How bullying has affected my daughter’s life
Complete unedited audio 9 minutes.
OCTOBER National Bullying Prevention Month | STOMP Out Bullying™
“Stomping out” bullying is easier said than done when you have a child that has speech and expressive language delays.
I thought I’d share some of my experiences with you regarding how bullying has affected my daughter’s life to date! I share this in the hopes that you all will be more aware and better prepared to help your children.
First, bullying can come in various forms and various degrees.
We typically see children being bullied physically by being pushed or hit. Then there is verbal bullying: The name-calling, slurs, or snide comments. But, there are other forms of bullying.
First Incident: When my daughter was in the first grade, she had a paraprofessional who probably shouldn’t have been a paraprofessional. This person constantly talked down to my daughter. Even though my daughter could not articulate what was going on, if we would’ve paid more attention to her behaviors, we might’ve been able to figure it out.
As it turned out, we didn’t find out until almost a year later when my older daughter became friends with a new girl in her class. When I met her parents, the mother recognized our younger daughter and shared that she had witnessed a situation in a hallway with our daughter and the paraprofessional. It really helped explain a lot of things that we couldn’t understand at the time; we couldn’t get any closure on what was going on because our daughter couldn’t communicate it.
Second Incident: When my daughter was in the second grade, we had another incident that can be classified as another form of bullying. Again, we couldn’t quite put our fingers on what was going on. My daughter kept complaining that her shoes hurt her. She would point to her toes and tell me your toes hurt…her toes hurt. I kept buying new shoes….actually, all kinds of different types of shoes. I kept getting the same response from her and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Well, as time passed, there was a school carnival, and as I was helping out in one of the booths, my daughter would not go with my older daughter to any of the games or events. She kept hiding behind my leg saying, “no, no.” I wasn’t quite sure what was up, but you could definitely tell she was afraid of a young boy. Now, this young boy happened to also be in her special ed classroom or in the classroom adjacent to hers. Again nobody could really tell me what was going on, but, a couple of weeks later I happened to be in the school cafeteria helping out, and while the kids were in line, one of the little girls in my daughters class said, “you know that boy over there, well, he stomps on Kailee’s toes every day on purpose in lunch lineup”. Well, there you go! That solved several of the issues my daughter was having. She was afraid of the boy because he kept stepping on her toes in line. He was able to do it (and get away with it) because the teachers never witnessed it, but the little girl that stood behind my daughter did see it. I would’ve never found out had I not visited her during school hours and attended her lunch.
Third incident: I recall that was pretty traumatic was when my daughter attended middle school. We sent her to a private school because I was concerned for her welfare; I wanted to protect her the best I could by limiting the class size. Well, I felt somewhat safe because we had hired a private tutor to work with my daughter after school who also worked with my daughter in school. I felt confident that she would tell me what was going on. When I kept asking if anything was up with my daughter, she assured me that everything was fine. BUT, here are the behaviors I was getting from my daughter: She had started exhibiting anxiety “through the roof” (you could almost feel it), she started complaining that her stomach hurt, and she didn’t want to go to school (which was very unlike her because she loves school). I didn’t know if she was getting an ulcer or what…. so I took her to the doctor and the doctor even asked me, “what the heck is going on with this kid?” because the doctor could almost feel like the anxiety was coming from her. That’s how stressed-out my daughter was. This was going on for weeks on end. I went to school every day to try and find out what exactly was going on. I talked to other parents, I talked to the principal, I talked to the tutor…nobody could tell me that anything was going on that would cause my daughter this much anxiety. My daughter couldn’t tell me anything except, “the girl with black hair was mean”. When I would ask about the “girl with black hair” everybody would say, “no, no…she’s not mean to Kailee, she actually plays with Kailee.” I couldn’t get anywhere; I couldn’t get any information. I had to pull my daughter out of that private school and out her into YET ANOTHER SMALLER private school! Again. No one could ever tell me what was going on and I couldn’t get to the bottom of what was actually happening with my daughter. It wasn’t until a year later when my daughter was seeing a different tutor (that happened to tutor the same young lady with black hair) who said, “oh yea, she has anger issues, and she growls pretty fiercely when she doesn’t get her way.” Well, this young lady had been growling at my daughter to the point that my daughter was afraid of her and afraid to go to school. No one at the school EVER SAID ANYTHING!!!
Fourth Incident: Now, remember, at this point, I said we pulled my daughter and put her into an even smaller private school…where the teacher only had, you know, maybe 15 kids, plus an aide to watch over all of the students Well, I was hoping that our daughter would be OK and, she was…to a point. After the second year of attending that school, she told me that a boy whom the teacher had chosen to be her peer helper was being mean to her. Because of experience through the years, I’ve learned to figure out ways to help my daughter communicate with me since she can’t express them herself; she can’t get all the details out, and sometimes she gets them mixed up. Now, in these situations, I ask her to demonstrate to me what somebody else has done. In essence, I am asking her to model the behavior. She then proceeds to show me, for example, that someone is putting hand sanitizer on a pencil and telling her she has to put it in your mouth. Yes, that happened. I immediately called my husband, and he and I went and talked to the teacher. When we explained the situation, the teacher swore up and down that she trusts this young, he is an upstanding student, and she is sure he would never do anything like that.
Well, I am here to tell you, and I want you to understand how serious I am….. for basically all of my daughter’s entire educational life, they’ve been telling me it’s NEVER anyone else doing anything…. it’s always my daughter misunderstanding, and the situation is NEVER what we are making it out to be, OR, no, no no…nothing like that happened blah blah blah…So, I said to the teacher (nicely), “listen this is what Kailee is telling us, so because this is a small school, you have videotape, right? Please review the videotapes and see if what we’re saying is true.” We left the school…… it took the teacher about a month to review all of the videotapes. She then called us….almost in tears, and apologized. Everything Kailee said was happening was, IN FACT, happening EXACTLY as she had said!!! The young man apologized to our daughter, and the school suspended him.
Reason for Sharing
My point in sharing all of this with you is so that you can be aware of these “other ways” bullying can occur. Please find ways to help your child express themselves when things seem “off”. Make it a point to go to their school and have lunch with your child occasionally and meet some of the kids that are around them.
As their parents, we need to be their voice.
We need to hear our children, and often they speak through their behaviors.
I hope that by sharing our experiences with you, it may prove helpful to you and your child.
Let’s put an END to BULLYING once and for all.
Practice, being kind to everyone.
I’ll talk to you soon.