.

More importantly the parents should be notified when a problem arises. Sometimes kids are too embarrassed to talk to their parents, but if there is a problem at school someone should call home and talk to mom and dad about it. Parents need to spend more time talking to their kids too. Find out what's going on at school, even if it's hard to get information at first. Keep at it. The kids want to talk, but it's hard for them sometimes. Other adults, like PTA parents and scout leaders should keep an ear out too - and not be afraid to mention a potential problem to the parents.

This little boy tried to kill himself. How could the school just turn a blind eye and let it go for the rest of the day? They should have called home and talked to his parents immediately. They should be held accountable for their delay and given some sort of reprimand.

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