“I’m afraid that Tilly has been involved in an incident at school today”
These words prompted a rush of mixed emotions and two very rapid questions: was she ok? quickly followed by what has she done? all of which was accompanied by a feeling of sickness. Tilly had been bitten by another child. Now this wasn’t just a nip but was a full on sinking of teeth into flesh, through a cardigan, and drawing enough blood to create a scab that she’ll have for the next few weeks – if a dog had done it we’d be talking about putting it down, if an adult had done it to another adult we’d be talking charges of assault. But, because it was a child doing it to another child it appears to have been accepted as a natural course.
In fact I know what everyone must be thinking, Tilly must have provoked the other girl to get a reaction like this. They may have been having a little verbal ding dong (as kids aged 5 do) and Tilly was going to tell a teacher that she had just been pushed by the other child, but is this really enough to accept the reaction that Child A dished out?
Both Steve and I went to talk to the headmistress and, whilst we are generally happy with the way in which the school reacted and dealt with the situation, the one comment we have found difficult to come to terms with was the ‘We have to be careful in disciplining a child of this age. We do not want to turn school into a negative thing for her.’ What about poor Tilly who has a fear of animals biting her and who has now been bitten by a peer – will this not create a negative situation for her? Already, at the age of 5, Tilly is learning that society rapidly makes excuses and jumps onto the side of the perpetrator of the crime. All too often you hear lines of defence such as ‘She’s from a broken home’, ‘They suffer from anxiety attacks’, ‘He was beaten as a child.’ as if this alone should excuse them from whatever heinous crime they have committed.
As toddlers we have taught Tilly and Joshua what is right and wrong, what is acceptable behaviour and what deserves punishment and we have done this in a very no nonsense, black and white way. Where do the lines get blurred, when do people start to think that you can offer excuses for actions committed? It seems that it is at age 5 when they start school. Surely this isn’t right?!
This ‘incident’ happened last week and Steve and I have had more trouble coming to terms with it than Tilly (although she did want to take her teddy to school with her the next day). I have now calmed down (believe it or not) and we have moved on from the situation.
As for Tilly, yesterday she came home and told us that she sat next to Child A at lunchtime! Forgiven already it seems.