Friday, February 4, 2011

School Yard Battles

When I dropped the girls off at school at lunch today, I was informed by one of this friends that Jonas was around back and was hurt. So I kissed the girls goodbye at the kindergarten yard and off I marched, little one on my shoulders, to see what was going on. As I rounded the corner, he was running towards the school where he sat down, crying, with a bloody nose. When I asked him what happened he said that a big kid grabbed his head, pushed him down and he smashed his head on the ground. Being uncharacteristically unprepared, I went to one of the yard supervisors, asked for a tissue and told her what happened. She handed me a tissue, told me that things were getting rough out there and walked away. No big deal it seemed.

As I sat with Jonas, I suggested that perhaps he should stay away from the big kids. "I tried mom," he said "but they keep following us." Jonas' friend Zak came over a minute or two later and told me that a big kid kicked him down. Covered in snow, with tears in his eyes, I believed him. As I was tending to them, Taylor came over to check on them and said that one of them gave him a face plant yesterday too.

The supervisor that gave me the tissue wandered over shortly after and asked Jonas if he saw who did it. He was grabbed from behind so the answer was no.  "Not much we can do about it then" was her response.  She also told me that the school principal is usually out on yard duty, but that he was in a meeting today and the kids seem to know when there are less eyes on them. I told the boys they should try to stay away from those kids, and that it's ok to tell the teacher. It's not tattle-tailing if someone is being hurt. It's ok too, I said, to go to see the office and let them know what's going on. They looked unconvinced.

Now, I'm all for letting kids be kids and work things out, but when big kids start hurting little kids on purpose, the mama bear in me tends to come out. When the bell rang, I went inside to talk to the principal but he was indeed in a meeting. I will find him after school but thought I'd better let the teacher know so I went to her instead. She kind of shrugged her shoulders and suggested that perhaps the principal needed to have another talk with the big kids. "I'm sure they're fine" was her only other response.

I've been hearing stories all week about the big kids kicking over the younger kids' snow structures, picking on them, and throwing snowballs at them, but this is the first time I've head about someone getting hurt. On the snow day on Wednesday, I stood talking to a teacher at lunch time, as little kid after little kid came up to tell us that the big kids were kicking over their snow structures and making fun of them. She did nothing, just kept talking to me as if nothing was happening.

The thing that shocked me most today was that the kids came to me, instead of going to the supervisors or their teacher. After seeing their responses first hand, I don't blame them. I'm guessing that they don't feel like the teachers will do anything about it.  I don't want to be a helicopter parent but somebody has got to start watching out for these kids, and let them know that their adults are there to help them.

I know they are outnumbered and have the best of intentions but it's almost like this school has given up. Two or three teachers monitoring a yard with 800 kids on it isn't enough. Parent volunteers aren't being utilized and the situation seems to be getting worse. Hopefully the new school Jonas is going to in a few weeks won't be more of the same.


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