Day 85: Struggling with bullying in school

Shael told his mother he never wanted to go to back to junior high school again.

He hadn’t had many friends before, and now it seemed, he had fewer. He was painfully shy and significantly shorter than most boys his age and he quickly became the target of his new school’s worst bullies.Bullying

Shael was walking home after school when a group of kids from his grade approached. They yelled insults at him and taunted him, but instead of ignoring them and walking faster, Shael mustered up his courage and stood up for himself – fighting back verbally as best he could. That’s when Shael was beaten up by three boys and left alone, trying to limp home. One of his teachers happened to be driving by, and took Shael immediately to the closest emergency room.

Shael wouldn’t name the kids who attacked him, nor did he have much to say about anything from that point on. He stayed home from school for a week and then stopped going altogether – preferring to walk around the mall all day instead.

After a few weeks of truancy, Shael’s mother met with his vice-principal who suggested that he might benefit from Jewish Family & Child’s  Jerome D. Diamond Adolescent Centre (JDD). The JDD is a youth mental health centre that provides services to youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who are experiencing psychological, behavioural and/or academic challenges. The vice principal told them the centre would help Shael develop emotional, social and behavioural skills with the goal of re-integration into his public school.

Shael was both terrified and thrilled. In addition to small classroom instruction, he received individual and family counselling. He slowly came out of his shell when he realized that he was in a safe place and that he wouldn’t be tormented. 

He stayed at JDD for two years, and at his end-of-year awards ceremony, Shael thanked JF&CS for helping him become the student and the person that he always hoped he could be.

That September, Shael started high school with two of his JDD friends. With his newfound confidence, he immediately joined a few clubs and made several new friends quickly.

When Shael graduated, he was Vice-President of his student council and was one of the most well-liked students in the school. He was accepted into all three universities to which he applied. He credits the JDD for his academic and social success. 

Through annual allocations to Jewish Family & Child, UJA, through your gift, is able to impact the lives of thousands of youths in the GTA.

*The names and details of those in this story have been altered to ensure anonymity.

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