Monday, January 2, 2012

Crimes Condoned by Policy

2011 was the year of protest. We at DSD must be doing something right because nobody tried to occupy us. Either that, or our brain-washing techniques are just more effective. ;)

I'm typing this as 2011 is winding down, and what I feel at the end of this year is exhaustion. I paid next to no attention to Occupy Wall Street and whoever the 97 or 99% are and never once felt inclined to pick up a sign, although the Mid East stuff I watched with great interest, particularly as someone who's been to Tunisia and loves the country. Strike a match, see how far the fire goes.

No, it isn't until now that I wish there was a protest to join, but not for any of those things you read about people protesting over in the news.

So maybe I'll just ask the question here.

I'd like to know where to get the proper form to report concerns over a nine-year-old at our kids' school allegedly having sex with a ten-year-old are, and her alleged pregnancy.

You see, recently, in Baltimore, a family sued the school board. The reason? Their special needs child was bullied so much that the child had to be hospitalized. "The young boy was admitted to the hospital for 15 days to deal with the alleged bullying, his family said.

The student also told jurors that while attending two different elementary schools, he was beaten and choked until he passed out. He also said he was called names that he was not allowed to repeat. The boy's father claimed that school administrators were aware of the abuse."

Would it bother you if your child was choked and beaten at school?

It happened at two schools.

The family lost the case. Simplest explanation?

Administrators "never received a bullying harassment form from the family -- something the district administrator said every parent received and was told how to use."


Let me see. My child's been beaten. Passed out. Is terrorized and traumatized and afraid to go to school.

Hang on a second. Now, where is the proper form to report that?

I have a problem with this. A seriously huge blankin' problem.

I spent two years in BCPS. In one of my positions I had to file a minimum of 40 forms a day. I'm pretty well acquainted with relevant paperwork.

And I'd never even heard of this bullying form.

Never seen it.


Not in training. Not in in-service days. Not ever.

And at least one school I was at in the city is a good school. A really good school.

So, the girl-child recently came home, with quite a story to tell, about a classmate who's allegedly pregnant. She cited the source as the girl herself, who told her who she was having sex with, where, and prior to this there had been a discussion when the girl-child heard classmates talking about this girl 'sucking boys' wieners'.

We actually have addressed it to the school. Twice. First over the oral sex. Then over the alleged intercourse.

We've also addressed the repeated bruises girl-child's been coming home with, that she says are happening in P.E. class.

We've addressed the reports from girl-child, that she's been shoved to the ground at recess, and that she's constantly teased at school.

School's response?

Nothing. Been several weeks now.

Big, fat, nothing.

The bruising issue is now complicated by the fact that the ex admitted in court to rubbing the kids to make them look like they'd been hurt. It's one of the most bizarre, disturbed admissions I've ever heard, and I'm seriously concerned that without adult male punching bags to hit, smaller targets are now the focus.

But it doesn't change the other concerns about the school. So I'd like to know where the right forms are. The form for the bullying. The form for the oral sex. The form for student intercourse. The form for a nine-year-old allegedly being pregnant... Because it suggests something seriously inappropriate to me to even hear this story. I mean, it's detailed. I'm not sharing all the information I have - I'm preserving privacy. This isn't about dishing dirt.

It is, in part, about being really frustrated with our nine-year-old learning things about sex through sexual acts allegedly happening with elementary school students, things she didn't know about prior to this. Not from this house.

Which is what gives the entire story a ring of truth. Clearly, girl-child has started learning about oral sex and intercourse elsewhere.

And the source she's citing is school. And if this nine-year-old classmate of hers knows this much about sex, I have to wonder how. And whether there's something seriously wrong somewhere. It's not uncommon for abuse victims to become promiscuous as a way of minimizing their abuse.

Nine years old.

But the school conveniently hides behind bullshit policies like using the right form, or not using the right form. With girl-child's bruises and reports of being shoved down to the floor in P.E. and to the ground at recess, school policy seems to be to insist if they have a zero tolerance for bullying policy it means the alleged bullying can't be happening.

And when we ask where the teachers are, the kids relay what we've seen ourselves when we've been there. The teachers are standing together, talking. Not walking around, not dispersing, not seeing what's going on.

