Donna Olston’s son has gone from an A and B student to one who is barely passing his eighth-grade classes at Woodland Middle School.
The drop started with four bullying incidents that happened during his seventh-grade year. The first one happened on the playground. Two boys held him down while another kicked him, including his head. Another boy attacked him twice in the locker room, the first time breaking his glasses. Both times, Olston’s son fought back. The fourth time, a different boy started a verbal fight with him, and lunged over a cafeteria table at him.
“We’ve taught him that you don’t have to like people to respect them, but that hasn’t happened to him,” Olston said.
The incidents caused her son and his friends to make a pact to never be alone in a hallway at school or on the playground.
Olston’s lanky, artistic son, who is into theater, dance and music, has gone from having an outgoing personality to being withdrawn and sullen. His sister says he’s become the bully, often resorting to name-calling and intimidation at home, Olston said.
Before last year, his mother said, “he was never a mean kid.”
Olston tried counseling, but her son refused to speak with the counselor during his hourlong session. He fails to do some of his schoolwork.
“I feel like he just gave up,” Olston said.
The bullying resulted in suspensions for the boys involved in the incidents that were reported, but Olston said no investigation was done to find the boys who held him down in the first incident. And she only knew about the suspensions because her son heard through the grapevine at school.
She asked for meetings at school, but “at the meetings you are told everything is private and you don’t know what happens to the attacker,” she said.
She wants school officials to keep parents more informed and to educate kids on bullying as young as in kindergarten.
This year has been better for her son. He hasn’t been bullied, but he’s now living with the effects of the past, Olston said.
“You can’t make the situation any better,” she said. “As a mom, you feel totally helpless.”
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