I Simply Knew, what He was going through
This will always be the day that divides my life. Before that day my child Mayn went through a lot. A sweet, gentle and lanky fifteen year old fumbling his way through early puberty and trying to begin his place in the often unclear and difficult social world of middle school. After that day my son had changed forever, a death by suicide was avoided thankfully of the support I have received from the doctor's and teachers. Some would call it bullied or even cyber bullied. I just call it a huge hole that was left in my heart that will never heal thinking about my child what he had to deal with the things that happened to him. Many aspects in our life majority of our children in this generation goes through a lot but nevertheless it has been dealt with or it has been resolved.
Our son Mayn is a sweet, gentle and very sensitive and very funny boy. He was born in Burnley. Mayn had best present of us all the time as many would in this age. As he grew, his caring way made it irresistible to hug him and feel him hug you back. He had the magic skill to bring a smile to anyone that looked his way nor has matter what everyone goes through him always to make everyone smile nor matter how he feels himself. As he grew, he developed a wonderful sense of humour too. And when we moved into new neighbourhoods twice during his life, kids quickly settled to his warmth and friendliness and cheerful. But there were early concerns with mayn's speech, language and motor skills development as Mayn developed in early stages in primary school which he was referred to see a speech and language therapist. Mayn received special education services from primary school all the way to secondary school. We will always be grateful for the entire staff at Sir John Thursby Community college in Burnley for being so wonderful and caring for son. The special education team there fell in love with him and his drive to do his best every day. By the time he reached the certain age, he was assessed to be on lower grade and further assessment is needed for special education services. But as he became older, he also became more aware that he was not as academically strong as most of his classmates. This began to bother him deeply as he headed into high school. He had to work much harder at homework, re-reading assignments several times to comprehend the material. He was hard on himself, no matter how much we tried to lessen the academic pressure and focus his awareness of his other strengths.
I often told Mayn that there are all kinds of intelligence, for instance: academic, music, physical and social intelligence. I always had to encourage him and reassure him that he was not only the child who were suffering there are many child like him and felt his strength was social intelligence- that his very warm, sweet, caring and sensitive personality would take him far in life because people liked being with him. One of the best compliments we ever received about Mayn was from a parent that said they loved having him over to play with their child and wanted his sweetness to rub off onto their child. He acted like a grown up and would reassure other children younger than him, It was during the age of 8 that we first began to encounter the bullying problem. A certain kid and his friends picked up on Mayn's academic weaknesses and his poor physical coordination. But since he was not being physically bullied by these boys, only by words, we advised him to just ignore them, walk away and remember that he had good friends to count on. We even went so far as to get him a therapist to further help him develop coping skills and to boost his self-esteem during this school year. By the end of age 8 he seemed fine and so, based on the therapist's advice, we stopped the sessions.
Mayn's high school had grades 7 through 8 in the similar building. It was a bit of a scary transition for Mayn coming in as a very young 8th grader into a building with some pretty older looking 10th graders lurking through the hallways. As with his early school years, Mayn still struggled to make average grades. School still was not easy for him and he often brought up the concern of being put back in special Sure enough, the bullying problem resurfaced on and off during his first high school year, but never to a point that gave us great concern. Again, we had the conventional adult belief that this was just kids being kids, a part of growing up ... that encountering mean kids in high school was just inevitable. But the situation got much worse for him during the 7th grade. In May 2009, the bullying problem surfaced again to a significant level. There was an evening that month when he just had a meltdown … a very tearful session at the dining table. We thought 7th grade was going fine but discovered he was bottling up a lot of bad experiences during the first few months. Again, it was the same kid and his friends that bullied him on and off since the 5th grade. They were tormenting him again and he said he hated going to school, that he never wanted to go back there. He asked that night if we could move or home school him. I was unable to decide between wanting to be his bodyguard all day and feeling he needed to learn how to manage the situation as a part of growing up on his own with guidance. We sat at the table discussing our options that evening and explaining him how to deal with this situation on his own as he has to learn that I won't be there all the time to help him. He needs to stick up for himself and reassure him that everything will settle once he knows how to deal with situations like this. We explained that moving in the middle of the winter was not a good time and home schooling was not an option because Mummy don't have a car to take you there and pick you up from school as mummy was having a baby. I said, "That's it Mayn. I had enough. Let's take it to the principal and have him put a stop to it once and for all." To that, Mayn exclaimed, "No mum, please don't do that. They will only make it worse. I see it happen all the time." Instead Mayn asked that we help him learn how to fight so he can "beat the heck" out of this kid if he or his 8th grade friends tried to jump Mayn. In that manner I wish I could now turn back the clock. I wish we instead looked into why Mayn did not trust his school administration to address the problem in the first place. But at that moment in time, I immediately thought of the movie "The Karate Kid" and said so to Mayn. We laughed and agreed that was exactly what was needed for this situation. But instead of karate, Mayn was much more interested in marital art program which often aired as a 30 minute commercial in this time frame. He asked that we get him this program along with the punching bag and boxing gloves for Christmas.
