Taking action against bullying, resulted in bullying.
I'm a disabled mum who did something about bullying at a school in another country. We listened to our child and believed her when she told us what was happening to her at school. (We could see the evidence on her body, as well as her distraction and discomfort). The school's policy said to tell, but when she did, nothing was done about the very real physical, and relational bullying that was taking place. They actually did the worst possible thing, they said they were going to do something about it, but they did nothing, except, when we stupidly stayed on waiting until something happened that was really dramatic (threatening with an axe), they expelled not just that child but all three of our children who were in various stages at this school.
After this we found so many people in the local community that had been spat out by this school over its history, it became obvious that there was some sort of racket going on here. We started various initiatives to warn others and try and stop this happening again, which eventually led to a Human Rights settlement and press coverage etc.,
Because we did this we received a lot of information about other similar schools behaving very similarly, notably from a group calling themselves "Steiner critics" and they were very positive about our activities as they are adamant that this school system needs to be exposed.
A year and half before we got to the settlement however, my mum got sick. She had lung cancer and we had to come back to the UK to be with her as she had been given a very short time to live. While we were here a "Steiner critic" who was very active trying to prevent Steiner free-schools in the UK said she really wanted to help us as we were in such a difficult situation.
There seemed to be no end to what this person wouldn't do....she offered to help me share what we were doing in the British Press, organising for me to write on a blog that she said would be read by Michael Gove, she promoted her own local school to us, as it looked as though we would be returning to the UK, and she invited us to come and meet her and have a look at it. Following that she also invited my daughter personally to come and stay while she did a trial at the school. But that wasn't all, she offered her own son to visit with us and look after the kids, including tutoring them, while I was away with my dying mum. Her husband, who is a doctor, also asked me lots of questions about my mum and gave me (unsolicited) advice about her care.
I had not asked for any single part of what this woman, and her family, offered to me, and mine, but I was not in a position to turn down help, with three small kids away from their home, and trying to home-educate them, so we could be near my mum. But after her son changed his mind and went home quite suddenly, causing not only inconvenience but some distress to myself and my mum. as it meant changing arrangements for her care, this woman, her son and her husband, just suddenly refused to speak to us ever again.
Not only that, which was really difficult, after such a strong come-on, but whatever personal beef she had with my family after all her unsolicited offers of help, she let it spill completely into the areas we had initially met over, the educational issues that mattered to us both, and she told the "critics" some "information" that made them all turn on us. We were mobbed and villified by the very group that had championed what we were doing, both while the case was ongoing with Human Rights, and while my mother was actually dying of cancer.
They said that our encouraging others to talk about what happened to them was "victim blaming", whilst also suggesting that by standing up about it, we were putting our own children through further trauma. But they also said that our willingness to help others expose difficult situations while preserving their anonymity was bogus and meant that we were "interviewing actors" and that nothing we said should be believed.
One Swedish 'critic' is very proud to have said that she hoped we failed in our initiative and she thought the person who expelled our children did a good thing.
The things the critics have said about us are really out there. I apparently shoot myself in the foot every time I open my mouth, which "might explain" my walking impairment. If I talk about disability I'm trying to "get support", If I talk about other issues, such as FGM which is something I feel strongly about, for example, I am doing that to get attention for myself. Even the 'critic' herself, whose husband is a senior mental health lecturer at a top University, has smeared me on Twitter as being mad, while seeking space in National Newspapers on the issues.
Then a prolific skeptic, and a friend of this woman, who won a sceptical award this year, began to pick up the subject of these schools and has been doing talks around the UK entitled "What Every Parent needs to know" about Steiner schools. Even though our case has now been settled, and the school has admitted that they did expel children rather than deal with actual bullying, he still publishes that; although we say there was bullying at the school, the school says it was our own behaviour as parents that made them expel our kids. The fact that we'd had a child there for over a year quite happily is irrelevant to any of these 'evidence based' skeptics.
But as well as attacking us and our child's honesty personally, he also tweets to journalists about how nobody will take these schools on because it's too much work and deletes any mention in his blog's comment sections of what we achieved (which has never actually been achieved before as Steiner has a super-litigious reputation).
All these "skeptics" and "critics" are friends with one another and so they've all joined together in censoring and mobbing us, so that we can't tell people what we've achieved, simply because they didn't achieve it themselves. Lots of top academics, "skeptics" with a high public profile have just joined in with this gang approach totally on hearsay.
The number of posts, which all come up on google, with our names on where we are denied right of reply is still growing. Various people have trolled us for having "victim mentality"; simply for standing up for ourselves.
