There were lots of responses – but mine was rather long, so I posted a small answer and link to my webpage in the comments box instead and my response is …….
Mmmh – yes, it is a toughie! So how did I react?
10 years ago (yes that’s right) when my almost 12 year old attended a local ‘play centre’, she was the victim of a biting attack. I say attack – because it was!
I had started to go to the play centre (which nowadays would be called a Children’s Centre) on the advice of the health visitor, as I had pretty bad PND and getting out was obviously on the agenda.
Anyhow, it was a lovely building, lots of toys, good security, nice staff, etc. I liked the feel of the place and she played with other children, shared toys and liked being there, until …..
One day a little boy came in and he seemed to have a lot of ‘one on one’ attention from a lady who was with him (I assumed his Mum). She played alongside him for a few minutes and all seemed to be well and then … he pounced on her, pinned her to the floor and bit hard into her arm. She screamed and he continued to pin her to the floor. ‘The staff’ not the lady lifted him off and nothing more was said to him ‘or me’. My daughter was sat on the floor shocked, sobbing, looking at me as though I had let her down and allowed this to happen (a face I will never forget). After comforting her, I approached the staff and naturally I was upset and asked why nothing had been done ‘or said’. The response was that he was a child with emotional problems and that his mother could not cope with him and so he came here. I asked why nothing was said to him – the response by staff “It would upset him”. My response “What about my daughter, she IS upset, devastated, let down, what about her”. Staff response “There’s nothing we can do”. My response “I cannot bring my child into a place that accepts it’s OK for one child to bite another and nothing be done about it” And in addition, I said “What message have you just given my child – that another child CAN bite her, that they will not be punished and that I cannot protect her and you are not prepared to”.
Don’t’ get me wrong, I have worked in a nursery (in the last few years) I know you can’t physically punish children and that it’s not a good idea to let parents deal with it themselves. But I DO disagree that NOTHING can be done. What the play centre should have done is to be sympathetic to the assaulted child (my child) and to firmly tell the attacking child (in the presence of the attacked child) that this is not acceptable behaviour, as well as showing them that they have harmed and upset another child. It is also important to have the child who has caused the harm, to apologise to the assaulted child and to say that they will not do it again. Both children should also know that their parents are being informed and that if the child who attacked does this again (to any child) then they will have to sit out of an activity they enjoy.
It’s not rocket science – there are ‘2’ children involved in an incident like this ‘and’ it is upsetting to parents.
What of my daughter (and me)… I DID pull her out of the play centre sessions, did eventually recover from PND (after divorce from my not generally very supportive X) and she went on to attend a lovely nursery when I had to return to work full time – she loved it and felt safe and happy there.
In her first week of primary school (a couple of years later) – she had her head cut open from an attack from a boy (with emotional problems) and they even failed to tell me!!!! The first I heard was she told me when she came home after her Dad had picked her up from school and then later brought her home (blood still in her hair!). They hadn’t even told him when he collected her. Their response the next day “there’s nothing we can do, he’s a gentle giant really”. A month later she received a deep scratch to her forehead from the fingernails of a girl who attacked her – she still has the scar! They approached me this time, before I saw her, but a similar response from the school!
It happened on the last day of school before Christmas and just before the school play. I arranged that day that she was to move to a school who said they ‘do have bullies, but not for long’ as they ‘exclude children who bully from playtime’ and ‘praise for good behaviour and good work’. She was a happy bunny boo and I don’t regret the decision to move her. Although her first experience of primary school was obviously not a good one – her experience of knowing her Mum would not let her down and that it is not necessary to accept this kind of abuse is a strong message.
Sorry it took a long time to say all of this, but I think you see my point of how not dealing with it leads to re-occurrence and NO, you should not have to put up with ‘no response’ – would you allow your child to cause injury to another child and say nothing to them??? Furthermore, do we want to send the message to your children that it is too much trouble when they are victims of abuse – something that could stay with them for the rest of their lives!!!!
I expect there will be some resistance to my opinion – but along with the fact that my response was not just a few words long, that is why I put it on my page. Would any Mum or Dad have done this any differently, if the response from staff caring for their child was the same?