MS. REBECCA SHEIR
So clearly, motherhood can come with all sorts of challenges and the woman we'll hear from next has been dealing with a very specific challenge, an age-old one really, bullying at school. We'll hear more in "On The Coast."
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Our regular segment in which Bryan Russo brings us the latest from the eastern shore of Maryland and coastal Delaware. Bryan recently spoke with this Maryland mom, we'll call her Rachel and her son, whom we'll call Bobby. And Rachel says she's found that many adults, even teachers often have no idea how to handle bullies.
I have been dealing a lot with issues at school, with children saying things or spreading rumors about my children, and it's been hard for me to deal with, and it's actually taken a toll on our family. My children sometimes don't want to go to school because of it.
MR. BRYAN RUSSO
When was the first time that this came up? Was this something that just started happening this year?
My older son has been dealing with it for several years. It started when he was in the fifth grade with somebody just telling him that nobody likes him, doesn't want to be his friend, I believe it started when one child didn't like that my son was a best friend of one of his friends, and he started telling kids that nobody likes him. And don't hang out with him, he's uncool. Unfortunately, that spread through the bus, and my son's peers in the neighborhood started to believe that. And if we fast-forward now, I found out that that kid that first began bothering my son, has bothered many kids and has never been disciplined for it.
I want to turn to Bobby for a second. Bobby, tell me what it felt like for you, before you ever had to deal with any bullying of your own, how it felt for you when you were at home and you would hear your parents and your older brother talking what was happening to him?
He started to withdraw from the family. He started to become more alone, like to more solitude and we still hung out, but he didn't like to go outside as much.
So when did things start happening in class for you? I mean, I know you're a few years younger than your brother. When did it feel like bullying was happening to you?
I'm pretty sure it was in third grade because I had this really good friend, and I made him my friend near the beginning of the year. So then near the middle of the year this kid came along, and he had, like, a whole group of people with him. And whenever I tried to hang out with them, they're like, no, we're part of this club and you can't join. So they wouldn't let me play with him, so he just stopped, like, hanging out with me as much, and we stopped going over to each other's houses, and then we stopped, like, talking during school.
Has it ever gotten to a point where they call you bad names or they've ever like gotten physical and pushed you around or anything like that?
It's never gotten physical, but they have been, like, telling me stuff to my face. And it can really take a toll on a person. I mean, it's not like just one thing and it just goes away, like, within the week. It's just like they continue to do it and it can make people lose friends and make them feel terrible about themselves.
What happens when a kid in your class, or even yourself personally, tell their teacher or tell any teacher in your school that bullying or harassment is taking place? What do they say?
I think, personally, that it's not that easy to tell a teacher. I mean, people, like, you don't really want to tell a teacher because…
…it's just like a feeling that you don't really want to express.
When you hear your son say that he's perhaps reluctant to approach a teacher or approach another adult about bad things that are being said or bad things that are potentially being done, does that highlight for you that perhaps that divide between what the kids are really feeling and what the adults are seeing?
When I approach a teacher -- and when my older son was in middle school, they started treating him badly and looking at my son as if he was the issue. And I think my younger son has learned from that. And I'm thinking and I'm feeling right now from listening to him, that I believe that that's what his feeling is. Well, they didn't help my brother, are they going to help me?
Obviously kids can say some pretty awful things to each other. And I'm sure you dealt with it as you were growing up. I certainly dealt with it as I was growing up. As a community, do you think that we pay enough mind to the impact that this sort of harassment, negativity does to, not only the learning environment, but our young people, too? What do you think it does to their confidence, their esteem? And what can we do to make it better for them?
Parents need to come together and teach their children, first of all, teach your child, don't talk about people. That's the biggest thing, because you wouldn't want to be talked about. And for God's sake, tell a child if they hear something, most of the things they hear are rumors. Don't tell other people because then you participate in it.
That was an Eastern Shore mother and son speaking with Bryan Russo about bullying in local schools. You can hear an extended version of this interview by visiting our website, metroconnection.org.
Up next, pursuing a parenting dream overseas.
MR. COLIN MCRAE
If you are thinking of doing an adoption, either in the U.S. or in a foreign country, you should weigh the option of having a surrogate.
And mining for a mother lode of Maryland gold.
MR. TIM ROSE
You can pan gold out of just about every creek that flows into the Potomac River between Washington and Frederick.
That and more is coming your way on "Metro Connection," on WAMU 88.5.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and International law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.