Homeschooling Helped Us Beat Bullying & Overcome Self-Harm
Nothing can make you feel like a horrible parent than finding out that your child has been going through a terrible experience and you had no clue.
When my daughter was in the seventh grade, we had to make a tough decision. At the advice of her doctor, a counselor, and even the teachers at her school, we decided that she had to be withdrawn from school immediately.
Even though my husband and I both worked full time outside of the home, we agreed that it would be in her best interest to homeschool her; at least for a while. She wasn’t ill, falling behind in her schoolwork, or having behavioral problems in classes. So what led us to pull her out?
Bullying. She was being harassed to a point that it affected her health and there was no resolution in sight. You may be thinking * special snowflake*. But hear me out. I had to do what was best for my daughter, and I just couldn’t see what option I had other than to remove her from school immediately.
Let me take a step back and start at the beginning. At first, we started getting numerous phone calls from the school nurse’s office. Our daughter was suffering from persistent migraines and stomach problems. Trips to pick her up early became commonplace, and sick days were becoming a weekly occurrence. Concerned about her health, we visited her doctor, who suggested that she might be going through changing hormones and that we should not be overly concerned.
We urged her to push through the head and tummy troubles so that she would not miss too many classes. That’s when she began talking about a particular group of girls who, in her words, did not like her. She complained that she didn’t fit in and said that she hated middle school.
We tried to encourage her by pointing out the many gifts, talents, and traits that made her, well… her. But we started to worry as she became increasingly withdrawn and started to lose interest in the activities she used to enjoy.
Everything came to a head when I checked in on her after an especially rough day. She was on her bed crying and I noticed a scratch on her wrist. I asked her what happened. She admitted that the wound was self-inflicted and her response chilled me to the bone.
“I want to kill myself, Mom,” was her heartbreaking reply.
Soon, I discovered what she was really going through. The group of girls targeting her put her down daily. They zeroed in on everything she was self-conscious about and tore her down. They had even pelted her with pebbles in gym class when the teacher was not looking. She had been reluctant to talk about being bullied for several reasons. She didn’t want to seem like a baby; she was afraid the bullying would only get worse if she “snitched”; worst of all, she felt as though maybe she deserved it.
I got on the phone immediately and began calling counselors. We found one who agreed to see us the very next morning. After that first appointment as well as a conference call with her physician and a personal meeting at her school, we began our new life as a homeschooling family.
It wasn’t easy. We were disheartened by the school’s seemingly apathetic response. We did not want our daughter to think she should just turn tail and run away when she was mistreated, but neither could we compel her to keep attending a school at which she faced daily torment without any intervention by the adults who should have been protecting her and other children in similar positions.
As I mentioned, my husband and I both worked—and he was gone for weeks at a time. We had to find a way to provide the education she deserved while working to undo the damage that had been done to her self-esteem. Online and charter schools weren’t yet widely available but after hours of research, we found a correspondence school that would work with our unconventional schedule. They would provide all of the curriculum we needed including worksheets and tests, which they would grade as well. They would even provide transcripts that she could use for college or even a return to mainstream school.
We continued with counseling and encouraged her at home as well. At first, it was enough to simply get by and make sure she was keeping her grades up. Soon, our focus became helping her to not just survive being bullied, but rise above it and become more resilient.
It really wasn’t easy. She had to find inner strength and a sense of self-worth to succeed. There were times when she made amazing strides and other times when she suddenly slipped back into feelings of worthlessness. With help from caring professionals and people who loved her, she became increasingly stronger.
The summer before ninth grade, she announced that she wanted to go back to school. We found a charter school that met her needs and she graduated with honors.
I would love to tell you that the emotional wounds those bullies inflicted went away without a single scar, but I would be lying. Even though she is now a wonderful mother with a successful career, the insecurities she felt as a child can still come creeping back.
But she is teaching her own children to be the difference in the world. Recently, my five-year-old grandson saw two older boys chasing a kindergarten girl on the playground. He said he could tell she was frightened, so he went and stood between the boys and her. One of the larger boys knocked him to the ground, but he stood back up and pushed the bigger boy down.
He got in trouble that day in school for putting his hands on someone, but when he told his mom that he would not want someone to treat his little sister that way, all she could do was wrap her arms around him and tell him how proud he had made her.
Have your kids experienced bullying? How did you help them cope? Share your stories with us.Tags : confessions school homeschool bullying