Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I can’t tell you how happy I am too see you return to your column, I’m sure I speak for many others and not just for myself.


My five daughters all attended a very large and reputable Bais Yaakov type school in our state, the only one of its kind and my eldest girl graduated this year and we were very pleased with the caliber of Yehadus/Hebrew studies as well as the great English education my girls received. The teaching staff seemed interested and involved with their students and my four eldest girls looked forward to school each day as they all had good friends and a fun social calendar of play date, sleepovers and parties. However, when our youngest started going to school, we began to notice subtle signs of trouble ahead.

Chavaleh (not her real name), had social issues which became apparent from first grade. The girls shied away from her and wouldn’t include her in their clicks, so she often sat by herself during recess and lunchtime and cried at home that the girls made fun of her. We tried to talk to her teachers, but they didn’t see that there was any problem, saying that first grade was where these youngsters formed their place in the social hierarchy of the class and that maybe Chavaleh was just a late bloomer. So we tried to coach her at home on how to fit in. Her older sisters were always there to look out for her so we didn’t see the signs until later, when she had trouble keeping up with the rest of the class. Grades two and three were a total wash-out and we were told to have her evaluated. The results were that she was very high functioning but on the spectrum of Autism and was eligible for special tutoring and programs that would help her stay in a mainstream school. With the new help, she flourished scholastically, but sank socially.

The girls in her class were merciless, taunting her daily, when she was called out of class to work with a tutor. She became the butt of ridicule when she raised her hand to answer a question and suffered greatly when girls invited the class to their birthday parties, sleepovers and play dates, except for her. Each year it got worse, the childish taunting became outright bullying. Girls would break into her locker and take or destroy her belongings, they pulled her hair and at recess they aimed balls at her on the pretence of including her in their games.

Talking to the teachers was useless as they observed nothing out of the ordinary and that we were the only ones complaining about abusive behavior towards Chavaleh. We took our complaint to the principles of both Hebrew and English departments with the same results. We were at a loss for what to do if no one cared and no one listened.

Chavaleh stopped eating. She simply gave up and didn’t care anymore. She slept badly and couldn’t get up in the morning and often missed her bus wanting nothing more than to stay home and away from her daily tormentors. And with nowhere and no one to talk to, we let her, knowing this was not the answer. She started to return to her healthier self in the peace of home and we tried to keep up with her school work at home knowing this was not the answer. So if the school would do nothing to stem this horrible bullying, we decided to call on the parents of the girls who most frequently mistreated our daughter and to implore upon them to speak to their children about ‘VeAhavta LeRayacha Kamocha.’ Sadly, the reception we got from these parents made us better understand how their daughters could be so mean and cruel. The bad behavior was initiated at home without any ramification or discipline, and the school allowed it to grow and flourish.

With heavy hearts we understood that we had to save our child from even one more day of this ‘gehenom’ and we searched until we found a school, newly opened, that catered to girls like our Chavaleh, and, come September she will begin a new experience of learning and socializing with other ex-bullied and tormented kids and hopefully she will find joy in new friendships and a love of learning from teachers who are young, vibrant and themselves victims of childhood bullying. The reason I write this now, after the fact, is because I know there are still children in that school and many other schools who are living this torment every day. The fault for this epidemic of cruel behavior stems from disinterested parents and uncaring schools and as long as this remains in place, there will always be kids who become easy targets for abusive bullying.


Dear Friend,

I’m so sorry for your child’s torment at the hands of her classmates.

I am no stranger to the mistreatment of vulnerable children at the hands of spoiled, entitled, and powerfully cruel children allowed to hold sway over an unruly classroom manned by an often burned out, disinterested teacher just looking to collect a paycheck. We are raising a generation of cretins, enjoying a classmate’s misery and picking on the meek and defenseless classmates for their own entertainment.

When I substituted in a Girls yeshiva in my neighborhood, I saw first-hand the chutzpah and azis punim traits that ran the classroom. I was appalled and disgusted when I voiced my observations to the principal that this is not the chinuch I was taught going to school, it was more like an insane asylum with the inmates in control. There was no one to teach them who was the ‘Morah’ and how they, as students, were supposed to behave. There was no ‘Derech Eretz Kodmah LeTorah!’ Needless to say, I was not asked to sub there again and I’m sure nothing has changed there either.

I am so glad you found a good school that will offer Chavaleh a sense of joy in learning and a possibility to make true and lasting friendships. May she find this haven a source of growth and a place that will erase all the hurt and misery she was made to suffer. I thank you for sharing this letter with us. It is never too late to try to right a wrong. I hope your letter will help all those who find themselves in your situation, and just as you did, become pro-active in searching for a new school for your children when the old one turns a blind eye and deaf ear to the bullying in their institution.


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