Saturday, February 16, 2013

Clubs = Bullying... Apparently

Yesterday, I got a call from my childrens' school.  I didn't really think anything of it, since it is the day before a long weekend.  I generally get calls that tell me that they don't have school on Monday, or whatever day it may be.  I played the message, but this time, it wasn't an automated message, so I had to listen closer.  It was a voice telling me that my daughter had gotten in trouble at lunch time and issued a citation.  I am still not sure what a citation means, but she got one.   I returned the call and left a voicemail.  About an hour later I got a phone call back.

During the time between getting the voicemail on my phone and me returning the call, I questioned my children.  They both looked at each other, then at me in a state of shock when I asked what they did at lunchtime.  I knew this was not going to be good.  They said they took ketchup from the cafeteria and squirted it in the snow.  They weren't the only ones involved.  One of the girls was saying it was blood.  I was mortified, thinking that could lead to expulsion.   I was thankful my children didn't go along with that train of thought.

The school had all the children involved, 5 girls and 1 boy, write statements about what was going on.  My daughter, being the aspiring writer that she is, wrote a long statement apparently.  She put it all on paper, didn't hold anything back.  First of all, I don't like the idea that the school had them write a statement without consulting the parents, or at least this parent, first.  I don't think that children should be made to implicate themselves, anymore than adults should.  That being said, it happened, and I can't change it now.

Before the school called me back, I got these details from my children.  They took ketchup from the cafeteria, sprayed it in the snow.  My daughter had to go to the bathroom, one of the girls that was doing ketchup squirting went to the bathroom to, and squirted it on the walls, and put it under the seats.  I asked her why she was in the bathroom with the girl, my daughter said she really had to go.  I guess that is a good enough reason to be in there.

When I talked to the school, I learned that my daughter and the other four girls were issued these citations.  They will have to read an excerpt from a book that discusses bullying and write what they learned from it.  This will take place in the office during first recess.  During second recess, they will get to hangout with the school counselor.  This will take place Tuesday through Thursday, as long as they finish the book excerpt and the essay.

I was told that my daughter was the leader of the club.  That certainly doesn't surprise me, she was a born leader.  She loves the spotlight.  She is my opposite when it comes to those things.  I prefer to be in the back of the room and not noticed.

She wrote in her statement that it was the "Ketchup Taking Club."  Clubs in school, I learned yesterday, are a form of bullying.  This is because not everyone is included.  I guess it was disturbing to the administrator that my daughter wrote that one of the girls brought another one out to spray ketchup without permission.  My daughter explained to me that she just wanted to know the name of people in the club.  I think, personally, that the school should be thankful that she didn't open up the club to the whole school because they would have been out a lot of ketchup and there would have been a big mess outside.

I am not in anyway condoning the activity of my daughter and my son.  He didn't get cited because in his statement he wrote, "I have no idea why I was doing this."  He doesn't like to write.  It might have kept him out of trouble.

 I am just thinking back to the day when I was in elementary school.  We would make up little clubs.  I think it is just something that children do.  Am I wrong?  The administrator told me that she could have a club, but it has to go through the proper channels, and allow everyone.  I don't think the "Ketchup Taking Club" will ever be approved. 

Another problem, which is not good, was by them taking the ketchup from the cafeteria, they were stealing.  I guess they figured since it was supplied, it was theirs to take.  They are not in trouble for that, since they didn't understand that, but they do now.

I explained to my children that I was often the child that was left out.  I further explained that I expect them to be a friend to everyone.  I would have really liked it if people would have said, "Hey, do you want to come play with us?"  I asked the children to make sure to be the person that includes everyone, regardless of how they look or talk.  Everyone needs a friend, and it can change someone's life.  I hope they have learned from this experience.  I know that I did.  I would have never equated clubs with bullying.  Bullying is no good and I let my children know that. 

I just hope that this incident doesn't follow them through school.  I hate the whole idea of the "school record."  I will have to find out.  My children are good children, they just made a bad decision. 

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