Last September Rachel and I moved from Toronto and its overworked, overstressed, TDSB (Toronto District School Board) to rural small town New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. In that move, I really thought Roo would do much better in a smaller school.
Let me tell you the advantage of the big city. The amount of programming for kids like Roo is there ( you may have to fight for it but it is there) whereas here in New Glasgow Roo has languished.
Our School Year in New Glasgow
It has been an extremely difficult year. Of course with the move, I expected some blimps along the way. To be honest, nothing could of prepared me for the year we have had thus far. Roo goes to a school with just over 100 students ( that is common here). There are little supports available for kids like Roo ( smart, yet super challenged socially). She was put into a regular grade 5 environment where there has been little support considering her challenges.
Then to top off the lack of proper educational supports you have a bullying policy that is there in writing but nothing is really done to implement it or to be proactive. Every recess you see kids getting hurt usually at the hands of other children, you hear stories of kids being isolated, of names being hurled and the list, goes on.
For Roo this year has been hell. First, in November it was her being gang attacked on the way home from school by two other female students ( these kids are grade 5-6) while 5 boys stood and watched and cheered it on. I called the police. They came and said there was little to do besides talking to the parents as the children were under the age of 12. The school could do nothing because the attack took place just off school property.
In March Roo had to visit the emergency room after being pushed down on the ice. She needed 5 stitches to close up her lip. I was told it was accidental by staff, yet Rachel said it was an intentional act. I tend to believe her.
After that incident, Roo has become more depressed and almost every day she endures some form of bullying from being spat at, pushed, called a name, etc.. Last month she told me she would rather die then go to school.
Then today at morning recess there was another incident. Roo was hanging upside down on a movable bar in the playground. Another child came along and twisted the bar causing her to fall and now she is left with a huge welt and a bad headache.
After the incident today Roo decided she has had enough. She left school ( I know very dangerous for an 11 yr old) and came home. She feels not listened too, she feels as if teachers and staff don’t care or dismiss things as accidents or roughhousing. When did roughhousing become ok?
I have been told as I talk with other parents that Roo is not the only child who is enduring a life like this. I am now a Mom at my wit’s end and the Momma bear in me is out. I think we especially here in Nova Scotia need to challenge the definition of bullying. We need to do more and better for every Roo that is enduring a life of pure terror or else who knows she just could end up dead and for this parent that is unthinkable.
I have tried calling the board and basically got nowhere. I have spoken to the principal and well the man refuses to see the problems in his school. So what would you do? what if this was your daughter? how can we do better for our children?
Please feel free to share your stories of bullying here, share solutions you see as workable. I am all ears.