Inspiration Comes From All Places

It might sound stupid, but this blog post came about because I saw The Lorax yesterday with my kids.

I am fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to work from home, which in turn allows me to homeschool my kids. We began homeschooling this past fall because there was a bullying issue at our public school, and we decided to not put up with it any longer.

At the beginning of my oldest’s 6th grade year, compounding his dwindling self esteem, middle school kids thought it hilarious to make fun of him. Why? Because he is short. Because he’s in the “gifted” program. Because he’s too eager to be popular. Because he has a shaggy haircut. Because he likes skinny jeans.

One day on the bus — the main forum for unchecked bullying — my son walked back to the kids who were laughing and making fun of him and yelled, “Just stop it! Leave me ALONE!”

He sat back down in his seat and stared out the window. Knowing my son, who has always worn his emotions on his sleeve, he was probably trying so hard to blink away the tears welling up so as to not give those kids one more thing to point and laugh at him for. One of the kids from the back sat next to him and lightly said his name, to which my son turned — only to receive a punch in the chest. This was moments before the bus pulled up in front of our home, and he ran off of the bus, humiliated, angry, and hurt.

I knew something was wrong when he went straight to his room instead of moseying into the living room to see what I was doing.

Of course, we talked to the principal. Of course, we heard nothing more about it because of privacy laws. Of course, the taunting and bullying didn’t stop. And, of course, my son never told us about any of it.

Near the end of the year, a kid in my daughter’s class told me that his older brother referred to my son as “a punching bag.” When I asked my son why he didn’t tell anyone he simply said, “Because it makes it worse.”

I hurt for my son.

Of course, we talked to the principal. Of course, we heard nothing more about it (despite his “promise” to get back to us). Of course…

No.

No “of course”… because this time I made a change.

After months of research that summer, we decided to homeschool. I still have people tell me, “You could go to the school board. You could fight this,” to which I reply, “I’d rather spend my time doing something positive for my kids while I still have them in my care, than use all of my free time fighting a system that puts more care into test scores than the well-being of my child. I made a change that was in their best interest.”

I support public school, the idea of it. And I support the amazing teachers that actually do care. Unfortunately, the folks at the top of the food chain, don’t have my kids’ best interests at heart.

I mention all of this because of one word…

Change.

So, back to The Lorax. (The kids finished their school work early.)

The ideas and lessons in the film really hit me. Yes, I cried at the end. I cried because a few simple words from Dr. Seuss resonated with me on so many levels, in so many dear things in my heart. It applies to the environment, our health, bullying, equality… and yes, even to our cause in the atheist community.

In our atheist/freethinker/skeptic community, we are fighting for change. We are fighting for rights. We are fighting for equality. We are fighting for reason. We are fighting against… bullies.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not. — Dr. Seuss


About Shannon Burgdorf

A polymath (Greek πολυμαθής, polymathēs, "having learned much")[1] is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas.

I fancy myself this type of person - possibly one day I will live up to it.

So many interests so little time....

Actor, Writer, Mother, Wife, Atheist, Home Educator, Secular Humanist

  • RickFlick

    I was hoping you would tell of how you got the administration to institute a no bullying policy.  Sorry it did not happen.  At our school, there is such a policy and a program which educates the kids to intervene and mediate.

    • dauntless

      Same here. I guess I am getting to used to actual success stories in our community. For some reason, homeschooling seems like a hollow victory at best, but definitely not an ideal solution. The psychological effects of being bullied are obviously not ideal either, but being raised without any social interaction … that’s trouble.

      • dauntless

        *too used to

        My public school education has no bearing on the fact that my hands type too fast for my crappy laptop keyboard!

      • Onamission5

        There’s nothing about home schooling which inherently implies “being raised without any social interaction.” I think you’re taking stereotypes about religious fundamentalist compounds and believing those stereotypes apply to the every day home schooling parent, when they don’t. The average home schooler does not isolate their children, they enroll them in activities, sports, clubs and programs, the child will have friends with whom they interact regularly. Secular homeschoolers even more so. My kids have several different friends whose parents educate at home and those kids are fine, socially speaking. Better even in some cases because they were given adequate support to heal from the past damage done to them by their less evolved peers.

        Even if the stereotype were true, which it isn’t, isn’t being “socially isolated” with a nurturing, supportive family at least somewhat better than walking around for as many as twelve straight years with a target on your back?

      • Joanna

         What makes you think that home educated students don’t have social interaction?

  • Anon

    I actually hate that movie for what it’s done to the original, but I’m glad Dr. Seuss’ true message rang through, and I’m even more happy that you got your son out of that.

  • Travis

    That’s awful. I’m a much more confident person than I used to be, and I owe that to martial arts training. No, I’ve never hurt anyone.

    I’ve also started to lead classes, and helping people empower themselves is amazing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/richard.tingley Richard Tingley

      Same here. Knowing how to take care of myself physically was the only thing that allowed me to make it through public school with relatively few emotional scars. All three of my daughters are in martial arts and my middle daughter is even teaching it now. I can not imagine sending them into world without it.

      • Travis

        That’s awesome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=527982303 Jonathan Arthur

    Home schooled 4 sons in a homeschool community – they are 4 of the most loving, caring, sensitive, intelligent men. The other home school kids are still a very important part of their lives, they grew up together in a safe, well-monitored, loving environment, and as far as I can tell, most of them are superlatively thriving – intelligent, compassionate, involved in the community and politics. My oldest decided (they all had the option) to try public school around 7th grade – he came home with a tale of a down syndrome kid who was surrounded, hounded and pushed to tears and beyond by a large group of jeering students. My son could not wrap his head around it, he kept asking me, “Why did they do that, dad? Why didn’t they stop?” Not long after, he went back to home schooling. Good choice.

    • Travis

      Wouldn’t teaching your kid to stand up to those bullying the down-syndrome kid be a better lesson??

      • Billcat1

        Unfortunately, in the eyes of the school administration, that would make the ‘standing up’ kid the aggressor, and the bullies the victims.  

        • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

          That’s really weird. Why is it like that?

          • Parse

            Because generally the administration in schools act reactively, not proactively – it’s a matter of limited manpower, and spending the hours they do have addressing other, larger problems.
            When a victim fights back, the administration doesn’t know about the history of a scenario; instead, they have two students who got into a fight, and all they see was the ‘standing up’ kid reacting poorly.  They don’t realize kid’s been putting up with the abuse for years.  All they have documented is the fact that the victim took the ‘first’ swing.  

      • Travis

        @9ae4a6ffc1e56b318ce69fc63fb5a057:disqus, then you fight the administration if they want to punish your child.

        I help train an eleven-year old who now has four years of martial arts experience. I guarantee that she won’t stand idly by while something like that is going on.

        And I know that her parents would fully support her for that. She’s an amazing kid, and her parents are as well.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4VYQXMYJ3MGO74VD6Q7VZIYOQA Bonnie

    I was the “punching bag” at my grade school too. Back then there were no non-religious private schools in our town and homeschooling was not an option. I often regretted that I never stood up to the bullies but your story makes me wonder if it would’ve made any difference in the long run.

    Eventually I learned to be more “normal” in my social interactions, and to be less concerned about showing everyone how dang smart I thought I was and instead concentrated on building friendships. I hope that your son learns to navigate the gauntlet of interpersonal relationships. It’s very hard for those of us who don’t fit in right from early childhood.

    Also, if there is a private school in your city please consider it as an option. Usually there is a very nice mix of non-conforming children in them.

  • Anonymous

    How does home schooling, which in your case is equivalent  to running and hiding help the person the bullies turned to when you pulled your son? When one of my kids was bullied on the bus, the resource officer had to escort me form the building the next day. Guess what it stopped.   Think it was bad in school?  Wait until the see him in the streets. If your son was not worth the fight what in your life is?

    • Guestcommenting

      They clearly did try to fight it, but it only got worse, and no one in the school showed any level of concern or ability to change.
      Should the parent have said ‘well, tough luck, you’ll have to learn to bulk up” and let their child suffer and get beat up while outnumbered, out gunned, and with no sign of assistance? Even in the ‘streets’ a smart person knows when to turn tail and run to survive. There is a reason we say ‘pick your battles’.
      If the son was not able to learn the school material anymore because of peers, then what is the point of going at all? Should the parent have just  sat around and waited for the son to become repeatedly physically assaulted and hurt, depressed, suidical, or maybe take a gun to school? 

      • Anonymous

         So a situation where their son is in emotional and physical pain is not worth ‘picking’ for a battle? I ask again …then what is?

        • Guestcommenting

          The point is that the survival, health and well being of their son is the goal, fighting the school resulted in nothing or at worse escalation. Even if they fought through the courts and won, that is a lengthy process, and the son would have been suffering in the mean time. You can kick and scream all you like, but if it doesn’t change the situation for the son, continuing to do so is foolish. It isn’t foolish to remove the son from the bad situation if posible. From then on they could enroll the son in martial arts for confidence and to interact with peers, along with summer camps, and maybe homeschool socials. 
          I believe the parent could still file a legal complaint with the son being homeschooled so he is shielded to a degree from the fallout. Homeschooling was a legitimate option in this situation. 

