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Noah Walsh There is Sunshine without Bullies
Posted on November 23 2014
I titled this story, there is Sunshine Without Bullies because I knew this campaign would go on for a very long time and I didn’t want to stigmatize my son’s name to the bully. The story you will read is unfortunately very real. My son still undergoes medical treatment for the last assault by the bully. I chose the title because on the worst of days and when my son hurt the most from his injuries he would ask that I play the song by John Denver, Sunshine on My Shoulders. My son is referred to as Gray.
My son met the bully, in his Prek4 class. They became best friends, except we found out later that the bully made fun of Gray’s speech. We didn’t really pay much attention as the teacher had told us it wasn’t serious and it didn’t seem to bother Gray. We placed Gray in speech therapy and thought the matter was resolved.
When school ended the two boys spent a little more time together and joined local camp together.
Assault One: My son was invited to the bully’s home to swim. Once at the bully’s house, I became upset as the bully was acting violently. He used his electric car to run into walls, he almost ran over his one year old brother and did run over my son. Just as I was getting up to leave the bully’s mother, called me and informed me the nanny had called her and told her she could not control the bully. The mother wanted me to take the two boys to the pool and that she would arrive at the house very soon. Against my better instinct, I took the two boys outside. The bully grabbed a red chargeable raft that needed air. He stopped the raft and got out and ran over to a bin that contained more pool toys. My son sat in the raft but the bully charged at him and took my son under water. The bully took my son by the hair and banged his head against the side of the concrete edge of the pool. My son fought back and tried to call out for me, “mommy”! But, he would get water in his mouth and lungs because the bully would shove his head deeper into the water. This happened in seconds. I was already in the water as soon as the bully lunged at my son. As I neared, the bully bit my son’s ear and his cheek. The bully ran to the house and was crying “please don’t tell.
Assault Two: Three days later, I shared with management at the local camp that both boys belonged to what had happened. The camp management agreed to separate the two boys and assured me my son was safe. My son was playing checkers with another 5 year old boy when the bully eerily snuck up on my son, tackled him and while he had him pinned to the floor he bit him on his face again. My son was stunned and horrified. The kids surrounding my son were screaming and scared. Their screams are what notified the instructor. I removed my son from the camp.
I returned home from the camp and called the Police. They made a report and informed me both events were assaults. The police instructed me to advise the school of the events so that they could plan and take the necessary precautions to prevent another assault on my son. Both children would be returning to the same school for Kindergarten. I followed their instructions and sent an email to the school and I shared the entire account above but with even more detail. I included pictures of my son’s face showing the signs of the assaults.
Below is the school’s response:
Thank you, yes I did see them. However, there is no reason to notify me of something that happened over the summer when the children were under your supervision. You did note that you communicated to the parents directly and you handled it.
Enjoy the rest of the break.
We promptly responded to this email as we were very unhappy with the school’s response. The school never contacted us again. We found out through an ex-employee of the school that our son was in another class from the bully and told he was safe. Later, after the third assault we discovered in horror that the school allowed the bully to be with my son at both P.E. and recess. Essentially, the school did nothing to protect my only son even after being warned by the police.
In addition, I sent two emails and one written letter to my son’s Kindergarten teacher. Each piece of communication told and asked the same in that my son was very upset and was vomiting before school. Contrary to his excitement from the first day of school, he no longer wanted to attend school. He was anxious, tense and cried for me to take him home rather than go into the school. I can only surmise my son was being bullied.
Assault Three: On September 5, 2014, I dropped my son off at school. It was a Friday. He was excited for that day because he and I were going to Chuck-E-Cheese after school. He had only attended this school for 17 days.
My son had recess from 11:00 am to 11:30. At some time between 11:00 and 11:30, I learned the bully belly slammed my son and he told him he didn’t like the way he smelled. My son recognized the angry face of the bully from over the summer. Gray was scared and looked for teachers and there were none in close proximity. They were huddled behind a fence drinking their coffee and talking in a group. There was one teacher on the other side of the playground hidden by the playground equipment. Gray tried to escape the bully by climbing a chain ladder that lead to a tower to play or slide from. While my son climbed that chain ladder, the bully kept grabbing at his ankles and shoes. My son had scratch marks on the back of his legs. My son kicked at the bully. He finally made it to the top and thought he would slide down the rainbow slide but there sat a friend. He begged his friend to slide so he could escape the bully but the friend said no and laughed at him. My son turned back to see where the bully was and at that point the bully was right behind him and the bully angrily shoved him. The shove was so hard that my son went sailing past the other boy in the slide. My son remembers seeing his friend in the tunnel and then nothing. My son went down the slide backwards and he landed on his neck and head.
