My Son is Being Bullied

November 23rd, 2012

By Guest Blogger Connie Bernardi

It’s 2:03am on Saturday night and I’m wide-awake and completely unable to sleep. My mind keeps replaying the conversation earlier this evening my husband and I had with my six-year old son.

My son tonight admitted to us he was being bullied at school.

Now for those who know my husband, know that he is the founder of the #NoMoreBullies campaign. This campaign has Majic 100 (an Ottawa radio station) and a team of speakers visiting schools in Ottawa and the surrounding area speaking to kids about bullying and putting an end to it. Needless to say that gigantic neon sign flashing the word ‘irony’ over and over again isn’t lost on me.

That conversation, listening to my son talk about being bullied was the hardest, most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to listen to. My son who was a happy, optimistic, always positive kid had turned into this angry, moody, fly-off-the-handle argumentative, non-trusting shell of a boy that I once knew. Honestly for the longest time I blamed myself. I thought he was angry with me for having gone back to work full-time. I wish that my going back to ‘work’ was the reason behind the personality change in my son. The fact that it all stemmed from him being bullied was overwhelming for me. I haven’t cried that much in a long time.

To hear my son say that he was afraid to go outside for recess because he feared being followed around the schoolyard and called names like ‘dumb,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘idiot,’ and ‘baby’ and being pushed and shoved broke my heart into a million pieces. But the worst was that he was starting to believe the words. He said, “I know you keep saying that they are just words and I should ignore them Daddy, but sometimes the words are just too strong and my brain tells me to believe the words. Maybe I am the world’s worst boy and I don’t deserve to be at that school or in this family. Or maybe I shouldn’t even be on this Earth. Those boys are making my life shorter Daddy I feel that in my head.”

That last sentence sent chills up my spine. No six-year old should ever even think of coming up with that last sentence. But that is the reality for my son. His over-active imagination had him thinking that one day the bad kids would lock him up in a dark place and he would never see his family again. Or even worse, he thought that one day he would come home with scratches all over his body and a torn jacket and torn backpack. No kid should ever feel afraid to go to school—ever. It should be a place where they love to go and more importantly a place where they feel safe.

If I didn’t preach the cause or campaign of #NoMoreBullies loud enough before, I can promise you now that from this day forward you won’t be able to shut me up. Try me. I knew it was a serious problem in our schools before but when it hits this close to home you have a heightened sense of urgency in the cause and finding a solution. I get that kids will be kids and you’ll never eradicate the name calling or ‘tough kids’ but this generation seems to be increasingly filled with kids that keep pushing and testing the boundaries further and further with no true sense of what they’re doing or saying. Or maybe they do and they just are so completely ignorant of the consequences of their actions. Teachers and schools need the resources and support to deal with this ever-growing problem. As we as parents need to be more proactive. We need to talk to our kids about being bullied and what bullying is and what it does.

There is no sugar coating this subject. I know my son’s case is what would be considered a ‘mild’ case of bullying—my husband has read hundreds and hundreds of emails from parents and kids who have experienced the full effect of bullying. My husband says some of the stories are just too unbearable to even repeat. We need to have this conversation with our kids. And we need to have it regularly and keep the lines of communication open and keep the dialogue going week after week until it sinks in.

I refuse to let my son be a statistic. I would give up my life for either one of my two kids. And I’m going to stand up for them and speak for them when they are too afraid to do so.

Before he finally fell asleep my son asked my husband and I if we were mad at him for telling us what was bothering him. We both answered no and told him how incredibly proud of him we were because we knew how hard it was for him to tell and us, especially since it had been bothering him for such a long time. We told him we thought he was very brave. He cried. We cried. We said ‘I love you’ and we had extra long hugs.

I stayed with him until he fell asleep. I just stared at him. Watching him breathe. Hoping that his mind would be filled with nothing but good thoughts and dreams while he slept.

And I wished that in the morning he would turn back into that happy, carefree little boy that I once knew.

About Connie Bernardi

Mom of two fantastic kids. Wife of a radio guy and Ottawa Senators PA announcer. I talk on the radio in Ottawa on Majic 100 and am the Special Projects Coordinator for Bell Media Ottawa. I’m obsessed with music – and blog about it on the Yummy Mummy Club’s ‘Bsides’ blog. Oh and I have a slight crush on Donnie Wahlberg, Adam Levine and Ryan Gosling.

Note: This post was previously published on YummyMummyClub.ca

Has your child been the victim of bullying? 
xoxEDxox

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22 Responses to “My Son is Being Bullied”

  1. BradlyNo Gravatar says:

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  2. DaveNo Gravatar says:

    I just read your story because I guess I am having a real down day and did a search on the subject. I know exactley how your son feels. I too was bullied as a kid and it ruined my life. I am now 53 years old and can still see and hear the words I listened to everyday. This is the first time I have ever spoken about this to anyone. No one in my family to this day knwos about this.

