Monday, March 16, 2009

Neena's Story

A few days ago, we shared Kate's story about bullying that she shared at our Press Conference. Below is her mother, Neena's, story, which sheds light on how bullying doesn't just affect those directly targeted - it affects families, friends, and communities. Thanks again to Neena and Kate for speaking up about this issue!

UPDATE: Video now included!

My daughter has shared with you her experiences in our school system. We transferred Kate to a different high school in an effort to find a better environment where she could grow academically. There are improvements, but still she has unnecessarily suffered because of personal prejudices from administrators, teachers, and students.

As a parent, my heart breaks every time Kate comes home and is somewhat withdrawn and then shares a bad experience with me. I worry every day when she goes to school that in spite of her incredible spirit and her ability to work through situations that something will happen. We do not have a bullying policy that protects our children and our experiences within the school system only emphasizes that all schools within the same system are not created equally and that the prejudices, whether consciously or sub-consciously, of teachers and administrators often cause them to turn a blind eye to things that are harmful to our children and get in the way of every child getting the same opportunities for education.

As she shared, she takes on two tasks every time she enters the school doors, one of education, but the second is keeping herself safe, both physically and emotionally in an adverse environment. This is an unreasonable distraction for any young person. All children have the right to a safe and complete education. My daughter should not be an exception.

We need an anti-bullying policy in all schools that is clearly defined and not left up to interpretation by administrators and teachers. Our ability to keep our children safe shouldn’t be a question. This should be the foundation of our education system so that emphasis and efforts can be directed toward improving academically.

Understand that without this legislation that the children that come behind Kate will likely have her same experience. She continues to push forward and because of her incredible spirit she will succeed in life, but it didn’t have to be this difficult and it shouldn’t be this difficult for other children.

Our superintendent told us that we will never have an inclusive anti-bullying policy within our county unless it is state mandated. I am asking our representatives to hear Kate and me and hear our story. I am asking our community and the thousands of parents across North Carolina to support this bill. Regardless of your personal beliefs on any issue, I know that we as parents and members of this community want a safe environment within our schools for every child. Thank you.