          • Anonymous

             I did not read anything even remotely in that article about her doing any kicking and screaming. And that is the problem. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  I got results. She did not.

            She chose the the self serving action of just removing her child and ignoring the problem. And it only took her all summer to figure it out.

            Standing up for injustice  is doing something positive for your kids.

            • chicago dyke, venomous lesbian

              try not to be so sanctimonious. you don’t know all the details of the case of this post. sure, you were successful. but try being a black parent in an all white district, or the parent of a queer kid in the bible belt. i have many years of experience with school admins all over the country and i’m telling you, it varies from school to school. sometimes, admins and principles are the most corrupt, uncaring, unresponsive people you’ll ever meet, worse than politicians or banksters. every child deserves to have parents who make the best choices for them. it seems like the author of this post did, to me. “you can’t fight City Hall” applies in education, sometimes, as well. 

              • Anonymous

                chicago dyke, you always have something insightful to say, wherever I read your comments–be it on here, Joe.My.God., or whichever other blog on which I might’ve seen you post your two cents’ worth. (BTW, I like the newly added “venomous lesbian” part of your screen name!)

            • Guest

              So great. You were the squeaky wheel, and the bullies learned to leave your kid alone. Did they give up bullying and become kind, considerate, thoughtful kids? Or did they just turn to some other kid? So how does that help the kid that the bullies turned to when they left your kid alone? Wasn’t it your civic duty to leave your kid there as the victim, soaring some other kid? (Yes, I’m being facetious.)

              • Guest

                “sparing”

              • Anonymous

                Yes the racist words some people use to describe ’white’ people are now also treated the same as a slur towards a minority. Mission Accomplished.

      • The Captain

        “Should the parent have said ‘well, tough luck, you’ll have to learn to bulk up” and let their child suffer and get beat up while outnumbered, out gunned, and with no sign of assistance” 

        Actually that’s how most of our great comedians where made. Guess we can scratch that off the list of things her child might be.

        • Anonymous-Sam

          Bullshit. You think it’s better to let a kid suffer miserably through years of almost daily abuse from which there is no recourse in hopes that it’ll improve their lives in the long run? It doesn’t.

          • The Captain

            What you think “bullying” is a NEW phenomenon?! 

            Yea, until 2010 kids never had to deal with bullies, and when they did all of them turned out miserable.

            • Joanna

               There are all kinds of ills throughout history that people had to bear until there was a solution. Should we not have surgery since people lived without it for so long? How ridiculous can you be?

              • Jghovey

                It’s insane how people try to justify bullying. I was bullied horrendously, and I’ve already decided if the bullying starts with my son, I will do whatever I have to to homeschool if it doesn’t resolve immediately.

                • The Captain

                  I never attempted to “justify bullying”, I did however criticize the cowardly running away from it. (and I don’t mean running away from being beat up, thats fine. I mean running away from society and hiding in home school).

    • Annie

      “When one of my kids was bullied on the bus, the resource officer had to
      escort me form the building the next day. Guess what it stopped.

      I’m not sure what act of violence or how intimidating you were to require an officer to remove you from a school, but it sounds like you solved the bullying problem by bullying yourself.

      • Travis

        Annie, if I ever see someone harassing you/threatening your safety (and no police are in sight), I’ll get involved, and do what it takes to keep you safe. I would do it for anyone in that kind of situation.

        You can thank me for not running away when that day comes.

      • Anonymous

         They remove anyone not willing to kiss their ass. As soon as you disagree with them they want you gone. She did exactly what they wanted her to do. And in the process alleviated them of the burden of doing what was right. Power is a drug and she is an enabler. You can call it what you want, but my kids learned to stick up for themselves, not run.

        • Annie

          Are you saying that they physically removed you from a school after you simply brought to their attention that your child was being bullied?  If so, I hope you went straight to the school board… or the police.

          • Anonymous

             No one touched anyone. I said escorted. I simply was not as politically correct as they would have liked. And yes being escorted out made me upset enough to contact the school board.

            P.S. A resource officer is the police.

            • Annie

              Ploitmmy-  I appreciate you taking the time to clarify, as this additional information changes my impression of your original comment.  I would  still have gone to the police, if you felt the resource officer removed you unjustly.  It’s helpful to others to create paper trails of this sort of behavior  in an employee’s records. 

              I’m glad your actions accomplished something, but I wonder if going to the school board (as opposed to getting removed from campus) was what actually made them take action.  I understand that there are some instances where the only way to get people to do the right thing is through aggression, but I also think this should always be the last resort.  If we can change people’s behavior through reason and education, that is always ideal.  A person who does the right thing because they are afraid of immediate consequences hasn’t necessarily learned what the right thing really is.

              • Annie

                Politimmy… sorry.

                • Anonymous

                  Annie,
                   The School board had, already been informed of my visit, before I could get home to call.

                  They were less than supportive of my way of communicating. I can make people very uncomfortable. I am brutally honest, as my late mother used to say. The superintendent (I was done talking to peons) also was not too supportive of the suggestion that I visit him the next time with my lawyer.

                  The moon could not change the tides if it’s worries did not encompass the globe.

  • The Captain

    “We began homeschooling this past fall because there was a bullying issue at our public school” So your child faced adversity fitting within a public social group, which is really just a micro society, and your response was to pull him out of that society. Yea, great lesson your teaching him there.

    • Anonymous-Sam

      Except in no way is school a proper analogue for grown up society. In grown up society, if you walk up and punch someone, you get charged with assault and battery. In school, if you walk up and punch someone, the worst you may face is a couple days of in-school-suspension (which many kids take as an opportunity to snooze through the school day). In school, there is often no recourse whatsoever for the abused. The teachers aren’t paid to care, the administration won’t take action. That’s not true of police officers or even public service lawyers.

      You have no fucking idea what you’re talking about. This is a broken system. Reducing it to some form of demented mini-Darwinistic experiment where kids are expected to be able to beat the crap out of anyone who messes with them just gives us a broken society where beating the crap out of people is what people expect to be the proper response to all stressful situations.

      • Travis

        The Captain never said anything about the kid needed to get physically violent.

        Also, while it’s true that adults face much harsher consequences for attacking someone, they still do it. People. Still. Get. Attacked. As. Adults.

      • The Captain

        As I had to tell another person here, what you think bullying in school is NEW?! I got news for you, me and many kids I know where “bullied” in elementary school, and guess what, we all turned out fine. Hell in most cases we all became friends with the “bullies” when we all grew up. But then again we weren’t crying drama queens who thought every time two children fought the world was ending. Also stop acting like elementary school is some MMA fight club! Kids have to learn how to deal with bullies, sometimes by fighting back, but mostly by adapting their social skills. Like I said before, most of our greatest comedians where bullied, that’s how they learned to be funny. Also there are other social groups kids form into to protect themselves. Lots of ways to deal with it, other than running and hiding like a crybaby. 

        Oh, also sometimes people get punched in adulthood too and the cops aren’t called either (if that’s all that happens). It’s called being a man, something I fear these home schooled kids will never learn.

        • Onamission5

          Captain, you are acting like a bully yourself right now. Might want to take a moment to calm down, check your assumptions to see if they match the facts, and make sure you’re not stomping all over those who dare disagree with you in this comment thread with your big bully boots. Just a suggestion.

          • The Captain

            “you are acting like a bully yourself right now” 

            How? Have I threatened anyone in any way? Have I used my position of power to try to make life hard on anyone? How can I be “stomping” over people on the internet? 
            Forcefully making a case on a keyboard to anonymous people in the internet is not “bullying”. You do a disservice to people that actually have to deal with bullies in their lives, be it on the playground, at work, or in their neighborhoods by throwing that label around when it does not apply just to commit an ad hominem to try to discredit someone’s points you disagree with.

        • Anonymous

           Did you just use the phrase “it’s called being a man?” After seeing your lack of compassion, I’m really not surprised you would use sexist language as well. Is being a man supposed to make you suddenly immune to being bullied? Does being a man imply that you’re braver than otherwise? What does that say about women? Seriously, not only do you need to learn about the statistics of youth suicide (which have a lot to do with being the victims of bullying, both at home and at school), but you need to learn to check your sexism. I’m surprised you didn’t tell them to “grow some balls.”

      • Tom

         Damn straight.  For anyone who thinks modern, “industrialised” schooling (bulk handling of pupils by as few staff as possible, in a sterile environment abstracted from the rest of society) in any way presents children with a good model of adult society, read this:

        http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

        The modern industrial school system seems about as unconducive to learning civilised behaviour as you could get.  How anyone can think otherwise – that by exposing kids, for a large part of their young lives, who don’t know the rules of civilised adult behaviour to a lot of other kids who don’t know them either, with as few visible examples of adults interacting with each other in a civilised way as possible, and even those adults socially outnumbered 30 or more to 1 in a classroom, those kids will somehow learn to behave like civilised adults – is beyond me.

