Delaware school Lombardy Elementary hurt quite a few feelings this week, all thanks to what was either an honest mistake or an epic prank gone wrong.
According to Good Housekeeping, parents of children who attend the Brandywine School District elementary school usually receive a weekly newsletter. That’s what they were expecting a few days ago. Instead, as reported by Delaware Online, someone sent out a “hurt feelings report” to a bunch of local families.
Elementary school accidentally sends sarcastic "Hurt Feelings Report" form to "whiner" parents https://t.co/YuSJbHYOvW
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) February 18, 2016
As you can imagine, it was a bit concerning for a couple of reasons. First, there’s the thought that someone might be distributing the hurt feelings report to children whenever they complain of being bullied or harassed. Then there’s the worry that someone, an adult, at the school, doesn’t take such reports seriously, which means that children could be bullied and remaining silent for fear of being mocked.
With such speculation in the air, the backlash was inevitable.
A concerned parent told Delaware Online, “[The hurt feelings report is] completely offensive and mocks children who are bullied in schools.”
If you’ve never seen the form, this is an empty version that a “whiner” can fill out.
Apparently Lombardy Elementary School accidentally emailed out this form to parents…GOLD. pic.twitter.com/yddpduvJZ5
— Steven Spatafore (@spattyspat) February 17, 2016
The report includes questions such as, “Which ear were hurtful words spoken into?” and “Did you require a tissue for tears?” It also mentions sending out “an EMS team will be dispatched to soak your socks in coal oil to prevent ants from crawling up your legs and eating their way up your candy a**.”
Adults could certainly appreciate — or at least, roll their eyes — at this type of teasing. The biggest concern was whether or not the children at Lombardy Elementary had actually seen the forms. All reports seem to indicate that this was not the case and that no Lombardy educators were connected to the hurt feelings report or used them.
Brandywine School District spokeswoman Alexis Andrianopoulos shared that an employee, whose identity is being withheld, accidentally sent the forms to parents after having received it his or herself “from a source external to the school.”
“This was an embarrassing mistake, but it was just that – a mistake. It should not have happened, and we apologize for the error.”
While some parents were angry at Lombardy Elementary officials over the mixup, others don’t see what the big deal is. One father said, “If the children didn’t see it, what is the problem?” The man added that he thought it was a “dumb prank,” but said he didn’t “think it was malicious” in nature.
— The People's Report (@PeoplesReport) February 18, 2016
Although locals may be divided about the seriousness of the matter, there are some who feel that Brandywine School District should be taking it very seriously. Anna Mendez, executive director of the San Clemente, California-based National Association of People Against Bullying, felt that the school district could afford to step up anti-bullying measures.
To the credit of Lombardy Elementary and Brandywine School District, efforts have been made to do just that. For example, Brandywine has an anti-bullying committee and an online form (which bears no resemblance to the hurt feelings report) that allows incidents of bullying to be reported anonymously. It’s very possible that efforts to better address this pressing issue will be stepped up in light of the prank.
The good news is that over the past several years, schools across the United States have started to do more to address in school and online harassment. This is in part a direct response to the reported rise in child and teen suicides. As long as adults are working hard to protect the emotional and mental wellbeing of children, an incident like what occurred at Lombardy Elementary isn’t really of much consequence.