By: Kimberly N. Vega Colón
Her son got brushed off, then she was treated rudely and kicked out of the principal’s office, but then the dust settled and she managed to solve the issue.
The setting of the controversy was last year in an elementary school in Kissimmee, Florida.
Daniel, a fourth grader, let his mother -Tari Arroyo-, know that one of his classmates was calling him names in his face, threatening him and alienating him from the rest of his classmates. The bully’s mother was Daniel’s second and third grade teacher so he also told his mom that he had informed the problem to her. It was towards the end of the school semester, so Tari told her son to ignore his peer and stay away from him.
However, the bullying continued, so she emailed the bully’s mom and told her that what her son was doing was bullying and if he didn’t stop she would have to go to the principal. The next day, Daniel told Tari that he had seen the bully’s mom talking to their teacher and they got separated but it only lasted for a few days. So, Daniel had to go personally to the principal’s office to inform the problem. In return, all he got was a cold shoulder.
To Tari’s surprise, when she approached the principal he treated her the same way and told her that name calling was not bullying and that she was exaggerating and overprotecting her son:
-“You are making a big issue when there are only three days of school left,”- said the principal.
-“Even if there was one day, one hour, I would make a big deal of it because bullying is a big deal and it will not stop if it’s not addressed on time,”- Tari replied.
The principal, according to Tari, looking for an “easy way out,” proposed to remove Daniel from his classroom and place him in another one. Tari, however, rejected this option because the victim should not pay the consequences. Tari practically got kicked out of the principal’s office, as she recalls.
She then, called and sent emails to the Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent and the School Board Members. However, according to Tari, the principal had political ties, so his superiors sided with him.
A week later, however, the principal was arrested for selling drugs to an agent from his home.
Antibullying.net stated that bullying can take many forms like hitting or screaming to someone or deliberately keeping someone out of a group and it causes distress, at times extreme. Children give a variety of reasons for not telling an adult about bullying, ranging from being afraid of what the bullies might do if they found out, to feelings of failure because they could not deal with the bully themselves.
Daniel found the courage to tell his mother about the situation he was facing and she told the pertinent authorities even though she had to take matters in her own hands because they were not capable of solving the problem.
WebMD.com reported that some characteristics of bullying can be by witnessing physical and verbal violence or aggression at home (they have a positive view of this behavior, and they act aggressively toward other people, including adults), may hit or push other children, are often physically strong, may or may not be popular with other children around their same age, have trouble following rules or show little concern for the feelings of others.
Hernán Méndez, coordinator of the Office of Health and Prevention at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, stated that bullies need to behave this way because of parenting role models, peer pressure, interpersonal or family anger or by injuries or traumas that they might have suffered. “While having low self-esteem, others can take control over the person,” he said.
Méndez added that the negative effects that bullies would cause to special education students would be depression, anxiety, low self esteem and they can become bullies in the future. He argues that obese people go through bullying problems more than gays do. “The Gay movement is much more organized and the bullying toward gays has lowered because they are more accepted among society”, Méndez said.
The two most recent cases of bullying he has worked with involve a “chubby woman” that passed through verbal abuse in the lodge by her own housemates and an “effeminate man” who does not have a defined identity but is assumed by others to have it.
Bullying can take place at schools, universities and even in the workplace. Hernán Méndez concluded that “the pertinent authorities to solve bullying problems exist but the education system is not prepared to handle situations such as bullying because they are busy with their charged government system.”