Last Friday was the day after my birthday. We were having a family gathering at our house in the evening.
The plan was for me to leave work at 4pm, pick up my son (J) from his school and then head back home as soon as possible to help out with the food.
Shortly before 4, I got a phone call from J’s mum. J had been attacked outside his school by a kid who had a history of bullying, I bolted out the door and made my way to meet him.
When I got there, he seemed pretty shook up. J is 13, but he’s the smallest kid in his year. He’s strong willed but you could knock him over with a feather. As far as bullies go, he’s an easy target.
He tells me what happened. J left school and was on his own. This kid comes up to him and pushes him over and pulls things out of his bag and tosses them into the road. He pushes J into the road, then kicks him in his arm and stomps on his ribs. J’s in tears as he tells me this. I wanted to tear this bully apart. I’ve calmed down now, but at the time, seeing my child so upset? Well, I imagine its how anyone would feel.
J tells me that he was jumped on by the same kid the previous night, but he had a friend there to help him. I didn’t know about this. J lives with his mum so I often don’t find out about things until later on. This bully was meant to be kept back behind class but apparently he just stood up and left, which makes it sound like the school can’t manage him.
I’ve heard of this kid hassling J before, though. Name-calling, mostly. The school know about him but he still hassles kids. I’m thinking enough is enough, and, pretty shaken up myself, I take J to the Police Station.
This decision isn’t made lightly but something keeps going round my head. My son hasn’t just been bullied (which is horrendous enough). He has been assaulted. If an adult was knocked over in the street and kicked / stomped on, would it seem so unreasonable to report it? He’s my son, and I needed to do something to protect him and the school is closed for the weekend.
We’re interviewed by two policemen. They couldn’t be nicer. They encourage J and listen to everything he’s got to say. They let him check out their handcuffs and offer him a tour of the station. Then they take me aside and explain the options.
They say there’s three ways this can go. Firstly, criminal proceedings. That would require an official statement from J and then they would take it from there. The second option is that J gets a VPR registered. I believe that stands for a Vulnerable Persons Record. The purpose of this is to have an official record of events which can be tracked and also it’s accessible by the school. The third option, they explain, is for me to make a suggestion on how it can go.
I pick option two. I want to give the school a last chance to manage things, but I also want them to know that I’m serious about this. I’m also concerned that, because J’s friend weighed in to help J on the Thursday night, he may end up in trouble. Don’t want to go there.
J is happier with this option too. He didn’t even want to go to the police. He was under a lot of pressure, worrying about what other kids would think. It sucks to be a school kid. He’s happy now to know that he’s done the right thing, but that he doesn’t have to be involved with more statements or courts.
J’s mum spoke to the school on Monday. They appeared to take it seriously. I’m sure that every school nowadays has a bullying policy but they have to be prepared to honour it.
My son is a confident kid. I hope he doesn’t lose that. I don’t want him to have to change one iota because of the behaviour of some violent kid. Every kid has the right to attend school without being afraid of another child.