        A social structure usually will arise within any given school, but it’s often something the kids have unconsciously coalesced into, and not necessarily anything the staff were trying to instil.  Maybe that’s why, after a century or so of widespread industrial schooling, so much of adult society seems so very childish – sometimes, on particularly bleak days, I actually wonder if maybe we don’t have an adult society any more, so much as adults acting in ways they learned in school from other children.

    • David Cooper

      It isn’t a social group – it’s an antisocial group. School is a training ground for psychopaths and major reform is needed to change that. If you just leave your child in there to be destroyed, you aren’t doing anyone any favours. In this particular case, the bullies lost – their victim was liberated from a shit system where 90% of his time was being wasted by inefficient education, but the bullies are still trapped there. That’s probably going to be the best lesson they’re ever going to learn.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I sincerely wish you well in your homeschooling efforts- from your bio, it appears you might be one of the rare few parents actually qualified for the job.

    I am a K-8 mentor and school board member in a rural district, where we have many homeschooled kids. The parents of these kids range widely in their teaching skills, but I’m afraid that I don’t see any of the kids as success stories. Some are simply badly educated; others are educated beyond their grade level; all have odd social issues. Basically, they just don’t fit in well around people.

    We’re a school that takes bullying seriously. We’ve had strong policies mandating the development of interpersonal skills long before bullying became the issue du jour. The reality is that bullies exist, and not just amongst kids. We all face them, all our lives: at work, in social settings, in churches (of course!) So part of how we deal with it in our school is by recognizing a sort of point where it transitions from normal social behavior to toxic behavior. I really worry about kids who grow up without being around some bullying, though. Surely, learning to deal with difficult and abusive people is one of the key social skills school provides.

    Clearly, your son’s school has failed him. The administrator has demonstrated a degree of incompetence. While I understand your wish to walk away from this environment, I also regret that you didn’t use your passion and skills to help make a change. Bullying is a big issue these days; schools are facing serious liability issues. You have probably never been in a better position to pressure that school to make serious changes.

    • Tom

      I’m a little bothered by your attitude that since bullies exist everywhere, a certain amount of bullying must be regarded as normal and accepted, making it the responsibility of the victim to take measures to deal with it.  I can’t help but be reminded of similar arguments that tend to be made about rape, and the refusal to address rape culture inherent in them.  Do you really think a bullying culture is not something we could try to be rid of?  Do you honestly think there is a level of bullying, other than zero, that can be regarded as non-toxic, social behaviour?  Forgive me if I misunderstand you, but that doesn’t exactly sound like using passion and skill to make a real change.

      You make a good point about learning to deal with abusive people at school – the trouble is, your proposed solution rather seems contingent on the presence of a certain number of abusive people in the school.  Those abusers will subsequently leave the school themselves, so that approach makes you a school that turns out people who may be better at standing up to bullies, but it also makes you a school that turns out bullies.

      Perhaps there is no better solution but, as someone who was bullied for years at school and suffered serious self-worth issues for the best part of a decade afterwards as a result, and was given little but useless advice from well-meaning teachers of the things I, the victim, was supposed to do to solve the problem (apparently absolving them of the responsibility to do anything about the bullies themselves, because they certainly didn’t), I really, really hope there is, and that we figure it out some day.  My own issues weren’t so bad, relatively speaking – I’m still alive and healthy, for a start.  I don’t for an instant intend to imply that school bullying is on a par with rape in terms of seriousness (though it’s noteworthy that both have been known to sufficiently traumatise people to induce suicide, although without any relative statistics that probably means little) but both seem to be subject to the same mechanism (if not the same degree) of cultural normalisation.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        You are seriously misunderstanding my comments if you think I’m saying that it’s the responsibility of the bullying victim to deal with things.

        I am saying that it’s normal for people to try and dominate other people to a certain extent. That is built into human behavior, and it isn’t going to change anytime soon. The trick in a controlled social setting like a school is to properly define the line where assertive behavior crosses over into what we generally call bullying. A good teacher allows her students to work things out to a point, and knows when she needs to get involved. At our school, when the line is crossed, both the aggressive and passive parties (bully and victim, if you like, although I prefer other terms) are involved in some type of intervention… because in most cases, the incident reflects some sort of failure on the part of both parties (note that I don’t use the word “blame” here).

        I watch kids come to our school who may be rather timid, and those kids are sometimes picked on to a certain extent by other kids. Again, that is natural and not necessarily a bad thing… as long as it isn’t allowed to go too far. But because we emphasize social skills, these things become teaching opportunities, and I don’t see 8th graders leaving the school as victims, or as people who will easily be bullied when they get to high school, or out in the world at large.

        Just as a school can be a truly toxic environment that a good parent will be required to get their child away from, a home school environment may be too protected, and not allow children to learn the necessary social skills to deal with the overly assertive (if not outright bullying) people they are certain to encounter throughout their lives.

        • Anonymous

          “A t our school, when the line is crossed, both the aggressive and passive
          parties (bully and victim, if you like, although I prefer other terms)
          are involved in some type of intervention… because in most cases, the
          incident reflects some sort of failure on the part of both parties (note
          that I don’t use the word “blame” here).”

          You don’t have to use the word “blame” to imply fault.

    • Santiago

      “… all have odd social issues. Basically, they just don’t fit in well around people.”

      “all’? They don’t fit in well around people? How so?

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Most don’t seem to interact very well with other kids. They tend to come across as overly introverted. Some simply have odd mannerisms- a little something that can be hard to pin down, but is easily noticed. And the majority are well behind things academically (although a significant minority are far ahead).

        To be sure, I’m in a very rural community, and there are fewer opportunities for socializing outside of school than in more urban settings. And of course, my comment was a generalization- obviously, there are homeschooled kids who do very well both socially and academically. But my personal experience is that the percentage of homeschooled kids who have either academic or social problems is greater than that of kids in public schools.

        I see homeschooling as a symptom of various failures in our public school system; a properly run school system would neither require nor allow it.

        • dauntless

          “And the majority are well behind things academically”

          This is so true. The stereotype is that all homeschooled children are far beyond their publically-schooled peers, but it’s not the case. I have seen many homeschooled students come to my university and flunk out in the first semester. Even the dumb kids can maintain a C average, but the homeschooled inevitably flunk!

          I guess this happens because they’re used to the “no wrong answers” atmosphere and the “come and go at any time” schedule of being homeschooled. My girlfriend’s niece is homeschooled and the actual amount of time spent doing academic work is less than the amount of time spent watching the Disney channel. Mom’s “working from home”, so she’s gotta do her work, and so reward the kid with a 30 minute TV break so she can get her telecommuting done. Not to mention that a lot of the actual academic work might be out of mom’s range of expertise, anyway.

          Homeschooling turns into autodidacticism for kids, and anyone who’s ever tried to really dig into a subject knows that autodidacticism is extremely limiting, even for adults.

    • Joanna

      Perhaps the “oddness” that you witness is simply the natural state of children who are not forced to continually accept bullying and abusive behavior in their lives in a way that no adult outside the prison system has to live with.

      I’ll take “odd” over fitting in with a social system that rewards status obsessed materialistic bullies.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        The kids at our local public school (a charter school) are not forced to accept bullying, and seem to me very well adjusted. Certainly, the social system at this school does not reward bullies of any kind.

        Every community is different; my experience here is that the public schooled kids are, on the whole, better off than the homeschooled ones both academically and socially. If your local schools are as bad as your comments suggest, that is unfortunate, and I’d blame nobody in that position for seeking alternatives for their kids.

        • Joanna

           How is it that you have so much contact with the home educated children in the first place?

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            It’s a small community- just a few hundred people (but scattered over a hundred square miles). And it is a community in the truest sense, so most people know most others. We encounter each other at the post office, the little cafe in town, at potlucks and star parties. Some of the kids were homeschooled before coming to the charter school, some have left the school to become homeschooled, but not severed their ties to the school.

            There are many opportunities here for people to cross paths.

  • WhatPaleBlueDot

    I understand the need to make your kid feel safe.  I was that kid.  Being a girl, I wasn’t ever physically abused at school, but I was exposed to emotional and sexual bullying at the hands of students and teachers. It was horrible.  

    But when people who care fail to fight the system and instead leave it, they say that their kids are more important than all the other kids in the system.  Your son isn’t the only one being targeted in that school.  He’s out and now someone else has taken his place.  Nothing has changed, but you get to pretend that you’ve fixed the problem because it doesn’t affect you anymore.  Keep your kid out if you need to, but keep fighting.  

    • Travis

      ^ this!

    • Erik Cameron

      Not everyone can fight this. For some people the best you can do is take care of the people you love. That’s why we call people who do fight this and cause a change heroes, because it isn’t something everyone is capable of.

      • Anonymous

        Those people–the heroes–aren’t any different than anyone else. They just choose to spend their time differently. Anyone can make that choice as long as they *have* the time, and if they homeschool…

        • WhatPaleBlueDot

          Seems to me community organizing and political action would be really interesting civics lessons for homeschoolers.

    • Gravitybear

      As an atheist, I found the system of organized religion not worth fighting for.  Perhaps I should have stayed and made religion better.  Oh wait, leaving an unhealthy system is one of the best things I’ve ever done.  Yes, I’m a homeschooler too.

