Keeping Our Children Safe At School
As I was writing my post “Is Online School the Right Choice for Your Child?” a few days ago, the Newtown tragedy was unfolding on the news. I struggled with the idea of including the mention of the added advantage of online school, which is the ability to keep your children safe as they learn under your protective care. I decided to post the hub as it was written, so as not to cloud the reasons why the program is a good choice academically.
However, as a follow-up to that post, I would like to mention some other very good reasons to choose an online program for your kids. Reasons that will likely hit home with the parents whose children are struggling with peer pressure, bullying, and trying to fit in. As well as those who are truly concerned about the well-being and safety of their children, after so many tragic incidents recently that have taken so many innocent lives.
I think we would all have to admit to a feeling of apprehension as the school bus doors close and your child is driven off to a day that you can only hope will return them to you unharmed. Sadly, we are living in a day when these horrible notions must be considered.
I attended public schools throughout my childhood and walked to school every day. In those days, the rules were simple. Never get into a car with anyone, and come straight home. I recall walking home one day during a hail storm. The father of one of my class mates stopped and offered to give me a ride. I refused, because that was the rule. I remember the look on my mom’s face when she found out what happened. I could tell she was sorry that I had to endure the storm, but how could she tell me that it would have been alright to accept the ride just that one time? She couldn’t have. What she could do was make sure I was just as protected on my trips to and from school, as I was while I was at school. Very soon after, we sold our house, moved to the country and I spent the rest of my school years traveling to school on a bus. Problem solved.
You see, way back then, parents didn’t worry about the safety of their children at school. Oh, what a different day we live in now.
Safety is only one concern. There are others. The peer-pressure and bullying that our children endure at school is out of control. If you aren’t lucky enough to be the right height and weight, or if you can’t afford to wear the right clothes, or if you don’t live in the right neighborhood, or you’re not good at math, . . . well, you are an outcast and the kids who have achieved a place in the upper echelon make it their mission to make you miserable.
Did you know that suicide is the 4th leading cause of death in children from 5 to 14 years old, and the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds? And, according to the CDC, 1 in 6 high school students has considered suicide, and 1 in 12 have actually attempted it, with bullying being cited as a trending reason for suicidal thoughts. And the internet and smart phones aren’t making life easier, with cyber bullying rising to the top of the bullying forum.
We do our best to raise our kids to be respectful, compassionate, and understanding of human differences. But, many kids are not being taught these lessons, or are being pressured to be one of the cool kids by taking part in acts of bullying that they know are wrong. The desire to fit in, and the fear of being bullied if they don’t participate, is just too great.
The schools don’t seem to be able to get a handle on the problem, and many times, the kids that are being bullied don’t report it for fear of escalating the treatment. Children, who are being bullied, may not be doing well in school. They may be reluctant to raise their hands in class, preferring to walk away without understanding the lesson than to bring attention to themselves by asking questions. Bullying can, over time, turn your child into an introvert, and poor test and homework scores can make them feel like failures.
So what do we do? The first thing is to realize that you can’t control everything, so don’t waste your time trying to change things you can’t change. You can’t stop someone else’s kid from being a bully, but you can prevent your child from being subjected to their bullying. You can’t sit in your child’s class room all day, but you can make sure he is in a safe, healthy and enjoyable class room environment at home.
Naturally, the first thing that people will disagree with is that kids need to learn to take their licks. If they aren’t toughened up in school, how will they survive in the real world? And, taking them out of a social environment will also turn them into introverts, which can be a pre-cursor to other psychological issues. I beg to disagree with the opposition.
As parents, isn’t it our responsibility to, not only point our children in the direction of success, but to guide them along the path as they start to veer off it? And isn’t it our responsibility to teach them how to be responsible in a social environment, by monitoring their social interactions and always knowing who they are interacting with? Shouldn’t we not only know our kid’s friends, but also their parents? Isn’t it important to know that your child is spending time in the home of someone you trust? Who is teaching their children the same ideals that you are teaching your own? When did these things stop being important? When did children start having the freedom that allows them to determine their own fate? When did parents stop being in charge?
As I mentioned in my previous post, I can only give advice based on my experience. And, my experience with removing my son from public school and allowing him to attend a virtual school has been nothing but positive. My son is a senior this year and will be attending UNLV in the fall, pursuing a political science degree. He is three days into his first job and has already made friends with his co-workers and loves the experience of being part of a team. He is not an introvert. I made sure of that by encouraging him to take on volunteer projects, and join clubs throughout his high school years. He was never allowed to just sit at home with his nose in a computer while the world passed him by. I fully accept the responsibility for his first steps into the real world, confident that he will lead a fulfilled and successful life. All because I controlled what I could control and I stayed involved in his school work.
Now, let’s get back to my earlier statement “You can’t stop someone else’s kid from being a bully”. No, you can’t. It is up to the parents to discipline their children if they are bullying others. But there are things you can do to battle the bullying issue in our schools. While researching this subject, I came across an article called “Bullies are not born, they are Raised”, by Katie Hurley a physician blogger, which provides some thoughtful information about why kids become bullies. The article is worth a read. The first thing you have to do is remove your child from the situation. Understanding why kids become bullies is the next step. Then, I would suggest that you get involved and get your kids involved as well. Start by visiting www.stopbullying.gov and help your local schools with in-school programs that teach students what to do if they are bullied, and create awareness that bullying is wrong. Most schools don’t have the funds to absorb the cost of these programs, so start a fundraiser to purchase instructional materials, posters, etc.
So that’s the bullying issue, but this post didn’t start on the subject of bullying. The subject was keeping our children safe in school. We don’t want to become a society of over-protective, micro-controlling parents who have to resort to pulling their kids from school just to ensure their safety. And, I’m not suggesting that online schooling is for everyone. You have to do what is right for your family. Online school turned out to be right for us.
I pray that no family ever endures the pain that the families in Newtown are enduring right now. My wish is that we can get back to a simpler life when events such as these were unheard of. In the meantime, as a parent, I must do whatever it takes to ensure my child’s safety and provide him with the best opportunity to be productive, prosperous, and fulfilled. We mustn’t leave our children to their own devices as they learn to maneuver through life. Our experiences should be their lessons. No matter their age, you will always know more, because you have lived more. It is that life experience that will provide your children with the building blocks to success.
- Is an Online School the Right Choice for Your Child?
Is an online school the right choice for your child? Advice on the advantages of online learning in a home school environment.
- K12 | Online Public School, Online High School, Online Private School, Homeschooling, and Online Cou
- Home | StopBullying.gov
Bullying can happen anywhere and to anyone. Get the information that you need to help stop bullying at school, online, and in the community. For more information, visit StopBullying.gov.
- 1 in 12 teens have attempted suicide: report - NY Daily News
Teen suicide is a growing problem, a new study shows. Nearly 1 in 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 has attempted it.
- Bullies are not born, they are raised
People often wonder what causes children to bully. Why is it that some children feel the need to hurt and humiliate other children?