After a short discussion with Susan, we accepted that Mayn goes to marital art Training for a year. After dinner every evening we did this exercise program together. These are some of my favourite memories of time spent with Mayn. We talked about a lot of things during these workouts including strategies in dealing with the bully and his friends. I was quite proud of him, seeing his self-confidence build. It truly felt like the "Karate Kid" movie, getting him ready for the big match. But I reminded Mayn that he was never to start a fight with this kid, but he certainly had my permission to "whale on him" the moment he laid a hand on Mayn.
Sure enough, we got a call from the assistant principal after a school day in May 2013. He just broke up a fight between Mayn and the bully in our school. He said Mayn was ok but wanted us to be aware. We were very grateful for his intervention. When we found Mayn walking home, he was both scared and elated. He was shaking but said he got a few good punches in and felt good he was able to stick up to the bully. He said, "I got a few good punches in before the teacher got there. That kid probably won't mess with me anymore." We were all feeling pretty relieved that day for Mayn; for being able to stand his ground and seemingly make it through a typical teenage rite of passage.
As the month followed, he seemed to be doing great. He was still struggling academically, but that was always the case for Mayn since kindergarten. He acted out like a typical middle school age kid - moody at times but also very sweet and funny most of the time. The "normal" ups and downs were what we observed. And we were always there for him, always reminding him how much we loved him. For the rest of 7th grade, I kept checking in with Mayn and asking him if that kid was still bothering him. His answer was always the same … that since that fight, the bully had left him alone. I often thought to myself, "This plan worked perfectly!"
One day Mayn's answer surprised us. He said he was no friends with the kid. We were not happy with this news. We warned him to watch his back since this kid was his enemies for so long. We discouraged the friendship but decided to back off, feeling he was of age to make decisions like this and potentially have to learn from a misjudgement. How I wish we instead ended the so called friendship right from the start.
Mayn's young teen life included swimming, biking, playing computer games and instant messaging. A typical array of "healthy" and "normal" teen activities … or so it seemed. My son loved being on-line, staying connected with his friends after the school day and throughout the summer. But before June 2011, a greater deal of time was spent on-line, mainly instant messaging. I was concerned and felt compelled to remind him of our internet safety rules.
