Last week ended up being one of those weeks that will stay with me for a while, I found out that my son has been being bullied at school since the start of the school year!
On Wednesday I was stood outside waiting for him to come out of school and as soon as he saw me he burst into tears. Any mum would think something was up and I questioned him but he said he had a headache and had had it since lunch time so we went home and I gave him some Calpol. He went to sleep at 7pm, which is not like him at all, so I figured he was coming down with something and let him sleep. Thursday morning came and he didn’t feel much better (or so he said), so I told him to get back in bed, however at 10am he got up and was his usual cheerful self, sat on the sofa and started chatting to me and the hubby. As soon as we said he would be going to school in the afternoon the tears started and I knew something was wrong.
It took us more than an hour to get it out of him and even then I’m not sure we got all the details. A boy who is two years older than him had been punching him, pushing him around and various other things since the start of the school year. He was quite adamant that it happened at every play time and it started in September. I was furious and it broke my heart to find out that he’d been keeping this secret for months. In the end he told us that he was afraid to tell anyone, including us, in case he got into trouble. It turns out that at some point in the past my son and his friends may have made fun of the bully’s surname, he thinks this is what sparked the bullying and thought he would be in more trouble than the bully. We told him, in no uncertain terms, that he wasn’t to think he was in trouble, the bully had taken things too far.
Finding all this out made me remember an incident last term when he came home with muddy trousers. I don’t mean a little mud around the hems either, I mean absolutely covered - on the bum, all up the legs, everywhere. He told me that the bully had pushed him into a pile of mud and dragged him along the floor! Oh boy! I tell you I was so angry I could’ve hurt that kid if I’d found him. Hearing that someone has been hurting your child is a gut wrenching experience, particularly if you’ve been through it yourself. I never want to have to hear it again but I’m not sure that’s it for my eldest. He is a quiet boy, very shy and would never say anything to anyone, except when with his closest friends. I will do all that I can to protect him but as he grows I know he’ll have to learn to stick up for himself.
The school have been great, I called them as soon as I knew what had been happening and they got the Head Teacher to call me back. We went in to talk to her on Friday morning and she assured us that it would be dealt with. The boy in question had done things like this before and she said he would be dealt with severely, his parents would be told and he would not be allowed to go anywhere near my son. The teachers and midday staff were told to keep an eye on my son and watch out for any problems. He has a group of friends and the Head Teacher appointed a couple of them as spokesperson for the group, so if any of them are hurt or bullied then the more confident ones can speak up for the weaker ones. I think this is a great idea, I’m sure that if he has any more trouble then someone will speak up for him if he doesn’t have the courage to do it himself.
So far we’ve had no more tears, he’s come home every day with a smile on his face and is back to being cheerful. Now that I know I’ll be keeping a close eye on him and looking out for those tell-tale signs, I know them well because I was in the same situation many years ago. This is another one of those challenges we face as parents, learning that our children have suffered is a tough thing to hear and our initial reaction is to hurt the person responsible. I’m not sure this feeling will ever go away, it’s in our blood.