How to Change the Narrative

When they start listening, then maybe they can start to see how we can change the narrative in the Luther Public School District.

The current narrative is one where the bully wins, the bystanders don’t need to speak up because action is not taken, and victims are ignored. That narrative will continue to shape the people who are growing up in this environment. Into adulthood, these people will carry beliefs about how they should treat others, how they should allow others to be treated, and how they should allow themselves to be treated. Let’s give our kids a healthy narrative for how to treat others, how to be treated, and how to allow others to be treated.

I believe an anti-bullying campaign needs to be launched in the school district that deals with the issues from multiple angles. I think a speaker or series of speakers/assemblies should be held to start the conversation. I think we should put tangible items in the hands of kids, faculty, and parents – conversation starters, reading material, posters, jelly bracelets, t-shirts, etc.

I think we should make sure parents are made aware of the issue via all communication avenues available – phone calls, emails, text messages, and they should be brought into the conversation. This should not be done as a blame game, or pointing fingers about whose child is taking which part in the bullying dynamic. Instead, this should inform parents and give them tools and resources to have conversations at home. Many parents believe bullying won’t affect their kids, and they often don’t know how to start these conversations. Let’s help them talk to their kids about how to treat others, how to be treated, and how to allow others to be treated.

I think the most important part of making this puzzle complete is bringing students into the picture, and giving them ownership. This is their school, their conversation, their fight. They should be given the platform to have conversations about bullying. This platform needs to be facilitated in assemblies, small group settings, and the classrooms.

Bullies need to learn a better way, and this education needs to come without assumptions about their home lives. The bullied need to gain a voice, and be given an appropriate way to express how being victimized makes them feel. They need a chance to create something healthy from the hurt. They need to know they will be heard and action will be taken on their behalf. The bystanders need to learn that intervening can save someone from heartbreak, and can even save their life. They need to learn that they aren’t just tattle tales for reporting the things they see or hear, and that they will be taken seriously.

If we can guide the students in LPS to take ownership of the bullying dynamic, and break it apart, we can see lasting change. This type of change will be carried on in years to come, and the LPS District will be a safe source of education for more kids in the future. There will not be room for an elite group of students that are hailed for particular strengths or talents, while students of other talents and strengths are allowed to be pushed around because they are viewed as weak.

We can empower our students to choose kindness when dealing with one another, to accept one another, and to coexist with peers they don’t always understand or agree with. If we can start these conversations, and break down the walls created by fear and ignorance, we can begin rebuilding a unified, strong community. We will have to work together, and we will have to choose kindness. We will have to find a way to communicate through and past the issues we don’t agree on. We will have to remember, as we have these conversations and make these changes, that as parents dealing with fellow parents, we are fiercely protective and greatly naive in regards to our own children. We will have to rise above our instinctual nature to protect and our desire to believe the best, we will have to step back and clear our view and our vision, and we will have to own our part as we lead our youth to own their part.

I believe that we have it in us, and I believe these changes can come to fruition. I pray for eyes to be opened, hearts to be softened, and grace to abound.

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

It’s Time To Be Heard

Greetings my dear readers, and friends, and fellow moms and dads!

I have warred for a week now about how to proceed to be the best voice on behalf of my son, and other students, at our local public school. We have a bullying issue that is being ignored and swept under the rug. My student was expelled after being physically assaulted. His expulsion was based on what he wrote/drew in his journal in the process of coping with how he was being treated. We have our son in counseling to cope with his big feelings, but all I keep hearing from professionals is, “It’s okay Momma, this is normal.” “It’s okay Momma, middle school boys draw crazy stuff.”

In fact, our counselor asked him a series of questions to determine if he had a plan to go with the drawings. Guess what guys? No plan. Just some really big feelings because being treated poorly and pushed around creates really big feelings – especially when the adults that are supposed to be helping, aren’t.

I am going to continue the dialogue with the school. I’m going to call the principal for another meeting today. I want to see him learning how to deal with kids that may struggle with depression and/or suicidal thoughts. I want to see him learning how to deal with bullying.

Pretending that bullying is not happening at his school is not dealing with the problem. In fact, it gives the bullies the false notion that what they are doing is okay. It robs the victims of feeling safe, or being able to focus on school. It creates an unhealthy environment, that allows the power imbalance amongst peers to continue growing. It gives the bully the upper hand – because their actions are met with little to no consequence, while their victims are pushed aside.

I think we would have quietly gone back to homeschooling had I not learned that bullying has been a recurring problem at this school, under the current and former principal. Had I not learned that other kids are being picked on mercilessly by a particular kid and the gang assembled by said kid, I may have left well enough alone. If you know me, you know that going back to homeschooling isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. Sending the boys to public school was a hard decision, but they wanted it so bad, I decided to honor their wishes.

I need a favor, dear readers. I need help sending relevant, reputable, study based info to the principal and the school superintendent. I need help writing letters about how bullying affects the victim for years to come. I need help writing letters about how kids have suffered because bullying goes unaddressed. I need help sending letters about how to help someone struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts. I need help sending articles about effectively communicating with parents to build a good relationship so kids can flourish in school.

I know you all have some amazing things up your sleeves. You can email things to me, and I’ll send them. reginawalker86@gmail.com or you can send them directly:

Attn: Mr. Meek
Luther Middle School
320 SE 2nd St.
Luther, OK 73054
smeek@lutherlions.org

Attn: Mr. Gunn
Luther Public Schools
PO Box 430
Luther, OK 73054
bgunn@lutherlions.org

 

Monday is Here

Monday is here, and my son is at home, where he didn’t want to be. He wanted to get on the bus and go back to school and continue his journey in the public education sector. I wanted him to make it a great year, and I was working hard to ensure that he was making the most of it. I desperately wish I had gotten involved sooner – I knew he was having trouble with a couple of the boys, but when I asked what he wanted me to do, he said it would get worse if he tattled, and to let him sort it out.

I know kids are cruel and even more so to a snitch, so instead of jumping to action, I tried to listen. I tried to be a strong shoulder and place of comfort while allowing my boy to navigate this new territory. I know now, I made the wrong choice.

We could hang our heads this morning, pout about the things that have gone wrong. We could hang our heads this morning and whine about the injustice we’ve been served. But what good would it do? It won’t change any minds, it won’t make things any better.

We will hold our heads high, and we will learn something new. We will hold our heads high, and we will learn to do better. We are going to dig our heels in and head to the library. I may even look for a casual home school group so he can fulfill his desire for social interaction. But I will not give in, or give up, or let the poor decision of one school, one man really, dictate how the rest of our year will go.

I will not teach my son that bad calls wreck our lives. Alter the course, maybe, but not wreck them. I will not teach him to lay down in defeat, or to wallow in how awful this stuff feels. I will teach him to own and acknowledge how it feels and then to take the next step, because it starts to feel better faster if you don’t just wallow in the yuck.

I’m sorry to the kids and the parents before me, who’ve dealt with a failing and faltering school system. This fight is new to me, but I know many of you have been warring against a broken system for a long, long time. I’m sorry the system is broken, and I realize now there is no easy answer. Keep warring, Mama’s and Papa’s, your babies need you. They need your strong voice, they need your defense. Don’t let this broken system define you, or them. Keep fighting and press on, and maybe one day we will see this system changed for the better.