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April 23, 2010

Bullying is Getting Too Close for Comfort!

1114928_your_number All this talk in the news about is scary.  And the more I have tried to read on the subject, the more worried I become. My daughter is graduating from the protective environment of elementary school this spring.  I am not too excited about the junior high school setting.  When I recently attended a parent meeting for incoming students, I was taken aback with all the tough talk of random searches and locker inspections.

We recently decided to put our plans to relocate this summer on hold.  With the shaky economy and the higher cost of living at the new town, it seemed too risky.  But one of the reasons that I wanted to move was to live in a smaller town.  A smaller town where I can believe (realistically or not), that schools are less volatile than the large suburban area that we currently live in.

Even at the elementary level, bullying is on the increase.  A friend of my daughter, recently was hit when another student used a folded plastic jump rope to strike her across the face.  In second grade, a student crawled under a bathroom stall and pushed a child resulting in the boy hitting his head on the toilet!  The sixth grader received three days suspension.  The seven year old was sent to an alternative school!  And the public schools in our area are considered the best in the city.

How much are digital media contributing to the problem?  Are children failing to learn how to properly carry on a face-to-face conversation preferring to text the child sitting next to them?  I heard on the news just yesterday, that the average teen texts 100 times a day. 

My daughter's principal has written several notes encouraging parents to closely monitor or cancel their children's Facebook and texting activities.  Children are being terribly hurt when they are gossiped about on-line (pdf). My child doesn't have a Facebook account.  If she is being talked about on-line, she doesn't know it.

But we can't hold her back forever from being digitally connected.  We promised to  purchase her a cell phone before she started junior high.  So we are trying to figure out what will be sufficient.  My husband and I both use a simple Tracfone.  No camera, no bells or whistles.  The problem is I have a hard time providing her with a better product than what I think is necessary for myself.

In talking to a friend about the state of our schools in our city, she felt that as long as her children are telling her about any behavioral problems occurring at school, then they will continue to be observers rather than participants.  However, with bullying, there is usually an innocent unwilling participant.

I keep being told how important it is for a child to belong to a group within the school.  That developing healthy friendships within a group will improve her confidence and social skills. My daughter plays the violin in orchestra.  I really don't believe it is her passion.  I have to constantly remind her to practice.  But orchestra is her “group”.  And if being in orchestra results in my daughter feeling she is a part of something bigger than herself, a place where she is welcomed and comfortable to be herself, than I don't care if she is plays first chair violin or last.

This is an original 50-something moms blog post. When Debbie isn't worrying about her daughter's teenage years, she also blogs at Diaries of an Older Mom