      • Annie

        Excellent analogy!  The truth is that public schools fail to meet the needs of many children.  I don’t think any parent should ever be berated for trying to offer their child the safest, most effective learning environment possible.  It would be great if that could always be accomplished at a free, local public school, but sadly, that’s not the case.

        • WhatPaleBlueDot

          Public schools are a service we provide to our society.  It is our responsibility to make it right.  Public schools are not religion (yet) and the comparison is silly.  Unfortunately the precise problem with our public schools is that only people who have their kids in the system are involved in trying to fix it.  

          • Annie

            Wow.  Tough crowd here today.  I can see the analogy he was trying to make, and I liked it.  Sorry if you didn’t get it, or thought it was silly.  It’s been noted.

            Although I agree that “it is our responsibility to make it right” when it comes to public schools, I also cannot find fault when a parent chooses his/her child’s needs are more important than waiting it out for change to come.  Incidentally, I have a child enrolled in a public school, and we are happy with the level of education she is receiving.  If, however, I felt for one minute that her physical or emotional health was in danger, I would tirelessly work to find a healthier alternative.

            “Analogies prove nothing, that is true, but they make one feel more at home.”  -Sigmund Freud

    • Photo_mom_82

      It is not her ‘job’ to stop bullying at that school, it is the parent of the bully, to stop their own child from behaving that way.  It is the schools job to protect her child on their watch.  It is her job to protect her child, she did that.

  • guest

    So, in other words,  you don’t care enough about your children, or society, to bother trying to fix, or change things — you would rather run away and hide from the problem?

    • Anonymous-Sam

      See my previous posts and go eat a bag of dicks.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      That’s pretty freaking harsh considering you haven’t walked a mile in her shoes with her child. I’d suggest finding a source of compassion and running an IV from it into you.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    One of my kids goes to an elementary school where bullying is clearly not tolerated. They do all of the usual things like “Anti-Bullying Day” where everyone wears a pink shirt or hat or scarf or something. But they do something else too – a ‘Big Buddy – Little Buddy’ system. Every kindergarten student has at least one Big Buddy, an older student from Grades 5 to 7. They get together every few weeks to play and talk and do school activities. My son has two Big Buddies, and he sees them in school pretty much daily. They wave to each other and always say hello, and I’m witness to the growing bond between them.

    The other younger students (Grades 1 to 4 I think) all have Big Buddies as well. When you reach Grade 5 you become a Big Buddy yourself and earn a chance at being teamed with your own Little Buddy.

    While I don’t think this completely eradicates bullying at the school, I believe it helps instill respect and empathy among the students for those who are smaller and weaker. Maybe it’ll help short-circuit some bullying incidents. I’m hopeful.

  • Matthew Eckermann

    As a father-figure, this story hurt me … the words ”
    I hurt for my son” hit me hard.
    My son has experienced similar, and I agree that it is hard knowing how to combat the situation.
    I was fortunate in that when I was bullied, I told my law enforcement father, which eventually led to two detectives coming to the school to talk to the young man (we’re talking 6th grade) … the problem ceased at that point.

  • Piet Puk

    I salute your decision. Not everyone is, nor should be, a ”fighter”.

    • The Captain

      The child doesn’t have to “fight”, he could learn to make them “laugh”, or perhaps learn to “lay low”, organize into a larger social structure that provides protection in numbers or any number of other technics we all have to use in society to get by. A society he will eventually have to enter.

      • Anonymous-Sam

        Right. Because grown ups in organized packs ready to descend upon rivals and beat them into the turf is really one of those aspects of real society we look up to so much.

        Oh wait, that’s gang violence, and it leads to people getting killed every year.

        • The Captain

          Yea it does, and this kid will never learn how to avoid it unless his mommy is there to help him.

          • Onamission5

            We don’t help our children by throwing them to the wolves and turning our backs. We help them by paying attention to their needs, recognizing when they are in over their heads, and helping them find their way back out again. We help them by teaching them the tools to move past hurtful events. We help them by knowing the difference between being a man who has the maturity to stand up for himself and being a beaten down child who needs help before he can stand up again.

      • Piet Puk

         Not everybody has the ability to learn those things at a young age. Some children need more time, I am happy for this kid that his mother choose to give him that time.

        • The Captain

          No, they are just delaying the problem. I mean you can breast feed the kid too until it’s 8 but it will screwed up and still have to learn to chew it’s own food eventually.

          • Piet Puk

             Delaying the problem until the kid had more time to learn more about himself, his abilities and his capacities.

            • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

               I also think it’s important to note that we’re not talking about just taking kids out of school and keeping them in a holding pattern. If we’re homeschooling, we’re actively teaching skills, building confidence, etc. So when that kid is returned to a school environment, he’ll be much better prepared to deal with it.

              So, really, what The Captain is arguing is that tossing kids into the deep end of the pool and yelling at them to swim is the *only* way to teach them how. That’s complete BS.

              • The Captain

                Your analogy is false. I’m not saying to “toss kids into the deep end of the pool”, I’m saying they should at least STAY in the pool somewhere. You home schoolers are the ones taking your kids out of the pool and trying to teach them to swim in the bath tub at home. Good luck with that.

                • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

                  Except that no one is saying that we just want to protect them from all social interactions. That would be stupid. A good homeschooling family will still be exposing kids to social situations, providing room for friendship, etc. The only difference is that it’s done in a developmentally appropriate way  and in manageable chunks. 

                  So the kids are still “in the pool” (because why give up a good analogy once you have one). The difference is that you are taking them to the shallow end so that they can practice swimming but still put their feet on the bottom if they need to. They are meeting with smaller groups and they have the power to remove themselves from social situations that are going south.

                • The Captain

                  “they have the power to remove themselves from social situations that are going south.” Yea, that’s going to work out real well for the kid when they grow up and enter the workplace. Don’t want to actually fight for the promotion over the office bully huh. 

                  Hell even as a kid what are you teaching your kid to run away from every uncomfortable situation? At some point the child will have to stand up on it’s own. Be it little league, the class play, even the computer lab (don’t want to always get the crapy computer) I got the feeling that somewhere around age 35-40 is when most of the “get the kid out” advocates would be about the right age.

                • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

                  I don’t think you understand what bullying is. We’re not talking about competition, teasing, or even just general negative social interaction. Bullying is full on abuse, it’s when kids are actually afraid for their lives or actually pushed to the point where they would consider suicide. I’m sorry, but that’s not something that -anyone- should have to go through. Adults, at least, have the power to remove themselves from these kinds of situations, but kids don’t. 

                  But I suppose that you would tell people trying to leave an abusive relationship that they are just “running away” and should stay and fix it, right?

          • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

             I’m going to go ahead and assume that you don’t have kids.

            Think of it like potty training – if you take a kid who isn’t developmentally ready for potty training yet and you try to teach him, it tends to backfire. That kid is going to be demoralized by all his “accidents,” and you may well inadvertently delay his potty training by a very long time, sometimes for as long as several years. But if you relax and let your kid learn when he’s ready, the process is much faster and smoother.

            Same with this. I was bullied as a kid, before I had the ability to learn how to cope/deflect those kinds of social situations. As a result, I totally shut down socially and it took me a long time to learn how to interact with -anyone-. I maintain that if my parents had recognized what was going on and taken me out of school just for a school year or two at the beginning, I could have developed and built my confidence in other areas, and then been able to cope once I was returned to a school environment.

            • The Captain

              I got news for you, me and a few people I know where in fact bullied in school, and guess what, we all learned to deal with it just fine. Now everyone here seems to think that means I think bullying is a good thing, but in fact I don’t. 

              I do however think home schooling your child is worse than dealing with the bullying problem as it occurs for many reasons. Mostly that I have never meet a home schooled kid (or adult) who was not socially inept for a long period of time after they had to enter society. 

              Now funny thing is all of them (and their parents) thought they where perfectly fine, and that it was everyone else that was the problem with their social awkwardness.

              • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

                Is confirmation bias how we’re doing things now?

                No one is saying that we stop teaching kids how to deal with social situations! Sheesh, do you guys thing homeschooling means that you literally keep your child in the house 24/7? 
                Let’s go to an analogy – let’s say that you have a big project at work and it’s really stressing you out. You feel totally overwhelmed. What should you do: Just keep working until you finish it even though it’s having a very big negative effect on your wellbeing, or should you take a little break to regroup, take some time to cut the project up into manageable chunks, and then tackle them in a more relaxed manner? 

                That’s exactly what good homeschooling is – you’re still having your kid learn to behave socially, you’re still exposing them to people, etc. But it acknowledges that kids probably aren’t going to learn a whole lot in the immediate stressful situation. I’m glad that you survived your bullying experience unscathed, but many don’t. And what worked for you isn’t necessarily what would work for others. Having the ability to remove yourself from a highly stressful situation, relax, regroup, and then learn the skills you need in smaller chunks is a lot healthier in the long term than this “sink or swim” attitude.As a side note, I’ve met some socially awkward homeschoolers and some extremely competent homeschoolers, just as I’ve met graduates of the public system who are socially adroit, and others who are hopeless losers who just cannot communicate or relate to others. The trick is finding a system that works for you and your family.

