Moms' Responses After Hearing Shocking Things Their Children Told Them About School Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity
It's no secret that school can be one most of the most psychically and emotionally dangerous places for kids. And, many parents aren't aware of aware of what goes on during their child's school day. While bullies have always existed, the most shocking things children have told their moms about school are pretty different than what many parents experienced when they went to school. While many kids don't tell their parents about what really goes on at school, for fear of retaliation, because they're ashamed, or fear they won't believed, some of the things kids have revealed to parents are pretty disturbing.
When my brother was in first grade, his teacher threw a book at him in front of the entire class. The book hit him in the face, cutting the corner of his eye. When my mom asked him what happened my brother told her the teacher did it. My mom was shocked, and at first she thought my brother must be mistaken because teachers don't abuse students, right? This eventually culminated in a meeting with the principal, and us ultimately switching to a private school my mom couldn't afford.
Often, though parents can be surprised to learn about what's really going on at school, really hearing and helping their children can make all of the difference. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and the moms below are true mental health heroes for their amazing reactions to the shocking things their kids have told them about happens at school.
1. I Was Thrown In Trash Can
In an interview with Oprah, Lady Gaga's mom Cynthia Germanotta revealed how it felt to hear from her daughter that she was thrown in a trash can, and that her locker was defamed with profanity and hate speech. Like Gaga, I went to Catholic school where there can tend to be a single-minded idea about what is right and what is wrong. What is good and what is bad.
I personally witnessed LGBTQ students get bullied by teachers. I was personally told by a priest that by supporting a bullied LGBTQ classmate I was making myself a target for bullying, and that I should really think about that because I was brining it on myself. And, sometimes it's harder for parents to believe anything negative is going on at these schools in particular because, in their minds, they're paying a lot of money for their child to have a specific kind of education.
Gaga told Oprah that despite her success, something inside of her will always be scarred from those experiences, and surviving it was the catalyst for her and her mom to start the Born This Way Foundation to help young people connect with their peers, and work to overcome bullying and mental illness.
2. People At School Make My Life A Living Hell
A 12-year-old girl in Australia told her mom, "I'm the most unpopular kid at school, and people make my life a living hell." With the help of her mom, Tayla Sekhmet penned an open letter about being bullied, and started a petition on Change.org to stop it.
"Every day people call me fatso, weirdo, ugly, freak, and tell me I should kill myself. I've been pushed to the ground, had people go through my bag, or break my scooter when I rode it to school. Even people in other grades who I don't know do these things to me too," Sekhmet wrote.
"One boy continues to sexually harass me. He calls me rude sexual names and spreads rumors about me which I can't post here because they are too sexual. He follows me around and laughs at me that I do all kinds of sexual things which I don't."
Sekhmet noted that her mom has tried to work with school officials to stop the bullying, but they're not making progress so Sekhmet is taking her bullying complaint all the way to the Australian government.
"There needs to be a better policy from the education department for dealing with bullying," Sekhmet's mother Kali, who helped her daughter launch the petition, told Womanista.
3. Girls In My Class Send Me Vicious IMs
Erin Barlow penned a story for Babble explaining how finally telling her parents that she was being bullied at school saved her life. "A couple of girls in my class created an anonymous screen name account and sent vicious messages saying that I should kill myself; that no one cared about me. I kept asking them to stop, but the harassment continued. I completely shut down and started to let their words become my words."
Barlow tried to get help from the school on her own before telling her parents, but when that didn't work she revealed them what was really going on at school.
"I finally told my parents about my increasing depression from being bullied. I admitted that I even contemplated taking my own life," Barlow wrote. "They were shocked at what I had silently endured for so long. I’m sure it was hard for them, wondering how they had missed noticing that something was so wrong. It wasn’t until I opened up to them that my whole life changed."
Barlow's parents helped her create a plan to regain her physical and mental health, move to another school, and accept that the bullying was not her fault.
4. Kids Are Mean To Mean Because Of My Lunch
As an adult, the best part of life is standing out, and being exactly who you are. But, unfortunately, as a kid it can feel like the kiss of death when all you want to do is fit in. Thomas Royal Nimen noted on The Moth that he asked him mom to stop putting Middle Eastern food in his lunch because it was causing other kids to give him a hard time.
"My mother, through questioning, gets me to reveal that the other students give me a very difficult time when I pull out food that doesn’t look like everybody else’s," he explained. "So I ask, 'From now on, could we do peanut butter and jelly on Wonder Bread and an apple?'"
Instead of complying with her son's request, his artist mother came to school during lunch and served students a traditional Middle Eastern lunch giving them a much needed lessons about cultural differences. And while her gesture did not eliminate racism at the school, Nimen wrote that it took the edge off the situation.
5. My Teacher Is Bullying Me
One mom was shocked to hear from her autistic son that his teacher was bullying him because of his physical appearance. According to Fox News 46, when her son Alex Davis told her what his teacher had said about his hairstyle (a man bun), she wanted to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. "He said I can’t have my hair up like that because I’m not a girl, or I’m not a fag,” Davis told his mom Amanda Pettus.
Davis repeatedly came home with complaints about abusive things the teacher had said to embarrass him in class. “He said get that crap out of your hair, and then I took it down, and I put it back up because my mom told me he can’t tell me I can’t have my hair up or down because it’s my hair, and then he took the hair belt away from me,” Davis told FOX 46.
“My first thought is assault, why are you touching my child?” Pettus said. “That’s when I decided let’s send him with a cell phone and record this.”
According to FOX 46, Davis turned the phone’s recorder app on during class one day when he said the teacher began asking him if he had permission from his mom to wear his hair in a man bun, and he recorded a verbally abusive exchange between himself and the teacher. Pettus confronted the teacher, but the bullying continued until she finally pulled her son out of the teacher's class.
Despite not winning with the school, every time someone speaks out it takes a little more power away from bullies, and that's exactly what Pettus did for her son.
All five of these moms are basically my heroes. Many kids feel ashamed for being bullied, and even worry that telling their parents about being bullied will change the way their parents see them. Personally, I know I did bullying from my mom for this exact reason. I couldn't bear the idea that she might see me like the bullies saw me.
The veracity of the above parents, from starting a foundation, to petitioning the government, to schooling bullies about cultural differences, to just being their to support their children makes me feel like maybe there is hope for the future after all.