Thursday, November 16, 2006

More on Bullies

Here are a few tidbits I saw in today's news about bullies and school violence, as a follow up to this post. All of these stories are very sad. I'm very grateful that my children don't go to school. I pity those who are left to sink or swim in such dangerous waters.

School Safety Expert focuses on Guns and Bullying

Since August 1st, 16 students across the country have died as a result of school violence. That puts this school year on pace to be one of the most violent in the last 8 years.

Next is a particularly horrifying story from the UK.

Parents burned to death following vendetta against bullied daughter, court hears

A woman and her husband were murdered in an arson attack on their home following a vendetta against their bullied daughter, a court heard.

...The arson attack was launched by Michael Connor, 40, the jury was told, whose daughter, Natalie, then 17, had fallen out with Lucy when they were both pupils at Newall Green School last year.

Connor had been urged on by his estranged wife, Jane, 40, and his daughter, after playground rows between the two girls developed into a "campaign of harassment" by the Connors aimed at Lucy and her family, the court heard.

...He said the bullying at school started with insults and escalated until Lucy was arrested by police over an "entirely false allegation" of assault by Natalie.

During the campaign of harassment the Cochrane's car was damaged, and a tree was uprooted in the Cochrane family garden. Only five days before the fatal fire, liquid was poured on the front door of their home. It was reported to the police but no officer ever tested the liquid.

Mr Webster QC said: "Given that the fatal fire took place just five days later, what took place that morning seems to be particularly sinister - a harbinger of future tragedy - and it is extremely sad that it did not prove possible to take action in that intervening period."

Can't really blame this one on the school. The whole family was in on it, even the grandmother who has since pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. I will be interested to see how the trial ends.

This last article comes from Cananda.

Beating the bully

Eleven-year-old Sean understands why sometimes kids who are bullied commit suicide. There are occasions when the bullying that he endures at school becomes so tormenting that he thinks of jumping out a window and breaking an arm or a leg so that he can stay home from school.

Sean has been a target of bullies since kindergarten.

"I've always been left out," he said. "I had to beg to play."

Sean has been called names, pushed, kicked in the groin, and choked by the collar of his shirt. He's been harassed so many times that he usually no longer cries or wants to discuss it when he returns home from school. Most times, he said, he keeps his hurt feelings to himself.

Sean's mom, Margaret, has discussed bullying with school officials many times, yet efforts to halt it are often unsuccessful.

With this story I keep asking myself why the mother keeps sending him back. I'm left to ponder what anyone can do from the outside. I can't think of any way I can make schools safer for other people's children. The only thing I can do is to keep my kids safe.

I do advice my kids to give difficult people a wide berth. We also tell them to defend themselves.

We had a minor incident at a few years back. A boy came up behind my oldest daughter and purposely tripped her with a jump rope. She fell flat on her back and had the wind knocked out of her. It really scared her when she could breathe for a few seconds.

She came to me crying and asked to go home. The boy's mother heard her and went to talk to her son. I was surprised when the mother came back and complained that my daughter had kicked her son in the groin after she fell. My daughter who was still sobbing at this point and just looked at the mother in confusion.

My daughter explained that she was kicking her feet to try and free herself from the rope that the boy had wrapped around her ankles. The boy's mother lectured for a moment about how you should never kick a boy "in his privates." My daughter was only ten and didn't really know what this mother was talking about.

My daughter was still quite upset and asked to go home. I took her aside for a private little chat. Basically I told her that in a situation like that it was ok to kick as hard as she could anywhere she wanted. She didn't need to worry about hurting her attacker. My daughter calmed down and that was the end of it.

I should add that the boy was basically a good kid. It seemed like it had never occurred to him that sneaking up behind someone and tripping them wasn't funny.

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