Bullying And Wrongful Punishment
Many children, as they are growing up, have experienced rough times. For example, being wrongly accused. Even if it’s only a minor punishment such as being asked to stand in the hallway or at the back of the classroom, it could cause wounds in the heart of the child. Also, if the child encounters bullying at school, it can be a traumatic experience and leave severe effects. How to help the child face these difficulties may demand that the parents use their wisdom. I use the regular Family Time each week to observe whether there are aberrations in their life, to uncover problems, and to accompany them in their mountaintops and valleys and help heal their hearts.
Lunch Break Clothing Drying Incident
About ten years ago, while my second daughter was going to middle school in Taiwan, she was assigned the task of bringing lunch from the school kitchen to her homeroom with another student. However, that day it was raining and neither of them could hold the lunch and an umbrella at the same time hence was drenched in rain. My daughter used the lunch nap time to go to the nursing room and borrow the hair dryer to dry her hair, socks, and feet. However, after returning to the classroom, she was disciplined by the teacher for not taking the mandatory lunch nap. She was asked to put on her wet socks and shoes and stand in the hallway as punishment.
After my daughter came back home, I learned of this in Family Time and found that she has been inflicted with a wound that would require healing. She also was infected with Athlete’s Foot, which took some time to go away. I asked my daughter whether she explained her rationale to her teacher. She said the teacher was very adamant and firm with the punishment and said that everyone in the class was napping, no exceptions allowed and didn’t want to hear her explanation.
During Family Time, we prayed for her, listened to her side of the story, and became her spiritual support. My daughter said she only wants to dry herself so as not to catch a cold, she also doesn’t want to miss a class, hence can only use the lunch nap time to dry herself. I praised her for her quick thinking, remembering that the nursing room has a hair dryer. As for the other student, the student was afraid of getting punished for breaking rules hence didn’t dry her clothing. The teacher said to my daughter that the other student could handle being wet, why couldn’t she?
Seeing my daughter being wronged doesn’t sit well with me, so I had the plan of discussing this with her teacher, however the daughter was firm in her disagreement with my plan, saying her teacher’s will is strong, if I try to help, it will only worsen the situation. She said that the situation only arose because the teacher wanted to have no exceptions, and that is understandable. This has taught me that if the child is willing to face his or her own difficulties, then the parent needs to learn to let go, let the child face the different challenges in life, develop a stress-resistant character and perseverance. After a few years, my daughter chose to study early childhood education, because she developed a sensitive heart for children, trying to provide proper education methods. The years of hardship have paid off and the fruits of the lesson have matured.
Regarding school bullying, while my eldest son was in grade 5 in Canada, his teacher usually praises his conduct. However, one day the teacher warned me that my child has made some bad friends which may lead him astray. During Family Time, we endeavored to find out what had happened.
My son said, lately, while the teacher is teaching, there are a bunch of boys in the class who band together to disrupt the lessons. Hence the teacher put together a list and handed them to the school for further action. My son also said that during recess, there are 3 to 5 classmates who are making trouble, destroying some female pupil’s snow castle. One time my son was called to destroy the creation of others and he didn’t act upon their request and was verbally abused in the aftermath. No wonder the teacher hinted at me to warn my son to leave these so-called friends.
During that period of time, we happen to be reading the Bible talking about “turn away from evil”. The entire family thought up plans for helping the son to face the challenge. Besides praying for these students my son also tried to talk one of the students out of their bullying and destructive ways. Eventually this “bad batch” of boys started to behave themselves, leaving only one bully who couldn’t find much fun to do these things alone and hence put an end to this saga.
Reminiscing upon these times, our heart is full of gratitude. Building communication channels and relationships with our children really do help to alleviate the severity of situations that could’ve gone out of hand if unchecked and left alone. During Family Time, when issues present themselves, letting the children know that they don’t face troubles alone and can overcome problems together as a whole family helps the children to break through the situation and lets them practice using wisdom to make better decisions and enjoy the process of growth.
In 2013, my family moved to Los Angeles to accompany me for one year. Less than one month after school started, my grade 9 son was called to the vice principal’s office to search his backpack. I remember that day I was busy doing homework, yet found that my son was sitting at the table staring into space. I found that to be unusual and asked him what was going on and he told me his story through tears and sadness.
Because he was transferring to a new environment, he was attempting to enlarge his circle of friends. One day ago he was having lunch with a few classmates. One student played a prank. My son saw student A place a flyer in student B’s backpack. My son thought that would be funny and borrowed a flyer from student A to put in student C’s backpack.
Nothing happened that day, however on the second day in the morning student D came and told my son that student C’s money pouch was gone. Student D saw my son open student C’s backpack and believed that my son took student C’s money pouch and went to the school authorities. Student A also correlated with the story, saying my son probably stole the money pouch. My son told them that he didn’t steal, and didn’t know what’s going on.
When the second period was in session in the middle of a class, my son was called to the vice principal’s office. My son’s backpack and lunch-bag were both searched and my son
At that time I was afraid, because he had never met anything like this before. The school also wrote an investigation report and asked my son to sign it. During lunch time, my son talked to student C and expressed his condolences, saying he didn’t take student C’s money, after he learned that the money pouch was a gift from student C’s mother. This made my son feel sympathetic towards student C and said that if it makes student C feel better, he can give him 20 USD. However, student C then asked for 80 USD more, saying that’s the price for his peace of mind.
When my son told me this, I calmly recorded it down, one reason was to help me not become excessively emotional, and after some analysis, learning of the ins and outs of the situation, I came to the conclusion that the events are not without depth, though my son has a simple heart. It’s obvious that those students were collaborators and are recurring offenders.
I went to the school to ask why the parents weren’t notified, for if it wasn’t for my acute observation, I wouldn’t have known what happened to my son that day. The school’s response is it’s nothing to worry about, as they have a set SOP they follow whenever someone is reported. They will just follow the procedures and write a report to conclude the case, without doing an in-depth investigation. For example what objects are in the money pouch, how much money is there, whether there are IDs, etc. There are many things getting lost in the school each day and they don’t have the practice of investigating each case in detail.
I finally understood the school’s way of dealing with such cases and understand that even if I press for more action, it would still be meaningless. If I communicate with the school teacher, the school wouldn’t take any further action anyway. Later I told my son that it was a trap and he had better leave these “friends”. Treat it as a life lesson. My son proceeded to make new lunchmates and started caring for a disabled student. They eat together, during physical education classes they play ping pong, and I understood that my son has learned another valuable life lesson.
Detailed Observation, Timely Support
All in all, regardless of whether the child has been wrongly punished or met bullies, parents can get a feel for the events that happen at school during Family Time. When the children get hurt in the heart, the parents can provide support and comfort, respecting the decision of the child, learning to accompany the child through difficult times, guiding the child to face the challenges with courage, developing a character that yields blessings for others.
Regarding Wrong Punishment and Bullying:
- Control your emotions, be slow to rise in anger.
- Understand the situation, listen to the child’s explanation of events.
- Rational analysis, record the events in their entirety from beginning to end.
- Face the difficulties together, accompany the children in prayer.