                • The Captain

                  I don’t take a 3-4 year break from a work project. I take a 2 day break (maybe a week at the beach) then get back on it. 

                  But no, there is no “Is confirmation bias” I got to my opinions on home school kids after knowing many of them throughout my life.  

                • Anonymous

                   You really like to use anecdotes.

                  “me and some others were bullied and we turned out fine.”
                  “I’ve known home-schooled kids and they were weird.”

                  Do you not see the problem here?

                  Also, in adult life, bullying is just called abuse. If it’s going on at work, you report them to HR. They will have to go to seminars, and take time off work, or they could get fired. Why don’t we stop using the term bullying, and just call it abuse?

          • Picture_us_two

            So, let me get this straight?  It’s the Mom’s fault, the kid’s fault, but NOT the bullies????!!!!  I don’t get it……

            • The Captain

              “I don’t get it” because your an idiot.

              • Piet Puk

                 You’re

                • The Captain

                  Yes, a joke I made on a video game thread. Forgot memes don’t carry over here.

                • Piet Puk

                   My bad, couldn’t resist.

              • Picture_us_two

                What’s with the personal attack?  Oh, right, that’s how you solve your problems….

    • Travis

      The opposite of a “fighter” is a “victim”.

      • Piet Puk

        Not if there is no ”fight” anymore.

      • Anonymous

         She can be a a pacifist if she wants to. Be just as non-confrontational as she wants I guess. That is what they make lawyers for. What bothers me is she only changed her world. The bully is not her problem. Yeah!

        This should have been a facebook post.

      • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

         Thank goodness we don’t live in a binary universe!!

        • Travis

          See my reply to Sindigo.

          • Anonymous

            Okay, most of us don’t live in a binary universe. 

      • Anonymous

        No it isn’t. The opposite of “fighter” is someone who still has options.

        • Travis

          Try this: You are walking down the street with your children (let’s say you have more than one, and one is a toddler). A stranger approaches, and you perceive him to be a threat. You have two options (running away with two children in tow is in-feasible).

          You can be a fighter, and protect your children.

          You and your children can become victims.

          • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

            3 – Call the police?

            • Piet Puk

               4 – Get out of harms way.

              • Travis

                With your kids in tow? With a guy pursuing you? Quit trolling.

                • Piet Puk

                   You quit trolling, we are talking about a school bully here. Not a terrorist attack.

            • The Captain

              And stand around and hope the stranger waits for 15-20 min for them to show up?

          • Piet Puk

             Option 1.b. Get killed while trying to be a hero.

            • Travis

              It’s better than watching your kids get hurt/killed, for fucks sake.

              • Piet Puk

                 You are being paranoid, we are talking about a school bully here.

            • Travis

              Teaching your kids self-defense skills will not only help them now, it will also carry on into adulthood. That’s why I’m bringing up an adult attack scenario.

              Sheltering your kids doesn’t prepare them for dealing with bad people once they are grown up.And paranoid? I help train people who have been attacked. I’m helping so they hopefully won’t be victims ever again.

              • Piet Puk

                 Sheltering until they are ready to be tought those things is not a bad thing.

                • Travis

                  Sure, but there is nothing in the article to indicate that she has even considered enrolling her kids in that kind of program. :(

                • Piet Puk

                   Maybe she’s has her own ideas. But first wants to gice the time to learn and be himself again.

                • Anonymous

                   I’m sure she’s sorry she didn’t post her kids’ entire weekly schedule and her five year plan for teaching them martial arts, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the point of the article.

                • Travis

                  Yes, I sure hope that she has a better long-term plan for her child than locking him in her home (and hoping that no one ever breaks in).

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                 Do you know of any resources for self-defence for the disabled?

                • Travis

                  Contact a school that teaches Aikido, and ask if they’ve ever worked with anyone disabled.

                  If you can find someone who has, try that school before any other one.

                  That’s my best advice. Good luck!

              • Anonymous

                 Telling us that people should be taught self-defense so they “won’t be victims ever again” is victim-blaming. Self-defense is great. My boyfriend used to be involved in wrestling and he’s taught me a lot of things that I can use. But honestly, I’m small, if a 200 lb person were to attack me, I would probably lose. People don’t become victims when they don’t fight back, they become victims when an attacker forces them into a situation where they would have to fight.

                Whether the issue is bullying/abuse/rape , the victim-blamers always show up.

          • Travis

            @facebook-36300625:disqus Are you going to be able to call the police, and have them show up in time to stop this person?

            I seriously doubt it. The mugging/attack would be over in seconds.

            Also, consider the possibility of your phone being dead. This happens, doesn’t it?

            You can try screaming for help, but again, it only takes seconds.

          • Anonymous

            Option 3. Cross the street.

            Besides, I never said that I couldn’t conceive of a situation where one has to fight. There’s always a chance of that but it should be a last resort, not the first thing you go to. 

            In your (somewhat extreme) example you have just attacked someone who you merely “perceived” to be a threat. That way paranoia lies, my friend.

            • Travis

              “There’s always a chance of that but it should be a last resort”

              That’s what I meant. I didn’t say attack the guy because you suspect him. I’m always sizing people up, because the more time you have to react, the better.

              Also, if I see someone caught in that kind of situation (including you), I’ll intervene.

              • Anonymous

                Well, fair enough. I’m glad I’m not so paranoid that I’m constantly sizing people up as a potential mugger but I appreciate that you would rush to be my knight in shining armour should I be attacked.

      • Guest

        Talk about a thoughtless, cliched platitude. 

  • Onamission5

    I wish home schooling had been an option for my eldest when he was a target of such rampant and institutionally ignored bullying, but as a single mom hanging on by barely a thread as it was, taking him out of public school just was not a viable option. I muddled through, I tried ineffectively to fight the system, and the pain it caused him to have to remain in that environment was lasting.
     
     I commend you for being an advocate for your children, even if your decision to do so isn’t the most popular. I am sorry that the administration did not support you. Please pay no mind to the commenters who seem to think they know best how you “should” have dealt with the whole situation, because unless someone has themselves experienced this as either a victim or a parent of a victim, they just have no clue how bad it can get and what permanant damage systematic bullying can do to a child’s development. I am glad you didn’t tell your son to just suck it up. I am glad you have his back. Not every child will thrive in the same kind of environment and it takes a truly dedicated parent to recognize when their child is suffering and to make sacrifices for their well being.
     
    Sometimes you do need to stay and fight, certainly, but in the face of impotent protest, retreat is often the best recourse, whether permanant or temporary. No need to martyr your child for the cause. You can still fight school bullying while protecting him from the backlash. Bringing him home for his education so he can heal, so he can know he’s not alone, I see nothing wrong with that at all. We parents have to sometimes choose our battles.

  • Niveker14

    I’m surprised by some of the comments here that seem to think they know what is best for your family and the “right” way to handle this situation. You did what you had to do to remove your child from a toxic environment. I was bullied quite a bit when I was his age and it took me many years to overcome the fears and insecurities it drilled into me (and in some ways I’m still suffering from it.)

    Now that your son is removed from the toxic environment, it might be beneficial to continue fighting the school to be more proactive, not because your son is in immediate danger, but because it might produce a more positive environment for all the other children still in the system. But it’s up to you to decide if you have the time, resources and emotion availability for such an endeavor. Not these random commenters on the internet.

    • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

       Same here. I was bullied throughout my school career and it nearly destroyed me academically, I came very close to suicide a few times, and I’m still healing from my “victim complex.” I wish my parents had stopped trying to make me “normal” and just taken my out of school – at least temporarily so that I could get my bearings.

      I find it absolutely disgusting that there are people here who actually think that a child – a freakin’ *child* – should just be left in that kind of environment, all in the name of some cause. Holy crap, do you people have no humanity?

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

         I’ve been bullied.

        Trust me, standing up to the bully is the only thing that works. Once they know you won’t be pushed around, it’s over.

        Running away does NOT work.

        • Anonymous

           No, it’s not the only thing that works. Sometimes standing up to them makes it worse. Sometimes it makes them wait a few weeks and then pounce on you after school (or during recess) with a gang of friends. Sometimes 2 or 3 of them will hold you down while others punch your face because you “stood up to them.” Sometimes, once the “fight” is broken up, they and their friends will lie and say that you hit them first and so then you also get sent to in-school suspension.

          No, sometimes the best thing would be to alert the school of the situation and remove your child from that environment.

  • Oz Tilson

    As hurtful as it may be to hear this I have to agree with the other posters who say that you should have taught your child how to navigate this situation with a means other than running away. your story definitely does not belong in reference to the Lorax unless you are showing how your story directly contrasts the lessons of the Lorax.

    I completely support homeschooling and I’m glad that it’s been a good choice for you. You may really want to look into alternatives to running away though.

    If you do decide to enroll your kids in public school again, and something similar unfortunately happens again, don’t just go to the principal and leave it with him. Be the change. YOU must be that change. Take the situation into your own hands. Contact the parents, contact those kids.

    Because with reference to bullying……
    unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

    You have the opportunity, passion and intelligence to make a change, not only for your kids, but for any kids. Including the bullying kids.

