Monday, July 9, 2012

My Scarlet Letter

Here are the facts of the case:

Since September, two children ("Y" and "E") have consistently bullied, hit, stolen toys and destroyed belongings of their classmates, including Raphaela.  The Montessori approach to bullies claims that these children lash out because they don't receive enough love and affection, and so the Head Nursery Teacher ("S") rewards the bully with hugs and kind words, and gives the victims of these two boys lessons in assertive behaviour.  In fact, bullying is a serious problem in the Israeli educational system, starting from this tender age and it gets worse and more scary as Israeli children get older.

Since September, other than the stories from Raphaela and several of the parents of her close friends, I personally have witnessed E come over to my daughter as I am standing there with her, hit her or try to take away something of hers by force.  I have held my tongue and swallowed my need to "do something about it."  All the parents have done so, because we know from experience that no matter how many times we complain to the Head Nursery Teacher and ask her to take definitive action, she will not.

This afternoon, with Raphaela standing next to me at the end of the Gan day, E rammed into Raphaela's leg with a riding toy.  Raphaela fell to the floor and started crying, and so I picked her up and comforted her.  I then bent down and was eye level to him, and firmly told him that he needed to apologize to Raphaela for having hurt her.  He stared me down for five minutes and refused.  I then told Raphaela to tell E that he hurt her and that she finds it uncomfortable when he hurts her.  Raphaela did so and E did not budge in his stubbornness.  So I said that since he hurt Raphaela with the riding toy, he should not be allowed to continue to play with it, and removed him non-violently.

NB This entire time, the nursery teachers stood by and watched the proceedings, and the Head Nursery Teacher was not even on the premises.

E started to cry, and at that moment his mother arrived.  She immediately started shouting, "What happened E, who hurt you?"  I calmly explained, without mentioning at all that this was a repeat and recurrent occurrence, that her son hurt my daughter, and that I asked him nicely to apologize and he refused.  She gave me a look that would kill, and stomped away, sheltering her angel son from me.

I felt little remorse, though I did think afterwards that my taking away the riding toy was beyond my jurisdiction in this case;  to me, I am the first parent this whole year to actually react to the problem and issue that we parents all obsess about in private to each other.


1 comment:

Sylvia said...

What a terrible experience! How awful for you and R. Also what a learning experience for all involved. So far I have only read this installment but I did want to share an observation. It is not your job to discipline the other boy. It is your job to comfort your daughter and keep her safe. If the staff at the pre-school cannot ensure her safety I would remove her immediately. Demanding an apology from an unapologetic boy is only encouraging him to lie. Children of that age don't have much in terms of empathy for other people. Anger, on the other hand they can fully experience.