    I was bullied by a teacher. yes a teacher. For me, my little circle of friends were the ones that tried to reassure me that the teacher was just crazy. It was my gym teacher in Grade School. I was about 7 or 8 years old. Back then girls and boys took gym class together. I was born a rather sickly kid and suffered from asthma as well as allergies that if gone untreated would go into an Asthma attack. So I was always at the doctor back then. Taking allergy shots twice a week at that time. I also was born with a lump in the middle of my chest that was called extra cartledge. I still have it today.

    So in the class I was unable to do certain tihngs. One day when I was unable to do a somersalt, I guess that is what it is called. he the teacher started calling me spineless jelly fish and how I was a waste. He berated me in front of all the other kids. They were all so shocked I guess that they just sat in silence as his voioce echoed all over the gym. After this day he did this and called me names the rest of the School year. I became this shy self consious person, both because my chest wasn’t like other boys and the fact that I couldn’t do a lot of the tings and then got called names for it.

    Anyway this affected me throughout my life. I never made many friends because I was always trying to stay out of the forefront and I just wilted into a corner where it was safe. I have never married as the lump on my chest was always something I worried about. What woman would want a guy who looked like this. I have been affected in ways that I I can see but now am way to old to even care anymore. I know thia all started with that teacher. I always hear people say that everyone had a teacher that left an impression on them. I don’t tihnk any of them would expect someones to be like mine. I can still see his face and hear his voice like it was yesterday. Back then we didn’t know about stuff like that and I am not sure anything would have been done if I had told someone. I was though too scared to open my mouth. Fading back and not being noticed would be the safest way to go.

    I am just gald that life is almost over for me. I can not think of many happy times I ever expeienced.

    Oh well I hope things turn out well for your son. I also feel better getting this story off my chest for the first time ever.

  3. DestinyNo Gravatar says:

    This is so upsetting. I was bullied as well as a teen in Jr High, it completely ruined my grades and destroyed any self confidence I had then. So I raised my little boy to know how important it was to be kind to your fellow classmates. I would never tolerate my son picking on another child emotionally or physically for any reason. Unfortunately my son this year is being bullied at the age of 7. When I first addressed this issue with his teacher I was told that he doesn’t really take the time to see situations from another point of view, and will often take things the wrong way. She believed that HE believed they were bullying him, but she didn’t think that was the case, so it was dismissed. She would often bring up “witnesses” seeing otherwise which turned out to be the friends of said bully. So I kept talking with my son. We kept trying to work out solutions to avoid conflict. But yesterday I was so disturbed by what he told me had occurred at recess I couldn’t sleep, and had to set up a meeting with his teacher in the morning for after school. When picking him up I noticed mud all up the back of his jacket. He told me he was pushed by the same 3 kids he’s been having problems with. One child swung him to the ground, while another shoved his friend, and the third pretended to kick him in the head while he was down. His friend was hurt, and my son was upset while the 3 boys laughed at them on the ground (All 7 years old as well). He told me the biggest one had pretended to “knife” him in the chest several times during first recess and when he tried to tell the adult supervising the yard, the bully just denied doing anything and they were both sent to line up for class without any punishment or solution. The last 2 months have been so stressful on all of us. I feel like supervisors are not watching, the teacher is not taking this seriously, the principal has yet to return our call from the week prior, the receptionist gave my husband attitude on the phone when he tried to make an appointment, and little by little my son is changing. He’s closing off. All I want is for him to have a positive experience in school. I understand the teachers have a lot of kids to look after, but it feels like the only one they never watch is mine. I intend on addressing this with my husband and his teacher today, and I’m not leaving until they take this seriously.

  4. ScottNo Gravatar says:

    Perhaps you should teach your boy to man up and stick up for himself, putting a bubble around him and coddling him while these jerk off kids bully him is only going to make it worse.

    Life is unfair, and the expectation that our schools will be filled with zombie children that never say anything crude rude or obnoxious is a delirium that seems to be getting more persistent. It is utopian socialistic bullshit.

    How about stepping up and bringing it to the attention of the school instead of whining about it and playing into your sons feeeelings?

    Your husband is the announcer for the frigging Senators announcer for crying out loud, how about he show up and kick the Ass of the parents of these creepy kids?

    Crying about it on the interwebs is ridiculous….

    • MarciNo Gravatar says:

      Wow, Scott it sounds like somebody could have used a few more hugs growing up.

      Sorry, but the expression “Man Up” just doesn’t cut it anymore. While I agree that we need to teach our kids to stand up for themselves, it has nothing to do with being a man. ALL of our kids need to be empowered with the confidence to stand up to their bullies, BUT they also NEED to feel supported by their families and their schools. Boys also need to know that it’s OKAY to talk about their feelings and that telling someone that there being bullied is NOT a sign of weakness. Far from it!

      I’m not sure what having one dad beat another dad up in the playground would solve.

      As far as “Crying about it on the web” goes..you absolutely have a right to your own opinion and the right to share it, but the amazing thing about the internet is that gives parents a chance to share their experiences and questions with others who may be experiencing or have experienced the same things. Is there really something wrong with asking for advice?

