The topic of school bullying has been heavy on my heart for several months. I regularly get phone calls from local moms who are desperate to know how to help their bullied child. I personally know several who have removed their kids from school for this exact reason. Despite more school funding, kindness campaigns, and anti-bullying policies, the problem only gets worse.
Parents watch as their kids begin cutting and other forms of self-harm, exhibit suicidal tendencies (and actual suicides), and even consider (or carry out) public shootings. So why do they worry about school lessons and grades when the physical well-being, mental health, and the very lives of their children are at stake???
When I read stories online of 9, 10, and 11-year-olds killing themselves, I just cry. I have a 9-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, and I cannot imagine the pain they would have to endure to take their own life. I can’t imagine the pain of the parents of those children, or the deep regret they must feel. It sickens me. It makes me wonder why they never thought to remove their child from such a horrible daily encounter?
School administrators, school staff, social workers – – – they do not aid the parents in bullying situations. The problems only get worse. They end in suicides or school shootings. So what can a parent do?
The first step is to remove your child from the situation. Period. Worry about school lessons later.
I’ve read numerous social media posts by parents who are furious that the school won’t stop the bullying. The helpless victims are never protected, and the perpetrator(s) rarely get punished. Parents are angry, and rightly so. But they don’t seem to be angry enough to protect their own child by taking the child out of the situation. WHY?
Parents, this may sound harsh, but the solution lies squarely with YOU. Not the school personnel, not the guidance counselor, not the teachers, and not the government. The underlying causes are too numerous to be handled quickly and easily by school officials. And the negative effects of bullying are more than harmful to your child; they can be life-altering. It is up to you to quickly protect your children from harm.
We live in a painfully fallen world. No government funding campaign, no prevention program, no social media campaign, no pep rally on kindness can ever change the hearts of hateful and abusive people. The problem is sin in the heart of humans. Programs and rallies don’t make that disappear.
It is very likely that the bullies at school come from abusive and broken homes themselves. They might not have a caring adult or positive role model in their life. Perhaps they have emotional distress at home, or feel their own social exclusion in public. The breakdown of the family is at the root of so many of our problems in society.
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In the 21st century, there are many different forms of bullying, unfortunately. Verbal bullying, texting, social media peer pressure, and physical aggression happen everywhere. Cell phones have become a dangerous avenue for mistreatment among a child’s peer group.
Demanding that the school staff members fix the problem rarely works. If you think it will, try demanding the DMV hire more employees or the IRS show more concern about your financial struggles. Public schools are big government. The solution does not lie with them.
The family is the foundation of all good societies. Fathers and mothers were given the very important task of raising their children by God Himself, and that has not changed. We can see all around us the harsh reality that when parents abdicate this role to others, hurt, abuse, and chaos ensues.
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We are programmed to believe that kids should be in school, and that if they’re not, their whole future is ruined. Let me tell you: it’s not ruined. But when they are subjected to mental and physical bullying each day at school, what is affected is their mental health and their physical health. And in the meantime, their learning suffers, too. The parents I’ve talked to in this situation say that their child came to hate school so much that their learning suffered, their grades plummeted, and they just quit trying.
So, why are they staying in school? If they can’t even concentrate on school work, the entire goal of learning has been sabotaged. The school environment has become toxic to the child, and the negative effects increase.
The reason they stay is because most Americans don’t know how to think outside the school system. We’ve only known one kind of “school” our whole lives, for several generations, and we think that’s the only way there is. School seems BIG and IMPORTANT and SCARY and we have been trained to believe that learning can only happen there.
So let me help dispel that myth right now. Here are some truths about homeschooling that you need to know:
School is NOT the most important thing.
Despite everything you hear and believe, it doesn’t take 12 years to give a child a great education. So much time at school is wasted on frivolous topics, administration, waiting for other students, and fulfilling requirements that are not even necessary to real life. Kids don’t need to be at school. They can and do learn so much more content in a home setting, and they do it with fewer hours each day. Receiving an education is very important; being at school is not.
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Your bullied student needs a complete removal from the aggressive behavior, sexual harassment, unsupervised school buses, and other such behaviors in the public school setting. But removing them from the school is not enough: you will also need to do a complete review of their online activity such as text messages, social media use, and any other communication apps. Your child needs a trusted adult to protect him or her, and that adult is YOU.
Homeschooling is not just a public school copycat.
