Parents say students are being bullied over wearing masks
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) — Every school year, parents worry about their children being bullied, teased, teased or left behind. It’s nothing new, but adding masks to the mix could lead to exactly what parents fear most.
Several concerned parents say their children have been bullied on school grounds for choosing whether or not to wear a mask. “No matter which side you choose, you’re on one side of the wrong path or the other,” parent Jason Saenz said.
Saenz has a seventh grader at Flinn Middle School in Rockford. He says his son was humiliated and mocked by several classmates for not wearing a mask.
“I couldn’t imagine being a 7th grader right now, and I wouldn’t like how hard it is either,” Saenz said. “It really breaks your heart.”
Kevin Polky of KP Counseling says it started as a response to political differences, rather than the power dynamics associated with the popularity of children.
“We have young individuals who maybe don’t even understand what’s going on, but they’re repeating what they’ve heard,” Polky said.
Belvidere Student and Student Council president Briana Anson said “mask checking” has become a huge trend. This means that students will rip masks off another student’s face if they are wearing one.
Anson was inspired to take a stand against bullying and created an anti-bullying and acts of kindness campaign for her school.
“I really want this to bring out the kindness in our world,” Anson said. “I feel like there’s not much left and people are losing hope in a way, especially with the COVID that’s been going on for two years.”
Saenz adds that parents also have a responsibility to stop this trend.
“I feel like a lot of parents don’t understand how hard it’s been for their kids,” Saenz said. “They’re not sitting around arguing with their kids saying, hey, you can be disrespectful disagreeing with someone. Don’t make them feel less about themselves.
Polky points out that this is an incredibly developmental age for children and the need for a sense of belonging is extremely important. Saenz adds to that, saying it’s already hard for kids to fit in at this age, and that mask bullying makes it even harder.
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