Thursday, 12 July 2012

A Symptom of what is wrong with our society

I don't normally talk about my children much on here, or post photos. While I love them and am proud of them, I'm hesitant about exposing too many details about them and my private life. It's all too easy to forget how much access the world has to your information via the internet. However, something happened yesterday that deeply affected me, and my daughter, and I need to write about it.

Over the last year, there have been various changes in my daughter and her classmates. Hormones are starting to kick in. They're re-establishing themselves as individuals, as friends, and as developing teenagers. They're approaching the last year of junior school this September and the step up to secondary school. So there are a lot of power shifts, squabbles, changes of alleigance and the like. Generally I'm happy with how the school have handled it, although mid-year I almost felt pushed into stepping in after one particular incident involving another child, especially after the other parent involved chose to speak to me directly. Mostly I think it was the first stages of bitchiness that most girls seem to go through. They worked through it.

But more recently something more has happened. A lad in my daughter's class that she's friends with has become more aggressive toward her. He was recently diagnosed with autism. As both my nephew and neice also have the same condition, I understand that some allowance has to be made.

But what I don't find acceptable is that  everytime he does something, she is told 'he can't help it, he has a problem.' And that when he repeatedly hurts her, she is being told it's her fault. Her fault?! When is it acceptable for a child to be repeatedly abused and be told it's her fault? If she was hitting him first, maybe. But to allow this to continue on the premise that 'he has problems'? No, I do not find that acceptable. I don't find it acceptable that she now won't speak to her teacher because he tells HER off for it. Yes, autism is a recognized medical condition that affects the behaviour of the child. I understand that. I appreciate that the school has made allowance for this child to stay in mainstream education. But if he has a 'problem' shouldn't the school be monitoring him more closely? Shouldn't they be protecting my child? The school maintains the ethos that everyone has the right to an education in a safe and welcoming environment. Right now, they are denying that to my daughter. She doesn't feel safe. She doesn't feel happy. She feels isolated. She feels that being hurt is her fault and that it's permissable for him to behave like this to her-to anyone-because he has a problem.

Well, I have a major problem with this. Not with the child. Not with his parents. But with the school. They are not keeping their promise to me to care for and educate my child. They are leaving her with psychological scars that she may never get over. They are telling my daughter that it's okay for someone to hurt her and that it is her fault. So when she gets beaten up by her boyfriend in 10 years time, that's okay because he has a 'problem'?

Victims should never, ever be told it's their fault. Their attacker had a choice. Their victim didn't. The school have chosen to excuse this boy's behaviour because he has a problem. My daughter is suffering in silence because of it. It shouldn't be her problem. And it shouldn't be mine.

So on Monday I am going to see the headmistress. I'm going to tell them it isn't acceptable and that they are breaking their own commitment to the children they claim to cherish and nuture. And if they can't do more to protect my daughter and give this boy the support and monitoring he requires for his own welfare and that of his classmates, then I will be taking her out of that school. My daughter will not be a silent victim. Even if I'm the one who has to shout for her.


  1. I still have so much rage face over this. I didn't blog (outside of a friends' locked post on LJ) but my daughter was sexually assaulted while out on a school trip. So to hear this sparks a nerve and I want to shake that teacher hard.

    How DARE he instil in any child that abuse is the victim's fault? How dare he potentially set your daughter up to be conditioned that abuse is acceptable?

    Fight, and fight hard. Know that you have my total support and a shoulder should you need one.

    1. Isa, that's awful - HUGS! And thank you.
      No, the attitude the school - and particularly this teacher - are instilling into my child is totally unacceptable. Not just for get, but for any child. My son is due to start there in Srotember. Do I also want him taught that it's okay for boys to hurt a girl? Over my dead body!

