Sometimes parents have to do the unthinkable so they can prevent the unforgivable. At some random school this morning, a child is hiding in the bathroom because he or she is too afraid to walk the halls due to bullying. I know it to be true because it was my daughter’s life for over a year before she was finally attacked. I’m going to try to tread very carefully while I write this, but I’m also going to be very honest. So, I warn you now, this might piss you off, but it has to be said.
School shootings do not happen by accident. Guns do not walk into the class and fire without a person pulling the trigger. Show me a school that has death due to school shootings/suicide, I’m willing to bet that school has also dealt with a problem in regards to bullying. Bullying has lasting effects, it not only hurts the students that the harmful words are aimed at, but it also hurts people caught in the environment of the issue. I can tell you this because I know it to be true. It has taken my own daughter years to overcome the words and pain associated with bullying.
My daughter’s attack happened on a playground with nearly a dozen children surrounding her. She was rolled up in a ball and kicked over and over. The children then tried to impale her head on a steel pike. At the time of her attack, four teachers were on the playground. A boy stepped in and saved her. He took her to the office and I was called. That week after we got her home she tried to commit suicide twice. After weeks or so she started acting out violently. She pushed my oldest daughter in the street and then tried to push her downstairs.
I remember grabbing her and putting her in the car asking what was she thinking. She told me she knew it was wrong, but that she just wanted power. She said she felt so powerless and it made her feel powerful to be able to finally stand up for herself. Needless to say, this scared the crap out of me. We talked about her feelings and the outcome of harming others because of the pain she felt for at least 6 to 8 months after the incident. We even had to commit her for a little until we could get her to calm down.
Today, I’m glad to report that she no longer has those same anger issues, but it wasn’t easy dealing with those issues that came after the attack. After one of the school shootings we were talking and she added that she felt torn in some of the cases. She said she felt horrible about the people who died, but that she also felt bad for the person who was bullied. As a parent that watched my daughter go through so many different emotions in regard to her incident, I think it gives me a unique outlook.
My daughter didn’t shoot up a school, yet she did try to hurt her sister. Luckily, I worked in mental health, I knew the warning signs, I knew the right people, and I was able to focus entirely on her healing.
However, I do not know what I would have done if I didn’t know some of the things that I knew at that time. Ariana was dealing with a range of emotions that we knew nothing of and most importantly we couldn’t relate to her on those levels. So, it was a lot of redirecting negative behavior and replacing negative feelings with her love for cooking. I think we went broke that year! We have to do something about bullying because it produces rage. I wasn’t going to let that rage take over my child. My daughter is now almost 18 and I can tell you that we haven’t had an episode in about three years. She has been able to make a few friends, and she’s now being a normal kid.
She told me recently that she still can’t help but think about that day from time to time, but that she’s not mad about it anymore. I know we want to make these issues about gun control, but it’s about so much more. The true weapon is bullying and it can cause mass causalities or a single fatality. We are seeing too many children commit suicide and harm each other over the feelings associated with bullying. It’s time to have real conversations about the need to revamp how schools keep records in regard to bullying.
We need to hold the schools more accountable and in some cases the parents as well. After Ariana was attacked, I didn’t hear from not one of the children’s parents which is even sadder. We can do so much better.