My heart is breaking for the young girl who posted this video about being bullied at her middle school. And what makes me sicker is that it happens to be our local middle school, the very school one of my boys currently attends, and my other three have already been through. It’s painful, but please watch.
I don’t know the girl or the family. I learned of the video from my kids last weekend, and this morning the video made national news.Our superintendent is quoted in the piece as saying, “This surprises me…” I wanted to throw up when I read that. Only thing we parents have heard from the school was a message sent today from the 6th and 7th grade vice principals, which didn’t mention anything about the student or the video, but instead talked vaguely about the annual meeting they’ve had recently with students, reiterating the school’s expectations for acceptable student conduct. It goes on to say the agenda included, “procedures in the hallway in the morning, proper storage of backpack in lockers, no gum in school, dress code guidelines, internet safety, the accepted use agreement, consequences of bullying and cyber bulling, and cafeteria procedures.” Well, THANK GOD they’re taking a hard line on not running in the hallway! I mean, that’s a very important life skill! But no mention of the elephant in the room.
I was apoplectic and responded immediately—passionately but politely—to the veeps and I cc’d the school principal (Yeah, why haven’t we heard anything from HER? Isn’t she supposed to be in charge of the whole building?). All four of my kids have reported that they have regularly witnessed bullying acts at that school that were not dealt with. The cafeteria is rife every day with nastiness that goes unmonitored. Obviously there’s a serious ongoing issue at the school, underscoring the fact that whatever anti-bullying workshops and lessons they’re doing with the kids at school are wholly ineffective. (Hearteningly, my three older kids report a dramatic decrease in bullying at the high school, most likely due to a combination of increased maturity in students by virtue of their age, and a tougher enforcement policy than they found in the middle school. They also told me that many of their classmates have reached out to this young girl to let her know that things do, in fact, get better at the high school, and are encouraging her to hang in there.)
I received back from the principal a response that began, “It is unfortunate that you are jumping to conclusions from what you are reading in the media.” Pardon me? She wrote that she assures me they are following the district bullying policy and suggested I attend one of the cyber bullying and internet safety workshops the district offers. Sounded like a bunch of boilerplate legal crap to me.
I am beyond appalled that in this day and age, a middle school principal wouldn’t take this opportunity to issue a rallying cry to her counterparts around the nation about coming up with better solutions for handling bullying in the schools. Or at the very least, send something to us parents right here in her school about this situation, for godssake! A clip of our school building appeared on the national news, and our superintendent was quoted in the national media, yet our principal will not even acknowledge the existence of the video to the school community.
She cc’d the superintendent on her ass-covering reply, so I one-upped her and added the whole Board of Ed to what I wrote back. I’m sure I’ll never hear back from any of them, but I’m taking no prisoners today. I was writing not only for my own kids’ sakes, but for the sake of this poor young girl and others like her who are regularly bullied at the school as well.
I’m disappointed in your accusation that I am “jumping to conclusions” from what I am reading in the media. I am being informed by my four children, who have walked the BMS halls, eaten in the BMS cafeteria, exercised in the BMS gym, and ridden the BMS bus every day for the past four years. This is not an isolated incident. My children and their classmates all report having witnessed rampant bullying at BMS. Now the issue has made the national news. If the media is getting the story wrong, as you intimate, then it’s YOUR responsibility as the principal to get out in front of the message and correct it. Be proactive. Be accurate. Be a leader on this very frightening, heartbreaking national issue.
You can offer all the bullying and internet workshops you want, but they are ineffective if BMS students report that they regularly encounter or witness bullying inside the school. For the school not to even acknowledge to the BMS community the existence of this video is reprehensible, not only in my view, but in that of the community at large. Obviously no one is asking you to comment on this particular student, but it’s disrespectful to parents and to the community to pretend this video wasn’t posted and that the media isn’t reporting about it. You have an opportunity to be a leader on the issue of bullying in middle schools and take a firm stand on the issue. We parents want to be assured that our children are safe at Bedford under a strong top administrator. We are supposed to trust administrators, counselors and teachers every day with our precious children, but if you want us to feel confident, you owe us specifics about how you are making the school a safe environment.
And we wonder why this heartwrenching issue keeps making tragic national headlines. We all need to partner up here and take positive advantage of every single one of these highly teachable moments to affect real, tangible change—parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and kids alike. When even one of us drops the ball, we collectively fail all of these tortured kids.