Country Living Series

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stressed out kids?

A reader named Kymber sent me a fascinating article from the UK Daily Mail on how one fifth of British children suffer from 'school phobia' but half of parents are unaware of the problem.

Here are the highlights:

• Children aged five to six and 10 to 11 most likely to suffer from the condition
• Results in children not wanting to attend school due to emotional distress
• Sufferers often fake illnesses on school mornings or suffer genuine stress
• Being bullied was the most common trigger of the phobia, claim parents

It's well-known that stress affects a child's ability to learn, so stress from whatever causes (whether it's bullying, family problems, physical appearance, school size) will impair academic advancement.

I doubt the problem is any better in the U.S. I clearly remember hating junior high school (as it was called at the time) due to the teasing and harassment I got. Things were better in high school because I became friends with the librarians and they used to let me work the counter as well as hide out in the librarian's workroom during my lunch hour. I knew I didn't have things too badly -- bullying wasn't tolerated then as it is today -- but the unpleasant memories still linger.

It's impossible to eliminate bullying or other school stresses. They're just part of the school culture. What's the solution, besides removing the child from school? I have no idea.

I just feel sorry for these poor children who must stress their childhoods away.


  1. I finished high school in 1991 and I have very few positive memories of any of my "school days", kinder through my senior year. As a senior, I made my own year book and it's pretty negative. From the elementary years, I only remember working hard every day to avoid certain people or situations. High school got better for me for the same reasons as you, I found the theater to hide in. My personality didn't help. I was shy and hated conflict, and everything so public in school made that worse. I'm homeschooling my boys because of my experience (and a myriad of other reasons). They are 12 and 11 and much more confident and healthy than I ever was. It took me another 18 years to grow up after school was out.

    1. Sounds a lot like what I went through, though the bullying did crop up for me again in the second year of high school. I graduated back in 2000, and I'm still trying to get over things that happened to me when I was 8 years old. I think its also affecting my ability to find a husband. I'm so mistrusting of myself and usually attract creeps that sense my insecurity.


  2. My younger brother and I were both bullied at school. He had a nervous breakdown in 5th grade after months of being physically ill. The bullies were threatening him with a fixed blade knife everyday which when he finally told my parents, the teacher claimed he was lying about and that he was racist (the teacher was the same minority as the accused). The knife was found in the desk of one of the named kids. It had a five inch blade. Nothing was done to these kids but fortunately their fathers were reprimanded, as was the SOP of the Army back in the 1970's.
    My dad was busy as the CSM of the base, dealing with the same issues in his troops. It was hands down the worst military assignment he ever got and what happened to my brother was not the worst thing that happened while we were there, as bad as it was. I know at one point my parents considered shipping us back to our grandparents farm and to this day I wish they had. My brother is 51 and still suffers from what happened.

    When the next assignment of Ft. Riley came up my parents left us at our grandparents and dad and mom went on a fact finding mission for a few months. Dad put in his retirement papers after 24.5 years realizing that dinosaurs like him were getting all these assignments to get rid of him...another kind of bullying. He just didn't fit into the new liberal Army.

    When I removed my son from the local 2 room school, I had parents come up to me lamenting that there weren't any nice kids left, that they sure wished we'd reconsider. I told them that my son wasn't at school to be the role model for being nice, nor was he there for the teacher to "toughen up".

    Bullying is rampant. I live in a mountain town of less than 1000 with the outward appearances of being a tightly woven community. The truth is the druggies have found our community a good place to hide out and be left alone and their kids are a mess. They bring their "mess" to school with them every day. I'm done fighting for the school and the school system in general. It's broken beyond repair and just needs to be replaced. Homeschool was our replacement. I can't describe the sorrow I feel at not having done this for all of my kids and at the same time how I feel a tremendous weight was lifted off all of us.
    Sorry this is so long.

  3. I think part of it is that the child is no longer allowed to respond to the causes of stress-when I went to school, the bully was your problem, and what happened to the bully was his-you were allowed to respond directly. The bully got away with it for a while, until someone got tired of him and jacked his jaw( "kinetic dentistry") , or in some way made him understand his place in the scheme of things. Or put green carpet dye in a spray bottle and dyed his hair(yes, this happened when I was in 6th grade). I remember there were parts of school I didn't care much for, but I don't remember it being all that stressful.