Our efforts to rebut these attacks and continue to highlight the bullying issues, which this group are largely dropping (presumably to avoid having to refer to our initiative), have brought out the ultimate victim blamer, a humanist who is also co-founder of another organisation.
From her first tweet to me using an anonymous account, this person was on the attack and she has created a targeting blog post in which she selectively provides 'evidence' in the form of our vigorous response to the censorship and mobbings, without showing any context, to prove that we are simply personally "harrassing" and "stalking" skeptics, whilst hiding the actual issues. My husband initially tried to comment on her post but when he tried to provide the actual facts of how the situation came about (apart from us just being ..."insert insult"...) his comment was "edited", and his commenting privileges rescinded.
This "humanist" person, who has no involvement in the educational issue, frames herself contacting people to warn them about me, as being the same as me contacting people who skeptics talk to about Steiner, to inform them about information that these people are now withholding.
Actually these things are not the same. They are doing that to hide the mess that was created by their sectarian response to the fact of an avalanche of "help" offered completely unsolicited to someone whose mum was dying, but which was suddenly withdrawn before that even happened. The information about what you can do about unchecked bullying is of direct relevance to others, and others frequently even ask for that information on blogs where we are blocked from giving it to them.
As a humanist this person has contacted people who I've tried to talk to about other issues, not connected to Steiner education in the slightest (example - my journalism), to 'warn' them about me personally. In fact, what's made this group furious is that we've stayed polite and even humorous throughout their treatment. But she's actively trying to screw up my chances of even getting paid for journalism.
The mobbing and attacks were going on actually during my mum's death which is something that will stay with me forever.
The original woman critic who made all those offers, without being asked for a single part of it, has refused to ever deal with whatever her beef was and has hidden completely from dealing with the results of her own actions.
It's really really hard not to come to the conclusion that there was something deliberate about it all, i.e. that her many completely unsolicited initiatives, came from some other motivation than to actually help due to mum's illness.
I've tried really hard to believe that she somehow just made a mistake, but in face of such overwhelming offers and enthusiastic personal admiration of me, followed by total blocking, it's just too hard for me to believe that someone who was genuinely motivated to help would allow such grotesque victim blaming to result from something she herself initiated without stepping in to prevent it, for two whole years.
Her own mental health smearing of me at the same time as being in the national press on the basis of her husband's mental health position, makes it even harder to see it any other way: personal ambition even appears to provide a motive.
These skeptics have attacked us forcefully now for two years, all while we are being actively blocked from replying. Our refusal to shut up and go away has infuriated them and they predictably frame any attempt at self-defence as "harassment" and "stalking" and try and infantilise us by saying that we should "get over it" and "grow up"
They seem to be completely unaware or uninterested in the fact that their behaviour belies their own cause of pretended concern about children in education and reveals that it is not about that at all but apparently about promoting themselves, using the subject of children's welfare to do it.
They are using the assumptions others make (ridiculously in my opinion); as they call themselves "evidence based skeptics", they actually address their own confirmation bias, to get away with this behaviour. It shows clearly how ridiculous those claims to skepticism are, when so many people simply take their "friend's" word for something with no evidence whatsoever.
They are using the assumption of skepticism to call on peoples confirmation bias to gang-victim blame us for doing what they are still telling everybody can't be done.
Unchecked bullying is the most often reported problem within this school system, which describes got-rid-of children and families as "not a good fit", which the 'critics' used to talk about plenty before someone stood up and actually did something about it. Now they are attacking that family for trying not to be victimised.
Most of the positive stuff they said about us when they first became aware of us has been deleted from blogs etc., and the person discussed above openly states that she spreads as much negative stuff around about us as possible. Now she has started deleting some of the mobbing material as well...
Having now relocated back to the UK, we attended a talk given by the touring skeptic, which was an open meeting, to try and get him to address all these issues which are clearly compromising even his own apparent wish to expose Steiner education. His response was to make a pointed and slanderous comment to the effect that if he "caught" us near his family, he would call the police.
Meanwhile, our child who suffered that bullying continues to struggle with the effects of it, but I'm proud to say that through the publicity about our initiative a parent eventually came forward (who was a pervasive rumour in the community) whose child had suffered a fractured skull years ago at the same school, which had been 'framed' as an accident but was actually an intentional assault. The child did not even tell the mum what really happened for years, which in my opinion is a disgusting and vicious fact showing how the school were happy to fragment, not just the skull of a child, but the integrity of their family as well.
Thanks to EVB for believing me, and allowing me to write this. While my contribution may be different to lots of awful examples of victim blaming on here, living with the reality of being aggressively victim blamed for doing what this group are out and about claiming to journalists can't be done is ..... I can't even describe how nasty it is.
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