    You can make that change.

    Peace to you.

    • monyNH

      Study after study has shown that bullies are often themselves the victims of bullying–it takes a whole community working together to break the cycle. I totally agree that leaving it to the principal isn’t enough, especially when he/she is often overworked and pulled in 20 different directions. Contact the teacher(s), parents, the school counselor–get everyone involved.

      In this particular instance, homeschooling is a viable option, but it simply isn’t for many. (I’m a school librarian, but even I recognize that I would make a LOUSY teacher for my own kids.) For those who can’t or don’t wish to homeschool, it’s important to know that there is a community beyond the principal who are probably willing to work with you. Not every teacher is a gem, but most are–I mean, let’s face it, it’s not like we go into this business for the money and power.  :)

  • Anonymous

    Firstly, people really are on their high horse in this thread aren’t they? Anyway…

    I was bullied really bad in sixth and seventh grade.  Not physically, but I was continuously mocked, pranked, harassed, etc.  I guess I was a metaphorical punching bag. Even other bullied kids would bully me if it meant being at a higher rung than me. I begged my mom to take me out of the school but she told me that I would have to learn how to deal with them.
    I eventually had severe social anxiety and then thoughts of self harm and suicide.  If we didn’t happen to move after seventh grade I am fairly sure that I would have very seriously attempted or succeeded at suicide.  

    One parent, or one student, can’t change the toxic environment of a school like that.  If you can get a group of parents and students to stand together to insist, that is one thing. But saying you should be able to force a change alone, when being singled out is the whole point of the bullies to begin with, is absurd to say the least.  

    And you know what, when we moved my 8th grade year and high school were pretty great. I made amazing friends I am still in contact with to this day and I was able to heal up a  lot of my anxiety.  So if you homeschool a year or two, you and your child may find that public school is an option again.  If nothing else, the public schools may have an option to take electives or partake in activities like band or sports.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/ferulebezelssite/ Ferule Bezel

    Real school choice would fix this.

    • Anonymous

      By that do you mean using taxpayer money to fund what would end up being primarily religious schools?

    • The Captain

      “Real school choice” is a political code word for a tiered educational system based on family wealth.

      • Anonymous

        Wow someone else actually gets it. Cap I’m a fan.

      • Joanna

         Right now schools are tiered completely on family wealth.

    • Joanna

       Why would home education not be a part of real school choice?

  • Anonymous

    My unwife, the lovely Hil, used to be a child minder.  One of the boys she looked after was from a very working class and down to earth family.  When his dad found out that someone had been picking on his son he got him to point out the boy in the playground and when the bully’s dad arrived he threatened to beat him up (the bully’s dad) if his son was so much as touched again.  This was both illegal, unnecessarily violent and wrong.  But it worked.  It is something that I could never have done, not being a tattooed builder with a mastery of expletives and good, Saxon words unrivalled in the UK.  

    I would have tried the official route and used reason and the authority of the school to get my way.  Unfortunately some people just don’t respond well to reason and they need to be made aware of genuine repercussions of their actions. I’m not suggesting that the use of threats of violence is appropriate or should be encouraged but threats of less extreme repercussions should be.  If the school does nothing then perhaps someone independent could apply sanctions to the school and the bully’s caregivers.

    • Anonymous

       It sounds like the bully’s father probably took him/her home and beat the living shit out of him/her. That doesn’t sound like a very effective solution at all.

      • Anonymous

        That’s speculation.

        • Anonymous

           True, but I think it’s valid. Bullies are often acting out because they are being abused in some way. It’s not unreasonable to assume that the parents are the ones abusing (“bullying”) him/her. That parent is then confronted by another parent and threatened. Gee, what’s the first thing abusive parents do when they feel threatened and they thing it’s their kids’ fault?

          • Anonymous

            Perhaps, and I think this goes back to Shannon’s OP, as a parent your primary concern is your own child.  If you can protect your child from a bully then you act in the best way that you can to do so.  If someone has limited options when it comes to rational arguments and appeals to authority to intervene on your behalf and you know that threats are effective then they are a practical solution to the immediate problem of your child being bullied.  It’s very sad if that means that someone else gets hurt but that isn’t my primary concern.

            That may seem a little hard hearted and I would agree but my compassion for the bully ends when they take out their frustrations on my child just as my compassion for the abused ends when they begin to abuse others themselves.  I’d like a world where there was a fast, practical and compassionate solution to bullying that had no negative repercussions for the bully or victim.  If you can think of one then please let me know.  Otherwise I’m just going to say about the guy who used threats to stop bullying that I couldn’t have done it and that their should be a better way but it worked and I’m not going to argue with the results.

  • Anonymous

    I think a lot of commenters on here are missing the point. All too often, the bullied kids–as well as their parents–are up against an unrelenting, unwilling-to-change system. I mean, it took no less than a “Rolling Stone” exposé and the resulting national outrage to force a Minnesota school district to actually acknowledge there was a bullying problem and finally institute some changes–after something like SEVEN or EIGHT student suicides had failed to shake them out of their denial!

    It’s easy to tell someone else to buck up and fight the system, but when it’s so stacked against the individual, that’s more than a little difficult, bordering on impossible, to do. I just really don’t like the judgmental tone I’ve read in some of these comments.

    • Anonymous

      So the only option is to do nothing and allow it to continue? I hate to tell you, but that’s been tried and it accomplishes exactly nothing.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t know what the full range of options would be, but clearly, flailing madly and effortlessly at a system of institutionalized denial doesn’t seem to accomplish anything for many of these kids and their parents. Please, I’m sure we’re all ready to hear any *feasible* suggestions. However, demonizing these parents for removing their harassed children from harm’s way is not only counterproductive but baffling. These kids are downright malicious. Bullying evidently ain’t what it used to be.

      • Joanna

         Sometimes the option is to help where you can. Rescuing one child is better than flapping ineffectually and rescuing zero children.

        • Anonymous

          To do that is to indirectly harm another child. The bullies didn’t give up, they just shifted focus.

          • Joanna

             So because I can only rescue my child, and not every single other kid in the building, I should leave mine to a terrible educational experience while I attempt and continually fail to make a change in the way the school handles these things? Should I also leave my children to roast if I am unable to rescue every single person from a burning building?

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

              You’re willing to let other kids be victimized, so long as your precious snowflake is safe from harm.

              Sick.

              • Picture_us_two

                Why is it on her shoulders at all?  It’s not her kid that is bullying someone else, it’s the other way around.  Why don’t you take your demeaning language and see if it gets that parent to step up and leave other’s kids alone.  You are talking down to others, and being a bully right now with your snotty ‘snowflake’ comment.  What right do you have to insinuate that her kid is acting delicate or ‘less than’ because they choose to walk away.  Isn’t that what we tell our kids?  If someone is bothering you, don’t hit them back, just walk away.  So she did.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  I’m not saying it’s not okay to strategically retreat. I’m saying that, AS PART OF SOCIETY, she has a duty to the other children in that school to help stop a menace.

                • Piet Puk

                   You are also part of society, YOU go and stop the bullying.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                   And you think I’m not doing what I can?

                • Piet Puk

                  Than you are doing it wrong.

                • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

                  What are you doing?

                • Travis

                  I agree with wmdkitty, and I am helping. I help train a few kids in martial arts.

                  These kids will stand up to bullies, whether they are the target or not.

                  I challenge you to get out there and help.

                • Piet Puk

                  The kids I helped grow up will never become bullies, that is my contribution.

                • Joanna

                   Yes! So much yes!

              • r-guest

                wmdkitty. Do you have children?

                • dauntless

                  The answer to that question would not invalidate wmdkitty’s point.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                   Irrelevant, though I suspect I ought to grab my Breeder Bingo card.

                • r-guest

                  Judging by the answers you have given to several posts, you very likely have no children of your own. Your remark about ‘Breeder Bingo Card’ pretty much validates my point.
                  How is this irrelevant? We are discussing the choices we make for our children. You advocate for parents to keep their ‘precious snowflakes’ in hostile and violent conditions to make sure the bullies attention remains on them? THAT is SICK! If you had children you gave a damn about, you would never make statements quite that stupid and trite.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                   No, you’re deliberately twisting my words.

                  It is the parents’ job, as part of society, to deal with (and remove) the bully. Removing the victim only serves to further isolate the child and confirms that there is something “wrong” with him.

                  Remove the BULLY, not the victim.

                • Picture_us_two

                  How could this mother remove the bully?  It’s not her child?  She can’t remove someone else’s child from school.  That is the other parent’s job and the school’s responsibility.  It’s happening on their clock.

      • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

         Why is it my job to be a hero? Why is it my child’s job to be a martyr? Fixing the world is a laudable goal, and I fully support you if you want to do it. But I’m not going to sacrifice my child’s wellbeing to accomplish it. And, honestly, you have no right to ask me to.

        • Anonymous

          I agree! But is it morally okay to cause ne’er-do-wells to target others? Basically, “Don’t hurt my kid, hurt that one instead!”

          • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

            I don’t see how that’s any worse than “here, hurt this kid.” Either way, a kid is getting hurt, right? From a third party, uninvolved standpoint, does it matter whether it’s hers or someone else’s?