  4. Patrice - thanks for sharing your thoughts, i appreciate it. what i appreciate more though is the kind of discussion that i am sure will appear in the comments; and looking at the 2 comments above demonstrates that there will be interesting discussion here. because of blogs like yours and Enola's, i have learned that if we ever have children (our own or fostered/adopted), i will definitely go the home-schooling route. the article that i sent you sent chills down my spine, and when i think of all of the children out there who are experiencing this level of stress at school, well of course it worries me about the future. which is why i am glad that home schooling seems to be becoming more and more popular. again thanks for sharing your thoughts and i look forward to the discussion that will generate here in the comments.

    your friend,

  5. As long as we have had schools, we have had bullying in school. Long before the Department of Education, the NEA, and all that.

    As far as I can tell, homeschooling is the only answer.

    Though going back to having God and the Bible in school, and a majority of people at least having respect for it, would help. The bullying and violence have gotten much worse since we decided everything but Christianity belongs in school.

  6. LOL... I took my homeschooled girls to the library this morning (a twice-weekly event for these little bookworms!) and my 7 year old spotted a book about which she had a question. "Mom, there's a book over there called 'Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf' -- is that true??!?" I thought back to my days in junior high, thought about it a minute, and replied, "For the most part, yes, honey, it is!". (I have to admit, I'm not a fan of meatloaf!) I'm doing my best to make sure that they never have to endure that experience!!

  7. I got bullied during childhood. I had a pacifist hippie "we-don't-hit" mother who would punish me for fighting back and would make me go apologize to the bullies. My father worked a lot and didn't interfere with my mother's actions. The bullying stopped when I grew 4 inches my junior year, but it had warped me in ways like thinking I deserved to get pushed around. A stint as a prison guard made me face a lot of childhood fears and I found out that bullies are ruder, meaner, quicker with the sucker punch and quicker with the pile-on but they aren't tougher or stronger or more masculine.

    My mother has since admitted she was naive and was naive that she was naive. Nowadays there are lot more boys with "We-don't-hit!" moms than when I was a kid. The boys are diagnosed with ADD, doped up to stop acting like boys, and are marginalized in an increasingly feminized educational system. When boys can't be boys, they can't become men. And when they can't become men they do things like shoot up theatres and classrooms. We are paying the price for that right now.

  8. Bullying is simply rudeness and boorish behavior unchecked. Unfortunately some school administrators are unwilling or unable to deal with it and put a stop to it. We had to take our youngest son out of one school and into another to relieve the stress for him. It made a huge difference and he stopped being sick. We homeschooled for 14 years, then I had to go to work and we had to put the last two into public school before we had planned to. After two years we moved from Utah to Iowa and have found the schools here in our tiny little town to be great. There is still bullying, usually by boys from dysfunctional families, but the principal deals directly and forcefully with it and it stops. I've long said that education should be privatized so that the good kids don't have to put up with the kids who don't want to be there, and can get a good education. Lots of other reasons but that is a post for another day.

  9. Hello Patrice,

    I just wanted to say a couple of things and hope it won't be too lengthy. First of all, I believe the values at home play a huge part on how our children treat others, not always, but mostly. If we as adults can show compassion to others, I think so much of it will roll over onto our children. When I look around I have a really hard time seeing respect and love for others in any form. Families are broken and children are put on the back burner and many have allowed our public schools to educate them for their own personal agenda. I always taught my son who is now 37 years old, no matter what, it's always better to be kind, though it can be very tough sometimes. We need to also teach our children that there are truly children and adults out there that love to hurt others, mentally and physically and they need to question this. It shouldn't be excused. Sometimes I think children are worried for their own "self" how they would be criticized by others in their school and we need to assure them that it's those who make a stand that make a difference. I would go about it as asking them, if they were the one who was being bullied, how would they would feel towards those who were dishing it out and how would they react to it. Sometimes putting the shoe on the other foot can bring results in a positive way. Anyway, starting early with raising children, this should be a priority in the "moral" arena. Life is tough out there for everyone, but I think children are having a rough ride these days and they need reassurance that it's okay to "not" like or be part of anything like that and it's definitely right to take a stand or tell a parent what is happening and not to wait. Just my two cents.