My son lay on the playground unconscious. We don’t know for how long. It was hot that day. In Texas the temperature stays hot until October. He told the Emergency Room physicians that “he feld asleep”. There on the playground laid my only son, 5 years old, with no adult supervision to pick him up. The bully came down the slide and landed on my son’s belly. The emergency room team said most likely the force of the bully landing on my son’s belly probably caused a blow of air and he came to. My son says when he came to he was on the ground and he saw two of his friends laughing at him and the bully laughing at him. The bully then kicked him in the belly to make my son lie face up. Then the bully stepped on to my son’s belly and jumped. The bully then ran off laughing. My son laid there in agony and cried. One of the friends who had been laughing now saw that my son was truly hurt and tried to help my son up. My son found the teacher on the playground and he told her everything that had just happened. She did nothing. She didn’t find the bully and ask questions. She didn’t find the witnesses and ask questions. My son walked to the nurse’s office and told her everything that had happened. He told her his head was hurting and his stomach was hurting from being kicked and jumped on. My son asked her to call me.
I was called by the school at 1:45 p.m. and told my son has been complaining of an upset stomach all day. When I looked at my son I knew he was in trouble. He was swaying, his skin tone was gray in color and he could barely keep his eyes open. I asked my son what was wrong and he said that he had a very painful headache and that he’d been shoved down a slide by the bully. I looked at the nurse and she told me that was the first she’d heard of such and she threw up her arms in the air
On our way to his Pediatrician’s office, Gray vomited violently. The physician diagnosed a concussion and a dual ear infection with a 102 temperature. The Physician instructed us to go to the Emergency Room if his symptoms worsened. We returned home and my son’s speech started slurring. I put my son in a bath to remove the vomit and pulled him out. He screamed in pain that his legs hurt. Then they buckled. I placed my son on his bed to get fresh clothes and returned to find him unconscious. We went to Children’s Hospital Dallas Emergency Room. My son was diagnosed with a severe concussion and possible fractured or dislocated vertebrae in his neck. He was placed in a c-collar to be worn for four weeks until the swelling minimized and we could get an MRI completed.
We returned to Children’s Medical Center’s Hospital five times because my son started having numbness and tingling in his arms, legs and had lost control of his bowels. He’d started having panic attacks and then came the nightmares and night terrors. He’d wake and his whole body was wet from sweat and he’d been screaming the bully’s name and pleading for the bully to stop drowning him, not to push him down the slide or not to step on his belly.
My son was in agony with his head and his neck for weeks. On the day that my son had had enough. Enough of the pain and he'd suffered a week of just intense pain in his head, neck, shoulders. Continual vomiting from the concussion. He was dizzy all the time and walking into walls. No t.v. We were told not to let him see any light. He wore sunglasses in the house. He would just lay in a bed and sort of whimper. His demeanor changed. He wanted out of his injured body. He started asking me questions about what happens when you go to heaven. If he went to heaven the bully could no longer hurt him. He'd already told his father in the hospital that he would be better of dead. He wanted to know if any of my medications would let him go to heaven.
I put my son in the car and I drove him to Children's Medical Center's Emergency Room and told them I need to see a Psychiatrist. We waited for a good while. I was in Noah's bed curled up around him and we prayed Our Father. We listened to music and fell asleep. The psychiatric team found us like that at 3:00 a.m. They instructed me to leave the room. After their evaluation they told me he needed to be hospitalized. My son didn’t want to be in the hospital without me so the plan was to get into the Day Treatment Program.
Gray entered the Pediatric Psychiatric Center on November 3, 2014. It was a three (3) week intense program that taught my son coping skills to deal with his feelings which were outbursts and ideations of going to heaven. The program gave him tools to help him focus on something other than retaliation or hurting himself. He was introduced to Play Therapy
I’ve shared this story so that other people who might be suffering from being bullied will know other people exist who are living your nightmare. In fact, there are millions of kids who are being bullied
I’ve set up a nonprofit company called Sunshine Without Bullies so that I can help educate children, parents and anyone who will listen about bullying. Every year the Center for Disease and the stopbullying.gov site continue to state that at least 4,400 children commit bullycide. That converts to 400,400 children attempt to take their lives.
Bullying isn’t a rite of passage. It isn’t happening because kids have grown soft. Bully’s need treatment and Bullying is a real problem and everyone’s kids are at risk. Bullying kills. The way to change is openly talking about bullying. I’ve never heard of a school having a pep rally about stopping bullying. Why not? When I’ve talked about what happened to my son people have said, oh my gosh that’s too much and so personal. I believe people believe it couldn’t happen to their child and they prefer not to speak of such a horrible topic.
There is a Facebook page called Sunshine Without Bullies and soon to come will be a website.
I’ve partnered with the wonderful hospital, Children’s Medical Center that treated my son from the beginning. I also set up Sunshine Without Bullies so that I create some fund raising events to help children get the help they need when they have been traumatized. My son’s trauma is so severe we thought he had a brain injury and we had an MRI of his brain. His headaches and the vomiting had never stopped after the third assault. His concussion lasted three (3) months. We all (neurologist and pediatrician) found out that a five year old can only take so much before the body just oozes out trauma. Play Therapy has been the best thing for him. He attends play therapy on a weekly basis. I was told up front not to expect my son to ever be able to talk about the three assaults to us. We respect his privacy. Every once in a while he shares some of his darkness. I thank Children’s for their work and I want to get other children that same kind of help.
Please join us on the Facebook page and buy a bracelet if you can afford one. It’s going to make a huge difference in a child’s ability to heal.