What do we do when it is not children who are bullying, but rather a school, a workplace, a small community?

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This is what a mother who has chosen to remain anonymous asks. She tells of some very negative experiences with moving from the city to a small community in the countryside - and experiencing what she calls a total exclusion from both the village and the school from day one. She writes:

We have become good at talking about bullying in Norway. Prevention, zero tolerance, long-term effects. This is good, because bullying is an important issue, and bullying is dangerous. 

But what do we do when it is not children who are bullying, but rather a school, a workplace, a small community?

 She says that she has experienced exactly this: A school that freezes out a small child - and along with it, a family. She mentions some of these experiences:

Nobody welcomed us to the village, with the exception of a lady who snuck up to me in the shop and whispered in my ear: "Make sure you do not stand out here in the village, because then they will report you to the child welfare."

Your children have strange names, said the kindergarten - it confuses them. Your son is difficult, the school said. Everything was wrong all the time.

For us it was rather surprising with so much negativity, especially considering that I have never received a single complaint from either kindergarten or school or any other context before. However, the answer to all of this was that Ā«single mothers often struggle with taking care of the children and therefore needs extra attentionĀ».

She says that it did not get any better after sending formal complaints to the school, and in the end the only solution was to take her son out of school. This resulted in the school threatening to report her to the child welfare service - and in the end they simply had to move from the village. Fortunately, the new hometown became a much better place to be. 

But she asks in the post how it could be possible to be met in this way by the school and the local community. She writes:

I'm glad I had the resources and opportunity to remove my children from this situation, but what about all those who are disadvantaged? Should they find themselves threatened with child welfare reports on a false basis?

Should they find themselves in a situation where their children experience systematic exclusion?

 

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