            Besides which, it’s reductionist to assume that there will be a bully and there will be a victim and that the victim status will simply be inherited by someone else. Bully/victim relationships like all human interactions, are very complex, and often depend on the particular combination of traits in both individuals. Once her kid is removed from the school, there’s no guarantee that some other kid will become the victim.*

            *And if anyone tries to claim that I’m victim-blaming, shove it. You don’t help anyone by ignoring reality.

          • Picture_us_two

            Why are you blaming this family for the bullying someone else is doing?!  This is confusing to me.  Why aren’t you the least bit upset with the bullying child and it’s parent’s?  They are who should be responsible, not the victim.

            • Anonymous

              You’re making poor assumptions. Just because I haven’t mentioned that I’m unhappy with them doesn’t mean I’m not. The bullies and their parents aren’t reading this post, so screaming at them for being utter douchenozzles (which they are) is pointless. They are absolutely to blame here, no question about it.

          • Guest

            What a silly argument! It’s not as though in removing her child from immediate harm, she is holding the bully by the shoulders and pointing him or her at some other kid. Once again, the culpability for the entire situation is being placed on the kid who is being bullied instead of where the blame truly lies: the parents of the kids who taught their kids it was OK, even laudable, to bully; the school officials who haven’t given a damn about the situation; and the bullies themselves. Give the kid a chance to heal and develop some strength without being broken down continuously. 

            • Anonymous

              I don’t think anyone is saying anything about what Shannon’s kid should have done.

  • Tex

    Not being in the situation with those administrators Im not sure anyone can really judge what was the right decision or if there was one, after all we live in a shade of grey.  I do however wonder if threat of litigation against the school would have changed anything, or if getting in touch with the other students parents and letting them know what was happening and that if it continued they would be charged with assault and battery would have helped. 

    I used to get bullied pretty badly in middle school, and it mostly ended after I finally fought back.  Looking back Im not convinced that hitting that kid was the right thing to do, but I also am not convinced there was another option that would have worked.  I think threatening with legal action might have made it worse in my situation, I know going to the teachers/administrators did.  I guess from my experience there just isnt a good easy solution to a bullying problem, and if pulling your kids from school and homeschooling them  works for your family then good for you.  Might be worth looking into magnet school for high school if there are any in your area.  I went to one and it was wonderful.  Being a school focused more on going above and beyond the required education for the district and students having to apply to get in and keep their grades up to stay meant most of the students were there to learn and bullying was almost never a problem.

    • Anonymous

      “I do however wonder if threat of litigation against the school would have changed anything”
      BINGO.

      • Anonymous

        It did for me!

  • Guest

    im posting this as a guest, because this is more personal than id prefer attached to a public profile.
    i was bullied – a little physical, but mostly emotional (make the kid cry!) – through all elementary and middle school.  what eventually stopped it was documentation, of both the bullying and of my mental issues.  i was also lucky that the teachers knew i was smart and ‘a good kid,’ and my parents repeatedly raised a stink about the administration’s lack of action to the school board and the press.
    eventually what happened is that i snapped and physically attacked one of the bullies.  because of the documentation and the fact that i was ‘a good kid’, i didnt get any significant punishment (i was already in councelling) but the bully got a couple days of detention.  
    when that happened, the other bullies noticed – mess with this kid, he may attack you and get off scot free (in their eyes) while youll get punished.  the rumor mill also spread the idea that i wasnt the only one like this in the school – which cut back bullying on everyone else.  

  • http://twitter.com/zenironman Brian Dooley

    Homeschooled kids are not without social graces. They get to interact personally with intelligent adults and peers that engage them and care about them. A mill of “Lord of the Flies”-style savagery with overworked, underpaid, often-apathetic wardens clock-watching through the day is not an enriching time.

    Homeschooling is not runing away. It is finding a constructive (and non-violent) solution to a situation that is both dangerous and immediate.

    If your answer to bullying is “welp, serves ‘em right, they should cowboy up and learn to punch,” then your argument is invalid. As a thinking, rational community, don’t we owe it to our society to find a way to solve problems without resorting to physical violence or threats of same? Bullying didn’t start in 2010, no, but hopefully, with a more focused eye on it, bullying will become less and less acceptable, and we as humans can move forward to a stage of evolution that doesn’t include attacking a caring mother for making a well-informed and difficult decision.My advice to those who would attack her is the same as my advice to bullies and parents of bullies: Stop being dicks. My advice to those who are bullied: Speak out. To parents, to peers, to authority figures, to anyone who will listen. Get the help you need form any corner you can find it. Don’t listen to the dicks who insist that “being a man” is more important that your well-being. My advice to anyone who witnesses bullying: do anything you can to help who you can. Every bit helps. Let the bullies and dicks (two flavors of the same shit-popsicle) know that it’s THEIR behavior that is unacceptable, and that we’ve evolved past a point where their neanderthal theatrics and violence will be accepable.

    • Anonymous

      As a thinking, rational community, don’t we owe it to our society to find a way to solve problems without resorting to physical violence or threats of same?

      This.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshmurrayphoto Josh Murray

    I just love all the self-righteous judgemental people responding here.  Glad to see how emboldened they are hiding behind fake screen names that they can act just like the bullies the original article talks about.  

    • Onamission5

      Word.

    • The Captain

      “act just like the bullies the original article”
      How? Has anyone threatened anyone in any way? Has anyone used a position of power to try to make life hard on anyone? Has anyone thrown a punch like in the article (as you describe them as behaving).
      Forcefully making a case on a keyboard to anonymous people in the internet is not “bullying”. You do a disservice to people that actually have to deal with bullies in their lives, be it on the playground, at work, or in their neighborhoods by throwing that label around when it does not apply just to commit an ad hominem to try to discredit someone’s points you disagree with.

  • Joanna

    Congratulations on making good change for your family. We need more atheist home educators! :)

  • Hjpcreations

    That is horrible about ur son. He’s a great kid and he comes from great parents. I’m sorry he had to endure that pain. My son will be in 5th grade next year and I’m worried about those issues too. I love the Dr. seuss quote so true. I do feel you have a great voice to help other children who maybe these bullies next victims. You have a passion about your children that not all parents do and these next victims may need your voice to represent them bc their parents maybe be the type to say suck it up or deal with it. Help make the Change.

  • Santiago

    Good for you Shannon! :)

    I hope things work out for your boy.

  • Darlene

    Wow, this judgmental attitude coming from a bunch of supposed freethinking atheists? I Homeschool, proudly, because I can teach my kid way better than the public school can. And he has real social interactions with people of all ages, which accurately mirrors the real world, not the artificial age-grouping found in schools. And he doesn’t need to be forced in compliance with a broken system, or broken down by teachers who take their insecurities out on students, or a curriculum dumbed down to a point of virtual uselessness.

    He can sleep as he needs to, without being forced to wake early to get to a class. He can manage and prioritize his day instead of mindlessly obeying a school bell to determine what the next thing he does will be. He can fill his hours of free time with volunteering and music and field trips and personal activities instead of being bogged down by hours of pointless homework. And he can learn with a depth and breadth lost in this era of high-stakes testing. Oh, and he can work to mastery, instead of getting lost as the class moves on. And he work at his own pace. And he can actively communicate with authors of the books he reads, take advantage of the amazing resources out there instead of reading only from a boring and watered down textbook. He can read real books, whole books instead of excerpts.

    He can eat a healthy lunch of his choosing, when he is hungry instead of a randomly prescribed time. He can exercise and be active on a regular basis, without needing a PE class. And he is free to be his own person, without the constraints of bullies and peer pressure.

    Socialization is about learning to be a adult. And you don’t learn to be an adult from children.

    He can learn to be an adult instead of being kept as a child without the freedom to make his own choices. He can travel without worrying about missing days.

    As a parent my first duty is to protect my child from things he cannot protect himself from. This mother did absolutely the right thing–she protected her child. How that can be twisted into being bad shows an amazingly poor understanding of a parent’s role. I am not responsible for your kid, I’m responsible for mine. I will not throw my kid under the bus so your kid does a little better or isn’t so alone. Funny how the author was suppose to handle the pervasive bullying problem all on her own, to protect the other kids…thus stepping into the role those other parents should be in. So she wrong for defending her kid, but it’s okay for her to defend every kid but her’s? That makes no sense.

    Look, if you like public school and it works just great for your family, wonderful! If private school is a better option, go for it! And if homeschooling is the best choice for your family, do it. And don’t apologize for doing what’s best for your family.

  • http://nadiawilliams.wordpress.com/ Nadia Williams

    I had a similar experience with my kid, and followed a similar solution. He’s older – 14 – and what I did was to move him to a different school, as well as making an arrangement with them to part home educate him. So he attends some of his classes at school, and some he learns with me.

    I feel for you, but I also roar cheers and give a standing ovation to you for your decision. Best of luck, and your kids WILL benefit because your heart and mind are in the right place. 

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    Homeschooling is of the bad, folks. Kids, like puppies, need to be properly socialized.

    • Joanna

       What makes you think home educated children don’t experience social situations?

