Discovering that our child was the target of a group of cyber-bullies brought with it a whirlwind of emotions. The first was anger. Mama & Papa bear were ready to tear them limb by limb. Sadness came next and the desire to run away and embrace off-grid remote living far from the modern world. Guilt made a brief showing, and the stab of how we failed to protect him. Among this swirl we surprised even ourselves by landing firmly on resolve. Resolve to push harder for changes in our son’s school and our larger community. On the realization that this is an incredible opportunity to bring the discussion of cyber-bullying in particular & kindness in general to the forefront in our world.
Due to privacy laws we do not get to know exactly who the group of boys who targeted our son are. But we do get to respond.
An open letter to the families of the boys who bullied our son.
We get it. Parenting is hard. It is the hardest job we have ever attempted. Some moments you get things right & other go oh-so wrong. At the end of the day, you can only hope that the former far outweighs the latter.
When we first discovered that there was a social media account created to bully kids with special needs & that our son was among the targets, it broke our hearts. It infuriated us. The erosion of trust within our child’s school community is devastating. The duplicity of pretending to friend, but really mocking our child & others like him, hurt the most.
But…. the larger injustice would be to let this moment pass without attempting to change the bigger picture.
For far too long, kids like our son have been relegated to separate schools or classrooms. Although some families feel this is best for their children, our family & our son are working every day to change this. By having our son included in regular classrooms & school activities, we want to open the dialogue about how our kids are more alike than different. They have joys & heartbreaks, fears & dreams… just like your children. They want to fit in & find their circle of friends… just like your children. This is an opportunity to build bridges between groups that have so much to offer each other.
When people are set apart as “other” it makes it easier to mock, tease or treat them as less than. We now have an incredible opportunity to break down barriers & bring kids together who can learn more from each other about compassion, empathy & kindness than any lecture or assembly can ever teach them. This is an opportunity to change the culture of our community for the better.
As much as we want to, we know we cannot protect our kids from every bully. Sheltering our son from the realities of the larger world is simply not possible, nor is it helping him build the skills of resilience he will need throughout his life. We can, however, empower him, & all kids, to stand up for themselves & to know their own worth & strength. To have the courage to speak out when they see injustice. We can build a community around them based on respect & kindness. It is what we all need as humans to thrive in this world. To be seen, known & valued.
We hope you can also see this opportunity. To reflect on how you & your children can be a part of this change.
All are welcome.
The parents of an incredible kid
And incredible parents. Stand strong, it's the only way to change the status quo. Your family has taught me so much, with grace and resolve. You are not alone in this, just at the front.
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