She Has To Go Back To School

by Keely
(Walkertown, NC)

My daughter, Kayla, is 14 years old, weighs about 220 lbs, and she has to go back to school. My mother was very obese, but no one in our home (me, my husband and my other daughter) have dealt with this problem.

She did well in elementary school. She had a wonderful counselor that helped her every step of the way. But in middle school kids started really picking on her and the counselor support was just not there like it was in elementary school.

Her grades really started to drop when she was in the 8th grade. She had to attend summer school and just BARELY squeaked by passing to high school.

This year (9th grade) has been a nightmare. She has been picked on terribly. She is timid and will not stand up for herself.

Mid year there was an incident where some of boys were calling her terrible names and throwing things at her in class. She came home and said she was not going back.

At that point, we tried to get her into a private school hoping that this school would give her a fresh start where she could make friends. She sat in the classes for a day, was interviewed and tested.

Her grades by this point were getting really bad and they could not accept her. We sat down with her principal and guidance counselor at her current school and they promised to help her and make sure that kids would be disciplined for teasing and bullying her.

Which in Kayla's eyes was making it even worse, because that made her a "snitch". They did change several of her classes.

She went back and everything seemed a small bit better until last week. She called me last Wednesday completely hysterical. Some boys were calling her really bad names and even took her book bag and wrote names on it.

They were picking on her this time because she has a hard time getting in and out of the desk because she is too big for the desk. She is refusing to return. I let her stay out of school Thursday and Friday.

I have been researching home schooling and other private schools. Her grades have hit rock bottom. Last report card she had 1 D and the rest F's.

My problems are that there are only a couple months left in school. So I really don't think another private school would take her in now (If they would even consider her because of her grades) and I have NO clue about the details of homeschooling.

I don't even know if this is something I could handle academically since I haven't opened a high school text book in 23 years.

Tomorrow is another school day and I am at a loss. I called our county's "public school alternative learning program department" on Friday, but no one called me back.

I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO! Do I throw her back out to the wolves and make her go to school (and pray she doesn't leave the campus without me knowing) or continue to keep her out of school until I figure out what to do?

Response By James Rouse:

Your daughter and your family are feeling the whole gamut of child obesity and my heart goes out to you.

There are several issues going on here. Kids can be mean and tend to pick on the weakest link and your daughters obesity is the target of the teasing.

It is a fact that overweight children are rejected by their peers more than any other handicap which raises the risk of poor body image and poor self esteem. Her obesity is also affecting her psychologically, socially, and is now causing her to go into isolation.

Your most pressing concern today is the bullying, which is affecting her education. I don't want to say "throw her back to the wolves" but school is where she belongs.

There is no excuse for the school principal, teachers, and councilors not to be more involved in your situation. There is also no excuse for any form of discrimination particularly in school.

School is a place where parents and children need to know is a safe environment one that should focus on education and socialization.

By keeping her out of school you are avoiding the situation and not solving your problem. I would suggest setting up another meeting with the principal or even talking with the superintendent of schools.

Of course if this fails you have other legal rights. You said that the school changed some of your daughters classes.

Is this their form of discipline? Who is being punished here? It seems to me that this is a feeble effort on the schools part.

Once you do get the problem solved with the school and the teasing I suggest talking with your family doctor. You said that your daughter is the only member of your immediate family that is overweight but your mother was very obese.

I can only assume that your families eating habits are healthy ones which suggests possible genetic or glandular problems such as sleep apnea.

You can also check with your local hospital for available weight loss programs such as "Way To Go Kids" and "Connect With Kids".

I would like to personally wish your daughter Kayla the best of luck and check back with me often on her progress.

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