To the editor:
I am writing regarding school bullying. I am one of many parents here in Perry and other places who have had to watch their children go through Dante’s Inferno just to get an education.
There has been a lot of attention drawn to the problem of bullying in our schools. This attention is absolutely needed. Bullying has gotten out of hand, and it’s not just at ADM.
I am a proud mother of two students at the Perry Middle School and, as we’ve found out, the bullying problem is not just student deep. The problem lies in those who choose violence over anything else, the staff who make horrible comments about — and even to — their students, the staff who turn a blind eye and the administration at the school.
My eldest son has a problem with one specific child, but he has been the victim of bullying from more than one other student. He has been the butt of jokes among staff. Teachers have told him things that should not come out of a teacher’s mouth.
The administration has done what it can to protect the bully, not the victim. My youngest son, thank god, has only had to deal with one teacher but one who stole his love of school with the cruel things said and done. He has been targeted, in middle school, simply for being my eldest son’s brother.
My eldest son has been choked on school grounds no less than four times, starting in elementary school, and has sustained injury in three of those attacks. He has been pulled to the ground by his coat and backpack, shoved into locker doors, waited for by his bully, had his life threatened, had one kid go into gross detail on how he was going to steal my son’s innocence, and another student threatened to rape him.
Teachers have been hard on him because, I kid you not, he has medical issues that need certain liberties — bathroom breaks is a big one — and his teachers have kept him from using the bathroom. There are three doctor notes on file with the school regarding his health needs, yet they say things like, “Well, look who finally decided to show up,” and “At least you’re actually here,” and “Haven’t seen you in a while. How long will you be here this time.”
Most if not all of the incidents involving my son have involved the police. The school officer has had to go above and beyond in making sure all legal steps are taken. However, when the DA refuses to press any sort of charge against a child who has no problem choking the life out of another student, then the red tape becomes damn near impossible to cut through.
We have had it out with the principal and vice principal, only to be told, “Every child has the right to an education.” When I asked why and how they think it is a good idea to keep one child in fear by allowing the bully to stay simply because of sympathy being applied to the wrong side of the situation.
When my husband and I asked, “What about our son’s right to an education? What about our son’s right to be safe in school? What about our son’s right to an education that is not interrupted by ‘What next?’ What about our son’s right to life?” The only response to that was: “He is entitled to an education just like the other child is.”
What I want to know is when did accountability move from the shoulders of the bully to the backs of the victims. When did it become okay for teachers to be cruel? When did it become okay to force students to live in fear simply because one student (the bully) deserves an education.
The last time I checked, we have an alternative school for a reason. However, when it was suggested that we send our son there, I lost it. My son has never instigated any of it. There was one incident in which he ran his mouth and got hit in the head with a football. I flat out told him that’s what happens when you run your mouth about things you know nothing about.
Somewhere down the line, parents shifted the blame from the student for poor performance to the teachers for not being able to teach. Somewhere down the road, teachers became complacent and would rather allow computers to teach our children. Somewhere down the road, keeping students safe became less important that making sure their aggressors are kept away from them.
So much so that we have had to keep our sons home due to concerns for his safety and life, only to have the school send us letters about attendance and the possibility of adverse action being taken. I kid you not.
I will say that we have had wonderful experiences with the administration of Perry Middle School. For the most part, they are very prompt in letting us know when something happens, but that’s it. The administration has been very good with regards to my son’s medical issues. The principal has been beyond helpful in other things, and my kids respect him and really do, for the most part, enjoy attending school under his guidance.
My sons want to go to school. They want to learn. They want to be with their friends. They want to make it through the day unscathed. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it’s been working out.
I urge all other parents whose children have suffered bullying to step forward and say, “Enough is enough.” We have tried to bring attention to the issue, but all to no avail.
It is my hope that the poor child in Adel did not die in vain. We need to rise up and say, “See what your policies do? See what your protecting those who hurt others instead of the hurt does?”
Maybe, just maybe if enough people stand up, turn their spotlight onto the issue, that there will be no option but to have policies addressed and for change to actually happen. We need to stand together if there is any hope for our students and generations to come.
I am sick and tired of watching children be crushed by the system.
Kara Marie Countryman