Friday, April 3, 2009

Pamela's Story

My oldest daughter is almost 10 years old and is in the 4th grade. At the end of her second grade year, I picked her up from school one afternoon and almost immediately had to turn around and go back to the school. My daughter asked me what a "faggot" was...because another child in her class called her a "faggot" that day. She didn't know what it meant, but she knew it was a "bad name" because of the way the other child said it...and because several other children had laughed at her when it happened. I walked into my daughter's classroom and spoke with her teacher - who was very nice to me, but basically shrugged her shoulders and said "what can I do?"

At the very least, I felt the child who was name-calling should be told not to use that language any more and that she should apologize to my child. The teacher stated that she would speak with the principal as she wasn't sure how to handle it - she stated she would have him call me. Neither of these things happened - the child did not apologize to my child, the teacher told me later that she never addressed it with the child because "what's the point,"" and the principal never contacted me. Before the end of the year, I wrote a letter to the principal listing several concerns - and I included my concern about the name-calling incident. He did not contact me. However, I did see him in the office and he stated "I got your note." That was it...he got my note.

I later learned from my daughter that that was not the first time she had been called a "faggot" and other names by a small group of children in her class - it seems that it had just been happening more frequently, the teacher had not responded when she want to her for help, and she "just couldn't take it anymore."

That year, her second grade year, was very difficult...she was a very lonely child who hated going to school. In fact, she hated it so much that by the end of the year, she declared that she was never going to college and began to ask if high school was mandatory! I do not think that it was a coincidence - I strongly believe that she was completely demoralized by her peers and the name-calling. I believe that she lost confidence that her teacher could or would help her. I don't think the teacher was a bad person or that she didn't care about my daughter - I think she didn't know what to do.

The experience that my child had should not have happened - and it should not be repeated. Teachers need guidance and support to be able to address this kind of tormenting behavior - and a rule/law that allows for consistency in application of consequences.

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