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Have you ever considered the unspoken messages which adults in a position of power are giving to your child? Just because your child’s principal (or another authority figure) has an opinion, doesn’t mean it’s always the right one.

As a mother and a survivor of a childhood predator there is something I want to bring to the attention of all parents, caregivers and anyone who has the pleasure of interacting with a child. If a little one trusts you enough to tell you something which they consider to be a big deal, PLEASE, don’t disregard what they are telling you.

Of course, some of their scenarios might sound incredibly far fetched, but surely as adults, we are capable of investigating a situation without making a child feel as though they are being interrogated, or worse – that they aren’t being believed.

We don’t need to devalue what they are saying, feeling or experiencing in order for us to come to some sort of understanding of the situation for ourselves either!

Destructive!

When a child is vulnerable and is speaking to us completely transparently about something they’ve gone through – and then we discredit them or tell them directly that what they’ve experienced isn’t true it can be incredibly destructive!

It has the potential of shutting a child down. Of stopping them from sharing future important experiences in their lives. Forcing them to stay silent when they really should speak up for fear of not being believed again!

What’s the incentive to continue remaining transparent if the adults in their lives never listen nor take them seriously?

What The School Principal Said

“I spoke to the lady at the canteen and she informed me that your daughter had a piece of cardboard in her food, it wasn’t metal,” the school principal told me over the phone.

He was following up on an email I had sent him regarding a lunch order that my child had found a piece of metal in. And the neglectful way the situation had been dealt with. He most certainly did not like me using the word neglect!

Apparently it had to be cardboard, because if it were metal, there would have been an entirely different procedure to follow. The ordeal would have required to be properly documented in the incident book – and obviously that didn’t happen.

“Regardless of what the canteen lady now claims it was, why was the food not replaced- or at the very least taken off my child and discarded?” I asked.

Turns out that cardboard in food isn’t actually a problem whatsoever. And the principal was satisfied that the canteen lady said that a lot of the meal had already been eaten so there was no real harm in getting my daughter to finish consuming all of it. In fact, the principal would have done the same.

Just A Long String Of Excuses

Listening to these excuses made an accident seem all the more sinister! Initially, I was merely just alerting the school to the oversight so that other children didn’t have to be put through the same ordeal. But the more this man defended the situation, the worse I felt!

I drew the line when he wanted to speak to my daughter and explain to her that it was only cardboard and really she had nothing to worry about! Why didn’t the lady at the canteen do this on the spot? At no stage did she tell my daughter no to worry. In fact she told her that there were no pieces of metal like that at the canteen!

Besides, if this were truly the case, when she showed her classroom teacher the metal, why was her teacher alarmed!?

No Chance!

There was no chance in hell that I wanted my daughter to be put through this nonsense! She is almost nine years old and she knows the difference between biting into metal opposed to biting into cardboard.

I would have been able to accept the school’s pathetic excuse if they had said that the canteen lady ‘thought’ it was cardboard- but not to the extent that he was going to try to force me to believe that this was the case, even without speaking to my daughter’s classroom teacher for clarity.

We Didn’t Order Butter Cardboard

Even so, even if it were cardboard, why wasn’t the food thrown away? We didn’t order butter cardboard, we paid for butter chicken! Would either the canteen lady or the principal be satisfied if this was what they experienced at a restaurant?

Why are we even bothering to teach children excellent hand hygiene if we want to feed them contaminated lunch orders!

I Wasn’t Letting This Go!

It’s because of this utter tomfoolery that I took this matter to the Board of Education. It really didn’t have to go that far at all. However, clearly there is no set of guidelines at the school for what to do if a foreign object is found in a lunch order.

Added to this, before my daughter gets told that what she experienced wasn’t actually the truth – by a person in a huge position of power, I need someone with experience to ensure that the matter is dealt with professionally for the sake of my child.

There is a MASSIVE difference between letting a little one know that an adult ‘thought’ the foreign object was actually cardboard and attempting to make them believe that they were wrong, and what they experienced wasn’t factual.

Manipulation!

The entire ordeal is reminiscent of the way that child sex offenders attempt to manipulate a child into questioning their beliefs, altering facts and ultimately making a little one not only feel unsafe but unsure of themselves. And if I sit back and allow her to be told that what she experienced is perfectly acceptable or her recollection is inaccurate – when most adults would not want to endure such negligence, then why would she ever feel confident reporting things in the future, no matter how big or small.

Trust, no matter what age, is the foundation of most relationships. And although my trust in placing lunch orders at school has most certainly been destroyed, I don’t want my daughter to feel as though she can’t trust adults with her problems.

When dealing with such young and influential minds, it’s of the utmost importance to make them feel safe, secure and believed.

Regardless of what the foreign object was, it wasn’t food, and it most certainly should not have been in her meal. It’s the way in which we as adults handle situations like these that can either form part of a valuable learning experience or a platform for neglect. The choice is ours.