  2. You're absolutely doing the right thing.
    The school has a duty of care to safeguard your child and to explain to the boy what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The teacher also needs to attend some kind of training because blaming your daughter is unacceptable and if he thinks she is instigating it then he needs to speak to you and her about dates/instances he has observed her causing the problem.
    Below is a link to an Ofsted document on Safeguarding and while it covers all aspects of keeping children safe, it is a document to make sure all children are learning in a safe environment (plus bandying around an Ofsted document should strike fear in their hearts ;)
    You should also ask what the school are doing to help the boy with his issue with your daughter. Is someone from the SEN/Nurture Dept talking to him about what is going on with him in relation to your daughter? Are they giving him a time-out card so he can leave the classroom and go somewhere safe for him (and your daughter) when he feels he is going to hurt her.
    He may not know why he is acting that way but the school has a duty to give him the tools to control it and keep your daughter from harm.
    Our place is very good on nipping this type of thing in the bud as soon as it starts and putting in place procedures to keep the victim safe - from the time out card for the one causing the problem to sitting them apart in all lessons and making sure all teachers who teach both of them are aware of the situation.
    Good luck - I hope you get an unreserved apology from the teacher involved - not just the headmistress.

  3. I am so thrilled that you are stepping in to help your daughter. I don't know that I can agree that there is something wrong with our society because we are trying to integrate disabled folks into it, tho. It's new, and so it's going to take some tweaking. Best luck and lots of love from Alaska.

  4. It is NOT the intergretion of a special needs child into the mainstream system that I object to or consider a bad symptom. What I object to is the fact that it does not appear to have been done in a way that takes into account the welfare of all the children involved. This situation is bad for my daughter and for the boy. No, my main concern is that there is something wrong with a society where a teacher tells a child it is their fault they are being repeatedly assaulted.

    1. Okay. Is this treatment something new or something old? I'm just not sure what overarching social trend this reresents. Blaming the victim?

  5. Here in the States, the rule is that EVERY child has the right to an appropriate education experience--not just those with special issues. I have three children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and I have NEVER allowed the school to make the excuse that "he can't help it." Society isn't going to make that excuse when he's grown and attacks someone on the street--why should we let him get away with it now? Both boys have been in detention and even suspended, because I insist they be treated--at least on behavorial grounds--like everyone else. I'm so sorry about your daughter. What ridiculous teachers! She is lucky to have a mom to stand up for her.

  6. Thanks, Barbara. It seems ridiculous to me. Surely children who have special educational needs should have the boundaries set even more clearly? Otherwise how can they learn? Making excuses for them just seems bad for everyone.

  7. Hi Pippa, I really feel for you. 7th and 8th grade was the most difficult with my kids. Girls, especially, seem to be dealing with the effects of hormones. And you're absolutely right, learning to respect boundaries is important for everyone. By standing up for your child, you are also standing up for what's good for the boy. Good luck

  8. Good points, all of them. Best wishes for success on Monday and hugs to your daughter.

  9. You are in the right and the school are wrong. He will be learning the lesson that is okay to bully and be aggressive with someone because he has an 'excuse' whilst as you so rightly state, its going to scar your daughter for life if something isn't sorted out.

  10. Argh! This is something I have been through/still going through. Of course you must shout and scream for your child - if you don't who else will?

    If the child has a statement of Special Educational Needs then there will be audit funding available for a Teaching Assistant to supervise him.

    Check with the head that this is being applied for. Also contact the governors and maybe even the Local Educational Authority.

    There definitely needs to be an intervention with a teacher who tells a girl that it is her fault she is being hit. Seriously; WTF??

    As you know I work in a Secondary School (11-18) where we have excellent funding for a SENCO Department. The head of that dept totally rocks and they all work really hard so kids with extra needs can attend mainstream. But it shouldn't be at the detriment of other pupils.

    Junior schools obviously do not have access to these sorts of facilities (I am butting heads with my youngests Head and we are also considering moving her school) and any funding they recieve can be spent where the Head sees fit. I hope yours spends it wisely.

    Good luck.


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