Though I'm usually the first one to stand up and defend a touch of helicopter parenting, this latest story—about a bullied 11-year-old girl's mom accompanying her between classes—has even me scratching my head. Toronto mom Jill Trahan-Hardy decided that if Earl Haig Public School couldn't protect her daughter Harley, then she'd have to step in and assume the role of pseudo-bodyguard.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, Trahan-Hardy went through the motions of complaining to her daughter's school about bullying that was occurring in hallways, breaks and lunch. However, the only 'solutions' the school offered Harley were "eat lunch in an office or to change schools"—options which her mother felt punished her daughter.
She pulled Harley out of school, and only allowing her to return school after it agreed her mother could chaperone her during peak bullying times. “It’s ridiculous that I have to do this,” said Trahan-Hardy. “Hopefully this doesn’t have to go on for the rest of the school year, but if it does, I’ll be here.”
Indeed, ridiculous. But it's a measure the Toronto Public School District views as decidedly temporary. Spokesperson Ryan Bird was dubious that Trahan-Hardy would continue escorting her daughter for long. "If there are any concerns moving forward, the school will have a conversation with those involved," Bird said.
Many fear that Trahan-Hardy is going about the issue all wrong, sending out the signal that the school is not equipped to manage or discipline its students. If anything, accompanying Harley may only intensify bullying, providing her tormentors with more ammunition to tease and ridicule her. Clearly Trahan-Hardy hasn't read this.
Still, Trahan-Hardy stands by her decision. Obviously seeing the school fail to react adequately, the mama bear instinct kicks in. "You do what you have to do to protect your child," she said. "If I had to go further, I would’ve gone further. And I'll do anything I have to do to make sure my child's safe."
As for Harley, she admits hanging out with mom at school feels "weird" but "safe."