Children are far from stupid, despite their young age. In fact, I’d say they expose our own ignorance.

Have you ever had an altercation with your child’s school principal? Tell us in the comments below.

  • Bad handling of the situation. Must admit I never had problems in this regard, but then again, my children rarely had lunch from the tuck shop/canteen. Sometimes it is easy to diffuse these sort of situations if you are a member of the school P & C.

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  • Wow…a very unhelpful principal – I wonder at the conversation he had later with the canteen lady! sounds like he loves to push the blame.

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  • You’ve triggered him and this has caused a reaction of the Ego in the brain and he has gone into flight, fight or freeze mode. Don’t take it to heart, he is dealing with something that makes him react like that.

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  • I’ve never had an ‘altercation’ with a principal. I’ve had a discussion, I’ve never taken an incident to the school board either. An honest mistake isn’t neglect, a Princiapl wanting to do his or her job in explaining something to a student isn’t sinister or manipulation and I suspect he was concerned the incident could go further, he was right. People make mistakes, accidents happen. Pleased the child wasn’t injured and anyone working in a school needs a massive payrise.

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  • Thankfully I never had this problem with my son going through school. Well done on not backing down and just accepting that is the way things are.
    As in any job, mistakes can be made and when the mistake is picked up by children, unfortunately there adults who don’t want to admit to the mistakes and fix things but rather will use their adult “status” to shift the blame.
    It is up to us as parent to make sure our children don’t become victims of this behaviour.

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  • This was definitely handled poorly.

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  • This is interesting!

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  • I never had situation like this.

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  • That’s certainly not the way to handle a thing like this. The person in the canteen who first said it wasn’t what her daughter said it was needs to go back to basic training and taught the difference between metal and cardboard. Secondly she should apologise to you and your daughter for saying it wasn’t a problem. Then the principal should be rapped over the knuckles for making light of the situation and wanting to talk to your daughter to tell her she was wrong (which is so wrong). My son was being bullied at school when he was in 2nd grade. Because no one would do anything about it, his cousin stepped in and, shock – horror, the school expelled him for a week. The bully was one of the teacher’s sons. I hope your daughter knows she was not in the wrong. Hope all goes smoothly for you all now

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  • My daughter is grown now, but I’ve had a few over the years. I won’t bore you with all of them, but I will share the worst. We were living in a remote mining town in NSW. My daughter was a student at the local state primary school. She was bullied at school and was forced by the bully to give over her username and password for her school internet logon which the bully then used to logon and go to inappropriate chat sites. My daughter told me what was happening and of course I made an appointment to see the principal, with my husband in tow. We explained what had happened and who the child was that was bullying our daughter and she basically said that she couldn’t move our daughter to another class but she would work out some solution. I should explain that my husband and I were surface mine workers in the office. The father of the bully was an underground mine supervisor and that somehow made us lesser beings than him (in the eyes of the town and the school). The principals solution was to give our phone number to the father of the bully, who then called me and abused me over the phone and basically called me every kind of abusive, derogatory thing you can think of and told me there was no way is precious little angel (who was a year older and about twice the size of my daughter) could ever have done anything wrong. Well, I told him he was wrong, I had the proof and that my daughter didn’t lie to me, ever, about anything. I couldn’t believe that the principal had done this. What right did she have to give this guy the go ahead to abuse me. Clearly the apple didn’t fall far from that tree. Anyway, I contacted the areas board of education office and told my story to a very lovely woman and she said that that should never have happened. She said she would escalate an inquiry into what was happening but that in the mean time I should put my daughter into another school. Well, unfortunately the next nearest school was 160km away…not really an option. My daughter was so scared of going to school everyday that she developed ticks that she still has to this day (she is 24 now). I told my husband that he had two months to find a new job and to make sure that they were willing to move us back to the coast from whence we came as we couldn’t afford to pay $20,000 to move back ourselves, nor did I want to leave everything behind. My daughter only just survived the two months and when she finally got back to her old school (we thought that was the best thing to do) she saw a councilor for a long time. I hope that principal lost her job, that is all I can say.

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  • Fortunately not … this situation was very badly handled!

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  • I hope she does follow it up with the Board of Education because it’s ridiculous- if I had been served that in a restaurant I would have sent it back and that would have been acceptable – the restaurant would have probably not only replaced the food, but also offered me a free beverage as well!

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  • Yes, in relation to my son being bullied. When I met with her with a 5-page document of incidents that referenced all her staff involved or who knew about it, it was hard to ignore. However, she did still to ‘manage’ it!!

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  • My mum had many altercations with my teachers, I was grabbed and had brushing on my arms from her, the teacher was fired for that!

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  • Oh this is a follow up to a previous story. Really bad reaction from everyone but mum in this case. I know my kids would know the difference between cardboard and metal. I’ve had several run ins with teachers. You have to keep your eye on some

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