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Kids Learn to be Cruel

  • Posted on September 24, 2012 at 8:07 AM

Last year was a great year for Willy. It was so great, in fact, he didn’t want to give it up. He didn’t want to give up his fellow students and friends. He didn’t want to give up his teachers and classes. He didn’t want to give up being a seventh grader. And he wasn’t even changing schools!

Then, came this summer. I didn’t want to think of the summer as a portent to things to come, but here were are, creeping to the end of September, and Willy’s “great” has gone, gone, gone.

This isn’t the year of great. This is the year of epilepsy. This isn’t the year of wonderful. This is the year of bullying. And I’m tired of it already.

For many years, I’ve been reassured that Willy is well-liked by his peers. He was happy to go to the school (most of the time) and he was happy at school (most of the time). But all that has changed. Willy is under attack.

That may sound extreme, but I assure it’s not. Willy is being ruthlessly and cruelly teased by people who used to accept him (or pretended to), but have now decided (if it was a decision) that they can build themselves up by tearing him down (if that’s their motivation). In short, he’s being bullied. He’s being bullied about his glasses, about his coordination, and about his speech. I suspect other aspects of himself are being attacked, too, but like most kids, Willy isn’t particularly comfortable talking about it.

That’s a change, too. I get to watch my child “shell up” and lash out. I get to see his moodiness skyrocket at a time when he’s already struggling with difficult emotions surrounding his epilepsy. So far, I don’t think the bullying and the epilepsy are connected, but it’s hard to be sure.

Whatever is going on, it needs to stop. Every child should be safe at school. They should be safe from their teachers and other service providers. They should be safe from their peers. If they’re not, there’s a problem and the school has a responsibility to address it. I’m in contact with the school, and so far they’re taking it seriously. But it hasn’t stopped. On Thursday, I go in concerning another matter. If I haven’t seen drastic improvements, then Mama Bear will be showing her claws and demanding action.

Kids learn to be cruel. They can learn not to be cruel. Cruelty in our schools should NEVER be tolerated. It needs to stop!