If your child is viewed as "different", for whatever reason, school life is going to be hard. People are going to prey on their differences, their weaknesses and say and do mean things to make themselves feel better about themselves. As a parent, your heart will break a little, a lot, every time your child comes home with a distressed look on their face. If you're lucky, your child will reach out to you. Listen. Listen to every single word they say and take it seriously, because to them, it is serious.
Bullying can come in many forms. Sometimes it's verbal. Do not brush this one off. Verbal abuse is as damaging, if not more so, than physical. Physical abuse can be as simple as a shove in the hall. In this day in age, one of the most common is the cowardly action of cyber-bullying. Our kids are growing up in an age where nothing is private and reactions can go "viral" in seconds. There is also something called "Relational" bullying, which my son has been victim to, but I never knew the term. Relational bullying is when other kids deliberately exclude a child, or children from an activity or group.
One thing I have found the hardest in dealing with these child-bullies is actually not the child at all. It's the parents who think their child walks on water. "Oh little Johnny isn't a bully. He lets everything roll off his back. He thought your child would do that same. I didn't know your child was soooo sensitive." I could just scream! Yes, my child is sensitive when it comes to incessant name calling and bullying. Is my child perfect? Nope! Does my child do things that are displeasing at times? Absolutely! I do not have my blinders on when it comes to my kids. They are flawed humans...we all are. It's these cocky kids, who think they're entitled to everything, who grow up to have really, crucially poor judgement. They are, in my opinion, a danger to the average child.
Schools say they have a zero tolerance policy to this type of behaviour, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Kids treat other kids horribly and get away with it every single day. Sometimes the kids aren't bringing it to their teacher's attention, because they're embarrassed or scared...but sometimes they bring it to the attention of the school and nothing more is done than a simple, "Were you mean? Yes. Don't do it again. Ok." That simply isn't enough! Our kids need to know that the adults in their lives are there to help and protect them for these bullies.
Today I feel so angry for my child. I feel like I should be doing more and helping more. For now, I will love him like crazy and make sure he knows his family loves and supports him. My one closing piece of advice is this;Love your kids, but know they do not walk on water. Watch for the signs, good or bad, that something is going on in your child's life and help them through it. We live in a scary, but at times wonderful, world. Pay attention.