Bullying Forces Girl to Leave School

The Longmeadow school system, especially Wolf Swamp Road School and research, that bullying begins in third grade. They reactively institute a program in the fifth grade to address this?

I recently pulled my daughter out of the promising Longmeadow school system because of bullying, not only from children, but parents alike. The girl who initiated the bullying of my daughter lives a mere three streets away from us. This girl elicited help from two Metco students in bullying my daughter physically and emotionally. It appears that because this girl grew jealous of my daughter over time and lacked the appropriate social and coping skills, she began to bully my daughter and others. My daughter is a quiet, likeable, bright young girl who is the light of my life. Having this happen to her has devastated our family.

I moved to Longmeadow for the school system. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education, Longmeadow is one of the top places for college success and school systems. Contrary to these statistics, in combination with talking to other concerned parents, it appears this girl has been a problem in many other cases.

As a last resort, I went to speak to the parents of this girl who continued to harass my daughter. This had to be the most disgusting experience of all. Instead of addressing and rectifying the behavior of their child, the parents brought my daughter down to all the other parents and children. When I approached the angry parents, they both became physical. I was appalled at this behavior. It was true to the apple not falling far from the tree with their daughter who clearly gets the message that violence and beating others down is okay.

These people live in our community with more children in the town. Scary is not even satisfying to me in describing them and what they have done to my family. My daughter excelled in her MCAS and is an exceptional girl. My need to pass this information on is to say that the school needs to observe the zero tolerance and get rid of the bullies, not the futures of tomorrow.

Going back to the known research, bullies have far lower success in life. For those interested in statistics versus funding coming into the town would be enlightened to know that those receiving special educations services as this child does and the Metco students, who also carried on with bullying my daughter receive or at least appear to receive in my case "special" privileges and protections.

The average student gets pushed to the wayside while our tax dollars gets spent on children who harm our children emotionally and physically, as they have my daughter.

It is worth an investigation into the rights and protections of the children like my daughter who I have removed where the system in this town failed. These children are bullying our children and use our money to enhance their education. Aside from protections for Section 504, Individuals with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act (IDEIA) and the American Disabilities Law, where are the rights for those who are bullied?

I will continue to speak out for humanity and against the harassment that exists in this chapter of injustice for my daughter.

Karen Westeen


Comments From Our Readers:


12:33:26 PM
I am sure it was horrible for Karen and her family when her daughter came home upset every day due to the bullying. Even though I have not heard both sides of this story, it appears that the system failed her daughter at some point in the process. However, I would like to address the fact that there were generalizations made in her letter to the editor. As a teacher, I felt it was wrong to make a generalized statement about Metco students and students receiving special education services. I have taught many Metco students over the years who came from loving homes. They were high achieving, caring students with a strong support system in the home. Although two of the bullies at Wolf Swamp School were apparently Metco students, I feel it was unfair to include ALL Metco children in the bully category. For many of the students in that program it is the only opportunity for them to attend school in a safe, academically rigorous environment. I also feel I need to defend the children receiving special education services, as they too were lumped into a category of bullies. Many special education students experience bullying on a regular basis. Bullying must not be tolerated because the effects can linger for a very long time. However, stereotyping also has damaging effects that can linger for a life time. We cannot condemn an entire group of people for the poor actions of a few.  

8:35:45 PM
I had a very similar experience with my daughter in 6th grade, who was cornered in a changing stall and beaten at the Wilbraham Middle School because she was a "rich b---h with expensive sneakers". The two offenders were Springfield residents attending Wilbraham schools in a program similar to today's METCO program. Fortunately for my family, the principal did the right thing and suspended the other two girls. Unbelievably, the parents came in and accused the principal of bias because my daughter, the one who was beaten, was not suspended also. Like Mrs. Westeen, we removed our daughter and put her in private school.
One of the biggest obstacles to solving these problems is the misguided attempts at neutrality and pretending that everyone is equally at fault. The bully is looking for attention and inclusion, and by treating all of those involved the same, the bully gets the desired outcome: attention and inclusion in the group. The bullies must be isolated, disciplined and, if need be, removed by expulsion. Inclusion in a program such as METCO is a privilege, and if abused, should be revoked. Parents have the right to expect that their children will be safe from abuse while at school.
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