By Cazandra Campos-MacDonald
When we send our children off to school, we trust that they will be in the good hands of school staff to keep them safe – both physically and emotionally. But what happens in the hallways at the lockers or on the playground at recess, when school staff is out of sight or not around to hear? Children can torment each other, and when a child does not conform to what their peers expect their lives can become a nightmare.
My oldest son, Julian, is a creative soul. He is an artist, has a quirky sense of humor, and sings like no one I’ve ever heard. He is an All-State choir member and when he performs in musicals on stage he is transformed. But beginning in elementary school he was taunted and teased because he was not a “sports” kid and did not fit in according to what his peers expected.
As a parent I have always encouraged Julian to be his own person, to not worry about what other people say about him, and to believe in himself. However, I didn’t know how persistent these bullies were and what kind of effect they would have on my son.
The bullying did not stop throughout elementary and middle school. Even when we moved to a small town out of state, the bullying continued. It was relentless. When Julian went to high school he was regularly harassed. Name calling was one thing, but when a group of bullies physically assaulted him we had to finally make the decision to take him out of the public school system. His tormenters were making threats and his safety was compromised. I had images of those kids cornering Julian and beating him up causing internal bleeding….we could not take those chances. He began online school. It was not a good fit.
Trying to bring the bullies to justice in a small town was impossible. We did everything we could to stand by our son and it ended unresolved. They were back in school without a worry in the world and my son was the one suffering. My son, who did not do anything wrong, served the sentence instead of the perpetrators.
We struggled for two years trying to get him caught up academically. He was isolated, had no social outlets, and lived in a town where he was miserable. It was pretty awful. Fortunately, things turned around when we moved again, this time to a bigger city. During his junior year of high school, Julian looked at me one day and said, “Do you know that since we have lived here, not one person has bullied me?” He has found his social network at school and is now enjoying his senior year.
The bullies spent years stealing joy from my son. I thought they had won. But seeing Julian thriving and happily looking forward to his future is what makes me happiest. The bullies may have won the battle, but my son is winning the war.
Cazandra lives with her husband, Joe, and 17 year old son, Julian, and 7 year old son, Caeleb, live in New Mexico.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.