Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bullying and Homeschooling: A Mother's Fear

So a topic came up again last night that I hold close to my heart because it is the one thing my husband never has agreed with me on. Homeschooling. Now I, like a lot of mothers do not want to home school for religious reasons, or to teach creationism instead of evolution, or even so he/she will get a better education, though that does factor into it. It is for bullying.
The stories I am about to share with you are real. They happened to me. This is what the school systems we grew up in allowed to happen to children. They are not all high school either. Many are elementary school. Bullying is very real, and not a new thing. But in my school it wasn't just the students who bullied or damaged kids, it was teachers, principals, and bus drivers. Here is why I want to home school.
When I was in kindergarten the behaviorally challenged children had not yet been weeded out, nor had the MR children. Which seems fine because they should have the right to the same education we get and should not be excluded or sequestered. Until you factor in strength, size and behavior. Most of these children were not 5 or 6 (or 4 like I was in Kindergarten) they were 7, 8, 9 even 10 yrs old. I don't know if they are separated before kindergarten now but that is my hope. One day I mistakenly took a crayon another girl was using and she grabbed a sharpened pencil and stabbed me in the eye. It missed my eyeball but just slightly. If that wasn't bad enough I was beat up several times by a much older MR child who thought it was funny to make me cry. I hated school almost from day one. The worst thing I think though was the day the bus driver FORGOT TO TAKE ME HOME. He drove right past my house and finished his route and drove us back to the school. I was 4 so I was too scared to question an adult and finally just started crying. He seemed shocked to see a kid still on his bus. What kind of driver doesn't check before heading back to school? So my mom was pretty frantic by then and had already called the school. She was waiting for me when we got to the school. So that was kindergarten.
From 1st grade to about 4th I had a few horrible experiences. I was stalked for a year by a boy who wanted to "marry me". He followed me home, tried to touch me, would buy me gifts, flowers, chocolate. Now I know some of you are going awwwww. As an adult I would probably think the same thing. Except that I was 8 yrs old, had made it clear I wasn't interested and was terrified of this boy. This was not a few days or weeks. This went on from Oct of 3rd grade until the first day of 4th grade. He stalked me. I even had my best friend's big brother "talk to him" and that didn't even deter him. I would like you ladies now to imagine the most pushy guy you ever met at a bar. Now imagine that you see him everyday at work. That he fondles you everyday at work, that you get flowers, and candy. You step out of your house.. and guess who is there. Now imagine if the cops (for me it was teachers and my parents) thought he was just adorable and told you to be nice to the man. Now does it look a little less innocent? All through elementary school I had girls pulling my hair, stealing my shoes, pushing me down into rocks on the playground. I had boys looking up my skirts, telling me I was so pretty that I should let them kiss me, even in 4th grade I was asked by a boy to give him a "BJ". I didn't know what a BJ was so I went home and asked my mom and got a most awkward lesson on fellatio. I barely knew what sex was and now I knew about THAT.
From 5th grade to 8th grade.. my parents didn't help my awkward school life. They didn't believe in using toothpaste or deodorant. We used baking soda for both. I also was not allowed to start shaving my legs. So I was the hairy smelly brown toothed girl... mmmm that's an image huh? In middle school our teachers got crazier too. In 6th grade I had any creativity or spirit crushed out of me. My 6th grade science teacher used to flip out and throw chairs at kids. My 6th grade social studies teacher taught us nothing that was true. I have since learned that everything we learned in 6th grade history was lies. My 6th grade english teacher ripped me out of the accelerated science program for gifted students because she felt it was distracting me from her dumb class. (something I still want to yell at her for). My 6th grade reading teacher had pet mice with TUMOURS. So we watched them die slowly over the course of the year... pretty damaging. In 7th grade I finally had a few teachers who made me love school. I just loved their classes. I even by then had started buying my own bath products and hiding them.. so things started to get better for me in school. By 8th grade I had friends, I wasn't smelly, I was doing a lot better. But the 8th grade teachers were as soul crushing as the 6th grade ones. My English teacher was a drunk. She would literally stand on chairs screaming crazy things like "girls if a boy says saran wrap works let me tell you IT DOESN'T" (yeah I had NO CLUE what that meant then) she always had a bottle of booze on her desk and she talked to a ghost in her classroom named Bridget.
Then came high school. The worst thing I think that happened while I was still at my hometown school was our 9th grade grade social teacher was a perve. He would look under girls skirts and down their blouses. It made us all very uncomfortable. However when I moved to the next distract over I had some serious stuff happen to me. There was a rumor at that school that any girls from my old school were lesbians. So I was immediately labeled as such and so if I was a lesbian then it was ok to try to touch me, fondle me, try to force me to kiss my best friend after school. It was ok to throw things down my shirt, it was ok to stroke my hair, and it was ok to dry hump me in the art room. I started fighting back. I mean literally beating the crud out of these guys. I was a big girl by then 5'7" and about 140 lbs I left them laying on the ground crying. But then a guy came around I couldn't fight he was easily 6 ft or taller and weighed probably 200-250 then. He was popular, on the hockey team and he wanted me to date him. I said no. I don't think anyone had ever done that before. He hated me from then on. He started dating a friend of mine and I didn't like the way he treated her, very controlling and abusive. So I tried to get her to dump him. So he started threatening my life, telling me he was going to snap my neck, telling me he would rape me, scratching curse words into my locker, rubbing dog poo on my locker. I changed lockers 3 times. I told teachers.. no one would do anything. I talked to the principle, she wouldn't do anything. Finally the last straw was on the bus he came up sat next to me put his hands around my throat and said "this quick.. I could kill you this quick and no one would ever know". I told my father who called the school and told the principal that if something wasn't done he would have her fired. The next day we both were pulled into her office. She sat us down and asked him how the hockey team was going and told him he needed to stop because she didn't want a fine boy like him getting into trouble. Then she sent him to his next class. She then turned to me and told me that if she ever received another phone call from my father I would be expelled because I was a troublemaker.
Education wise high school was horrible too because the school moved at the speed of "no child left behind", which ended up resulting in my Junior and Senior years, I basically made up my own curriculum and would check in with the teachers and we would sit and talk about what I was working on. It took my senior english class almost a whole semester to read Animal Farm, a book I read on my own at 12, and happily reread the first night it was assigned. When I told my teacher that I read the book the night we got it he told me to tell him what I thought of it. After a lengthy discussion about the cold war, the Russian revolution and communism, he told me.. well that was all they will be doing the rest of the year and you did it in one night. Write a 5 page paper on the book and turn it in. I turned in a 24 page paper and spent the rest of the year doing creative writing on my own. The rest of my teachers basically treated me the same way. At least I can say in defense of that school, the teachers were great, it was the curriculum that was horrible. The day I finally graduated school I breathed a sigh of relief because the horrible pain I had endured for 13 years was over.
Now this is far from all my tales of school woe. This was just most of the worst ones. So what does this have to do with homeschooling? Well I grew up around home schooled kids and they were the smartest most well adjusted kids I knew. They always were way ahead in education and they were the kids who had no trouble making friends, who always were polite and sweet. Homeschooling has really only one drawback which is no socialization.. which can be easily remedied by sports, clubs, play groups, or co -op schools. I still have hope that we either have moved away by the time our son goes to school or that I can convince my husband homeschooling is good.

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