This one probably goes without saying but since bullying has lately been thrown into the spotlight in public schools, it bears mention. When we send our kids out into the big wide world we don’t always know that they will be safe. We hope, but that’s all we can do, unless we’re there.
Some parents recently have argued that facing bullying makes kids stronger. That could be. But I’m not sure that if your child is injured, you’d ever feel that way. And if a child already has a few disadvantages to face, most of us agree they don’t need any more. That’s how I feel for my 2e kid, anyway. And if there ever was someone designed as a bully magnet, it is Pumpkin. He is obviously very bright. He’s a typical articulate know-it-all in some ways, and socially awkward in others. I made up a song to teach him to make eye contact and occasionally he sings it while he’s making eye contact with someone. Let me tell you, no one thus far has found that charming; they just think he’s weird. Poor kid. If a bully or group of bullies were looking for an easy target, they’d pick up on all this stuff.
Bullying is very prevalent, and we all know that the kids most likely to face bullying fit into a certain archetype. Small, socially awkward, and weak kids are usually targeted. The actual statistics are pretty eye opening — 42.5 percent of kids suffered bullying in 2007 according to the Youth Violence Project chart shown at left*. That’s almost half. Worse, these statistics are based on reported incidents. Many more go unreported every year.
I tacked on school shootings in this post because the first and most famous of these was related to bullying. Do you remember where you were when the Columbine shooting happened? It is one of those events in our lives where we usually remember exactly what we were doing when we heard. I was in a rock band on tour. The lead singer had kids in school in our hometown in Wyoming. She spent most of the morning on the phone before she ultimately decided she needed to go home. Wyoming touches Colorado, but we were nearly as far from the border as you can get. That didn’t matter because Helen needed to see and hold her children. She was the only one of the group that had children at that time, but I can remember the bass player mentioning that it was enough to make her think that homeschooling was the way to go if she ever had kids.
I never imagined Columbine would be repeated. But it has. A lot of high schools actually have metal detectors for the kids to pass through. That’s so far from what school was like when I attended that I almost cannot fathom it. In a lot of ways high schools resemble prisons now. And while we all understand why that was necessary, one has to wonder if setting up a situation so children feel like prisoners doesn’t create an environment where they are predisposed to behave like felons. Quite a question isn’t it? But for homeschoolers, it is a moot point. No metal detectors, no pat downs, just a house, with children and parents. Learners and teachers. A place for both sides to feel safe.
* from the Curry School of Education Research Department