You don’t have to do things the way the schools do; in fact, I don’t recommend it. Homeschooling is making a child’s education just one part of your day. It’s parenting to the fullest degree. Instead of feeding your kids breakfast, making sure they did their homework, and sending them out the door each morning, you get to feed them breakfast, take the time to enjoy each morning, and then YOU assign the school work. There is so much freedom! Just realize this: everything you think you know about school is not really what homeschooling is at all.
It doesn’t cost a lot to educate at home.
If you begin to see that homeschooling is not a public school copycat, you’ll also see that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to do it. The vast amount of resources available are staggering, and the cost varies from free to thousands of dollars. The choice is up to you which resources you use.
You’re not going to mess up your kid.
Let’s be brutally honest: if your kid is being bullied at school, that’s where the messing-up is happening. When you remove your child from that toxic environment, you are reversing the messing-up. You are the agent for healing. School-work? That’s a no-brainer. Teacher guides, video lessons, learning cooperatives, and online curriculum have made it easy for any parent to homeschool.
Even a single parent or two working parents can provide a quality home education to their children.
Look at it this way: if you work outside the home, or you’re a single parent, you still find a way to feed your kids, clothe them, have fun with them, keep them healthy, and have friends, right? Just add school books to that list. You can help your kids with their lessons at night, on your days off, on weekends, or with the help of a grandparent or neighbor. I did the single-mom-homeschooling thing. I have friends doing it right now. I know parents who both work and still educate their own children. Yep, it’s more of a balancing act, but it’s totally worth it.
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Any parent can educate their child.
A parent who cares about their child is a far better facilitator than a school system that allows abused children to be bullied and ignored. Even a parent with a high school diploma (or less) is a better choice than a system where a child is just another name and a problem to be handled.
My mom had me as a teenager and never finished high school. But when she felt the conviction to take my sister and me out of school and teach us at home, it didn’t matter that she didn’t have a diploma or a college degree. She had the courage to go ahead and try. With curriculum teacher’s guides and occasional tutors, we did it! I went on to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Business. So parents, don’t sell yourself short, and don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t teach your own kids. YOU CAN.
If your child is being bullied in school, I beg you to look at the big picture. Think about your child’s heart and mind. Think about their physical health. Think about their souls. They look to you, and you can change their world.
How to change your child’s world
Start by removing them from school. Right now. Today. Get the info for your state on withdrawing a child to homeschool, and do it. Give your son or daughter the good news that you have decided to take matters into your own hands and free them from the toxic situation at school. Hug them and love on them and talk through it.
De-school your child. Don’t jump immediately into curriculum. It’s not the most important thing. Healing is the most important thing, and it can take some time. Spend the first days — or even weeks — connecting with and observing your child. Encourage them to talk about what’s on their hearts. Assess any mental health problems they might be experiencing. Let them just be a kid. Let them play outside, sleep late, visit the grandparents, or do the things they love.
Talk about forgiveness. This is very important (for them and for you). Work through the hurts that you both feel. Study the scriptures together, pray with your child, and counsel them.
Find a homeschool group in your area. Whether it’s a park gathering, field trip group, or a cooperative with classes to join, making a new group of friends with likeminded families is very helpful.
When you become the facilitator of education for your child, there is so much freedom! Concentrate on creating a learning environment in your home that is stress-free and loving. (I recommend Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson for a wealth of information on this.) That should include more sleep, healthy food choices, and slowly beginning with core subjects. If the child’s academics have suffered, this is a time for catching up. You can begin by focusing on one subject at a time, and add in more as you or the child are ready. Spend time in the real world, too. Go out for lunch, to the library, to the park, or on a field trip with the local homeschool group.
Your child might be suffering from low self-esteem from hurtful behavior at school. Keeping him or her at home allows for more time to heal, and more time for you to love and counsel them. “School activities” can wait when you’re working with victims of bullying. Consider some educational videos, fun historical movies, reading aloud, cooking together, and other non-academic learning activities during this de-schooling period.
Meanwhile, you can start to learn about the different types of homeschooling, the many curriculum options available, and decide where you want to go on this journey. My Homeschool 101 Page has an ordered list of blog posts that will walk you through the process, whether you have young elementary students, middle school, or high school students.
You can do this.
Deciding to homeschool is deciding on a new way of life. It’s becoming a very full-time parent. It will change your family in numerous ways! And I won’t tell you that it’s all sunshine and roses, because you’re going to be spending a lot more time with your kids. That means you’re going to be exposing some behaviors and issues that need to be dealt with.
But you can do it. When the days are long or difficult, remember what you saved your child from. Remember the big picture. And pray. Reach out to me if you want to talk about this. Just use my contact form in the menu at the top of this page.
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