On the first day of high school I had this sinking feeling that my too short for his age and highly functioning autistic son was going to struggle. At thirteen other kids tower over him and as someone who lacks the right social skills the bullies overpower him. I didn’t want my feeling to be right in fact just like any other parent I wanted it to be wrong. After all, I myself had been bullied all through school so I knew what it felt like. When he came home all upset I knew something was wrong. He had been getting shoved and pushed around during gym. It escalated to the point of him being pinned to the ground. I immediately rushed to the school the next morning. I was told the problem was dealt with and the bully was separated from him. But then a few more bullies popped up and I suddenly realized that I was heading into deep waters. I suddenly found a lack of communication at the school. No one wanted to really acknowledge the big problem. In this day and age during a deadly pandemic it seems that everyone is obsessed with mask mandates and vaccine mandates. No one is paying attention to the bullying issues happening in the schools. Even more disturbing is that when it comes to bullying adults are just as guilty. Just check out The New York Times every time it mentions the COVID vaccine. Just read the articles on mask mandates and those referred to as Anti-Vaxxers. Adults are ripping each other to shreds over those issues and if you don’t agree they will gladly rip you apart as well. It comes as no surprise that some children are acting out while others are being terrorized. The truly sad part is that some still have the mentality that kids will be kids. Authority figures aren’t stopping to really see what is going on which leads me to the definition of bullying. Bullying is not only hurtful teasing but it is force, a threat to abuse and aggressively intimidate or dominate another human being. Bullying has long lasting effects on one's mental health and can lead to a variety of different problems such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, emotional problems, damage to one's self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, not wanting to eat, behavioral problems and substance abuse. These problems can lead a bullied child down a dangerous path. It can leave them feeling their is no hope and has actually led a few to commit suicide. When faced with this issue long ago I ended up with post traumatic stress order, depression and anxiety. It is something that has followed me for years. You are reminded by the past and the fact that there is no way to erase it. Someone once told me that a bully is someone who lacks confidence in themselves and who may have behavioral issues themselves. Perhaps they come from an abusive environment. But does that make it acceptable for them to bully and hurt your child? No it doesn’t and until the school enforces the so-called “Zero Tolerance for Bullying” rule there will continue to be issues in the school. I have since removed my son from public school and have opted for the cyber school route instead. However, I can see the sadness in his eyes over the fact that he won’t be able to join the Art Club or Technology Club. It breaks my heart and makes me angry at the same time. I can only hope that someday the school administrators will put their foot down and put an end to bullying. Until then it is a stand that many of us parents will have to make.
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