No IM'ing/chatting with strangers
No giving any personal information (name/address/phone) to strangers
No sending pictures to strangers
No secret passwords
Our last rule was a safety one. I told my two older children that they had to use the password I gave them for any accounts they signed up but can change it later date. I promised I would not read personal messages or spy on them but, "God forbid you don't follow the first few rules and you just disappear one day, I will want instant access to all of your activities on-line." Never in a million years did I imagine this rule would someday end up becoming the key to unlocking the mystery of why my son decided to take a weapon in school without my knowledge. A few days went by one morning I was upstairs trying to wake my younger 2 children to go to school, Mayn had gone into the kitchen and took a kitchen knife in his blazer. Before he left for school I gave me kisses and cuddles and said mum I love you and I replied I love you too baby. He also mention that I have to tell him that he loves everybody which I found a bit shocking but never thought that my child has taken a decision to kill someone or harm himself because of the bully. I still remember this day it was Friday at 12.30pm when I had a call from school and one of his teacher said I had to go to school and meet up to discuss something really important I was scared frightened thinking what is it or has something happened to my son I was really scared so I left my 2 months baby to my husband and I went to school to see what is the problem. As I arrived to school his teacher called Miss Campbell took me to separate room and my son Mayn was sat down in the reception room already, she told me that my son Mayn had brought a weapon in school in his blazer's Pocket. I was shocked and asked what weapon did he bring in school I was confused thinking something else. Miss Campbell said it was a large kitchen knife and then thought my whole world has turned upside down thinking and asking same question over and over why has he gone this way and what's the reason for him to decide this way was only alternative. I asked Mayn over and over again why Mayn you bought this knife in school and when and how did he bring as the teacher asked where I was when he put the knife in his blazer pocket. I said I was upstairs' feeding my baby and getting the younger one ready for school but never thought that Mayn would do this and I am unaware of it. She then asked my son "Mayn where was your mum when you took this weapon", he said the same thing what I had told the teacher and any clues to his final action. I had been told that I had to take Mayn to hospital for check-up they thought something seriously was wrong with my child. I argued with the teachers saying why would he take this step as none of the teacher's will help him at all as he gets constantly blamed for things that he didn't do anything It was in that safe world of being somewhat anonymous that several of his classmates told me of the bullying and cyber bullying that took place during the months that led up to his decision. The boy that had bullied him since 5 Th grade and briefly befriended Mayn after the brawl was the main culprit. My son the comedian told his new friend something embarrassing and funny that happened once and the friend (bully) ran with the new information that Mayn had something done to him and therefore Mayn must be gay. The rumour and taunting continued beyond that school day … well into the day and night. I then decided to take my child to hospital to proof the teachers that my child has no psychological problems as they think my child has mental issues. During just before summer hit, my son was excluded from school until he was assessed from the specialist. I took him to Burnley hospital and then later on in the evening my child was transferred to Blackburn hospital to get further assessed from the specialist. As a mother I felt guilty that my child had nothing wrong with him and I'm sure he was never prepared to handle what happened next. He was told that he had to stay in the hospital until bank holiday was over but he missed being as home. On Tuesday after the bank holiday Mayn was seen by specialist from elcas they told me that they want to speak to him alone so I left the room and they spoke to Mayn alone and have diagnosed that Mayn has understanding and speech problem that makes him to angry and frustrated as he gets confused quickly and can't recall back what he said previously. They also said he has behavioural problems that is why he gets angry quickly. But for certain they don't think he has mental heal problem as he was assessed. The specialist had informed me that they will give these feedback to school and asking them to take Mayn back at school. He was then discharged from hospital later on that day. I left it couple of days for the teacher to get back to me with the good news thinking that my child will go back to school again but the principal said he can go to another school for now until he is satisfied that Mayn is no harm to other student. Mayn was admission to another school for full time basis as other teacher from other school picked him up and dropped him off safely at home when school finished. Months went by there were no hope that my child Mayn would come back to his old school but to make principal happy and satisfied Mayn had to go three lots of assessment from specialist their results was still the same from the previous doctors. One day I got really angry and upset and decided that I have to meet up with the principal Now certainly my son was not the first boy in history to be bullied and the principal informed me that he was thinking of their students safety as an priority which I got upset and angry I then thought ok fair enough as a principal you have to think the safeness off other students but in my head I was thinking ok the question I had to ask him if you were thinking of safeness of other students as a principal "where were you when my child gets bullied and where was your staff" he replied "we have security camera installed in school premises so there were no evidence stating that Mayn was bullied". I then got angry and said "not all security camera's work here I assume probably you have not or meant not to record it while my child got bullied". I told them that whatever it takes I want my child back in school =and further investigation should be done to protect other student's from bullying. The principal replied to me stating he is sorry that Mayn would will be allowed part time basis until he is satisfied that he is