Yesterday was my youngest daughter’s last day at her home middle school. Next week she ventures out of district to see if a fresh start at a new school will fare better for her.
Last year she was bullied and threatened physically. This year the bullying was verbal but in the end, more damaging. This year my daughter and hopefully her classmates learned that the adage, “Sticks and stone can break your bones, but names will never hurt you” isn’t quite accurate. Name’s might not hurt you – but they can ruin the hell out of a person’s reputation.
To rehash the dirty details at this point would be fruitless. Suffice to say, for no clear reason whatsoever a kid decided to call my daughter a hooker in front of a large group of middle schoolers and it took on a life of it’s own.
Not that it would ever be okay to call someone a hooker, but she was simply walking through the gymnasium when her reputation started to unravel. It’s not as if she was caught under the bleachers with a boy. I can’t imagine what happens to the girl that makes that mistake because apparently once you’re called a hooker, just like in the real world the assumption is that it’s okay to disrespect the hell out of you.
Questions about “How much she charged” to “Wondering if she really had slept with an 8th grader” eventually lead to pretty vile and sexually charged comments/suggestions being leveled at her between classes, during class and on the walk to/from home. Finally she went to her guidance counselor and I must say, the higher ups at her school did everything right. But when word got out as to what had happened, instead of getting empathy from her peers, she got put down even more for being a snitch.
We realized that she needed a fresh start with a new group of kids where she wasn’t labeled and could have a “do over” of sorts. That do over starts on Wednesday.
In the meantime, here’s what I’ve learned:
- Middle still school sucks as bad as it did in 1982.
- Kids don’t understand half the shit that comes out of their mouths at that age, but it doesn’t stop them from saying it.
- They also don’t understand that their comment alone might not seem like a big deal, but when lumped together with other comments can become pretty damn oppressive to a person.
- Kids are allowed to fuck up at this age but that being said, they need to own what they do and say. Schools can only do so much. Parent’s are the ones that need to follow up and make sure that their kids makes it right.
- The names didn’t hurt as much as the realization that friends she’s known since kindergarten were okay with treating her like shit – And that other friends were okay with witnessing this treatment.
- To the parents that made their kids apologize: Thank you. It made all the difference to my daughter.
- To the parents that didn’t make their kids apologize: You dropped the ball big-time and did a huge disservice to not only my kid but to your own.
- To the kids that stood back and said nothing, I apologize the we adults didn’t better teach you the power of “group think”. Sure this power can be used for bad (bullying) but it can also be used for good (ending bullying) and we dropped the ball when we didn’t teach you that’s it’s okay to get involved if it’ll help another kid’s situation.
- Teachers have a hell of a lot of power. The ones that use it well – I salute you. You’ve been wonderful. The ones that don’t, I can’t even begin to tell you how fucking annoyed I am with you as I exit your school. The fact that I have to craft a separate email this weekend and tell another adult my age that telling a kid that’s transferring that you’re going to throw a party once she’s gone, is a shitty thing to say. You don’t kick a 12-year-old girl when she’s down, asshole.
When word got out that she was transferring, one of the boys asked if she was leaving because of what he had said to her. When she verified that his actions definitely lead to her changing schools he said, “What’s the big deal? I said that stuff to you weeks ago!”
Lets look into our crystal ball and imagine this punk at 25, shall we? Why do I picture him cornering some poor Executive Assistant in the copy room at work? Or worse yet, imagine his sleazy defense lawyer admitting into evidence the miniskirt worn by his victim while trying to drag her reputation through the mud during this idiot’s trial someday.
I give my daughter a lot of credit. Once she was told she could transfer, a huge weight was lifted and she left her old school with a smile on her face and without any hard feelings. She’s hopeful about her new school and ready to get back to studying and having fun without worrying about such grown up situations.
I’m very grateful that she’s comfortable telling adults when she’s bothered and upset. Her willingness to be open and tell not only her parents but her guidance counselor, enabled us all to monitor the situation. Thus we were quick to realize when the problem at hand became unsolvable and transferring became the best option and were able to pull her before she got depressed or gave up on school entirely.
So that’s my final observation. Stay involved. Hound your kid. Be a pain in their ass. You don’t have to have all of the answers as much as you simply need to have all of the information. The answers will came later once you have all the facts.