Brat H had another sleepover last weekend, and sent my daughter two more videos. The first "We're having a sleepover and you weren't invited" video was sent the previous weekend, for no other purpose than to make my daughter cry. The gist of these two, in Brat H's actual words, was, "We're having so much fun without you!" I told my daughter to send them to me immediately, and to send Brat H the following text: "How boring. Zzzzz."
Brat H, not a terribly intelligent child, wrote back, "You boring." My daughter (on my advice) informed her that "You're" was correct and inquired as to whether Brat H could spell. I won't repeat the entire conversation, but I have a nice screen shot =) Brat H ended up parroting everything my daughter said, clearly at a loss for words of her own. Zzzz.
I did not meet with Brat H's mother on Wednesday as planned. I make jewelry, mostly custom, out of semiprecious stones and sterling silver. Brat H's mother wanted me to make a piece for a friend of hers, and was coming over to see my stock of turquoise and discuss a design. But she wasn't feeling well, so canceled. Brat H's mother and father, and DH and I, are friends. We do not discuss our daughters. It's awkward. However, because of the video incident the previous weekend, I was going to talk to my friend and show her the video, putting it in her hands.
This time, my daughter came running right to me instead of crying. She wanted to start an anti-bullying website, called "Stop Bullying dot com." I told her that was probably already taken, and suggested a Facebook page instead. We looked up "bullying" on Facebook, and...wow. There's a TON of anti-bullying pages.
Before my daughter started 3rd grade at a new school last year, I had not had any experience with bullying since I was 5 years old. In a playground in Central Park, the playground bully (a 7-year-old boy) stepped on my fingers as I was hanging from my hands and feet from a curved monkey bar. My chin smashed into the pavement (no rubber or sawdust in those days!) and split open. I remember seeing the white bone reflected in the silvery water fountain as my best friend's nanny wet her handkerchief and put it on my chin. I got 7 stitches and still have the scar.
The next day, my father told me that I had to go to talk to the bully. I didn't want to. He was a large and surly boy. Nobody liked him. My father insisted. So off to the playground we went, me dragging my feet. I don't remember what I said, but he left me alone. Knowing my father, it was probably something calm and logical. We don't threaten. We reason. And I was never bullied again, by him or anyone else. I was empowered. I grew tall, and strong, and (after hours of practice in front of a mirror) developed a cold, implacable stare for use when necessary =)
As I got older, I learned that words can cause far more pain than fists. Another piece of wisdom from my father: "Never say anything today that will change all your tomorrows." So I am careful with my words, especially when I am angry. This is more difficult than one might expect, as I am descended from long lines of sharp-tongued Irish women on BOTH sides.
I have read too many stories of bullied children committing suicide. Sometimes, the children are gay. Sometimes, they're not. The common thread is that they were all driven to kill themselves because of the cruelty of other children. I have cried over each and every story. But Rebecca Sedwick's story, as told in Christian Dem in NC's diary, was absolutely devastating to me.
Rebecca was a sweet-faced, very pretty girl. In fact, she reminds me a little of my own daughter. And the story is a bit similar: a boy that Brat H liked was nice to my daughter the very first week of school last year, sending Brat H into an apparently unrelenting fit of rage. My daughter has an older brother; she thinks that boys have cooties and has no interest in any of them. That doesn't seem to matter to Brat H. She has told my daughter that she is fat and ugly, that nobody likes her, that Brat H is popular and my daughter will never be popular...none of that is even remotely true, but the viciousness goes on and on. And it is awful for my daughter.
This morning, I called the sheriff's office to find out if there are any laws against stalking and harassment, and to ask if there is a program where an officer could come and speak at the school. The officer with whom I needed to speak was out of the office, so I left a message. I also sent a detailed email to the principal, explaining what was happening. He asked me to send him the videos and screen shots so that he could share them with "Deputy Dave" (not his real name, but he is a real deputy) and also asked me to let him know when I had spoken to Brat H's parents. He said that he was sorry that we were dealing with this. I sent them to him this afternoon.
The school, however, does not have any kind of anti-bullying program, or even a policy. I volunteered to spearhead one, or to assist with it. He didn't respond to that. I also mentioned that I had spoken to the mothers of two other girls that had been bullied by Brat H and her sidekick, Brat G. They were also upset that nothing had been done, but told me that Brat H was leaving their daughters alone this year. I told the principal that Brat H bullied with impunity, because she had yet to face any consequences.
I don't think that Brat H's parents know what their little darling is doing, and I also suspect that she has them bamboozled. She's a manipulative child. When I once told her (in my own house) that her behavior was unacceptable, she glared at me with utter malevolence before quickly plastering a big fake smile on her face. That was CREEPY.
Do you know what's going on in your child's life? If your child is being bullied, STEP UP. GET INVOLVED. It could save his or her life.
Social media and cellphones have enabled bullies to reach their victims like never before, giving them a practically unlimited platform for harassment and shaming. And suicide among children is on the rise.
But parents and educators are fighting back. Here's one article from HuffPo's five-part series on bullying
Tue Oct 22, 2013 at 7:45 PM PT: Spoke with S. She was completely unaware that her daughter was actively bullying mine. She thought it was just "drama." Brat H's smartphone is gone, for a while, and was replaced by a TracFone. Brat H is apologizing to DD, hopefully in writing. I didn't tell her that I recorded our conversation, but did tell her that DD is documenting everything mean that Brats H and G say to her. Brat H DID lie to her mother & claim that DD started the video crap, but we were able to prove that she was lying because Brat G's bday party (to which DD was not invited, and was taunted: "Were you invited? No? Oh, too bad") was on Sept. 21. Nailed the little brat =)
So hopefully Brats H and G will learn the error of their ways. I suggested that S ask Brat H why, if they were having so much fun, did they feel the need to reach out to my daughter?
I will tell the principal that there should be a hiatus, but there needs to be an anti-bullying program. And that Deputy Dave should keep an eye on H and G, as they will possibly find a new target.