Now that the school year has begun, I am again reminded that this time is not easy for everyone. I know that for me, it was never easy going back to a school where I felt unsafe. The weeks leading up to it, I began isolating myself and had a short temper. Though the signs are different for everyone, noticing that someone is not acting like themselves with the approaching school year could be an indication of bullying.
Although my parents would realize that something was going on and directly ask me if I was being bullied, for a long time my reply was “no.” I felt more comfortable discussing the topic when the questions were more open-ended. When asked direct “yes or no” questions, it made me feel scared, vulnerable, and attacked. For kids going through a difficult time, a better approach may be for parents to lightly discuss the topic, provide support without judgement, and to leave communication open and make their child feel understood. I always knew I had my parents to go to if I needed them, but it’s not always easy to talk to your parents. Encouraging your child to talk to someone, even if it’s not you, is better than your child bottling feelings that could manifest into destructive behaviors, such as suicide or self-harm, and not talking to anyone at all.
Motivating your child to get involved in hobbies, whether it’s at school or outside of it, could potentially increase their chances of finding people who share similar interests and help build their self-confidence. I danced most of my life with girls my age and made some lifelong friends. Once I stopped, I began exploring my interests in photography and writing which gave me a creative way to express myself. These hobbies gave me an outlet for my frustration and pain from my everyday struggles.
If you feel like you can’t help your child, there are a few places they can go to. Aside from reaching out to a school counselor or nurse, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1 (800) 273-8255 and a free teen texting line called TeenLine is also available if you text TEEN to 839863.
Some ways that are likely to help any child are letting them know they are loved and cared for, listening to them when they are upset, and providing a hug. All of these helped me work through my own issues, and though everyone has different experiences, these are some starting points that may help you and your child cope with what may have happened.
Tomorrow on October 15, 2015 at 6:30 p.m., there is a school board meeting, and members of Kennedy’s Voice plan on attending. We believe the school district’s anti-bullying policy and practices are inadequate. Our voice will be heard; legal counsel will present the board a proposal for an improved anti-bullying policy and recommendations for change.
Here are the proposed policies and practices we plan on introducing:
-Audit schools ensuring each schools’s policy and practices conforms with state and federal laws.
-Mandatory reporting by the schools to law enforcement and parents, of both the victim and perpetrator.
-Recurring anti-bullying training for: School staff and students.
-Included in student handbook, signed acknowledgment by parents and students their responsibility in preventing and reporting bullying.
-Counseling for both the victim and perpetrator and/or alternate schooling for the perpetrator.
-Annual posting and publication of policy and practice.
-Anonymous reporting mechanisms and procedures.
We need your help! Please show your support by attending the school board meeting! It is tomorrow, October 15, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at the School District Headquarters (5130 Riverside Dr., Chino, CA 91710).