My mom always seemed to be behind the times. She seemed to think that clothes that were cool or fun for her would also be o.k for me to wear. So I was the middle schooler not in jnco jeans or old navy flip flops. Instead I was bought funky tops with puff paint designs on them that had matching shorts with a smaller version of that design. Add to that, my many undiagnosed learning disabilities made me an easy target. To say I was horribly bullied is an understatement.
As much as I wanted to punch all of those kids in the face years of karate training had taught me not to. So I endured it and it crushed me. It was an emotional time and with my mom still dealing with the death of my father, I was all alone.
What Exactly is Bullying?
As a parent, I’ve worked hard to define my ideas of what bullying is as I teach my children the difference between a personality conflict and true abuse. The difference is not always easily obvious to a child or even to adults, yet understanding the definition of real bullying empowers the victim to take a stand if and when it becomes necessary.
It’s impossible to cover every warning sign of a bully, but one simple definition of bullying is intentionally hurting another person or intentional aggressive acts towards another. As we all know, that definition is still very broad. Other clear signs of a bullying situation are as follows:
continual physical acts and/or verbal abuse over a period of time
(the person being bullied) stressing over not only what just happened but also what will happen in the future
the stronger dominating the weaker
the bully getting others to gang up on the bullied
inequitable power over another
Homeschooling To Avoid Bullying
The bullying of your children immediately brings out that mama bear instinct to protect and defend your children from harm. Parents want to do something, and they sometimes consider a drastic change—even leaving the public school system to homeschool. Especially when met with indifference from school staff about your child's suffering.
So is homeschooling a the right option when a child is facing bullying at school? I whole heartily say yes! It is a parent's natural (and correct) instinct to protect your kids. If a child is unable to protect themselves, it falls to the parents to do so for them.
Is homeschooling the "easy way out" as some critics have claimed? Shouldn't kids be forced to work out these problems on their own, grow a thick skin, learn to ignore disparaging remarks, and be forced to fight back when they are physically assaulted?
Doesn't homeschooling turn our kids into socially awkward weirdos who can't handle the pressures of normal childhood squabbles?
NO WAY. While yes, kids do need to learn to stand up for themselves and ignore rude people. Public school has become a whole other animal. Bullies love having an audience. Its rarely one on one anymore, and with social media and cell phones those things that were once forgotten are now shared with the world and constantly bombarding the bullied child. Kids with cognitive disabilities are often ill equipped to deal with the onslaught of this type of gang mentality.
I do homeschool my kids, and they still learned how to get along with their peers and constructively face relationship problems. My children are confident, secure, and capable of making decisions that go against the crowd. This didn’t happen because I left them in public school to duke it out with mean girls or bullies.
Is Your Child A Victim Of Bullying?
It is often said that you can not change who a person is no matter how hard you try. The message is that a victim of abuse has two choices: leave the abusive situation or live with the abuse.
When its an abused spouse choosing to leave their abuser, nobody thinks that they are not facing up to real-life problems or that they are trying to escape the real world! No one thinks poorly of the employee who quits a job because of workplace bullying, unsafe working environment, or prejudicial and abusive management.
Quite the opposite actually we applaud these victims of abuse when they take a stand to escape a toxic relationship and assert their rights.
Bullying is abuse that we don’t tolerate when it happens to adults. Why should a child be forced to stay in an abusive situation that is destroying their sense of safety and confidence? Living in such a fearful and hostile situation is not character building for a child.
So, I say yes, homeschooling is a viable fix for bullying (it is not an easy fix as homeschooling is a big commitment and sometimes a huge sacrifice). Homeschooling however is good for so much more than helping your children escape the toxic environment of bullying.
Here are some additional ways homeschooling benefits your child socially:
When a child is allowed to study things that interest them and learns to manage their time in order to do so, they grows in to self-confidence.
When a child is allowed to focus on their education and interacting with those who care for them instead of forced to fend for themselves in a cage fight to the death, they can learn real life skills.
A child can flourish with social skills when they are involved in public speaking opportunities in co-op settings that focuses on rigorous academics.
A warm and loving home is the best place for a child to learn how to build character. School, after all, is an artificial, one size fits all institutional environment.
There are tons of team building opportunities in homeschooling like 4-H, soccer, dance, and baseball where a child can learn to work out those personality conflicts with other kids.
A child has the right to learn in a stress-free environment, supported by adults who love and protect them.
When I was that child in my funky puff paint shirts, homeschooling was not a well-known option to escape bullying at school or even really something to be considered. Fortunately, I was strong enough to handle the bullying until an easier target came along. So my mom didn't have that tough decision of leaving tried and true tradition for the unknown of homeschool. If you are considering homeschooling because of persistent bullying, don't listen to the people who accuse you of being over protective or being a helicopter parent. Trust your parental gut to protect your child, and know that homeschooling will provide a wealth of positive emotional and social benefits far beyond merely escaping a negative public school environment where bullying runs rampant.
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