not a high risk for other students. I told the principal straight up that he already had a letter from the specialist stating that there is no evidence stating that Mayn has mental health issues what else do you need from them" he replied I need more future evidence that is not enough for us. I then realized that he was taking the piss so I though right if this last evidence does get him agreed for my son to get back in school I will take it further and open a new case against the principal. I then received another letter asking Mayn to go back to elcas for further assessment which school asked. It was frustrating for us as we had enough of this game that school was playing with my child. Nevertheless school has the priority to safeguard student from any kind of problem but instead they were think opposite so I realized technology was being utilized as weapons far more effective and reaching then the simple ones we had as kids. The higher specialist had to go through different procedure to ensure that whether Mayn is suffering from mental health issues but the result came to the same point where there is NO EVIDEANCE STATE THAT MAYN WAS SUFFERING FROM MENTAL HEALTH. Thankfully this time it worked as the principal had finally agreed that they will increase the time for Mayn to spend in main stream school. I had to arrange another meeting with Mayn teacher to discuss if Mayn can start school full time rather than part time but it was decided that Mayn would start full time after October haft term in 2013. It was like Passing handwritten notes or a "slam" book for principal to decide. Anyhow the list keeps growing with the invention of every new hi-tech communication device. It's one thing to be bullied and humiliated in front of a few kids. But it has to be a totally different experience than a generation ago when these hurts and humiliation are now witnessed by a far larger, online adolescent audience. I believe my son would have endured these incidents of bullying and humiliation if they took place before these were put in place. But I believe there are few of us that that would have had the resiliency and stamina to sustain such a nuclear level attack on our feelings and reputation as a young teen in the midst of rapid physical and emotional changes and raging hormones. I believe bullying through technology has the effect of increase speed and increasing the hurt to levels that will probably result in a rise in teen suicide rates. Recent statistics indicate that indeed teen suicide is on the rise again after many years of deteriorating amounts' want to be very clear. I don't blame Mayn's thinking of suicide on one single person or one single event. In the end, Mayn was suffering from unhappiness. This is a form of mental illness that is brought on by biological and/or environmental factors. In Mayn's case, I feel it was the "pile on effect" of the environmental issues mentioned above that stemmed from his primary school to high school life. Tragically, teenage stress and depression often goes undetected against the backdrop of typical teen anxiety. And since most of us have never received basic education in the signs and prevention of teenage suicide at any point in our lives, young people suffering from stress and depression are at greater risk. We have no doubt that bullying and cyber bullying were significant environmental factors that triggered Mayn's to take a weapon in school to be protect himself and others from harming him. In the final analysis, we feel strongly that Mayn's primary and high school social environment was toxic (including on-line after school), like for so many young people across the country. For too long, we have let kids and adults bully others as a rite of passage into adulthood. But we place accountable for this tragedy, first and foremost, on ourselves as his parents. We did not go into the school at the appropriate time and ask for action. As parents, we failed to demand an emotionally safe environment for our son while he was in school. Like so many parents of our generation, we thought this would just be a phase, a part of growing up. But accountability and responsibility should be shared by others too - parents, bullies, bystanders, school staff ... basically the whole system. A child should not have to complain about bullying to an adult in the first place. Prevention through education should have always been a part of the curriculum. And it should have started at protection to safeguard children from bullying and place an action for teens and parents for ensure that these protection are in place and we should reassure them. If something to happen in response to this heart breaking result then parents should have exact to be dealt in the right manner. It had to be something substantial and sustained, not just a short lived considerate response. We decided to take all this intense pain and passage it into productive areas to help other young people avoid the same outcome as our son. You'll learn on the other pages about the bully prevention law we spearheaded in other countries that holds schools much more accountable in preventing and responding to this growing epidemic. We also should work closely together to raise awareness about cyber bullying and the severe emotional impact it can have on a young person. We must do several national and local news media interviews to spread this story. I have also decided to dedicate the rest of my life to visit as many schools as possible to share Mayn's story and the powerful healing messages of forgiveness and unconditional love. Nothing can ever bring back our Mayn back to a normal person. Nothing will ever heal our broken hearts to realise what my child had gone through in his school. But we hope by sharing the personal details of our tremendous hurt that we been through could impact on other families will identify how procedure can be taken in case of other student's go through what my child had gone. Nevertheless have been spared a lifelong sentence to this kind of pain and hope that they can be avoided sooner rather than later. Many youngster's has to realise that bullying and cyber bullying cannot be tolerated and they should not suffer from this kind out behaviour. There many different kind of help that can be offered to them if needed. You should never feel ashamed to share anything. My request to parents is that please do not ignore what you child is telling you, try and work it through together as this is priority I would say. If things get worse please resolve it soon as possible before your child does something silly or before you regret it.