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Bully Pulpit

posted Tuesday November 3rd, 2009

The other day, one of my closest friends — a woman in many ways far more demure than I — suggested gently that perhaps I shouldn’t blog about certain things.

She was worried because word was out that I’d criticized my girls’ school for allowing the third graders to share recorders during a flu epidemic.

I do see my friend’s point, and when I thanked her for her concern, I really meant it. I know I likely have some readers who perhaps do not have my best interests at heart (you know who you are) or maybe are just a bit overzealous in their grown-up game of “telephone,” but as I told my friend, I stick by my decision to “live blog” Sophie’s experience in public school — at least, some parts of it. (And hey, I’ll throw in a handful of homemade candy corn for good measure.)

The truth is that this blog, like all forms of journalism, is edited. That doesn’t mean it’s not true; it’s just not all-inclusive. I gave my friend a list of examples of things I haven’t mentioned on the blog. She nodded, but I know she’s still worried.

And so I’ll be extra careful, I promise, dear friend, when I blog about the latest turn of events.

This weekend, I heard that Sophie was bullied one day last week during lunch. I know the names of the kids involved (and I know both of those kids well, they are third graders Annabelle’s grown up with) and some other bare bone facts, but not enough to write about yet.

On Sunday night, I did put up a Facebook status update that said: Amy Silverman is trying to figure out what to do with the news that Sophie was bullied at school.

The responses were filled with good advice, commiseration, humor and love. My favorite came from my friend Kathleen:

Am I going to have to open a can of whoop ass on someone? No one, I mean No One, mucks with my Sophie and lives to tell the tale. Bully kid, I am your worst nightmare.
Love it. But with all due respect, Kathleen, I intend to be those bullies’ worst nightmare, and the principal’s, too, if that’s what it takes. Maybe also the district superintendent’s.
I have a meeting with the principal tomorrow morning. Until then, Sophie won’t be going to lunch unmonitored. My mother is at the school cafeteria as I write this, and on her way over she called to say that if she does see those bullies, she’s going to sweetly remind them that she’s been to their classrooms many times, that her nickname is Fairy GAGA — and that who knows, she might just be magic, able to see everything they do. So perhaps they should watch out.
I also intend to shed some light (fairy dust aside) on the situation, in a different way. If there’s one thing my day job has taught me, it’s that keeping secrets (or even just keeping quiet) is good for no one — particularly our kids. 
Particularly when that kid is Sophie. 
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10 Responses to “Bully Pulpit”

  1. Right on!!! Or should I say: Write on!!!

  2. I’m with you Amy. Secrets help no one. Just get it out in the open, and Fairy Gaga’s presence at lunch should send a strong message to those bullies. Magic or not – nobody mucks with the Fairy Gaga in this town.

  3. I go around and around on blogs and privacy. But at the end of the day, I’m glad to have other people’s blogs to read, because it’s incredibly useful for me. Educational, comforting, all that. And while I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, I am sure you will a) kick ass and b) set an example I’ll look back on at some point.

    Bullies suck.

  4. note from gaga after the lunch date:
    sophie has so many kind, caring friends at school.
    they would love and protect her completely if they could.
    gallantry among six year olds is beautiful to see.

  5. You already know I’m with you. Indeed, you’ve written a few things about specific infuriating school bureaucrats; that made me worry about your, for lack of a better word, reputation. But you’re a grown up and you’ve proven yourself, here and professionally.

    You are so right about secrets and keeping quiet. They say 90% of dissatisfied consumers don’t complain; it’s we in the tiny minority who bring about change. You go, girl.

  6. I think sharing experiences is so useful and I agree about the secrets part. If people talk, give ‘em something good to discuss about inclusion and education and cafeteria bullying! It’s hard to imagine why anyone would have it in for anyone else unless there was a serious grievance- like sleeping with their husband or something! Otherwise-leave out the names and only the people who already know will know!
    Phooey on those bullies~

  7. I know a couple of fifth-graders who have Sophie’s back.

  8. I think most things escalate and fester when hidden in shadows. We all know bullying is based on cowardice. All I know is Sophie just flat out needs to be protected and I can be totally subjective and say I’m unconcerned about the bullies in this equation and their blah blah freaking blah. Sophie just needs to be safe at school. Period. And I mean emotionally, physically, socially. Safe. I say go all KV on that principal tomorrow, in that elegant Amy Silverman style only you can pull off.

  9. I say do what you need to do when it comes to your child and bullying, because the school certainly won’t. Bring the issue to the principal, the superintendent, blogs, newspapers, magazines, 3 On Your Side or any other outlet that will get it out in the open. I undertand that the schools have to keep a certain level of privacy for the children, but maybe if those kids and their parents were aware that other parents knew about their kids “issues,” parents would take more responsibility for correcting their child’s behavior at school. At this age, parents are still highly responsible for how thier child acts at school or elsewhere. But first you have to acknowlegde the behavior and you can’t do that until you talk about it!

  10. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. Keep us posted.

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