“I wish you would commit suicide and just kill yourself!” That’s a sentence no child should ever hear and one which even as I write it breaks my heart. I admit that quietly in my room I’ve been crying this week and even as I write it brings tears to my eyes. I am keeping my tears to myself and staying strong for my daughter. Because on Monday, April 6, 2015 that is what a classmate in the fourth grade said to my daughter.
First, if you haven’t been reading along on Money Saving Parent you may not know about my daughter. Now, I’m not saying she is perfect but she is the sweetest, kindest most empathetic child I have every met, and as a former teacher, daycare director and college administrator I’ve met LOTS of kids. Sure, she does things that need corrected, but she has a beautiful heart and is always the one to lend a hand, care for the other kids and be the first to meet and greet the new kids in the class or help them with their homework. But even if she was the meanest little girl on the planet, she – nor should any child have to endure the words that she has had spewed at here this school year. This is going to be a little long – please bear with me.
It started at the beginning of the year. “D” (I won’t state school or child’s name to be civilized – at least for now) called her fat, fatty, ugly, and stupid, just to name a few. Add to that embarrassing moments like in the lunchroom pointing out my daughter’s lunch box or tray and saying “Look at fatty – no wonder she’s so ugly – look at how much she’s eating.” “Here fatty here’s some stuff from my lunch you can stuff it in your face.”
My daughter tried, oh how she tried to ignore this child. But eventually she broke down and told me what was happening in school. My heart broke again for my beautiful, sweet daughter. I immediately contacted the school and the teacher and was pleased to find them receptive to our conversation and immediately putting tools into place to stop the bullying.
I later found out that the child was eventually moved to another fourth grade classroom. No one will tell me exactly why but that in some small way the bullying did contribute but that there are “other factors” that I can’t know due to “federal privacy statutes.”
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.
There have been moments between the girls, but few and far between. My daughter is handling them. She knows she’s a bully. However, this week that all changed. I fear for my daughter. I fear for the other girls (especially A and G) this girl bullies who may not be able to talk to their parents.
“I wish you would commit suicide and just kill yourself!”
What made this girl say this to my daughter? Apparently there was a disagreement in PE. My daughter pushed her away and said (paraphrasing) “Leave me alone.” The girl responded with this statement. My daughter responded with “I wish I could punch you in the face.”
I don’t condone violence. But sometimes it is necessary for self preservation. And, that is what my daughter was doing, “I just wanted to stand up for myself mom! I thought she would stop then.”
I’m so proud of her. I’m proud she stood up for herself. I’m proud that she is worried about the other two children this girl bullies. What I’m not proud of is my school and the administration.
As you can imagine my fingers flew – to the keyboard and the phone. The next day I receive an immediate and heartfelt response from her teacher. Another teacher apologized because she wasn’t aware of it. Another stopped me on campus to tell me how sweet and smart my daughter is, and a complete joy to have in the grade. They would do all they could. But when I asked about disciplinary measures or counseling for the bully I was referred to the assistant principal.
Here’s the principal’s side:
- My daughter is in trouble too, and I’m to be thankful she is getting off “light” with a warning and being made to sit in “reflection at recess” because her behavior was just as bad.
- She spoke to the other girl and “she knows what she did is wrong.”
- “We are putting tools into place to make Cici feel more safe. We will be more vigilant.”
- I can’t tell you want I told her parents but I have talked to them. She then invoked “FERPA.”
- Oh, and last but not least my daughter was told to “be nicer, try to understand her and who knows maybe you will be friends.”
I don’t see “try to be their friend” on this list. Do you?
Here’s my end:
- My daughter was protecting herself. How dare you say it’s the same thing. Big difference between encouraging a child to commit suicide and pushing said person away from you.
- Her reflection time … yeah that was spent on the playground sitting at a picnic table – WITH HER BULLY! Yeah the one they are going to try to keep away from her. The one that I’m supposed to feel that my daughter is now safe from. But hey there was a monitor out there with the whole 4th grade.
- FERPA is to protection education records. A strict interpretation of that means EDUCATION, not disciplinary. However, they are covering up the disciplinary as an educational record and not providing me with the information I need to know my daughter is safe.
- How DARE YOU tell my daughter to be nicer, to try to be her friend to be more understanding? Why don’t you just let her lay down on the ground and let the bully beat her up?
And, that is where we are now. I don’t know what to do or where to turn. My daughter trusts them at the school, but I don’t. I don’t trust them anymore and I don’t know what to do. But there has to be more. There has to be something that can be done. This girl can’t get away with just sitting out recess – can she?
Join our discussion on Facebook or comment below.