Oh, and I love this one. When kids try to tell about something, they're told not to tattle. Girl-child spent 2/3 of grade 1 repeating that to me every time she came home upset about being shoved and pushed down until I'd had enough. I explained to her that there's a difference between tattling and getting help to keep yourself safe. Tattling is about trying to get the other person in trouble. Telling because you're being hurt is about finding a way to keep yourself safe.

And YES, our children have a RIGHT to be safe.

Since nobody's been able to direct us to the right forms, and since nobody seems to give a damn about answering our concerns at all, and since we've taken it to the school board and they've done nothing, we sent it over to social services. I don't give a crap if I am "just" a stepparent. I'd step up for ANY child with sufficient concern. I'm a mandated reporter, which I take seriously. We've tried chain of command through the school to ease our concerns and been ignored. I'm done with them, and their bullshit. Now I'll take anything I know straight to social services every single time. While I may think the alleged pregnancy is probably just a story for attention, I can't deny the sexual knowledge the girl has, that she's now spreading to other nine-year-old kids at school. I have to wonder where that knowledge comes from, since sex ed isn't covered at this age. And there are other kids involved. There's the boy who's allegedly involved. If you were his parent (we aren't, but still) wouldn't you be concerned about stories going around about him having sex? Wouldn't you want those stories stopped? Or, even at this tender age, is that just a notch in a boy's belt?

Not in this house.

The problem is, when we send our kids to school, we expect them to be safe, and we feel we should be able to trust the school environment to be appropriate. I'm not being deliberately daft. I know the kids will learn things at school from peers. I know they'll have exposure to ideas and beliefs and things they might not hear about in this house. That's not always a bad thing.

But kids nine and ten, having sex, and sexual acts occurring at school.

I'd like the form to request that the school try to ensure that our nine-year-old won't walk in on kids having oral sex next time she needs to use the bathroom. Can someone help me find the right form, please? Please?

Now we hear that the grade 5 boys go around calling themselves rapists and say to girls that they're rapists and the boys think that's cool.

That's as sick as it gets. Worse still that kids 9 and 10 now know what it is to rape someone before they've even had sex ed.

The bullying is something I can't ignore. In my own case, it was so severe that I was transferred to a different school in a different town because school administrators felt they couldn't keep me safe. I was being beaten up by students who'd been expelled, who weren't even supposed to be on school property, and who I personally didn't even know.

Oh - and a little side-note, about BCPS. Here's one thing I can tell you. School board policy is to restrict the number of suspensions. Not because the suspensions aren't deserved, but because they want the numbers to look good. I have personally seen middle school kids go AWOL for hours, smash windows in classroom doors, beat other students with objects including belts and chairs, and try to stab a teacher with scissors, just to list a few of the incidents I observed. And reported.

Want to guess how many suspensions?

Not even a suspension for the student who threatened to come back with his gun and kill me and another staff member. Not even a disciplinary chat, or a social worker coming down to assess the situation and see if it was a credible threat. Not school police, either. When one of our students struck school police, they got arrested. When two boys pinned me down and struck me repeatedly, they got.... Nothing.

When I was a kid being bullied, my parents got involved. Social services got involved. And all that happened was that I was sent away, and those same girls racked up arrest after arrest when they didn't stop their behavior, and just found another target. It didn't stop the problem. It stopped my problem, but they just found another person to assault.

In my experience, I died a little. There are times I think about how I used to be, and then I think about how my personality changed, because of bullying and assaults and living in fear.

It isn't hard for me to imagine how hard it is for kids at some schools. I've seen first-hand how bad it is at some schools.

Our recent issues with our kids' school aren't the only concerns we've had. A substitute teacher struck a student in girl-child's class, and the school blew it off as a joke.

FYI, Maryland does not permit corporal punishment in schools. You have to go to Idaho or Colorado, or one of the other 19 states that permit corporal punishment OR YOU CAN'T HIT KIDS AT SCHOOL. Not your kid, not another kid, not ANY kid. It wasn't our kid that was hit, but it was our kid who came home, scared a teacher might hit them one day, too.

And then there was the classmate who brought a knife to school. And we aren't talking inner city schools here. We live in the county people move to in order to get away from city school issues like guns and knives and sex in the bathrooms and drugs in the halls.

Big fat joke on all the parents who think it's going to be so much better when they move to this county.