  • Rb

    I am a homeschooling mother of two. And I was bullied as a child. Knowing what bullies zero in for, I know my son would be a target in a public school.  My daughter, possibly too.
    Removing your child from that situation isn’t running away or hiding as some have suggested. It’s making things work for YOUR CHILD. You are not responsible for the the bully’s next target. You are responsible for your child.
    Our children have such a short time to be just that, children, that we must be sure to take this small window of opportunity. The opportunity to let them learn without fear, discover without being made fun of, able to be unique, without fear of being subjected to mental anguish and physical pain. A friend of my daughter’s is actually in danger from the bullying she is experiencing on the hand of one girl in particular. She has tried to injure her with substances she knows would cause her victim to anaphylact. Has the school done anyting? Nope. Not a thing. Her mother has had meetings with the teachers, the staff, headmaster, the aggressor’s mother, and not a thing was done.  The kicker is that it’s not an overburdened public school but a small, privately funded school.
    My kids have plenty of social interaction, thank you very much. And I prefer to learn with them at home, in a safe environment with a focus on academia. I don’t see why my kids should have to learn about smoking, drugs, bullying, teen sex etc up close and personal. What would be the gain?

    The odd thing is, kids all start out the same way. Hate, viciousness, a lack of kindness and compassion is something they learn from their environments, from their families. And after reading the rest of the posts here in reply to the blog post, I can see those lessons well in action.  I wonder whose kids here are or were bullies in school. 

    • Anonymous

      ” You are not responsible for the the bully’s next target.”

      I don’t get the comments people are making here regarding this in particular. “I must leave my child in a hostile school environment so the bully doesn’t target anyone else.” That makes no sense. 

      Also, you can talk to the principals and admins till you are blue in the face, chances are that they will not do anything. I was bullied in grade school, not as harsh as some other people, but bullied nonetheless. My mom and I talk to the teacher, principal/etc and nothing happened.

      If a parent is able to home school their child, then so be it. I wish I was home schooled during grade school. 

      • Anonymous

        This sort of “I’ve got mine, everyone else for themselves” mentality is exactly what informs every decision made by Republicans in the past half-century. As much emotional sense as it makes to families in this situation, it is utterly bereft of logic.

        • r-guest

          No one will take care of MY child for me, jemiller226, that burden is mine and mine alone. So, since no one does it for me; since no one has to live with the consequences other than my child and us, the parents, why shouldn’t we look out for our child’s interests? Let the parents of the other children look after their own children.  This ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ bit can be taken a bit to far. Until the village makes sure that their children aren’t bullies or bullied, I will happily assume all responsibility towards my childrens’ happiness and education.

    • Travis

      Why are so many parents convinced that helping their kids empower themselves won’t work? Everyone in this thread who is in favor of homeschooling has NOT mentioned any kind of attempt to get their kids to push back (verbal, not necessarily physical).

      You do realize what most bullies do when that happens, don’t you? They back off that kid, and look for an easier target.

      And like I’ve said before in this thread, people still bully others as adults. Now is the perfect time to teach your children how to deal with it!

      • Piet Puk

        “”They back off that kid, and look for an easier target.”
        No they don’t, the bullying will only get worse. A kid from my school tried to fight back and was knocked unconcious. He had a terrible time at school.

      • Karen Loe

         She IS helping her child to know how to deal with it!
        Ask for help, try yourself, then LEAVE THE AREA!

  • Anonymous

    That story really sucks, Hemant. I hope it all works out for you and your family. 

    I take your point of finding inspiration in the unlikeliest of places though. I’ve always found Dolly Parton to be a truly inspirational figure.

  • Karen Loe

    Shannon,
    I don’t have the time or inclination to read all of the negative people out there…you shouldn’t either!
    GREAT piece!
    Also, in my opinion, you win the GOOD PARENTING AWARD!

  • Anonymous

    Just out of curiosity, Captain, what’s with your keen interest in this topic? You’ve had something to say about nearly every comment that someone’s made in support of the OP. I haven’t read through a thread on this blog that’s garnered so much unanticipated vitriol in quite awhile. I would’ve thought that parents’ trying to protect their children from bullying–which is rampant, from all accounts–wouldn’t be a controversial issue. Boy, was I wrong.

  • Pearl

    An estimated 2-5% of school-aged children are homeschooled.  If the parents of those children are to be seen as leaving the rest to be victimized, refusing to solve the problem, neglecting to make a change from within, what in the world does that say about the parents of the 95%+ remaining?  Clean your own house before critiquing mine.

    • dauntless

      Have fun teaching your kids subjects you can barely grasp yourself, expert.

    • Anonymous

      I just can not see how, if those that are well educated, very intelligent, with ample resources, pulling their children and leaving the less fortunate, not as intelligent, under educated parents left to figure it all out, will solve the problem.

       So your opinion is, that the children are to be left to atone for the sins ‘working poor’ of their fathers, so to speak.

      • Pearl

        If you have evidence that the 2-5% of families are, on average, the most well-educated, most intelligent, and with most resources, while the 95%+ remaining are less educated, stupider, and poorer, I’ll consider your argument.

        In the meantime, thanks for assuming I fall into the above categories. :)

        • Anonymous

          Since it is her story we are discussing. My assumption was actually about her. But I can see why you may have thought that.

          You were never in danger of me making that assumption on your part.

          • Pearl

             Then you hit reply to the wrong post.  Mine is questioning how the minority of parents could possibly be the cause and/or solution to that which 95% of families have obviously failed to correct.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    it’s all but impossible to stand up to a bully if that bully has a mental disability. In middle school there was a kid with tourette’s syndrome that would purposely spit on me when the teacher wasn’t around.

  • JH

    I was taunted daily, threatened, slapped, given lice repeatedly… kudos for pulling your son out!

  • Sulris Campbell

    my parents decided to home shcool me starting in middle school (not for bullying reasons, the teacher of the “gifted” program spent all of her time prostelytizing instead of teaching, we complained, they gave her a teacher of the year award…) and it was awsome!  I loved being homeschooled.  I got to choose my own text books.  learn at my own pace (much faster than public school would allow)  i could do extra work every day and then take a day off if i wanted to.   i could eat when i wanted.  take a piss withou asking permision. (save the kidneys!)  i was in a house with windows, anytime computer access, as opposed to the oppressive one sized fits all yellow concrete jail blocks they call schools. 

    i teach in a public school now and let me tell you if your child is smart and likes to read the rest of the class is holding him back.  the time spent dealing with discipline problems and children that don’t want to study really eat in to the time that the “good” kids could be learning.  when he gets older look in to dual enrolling in the local university.  we did that when i was 16 so i could drive myself for chem classes with a lab.  it made me feel really powerful being in college when i was 16 and all my friends were going to the public high school.  if he needs a confidence boost being 16 and aceing college classes will definitely do that (101 classes are easy and your there to help him if he needs it so i wouldn’t worry about failure)  (also if your dual en-rolled and make A&B’s many colleges will offer a scholarship after they graduate)

    my sisters and i tended to spend alot of time on the subjects we enjoyed and shirked the subjects that we didn’t like.  it lead to a slightly un-balanced education that was easily rectified by the general education requirements during the first two years of university so i wouldnt sweat it if he seems to shirk a few subjects at little bit as long as he is spending extra time on the ones he likes. 

    Even if your kid wasn’t getting bullied, if you have the ability to homeschool your kids you should definitely do it.  we ended up being way ahead of kids going through the public system in terms of test scores and maturity.   Prepareing your own curriculum instead of just doing what your told to do every year has that effect.

    my sisters and i spent most of our weekends at friends houses and none of us became socially awkwar.  My older sister had a harder time of it and lost alot of friends at first but she eventually fell in with a crowd of very close friends,  my little sister and I pretty much kept the same group of friends we already had through high school, adding a few here and there.  We also signed up for extra carriculars to keep in contact with other kids and make new friends.  (wrestling, soccer, theater, art, and the like.)  book stores and supplies for homeschooling we found were pretty low quality and juvenile, and often filled with errors.  but the college bookstores had lots of great material, after the second year we never went anywhere else.  most of the 101 books can be read at a middle school reading level.

    we started with a homeschooling internet course that came with books homework and their own program our first year but we quickly ditched it to do our own thing.  The flexibility and the choice was the main draw for homeschooling, no need to stifle that with premade courses. 

    I think you made an excelent choice.  I am just having my first child now and while i want them to go to public school to soicalize for elementary school i want to homeschool them through middle and highscool so they can get a decent education.  My public school was a joke of a day care center more than an education facility, and the highschool my friends went to wasn’t much better. 

    if your children are even remotely motivated to study by themselves the best thing you can do for them is take them out of public schools.

    p.s.
    I am typing the pretty fast off the cuff so sorry about the many little problems, (not in Word with that nifty little auto-correct) so i hope you don’t judge that as a lack in quality of the home schooling education =). 

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

       Wait, why would you have to ask to use the loo? I mean, isn’t it less disruptive to just quietly slip out the door, hit the ladies’ room, and quietly slip back in? (And who the hell wants to announce to the whole class that they need to pee?)