Back To School,  special needs

Shining a Light on Our Bullying Stories: Part One

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This is Ainsley. In my eyes she is perfect. Not every day, but most. Like today when she hopped out of the minivan and blurted: Rachel (not real name) said yesterday that the only reason I have any friends is because I have a disability. Rachel is a classmate. I listened to her words and the sounds of my heart breaking. As it does regularly – because I am a Mom. Biting cheek and tongue. I think I might have said, “Hmm. well that wasn’t too nice. What did you say?”
Answer: “Nothing.”
For the last week Ainsley has been asking me why people like her. I ask her why do you think? On this she often needs prompting, so I list some things to get her started.
“You are smart.”
“You are really athletic.”
“You are funny.”
“You are cute.”
“You are beautiful.”
“You have a great big heart.”
“You are brave.”
In this list I have never once said, “Because you have special needs.” And yet this child somehow has interpreted in her seven-year-old way that my strong, brave daughter needs to be slapped down verbally for whatever reason.
For the purposes of this post, it doesn’t matter what my child’s special needs are. She could have MS, or FASD, or SPD, or autism. She could be blind or hearing impaired. She could be any age. She could be a girl or a boy. Adopted or not adopted. Pink, blue, purple, white, orange or black. It doesn’t matter – what matters to me is that some child has determined or learned that it is okay to be verbally abusive. Special needs or no special needs. This is the same child who last year went on the attack with a different friend and honestly made it a mission to wear the little girl down and isolate her from any other friends. Relational aggression, some call it. Bullying, I say. Call it what you will – it is often learned. Not always, but often. In my eyes, as a parent, this aggressive child also needs some help.
Today, before I left my daughter at school, quirky wonderful child, she is, I asked her to make sure she told her educational assistant what the other child said. Because, as my kids get older I am struggling, but trying constantly to encourage them to grow into their own best advocates. I will always have my child’s back. I will always stand up for my kids. But I also need for them to be able to do this long after I am gone. She assured me she would and that she had already told Madame T, the resource teacher at the school. Their desks have been separated, she said. For now, that works for me. But it still makes me angry. Kids say things to hurt with purpose sometimes. It is a harsh reality. Bullying happens at each and every one of our children’s schools. Even when Ainsley went to a private preschool, there were two girls as young as four who passed notes back and forth and told the teacher we don’t like her because she plays with boys. That was discouraged fast and acted on. Teachers there began separating the two note writers and facilitating more play one on one with my daughter and then as a trio. Guided play. Very supervised. The next year the one girl left.
My daughter will always be different. Today I celebrate that.
When I was a kid I was bullied a lot. Because I was smart, then because my Mom taught at my school, then because my Mom dated a teacher at our school and then because I was the “teacher’s pet” according to my peers. Oh, and also because I wore a lot of dresses. Oh yes and because I was friends with a girl who would never back down from a bully. She gave as good as she got and, with razor sharp tongue always had a come back. I got through it. I knew my mother was always in my corner.
What are your bullying stories?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Emily

    I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s bullying experience; no child should have to endure something like that. I can tell from your words and actions that you are a very strong person & I truly believe your daughter will follow in your footsteps toward making this situation right again.

    I too was bullied as a child. I went to a Catholic elementary school from K-8, then to a public high school after that. Bullying started in gradeschool for many reasons: my mother was a teacher at the school and I was a very skinny, lanky, awkward child. In junior high (and high school) I struggled with acne, had braces for 5 years and a serious eating disorder. I always had a sharp tongue, which I believe was my saving grace during those incredibly awkward years. I was simply a late bloomer with really low self-esteem. I hated high school and would say it was probably the worst time of my life–but college is where I blossomed.

    I found that my quick wit and ability to think on my feet was what made me strong, and that fueled me during those years. I went through some tough times, but I believe I am a better person today, as an adult, for it. People tell me they “can’t believe” I was a shy, awkward and unpopular child/teen because I’m a completely different person today. I think the experience of being bullied changed me in that it made me stronger and more prepared for the real world.

    At the end of the day life is still very much like junior high, unfortunately. People are still clique-y, catty and quick to ridicule. But, having already been through that experience once means I’m more than prepared to tackle it now.

    Keep encouraging and lifting your daughter up; she will someday grow up to be a strong as her mother.

  • Paula Schuck

    Emily: thank you for your beautiful and kind comment. It does make some of us extra resilient, I think. You know I think the biggest thing for me was knowing my mom always had my back. She was a fierce advocate. 🙂

  • YrHelper Infonut

    Mt daughter too gas had terrible bullying problems,including cyber bullying through Facebook,having her new bicycle stolen,then the replacement clunker put in a tree,and finally being thrown in the lake by a group of girls.

    There was an adult witness to the final action. The police were called,but nothing could be done,as they girls were all younger than my daughter. The results of this, were the parents started a rumour that my daughter had been sent to a detention facility for the years we had moved away from our village,while I was teaching in Toronto.

    It’s difficult to understand exactly what is behind this bullying,as the girls involved had been guests in our home,and I taught them at Sunday School.

    My daughter started high school this year,and is with a whole different group of kids,so I’m hoping it will solve the problems.

    I too was bullied as a child. Some say there is a ‘victim’ mentality,and blame the recipient of the attacks. To me this is a poor excuse,and tantamount to blaming the victim of beating.

    Until this whitewashing of aggressive behaviour is ended,bullies will not get the help they desperately need to become productive members of our society.

  • mara

    it breaks my heart. that little girl, sadly, is lacking something in her own life-warmth, love, attention, guidance- to make her lash out at another like that. No child should ever be caused by another to wonder their value. I have three kids. Two have been bullied. My daughter ended up switching schools and blossomed in a new environment. My son, sadly, still lives a bit on the outskirts, but at least the bullying stopped after I told the school I’d call the police.
    I’m so glad you told your daughter to advocate for herself. to tell on the other girl. We’re done not tattling. Its going to far, and telling is the only way to make it stop. I hope they do something about it. I’m adding your post to mine-I’m linking up bullying posts over at I hope you come on over and have a read!