I'm sorry, but I have no respect at all for administration that has people hide behind policy as a way of doing nothing when children are being threatened. Oh, wait. No. I'm not sorry. I have nothing to apologize for because protecting our children, and every child I'm aware is having their safety threatened, is my moral obligation. I don't know what kind of piece-of-shit person can just ignore a safety threat to a child.

But anyone who wants to work full-time with kids who then doesn't give a crap about protecting them? That's a worthless human being in my book.

I wonder how many times we have to read about some kid pushed to the edge, who can't take it anymore and commits suicide? Or goes to school with a gun?

Bullying is a serious problem in schools.

But what people don't even consider is that by hiding behind policy and ignoring concerns about the safety and well-being of students in their care, some administrators are creating an environment where bullying can thrive. I know I have no confidence whatsoever in the administration at our kids' school to do anything to protect students there.

Thing is, in our experience, nobody's going to do anything. Yes, when a kid gets killed, or raped, or assaulted, and it goes public, we'll tell the media everything. Hand over the emails about the student hit in class, the knife, the sex and oral sex. But it's sickening to come to terms with the fact that we can't do anything to prevent more assaults and more abuse.

"I guess it's hard for some people who are so used to things the way they are, even if they're bad, to change and they kind of give up.

"When they do everybody kinda... they kinda lose."

It's sickening to have to accept the fact that we can't do anything to prevent more assaults and more abuse. I think of Tunisia, and the Middle East, and how one person stood up against a government, and literally changed the world.

I so badly want to believe that I could at least stand up for our kids and make things better for them.

For now, I guess we'll be taking a photo of the girl-child every time she arrives and departs, so we can document the bruising. I guess if it continues to be a problem, the only place left for us to go now is the police.

A long time ago, I used to hear things, read things, and wonder where the parents were. Didn't we all ask that after Columbine? How could those parents not know?

Now, I wonder how many times the parents did know, and did say something, and the real reason the tragedy wasn't averted was because the schools ignored all their concerns and did what some of them appear to be best at doing.

Nothing at all.


Mollie Bryan said...

Wow and BRAVO. What a post. We had a bullying situation with my daughter in middle school this year. She told us on a Monday evening and during the night all I could think about were the worst possible outcomes. We were at the school the next day. Happy to report that the school handled it very well. Parents need to stay on top of it--and we need to hold the schools accountable. Form? Forms, my ass. Seriously.

Thomas Pluck said...

What pure insanity.

Maybe I'm old, but I can't imagine a 9 year old learning sex without having been abused by an adult. Family services needs to be involved.

I was bullied in school as well. Beaten by three guys outside my house. But they were on the wrestling team. I started carrying knives to school and went punk to look scary. I remember how the teachers and administrators eyes would change when you went for help. Like you weren't there. Like they knew there was nothing they could do. They knew the bully's parents were likely bullies too, and would go after them at council meetings, the PTA, anything. We tolerate bullies as a society. When someone gets sent to prison, we chuckle, because they will be bullied and raped.

Who defeats the bully? The bigger bad-ass with a bigger gun. Clint Eastwood comes to town. Might makes right.

I wish you luck. The situation is revolting. You have to become a firebrand. You can't get people to click "Like" on Facebook to support a cause, much less disrupt their lives to fight for something, even their own children.

I've read all your posts about this school, and news articles you've posted. Thank you for bringing these atrocities to our attention. We ignore them at our peril.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I had great comments typed up to both of you, and blogger ate them. Argh.

Sandra Ruttan said...

So... let me sum up by saying that I'm sorry both of you have such personal experiences with this, be it with your child being bullied, or being bullied yourself. I'm relieved some schools do deal with things responsibly, and revolted when people turn a blind eye.

The thing is, every single person who works in a school is a mandated reporter, and if they're aware of a situation threatening the physical or emotional well-being of a child, they are OBLIGATED to report it.

As far as I'm concerned, the Carroll County School Board should be fired. I might go so far as to say the administration of Cranberry Station as well. I definitely would move out of county before I let that principal get anywhere near another child from this house. We tried patience and dialogue and spent months trying to deal with the school reasonably and respectfully. All it got us was more bruises, and bigger issues.

I'm more concerned about protecting our children than I am about whether the school administration likes me. Screw them.