My son went through a six month stint of bullying at an undisclosed middle school when he was thirteen. It was also the year he had become withdrawn and seemed depressed. Even worse was that his grades had been slipping for quite some time…all were signs of bullying. Naturally, I would ask questions. However, my son never wanted to talk about it so I had no choice but to step back. My concern only grew.
Neither my ex-husband nor I caught onto it until we had taken him to a gastroenterologist after he’d complained of stomach pain and nausea. The doctor performed an endoscopy of his esophagus and stomach and the results came back normal. The lining of his upper digestive tract was nice and pink…no ulcers, no red spots…nothing.
That’s when I began asking more questions and this time, would not stop. My son finally admitted that he had been only pretending to be sick to stay home from school. When I asked why, his answer was what I had suspected all along. He was being targeted by his classmates!
His father and I went to the school to meet with the principal and she gave the usual song and dance, one I had heard too many times so many years ago when I, myself was a target of bullying. This principal made excuses for the bullies, citing things such as:
“It’s just a personality conflict”
“Your son needs to grow a thicker skin.”
“Your son needs to toughen up a little.”
“Your son is way too sensitive.”
Blah-blah-blah! Your son this and your son that…victim blaming at its finest! His father and I finally got up and told the female principal in no uncertain terms, “He won’t be back.”
The principal’s eyes grew wide and she sat up straight, almost stiff in her chair.
“And why’s that, may I ask?” She asked.
“Because we’re transferring him to another school.” I snapped.
And we walked out before the principal had time to voice protest.
Once we got him transferred, he improved dramatically…so much that he was able to skip a grade! Because I had been bullied, I was better able to see the signs and take my little boy out of that toxic learning environment before it took hold of him and did some real damage. At his new school, he was able to make friends, get along with his teachers and bring his grades back up, enabling him to win several scholarships to college!
Today, he has his own business and I couldn’t be a prouder mother than I am now!