All of these things are true. I’m not making these up for people to feel bad for me. I just want you to know what has been happening to me. I don’t feel safe at school.
Allie and Rachel and sometimes Trina punch me, hit me and kick me, even after I tell them to stop. When I say stop, they find it as a joke. They laugh with each other after they do that to me.
One time when Allie really hurt me, I had to do a friendly punch to get her to stop. I felt bad about that friendly punch. I’m not a hurter or a puncher.
Two times Allie stabbed me very hard with her red pen and it left marks on me. It hurt me. She did it with the cap on. She did it so hard that it felt like the cap was off. I put my cap on my pen and gave her a little tap trying to show her that I could stand up for myself a little bit, but then I was afraid she would stab me even harder, and she did. So I stopped it.
When we sit at lunch, Allie forces me to move over if she wants to sit where I’m sitting. She forces me by pushing me.
Allie makes fun of me for going to speech. She yells out multiple times “C.J. goes to speech!” That makes me feel very sad and embarrassed.
Last week, Rachel took my sandwich. I tried to get it back from her, but she ripped it apart and made it to shreds even though I was trying to stop her. That made me feel sad, a little bit embarrassed and very hungry. When my mom picked me up from school that day I was so hungry.
When I walk around the classroom, I always have to take the long way because if I walk behind Rachel she finds a way to trip me no matter what. She pushes her chair out to block me or she purposely makes me trip and stumble into other people. I should be able to walk around the classroom safely just like everyone else.
Allie told me she didn’t want to hang out with me as much because I’m gay and her family doesn’t hang out with gay people so she doesn’t hang out with gay people. She said people told her to stop hanging out with me if she wants to be popular. A few days after she said that, I talked to her about it and she said she was joking. I told her you don’t joke about that kind of stuff. It made me feel very sad, but she just ignored me. Yesterday I talked to her about it again and she said she never said that about me being gay. But she did! I heard it with my own ears!
It’s hard to see Allie and her mom at school every day because I know they don’t accept gay people so they don’t accept me. I know what’s going through their minds about me and LGBTQ people. I’m afraid her mom is going to say something to me.
For three Fridays, Allie pushed my violin out of my hands and threw my violin folders in the air and all of my papers went flying everywhere and people stepped on them. That’s not nice. And it was embarrassing.
Rachel said that nobody notices when I’m absent or not at school. That makes me feel sad and like I’m invisible and like nobody really cares about me at school except for you and Principal Alice.
When I told Allie I was going to miss two days of school she said, “Yes! Finally!” That made me very sad and like I couldn’t trust anyone anymore because my own so-called friend didn’t want me around.
Yesterday Allie and Trina wouldn’t let me walk near them and they ran away from me.
This has been my second to the worst month in my life. The worst month was when my grandma died. And this is my birthday month! It should be a happy month! I am trying to make new friends, but it’s very, very hard.
I don’t feel safe at school like I should feel. Our school is supposed to be a school where people are kind, but I don’t feel safe. I told Allie that she has made me dread going to school every day. She made fun of me for saying it because I looked like I was about to cry. And I was.
I always feel very scared going to school every day. I shouldn’t feel that way about going to school, I should feel happy and safe. It’s making me so scared. I feel very sick and overwhelmed and scared from all this.
I know that other kids see Allie, Rachel and Trina treating me the way they treat me. I don’t want other kids to think they can bully anyone. It’s not setting a good example.
Every school year I go into my new class worried that there will be a bully in my class. I never thought it would be my friends.
Thank you for listening. I’m glad you’re my teacher.
C.J. sent that letter to his teacher when he’d had enough of being bullied at school.
He asked me to type while he dictated. He wiped tears away as he talked. He wouldn’t make eye contact with me. As he detailed incidents that he’d never told me about, I tried to just type. Not act surprised. Not cry. Not fly into a rage.
Up until then, C.J. tried to handle (and ignore) the bullying on his own. When it was too much to keep to himself, he told me bits and pieces and made me promise not to tell the school or contact the parents of his bullies.
It quickly got to be too much for me, too. I couldn’t keep my promise. I had to report it to his teacher. The morning after I did, she asked C.J. if he would write down everything that had happened to him.
The words spilled out of him that afternoon and the next day the teacher and principal launched an investigation. It was a thorough one – which means that, to us, it felt like it dragged on forever.
We learned that, while C.J. was more emotionally hurt by the actions of Allie, he was more physically hurt by the actions of Rachel. Why did he feel like Allie was being so mean to him, but didn’t mention Rachel much when he first started talking about the bullying? Because Allie’s actions left him feeling betrayed. She had been his best friend and biggest protector, until she turned on him. He never had the emotional connection with Rachel, so when she was mean to him, to a certain extent, he attributed it to her just being a jerk and a not-nice person. Rachel’s actions didn’t feel like a personal attack; Allie’s actions did.
We’re working to help C.J. understand the complicated feelings that muddied his current situation, ways to stand up for himself in the future and what it means to be a good (and bad) friend.
The school’s case is closed for now. Consequences have been issued, behavior expectations have been emphasized and Allie and Rachel know what the next steps will be if they bully C.J. again.
C.J. is starting to feel safer school, but I’m not sure he’ll ever feel as safe as he once did. There are lingering effects that I see. I worry I’ll see them forever. He surely won’t be the same boy at the end of fifth grade that he was at the start of fifth grade. I didn’t expect him to be exactly the same, but I didn’t expect him to be a dimmer version of himself.