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Entries in school (2)


Bullying: What Are the Signs?

This story first appeared on the website of ChambanaMoms.com, an important resource for families in the Champaign-Urbana area. The child who died lived just about 45 miles east of Urbana.

The tragic death by suicide this month of Ashlynn Conner, 10, hit very close to home. The Ridge Farm, Ill. fifth-grader allegedly told her mother she was being bullied at school and the family is saying that harassment from her schoolmates contributed to her death.

Photo by apdk on Flickr.Ashlynn’s parents say their daughter was the victim of schoolyard taunting from a group of girls at school, and that the relentless teasing continued even after she told her teacher about it several times.

While we cannot claim to know exactly what happened between Ashlynn, those girls and her teacher, we do know that sometimes it can be easy to miss the signs of bullying, especially when it comes to the less physical bullying that can happen between girls.

But boys, too, are often the victim of bullies, as we saw when 13-year-old Asher Brown killed himself in 2010 after constantly being teased about being gay.

The scariest part of these stories is that the deaths of these children came as a surprise. That’s why parents absolutely must be alert for signs of bullying.

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How to Be: An Open Letter to My Son

I am so pleased to welcome a new guest columnist. Amy Bordoni of St. Charles describes herself on her own blog, Don’t Stamp the Baby, as a “writer, poet, mom, honey, friend, chef, collector, helper … meanie, hard worker, sleep deprived, broke, hopeful.” She’s also an amazing writer, and I urge you to regularly check out her blog, as well as follow her on Twitter @amybordoni. Here, I’m publishing an essay Bordoni wrote to her oldest son Liam last month. I know that school has been in session nearly a month now, but I think this letter will resonate with all of us, no matter how old we are or the time of year. – Tara

Dear Liam,

First grade is just a day away. Can you believe it? Some days I feel like I was just starting my first day of school and some days I feel 100 years old. But for you this first year is huge and all encompassing. Soon, you'll be gone seven hours a day, eating your lunch at school, spending more waking time with others than you spend with your dad and me. But you're not thinking about the hugeness of this right now. You can hardly wait to go.

I once had thought of homeschooling you, and because you're such a cool kid who loves to learn, I still think of homeschooling you. But, for now at least, you couldn't be happier to be in a classroom with your best buddies and an awesome teacher - who is not your mother. I'll try not to take it personally.

However, since I am your mother, you still have to listen to me (at least a few more years) and since I can't be with you every minute of the day, I want to give you some words to remember, some rules to live by, some magic to conjure up in those moments when, as Dumbledore says to Harry Potter, you face the choice between what is right and what is easy.

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