  10. Yet another reason we will homeschool.

  11. i spent my seventh grade year in a very large highly populated jr.high just a few miles outside of chicago. 1967. i was not only tormented by my peers, but worse i was bullied and tortured by a handful of teachers. my parents tried to put a stop to it, tried to have my classes changed and tried to place me in another local school...not of which got the approval of the schoolboard in power. i suffered mightily from this year of horror. my whol family moved at the end of this schoolyear to a rural missouri area..i was lucky and had the opportunity to recover the emotional and physical stresses/scars and actually be a normal kid once again. i noticed the other day in my freshman yearbook that i wrote on the flyleaf that it was the best year of my life....chances are really good that had we stayed in the chicago area school i would not have lived to have written that down later.

  12. I had a problem with my middle son being bullied when he first started high school. My immediate solution was to take the problem to the assistant principle at his school and to enroll my son in karate lessons.The visit to the school proved fruitles and resulted in a second conference. Even then, the bullying continued, but the black eyes and bloody noses were shared with the bully. When the bullying still did not stop, I made another visit to the school. I informed the administration that the bullying would stop immediately or I would involve both the police and the media. The bullying stopped.
    In the long run, I had to convince my son to stick up for himself, and convince others that I would make them very "uncomfortable" if they did not do what they were supposed to do.
    This solution worked for me but may not be others would wish to persue.

  13. It is exactly for the reasons you posted is why I pulled my oldest out of school, and have been blessed enough to be able to hold down a job and homeschool all three of mine. Keep up the good work in spreading the word. Soon (hopefully) everything will change for the better. Goddess bless!

  14. I am so glad I was able to homeschool. I pulled my daughter out of school at the begining of grade 5, because the school wouldn't adress the bullying that was happening to her. My son never even started public school. I homeschooled him all the way through. My daughter still deals with the emotional scars of those early years.

  15. I wish I'd been home-schooled.

    Nuff said.

    Just Me

  16. And the parents of the bully have the audacity to say, "If you homeschool, your children won't know how to socialize."
    We taught our children at home so they would learn how to think and know what WE think is socially acceptable! Bullying is only one aspect of all that is wrong.

  17. The answer is easy. Send your kids to private schools or home school them yourself. The public schools are no longer about education.


  18. I was never bullied and graduated in 1964. Some kids were. I had a remark or two made to me, but nothing was ever done to me a second time. I don't know why. I don't think I had one enemy in the whole school. There were kids that I did not like and others who did not like me. Only one teacher brought me to tears. It was my senior year.

    My son was bullied in kindergarten and first grade by the teachers. Half way though the first grade, we moved and he never had another problem with a teacher or classmate for the rest of his schooling. The second, a daughter, was bullied by a child in her class who also took ballet and tap with my child. I had to talk to the dance teacher and the mother. Then,the bullying started at school. The principal did not believe me. So, he went to the room and the child "accidentally" spilled her carton of milk on him. My child had the same child spill her milk on my child EVERY day for a month. The younger, also a girl, was tormented every day in sixth grade because she was a C cup, a little girl with breasts amongst flat girls. Boys and girls alike were tormentors.

    I am the mother who goes to school and demands the school stop the problems. It works. Well, the kids with remarks about daughter's figure were harder, but it was less, still not a good solution.

  19. Surprisingly, I have to put in a good word for the boys who are good athletes. I observed several incidents (when I couldn't get to the situation fast enough) where the would-be bully was told to "Knock it off and I mean now" by a respected football or basketball player. It usually had a more lasting effect than if I had been the one intervening. There are some cases of "jocks" being the bully, but a word to the coach usually has more effect than to the parent or the principal. Most coaches want their players to be role models.
    I was a "country girl" who went to school in a small town and was bullied by the "town girls". My revenge was to be sure to do better in class than they did. In 6th grade the teacher was the bully--to every kid who lived outside of town. We were old enough to see that she was a "hick" herself and wanted approval from the people she thought were superior. Ironically, both of my parents were better educated than she and definitely more cultured.

  20. --

    Check this out:

    Reading List: Pro-Western Christianity

    There's quite an interesting debate in the comments of the above thread.


  21. My husband and I were never bullied in school. Sadly, my daughter has not had that experience. She has high functioning autism. When she was younger, the kids were nice and let her be. As she got older, several girls felt the need to point out her differences on a regular basis and humiliate her every chance they got. When we realized what was happening and the school wasn't able to stop it, we pulled my daughter out. This is our 3rd year of home schooling and she is doing great. No more melt downs, her grades have improved, etc etc. It was the best decision we ever made hands down. We are enrolled in a home-based charter school. She goes to school three times a week for speech, one on one help with math, and to meet with her teacher for tests.