'There might be a bully hiding right around the corner'
Kody White's mother pulled him out of school in grade 4 because of ongoing bullying
Kody White is a typical ten-year-old kid.
He loves his scooter. He can tell you which houses his friends live in, and he talks a mile a minute about his favourite video games and YouTube channels. He picks his one-year-old sister up as if she were a doll, bouncing her on his knee and cooing at her, trying to make her smile.
Kody would really like to be going to Grade 5 with his buddies.
But Kody's mom pulled him out of school last year, in Grade 4, because of what the family calls relentless bullying that wasn't dealt with appropriately.
The trouble started in kindergarten, and included being pushed and shoved, called names and having things thrown at him. There was an incident where he was tied up and jumped on in the schoolyard.
"I think it's because I am small and because I have a speech disability," said Kody, who has difficulty pronouncing 'R' sounds. "When I was little, I was expecting school to be a nice school, not like walking into a WWE web cage match where everyone is outside beating each other up. No wonder I get a little scared sometimes. I'm getting choked and I'm getting kicked and I'm getting punched and I'm getting water bottles thrown at my head."
'He needs an education'
The violence was so bad, Kody's anxiety was causing physical symptoms, including night terrors, said his mom, Erin White.
"It's so upsetting. He needs an education and I'd rather he be educated where he felt safe, not terrified, like he was," she said.
White is now juggling having a one-year-old and homeschooling Kody. She's trying to get him into another Thames Valley school in Ingersoll. If that doesn't work, the family will save up to put Kody in a private school.
"He would be terrified to go to school. Every day. It was a fight, every day, and it wasn't a matter of not wanting to go. It was being terrified, and I just had enough," White said.
"It happened outside, mostly. Sometimes, I would get bullied in the hallways or in the school. The hog tied and choked incident was outside," Kody said.
"I think the bullies are probably getting bullied by other people, and that's why they're bullying other people, but some of them, I think they're just bullying to fit in with their friends."
When he was at school, Kody said he never knew what would happen.
"Sometimes it would be fine. Sometimes people would be swearing. When I walked in the doors, I was terrified because I never knew. There might be a bully hiding right around one of these corners, waiting to pop out to beat me up. In Grade 4, I was so scared, I didn't even go in the washrooms."
Kody's advice to his bullies: "Be yourself. Don't be your friends, don't fit in. I'm just saying, be yourself. Don't do things because your friends are doing things. Don't be a bully."
And his advice for other kids who are bullied?
"If you get bullied, I give you permission, all you kids, to fight back, because I know how that feels and it sucks. It's not fun."