  5. I can’t believe how young kids are being bullied. I just volunteered at my son’s school last week and seeing the group of five year olds, they all seem so innocent. All holding hands in a circle, looking to the kid on their left and telling them what is it about them that they like. It’s hard to believe that in a years time (or earlier) that some kids will say and do things so upsetting.

  6. lori carterNo Gravatar says:

    This is a snippet of my 14yr olds new song. His intentions are to get the attention of parents. This is the ugly truth about bullying. Bullying stops at HOME!! http://snd.sc/10gdbMk

  7. Barbara SmithNo Gravatar says:

    So sad that this poor boy is even for one second questioning if he should be alive or live shorter life.I’m glad he has you as parents as he will get good support and good advice. I hope he tells you everything he is feeling and thinking in his head so it can be mirrored back to him that none of it is true, and these bullies are probably projecting on him what they feel about themselves. It still hurts I know, I was mildly bullied. I hope things get better. Thanks.for sharing.

  8. Ted RubinNo Gravatar says:

    This is a pervasive problem which needs more than simply parents and administrators to combat. The only way I see of ever making an impact on bullying is to enlist and empower our children to stand up for each other. We need to figure out how to enable our children to feel a duty and obligation to be there for each other. Not an easy task, and not one I have the answer to, but in my eyes the only way this problem will ever be addressed with success.

    • Connie BernardiNo Gravatar says:

      I love that line ‘empower our children to stand up for each other’….so so true.

      • Ted RubinNo Gravatar says:

        So important for them in this situation… and for them to take with them as adults.

        • Bullied at 5No Gravatar says:

          I used to be bullied at 5, but it was short lived as I had a group of friends back then who took care of the problem for me. The kid used to peel his eyes back and chase me around the school yard like he was a red eyed monster. One day he did it again, only 3 of my friends saw it, blocked him and then whaled on him. Never bothered me again.

          In 4th grade I had another bully problem, this fat ugly kid would constantly beat down on me on an almost regular basis that I avoided going into the school yard whenever I could. Finally I met a tall, black kid and offered him 50 cents if he would be my bodyguard. He agreed.

          The next time the fat ugly kid chased after me as usual… until he got clothelined by my bodyguard and slapped around until his glasses came off and he started crying like the weenie punk he was. Best day of my life. The bodyguard and I became friends too, and fat ugly kid never bothered me again.

          You want to solve the problem, instead of crying yourself to sleep every night over how bad the world is, you find the kid(s) who’s hurting your son and you tell him, “You harass or lay a hand on my son again and the next meal you’ll be having will be your teeth.”

          Or, if threatening a punk 6 year old doesn’t seem appropriate (heh) find his parents, and have a nice cordial conversation with them, and then, if they don’t seem cooperative, offer them a nice bony teeth meal.

          I don’t think your son should spend one more day at that school until the problem was resolved. These are issues that need to be nipped in the bud as soon as they happen, and not allowed to fester until it changes your son’s whole world and personality, because the damages are lasting.

          I still remember being bullied at FIVE. Think about that.

  9. MarciNo Gravatar says:

    Very Powerful.
    Kids need to feel safe and protected at school and parents and teachers need to work TOGETHER to make that happen. Your son is incredibly lucky to have parents who really LISTENED to what he was saying and gave him the love and security he needs right now.

    Kids need to learn that they are NOT powerless.

    Thanks so much for sharing!
    :o )

  10. Erica DiamondNo Gravatar says:

    Connie, thank you for sharing your story. To be honest, it’s a difficult one to read. I agree with Helen– we have to believe that from this dark experience comes light and life lessons. Kids can be so cruel and I think it takes a village, literally, to fight bullying. I hope you will keep us posted on your little man’s progress. He has two incredible parents. That I know.
    Erica

    • Connie BernardiNo Gravatar says:

      I will keep you posted. He met with the principal last week and feels much better now that the school knows. I think a weight was lifted off his shoulders.

  11. HelenNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you for being honest enough to share your story. It takes women like you to speak up, make a difference and improve the system. I can only imagine how you felt when you heard this but I know something positive will come from this experience. Hang in there Connie.

  12. I cannot even fathom that kids this age are already being bullies. I have a 7 year old daughter and while the kids in her 2nd grade class have made their fair share of “ugly” remarks to one another, I have not seen any true acts of being a bully.

    It saddens me to think someone your sons age is having to deal with something this traumatic. I truly think it is the responsibility of parents to make sure there is zero tolerance for this type of behavior in their children and homes. My daughter knows it is NEVER acceptable to be mean to someone and if I ever found out she was acting in this way to another child, there would be major consequences at home.

    • Connie BernardiNo Gravatar says:

      We’re the same – both my kids know what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to treating other people in general. Seems like a given but so many kids don’t have that conversation with their parents and they need to have it.

  13. A momNo Gravatar says:

    Connie I cried reading this. No child should have to endure this at school. I hope your school is on board to fight the good fight.

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