Last year, we enrolled our son in camp at the Finley Y for the few weeks his school’s camp was not in session. Having been members of the Y for a few years and having heard good things from other parents, we didn’t think twice. One assumes that a Y camp will be a safe environment for a child. Our only concern was what one of Milkface’s friends called “G-d Time” which was a time for Christian prayer. Given that Milkface is Jewish, his mom is Jewish and his father is agnostic, we had to have a discussion with Milkface about that. Our discussion consisted of “They’re going to pray. You’re going to be quiet and daydream.”
Milkface’s time with Finley lasted all of three days. He started on a Monday. By Thursday morning, he was in tears in the parking lot, begging me to take him home. Camp was scary and he had been bullied every single day.
After the first day of camp, I reached out to management to alert them to the issues. Management was marginally responsive but not responsive enough. The supervision was limited. The older kids antagonized the younger kids. Despite my repeated requests for additional monitoring or supervision, nothing improved. We sent an email to the director informing him of Milkface’s withdrawal from the program and requested a full refund. The only positive observation I have of the program is that the refund was issued lickety-split and with zero argument.
Dock and I wondered if we were being hasty in our decision to yank Milkface from the program after three days. We knew we had an unhappy and scared child. We knew something was very much off with the program. We also knew that abruptly pulling your child from a program would also limit his opportunity to learn how to manage bullies. Like most things parenting, there’s always going to be some way you shortchange your kid.
Today, reading the local news, I found this article. It is awful. It is not, unfortunately, remotely surprising.
I’m not one to post many mommy rants or condemnation of businesses or services unless it’s a necessity. I feel it is. The culture of bullying is still pervasive. Only now, because of one very on-the-ball and brave mom, we understand exactly how terrible and horrendous it really is. And, of course, the message needs to be shared because neither child nor parent deserves an experience like this.
There is growing concern among parents, and an ongoing police investigation, after a Raleigh mom said she saw her 6-year-old son being assaulted by two older boys at a Triangle YMCA.
Justine McGuire said she walked into the gym at the A.E. Finley YMCA last week and found her 6-year-old pinned to the ground and assaulted in the groin by two older boys.
“I got there and I found him lying on the ground and his back was next to one of the benches,” she said. “One of the boys was holding him down to the ground with his feet on his chest while the other little boy pulled his genitals out of the bottom of his gym shorts and then sat on his face.”
McGuire said her son wears a hearing aid and has epilepsy.
But she said her concern skyrocketed when she was told that one of the boys wouldn’t be punished at all, and the camp director told her not to contact police.
“The camp director basically told me, ‘I know it’s gross, but boys will be boys and horseplay is typical at this age’ and I may have been overreacting,” she said.
McGuire said she disagreed and called authorities.
A Raleigh police spokesperson said they are actively investigating the allegations of assault.
In the meantime, McGuire’s story has gained traction on social media where other parents have shared similar stories.
Tasha Bullock says her 8-year-old daughter was assaulted by another child at the same YMCA last fall. She too said the camp director discouraged her from calling police.
“A little boy lifted up her dress and tried to touch her in her private areas under her underwear,” Bullock said. “I’m telling (the camp director) I am about to call the police, and he is like, ‘Oh, police aren’t needed.'”
A YMCA spokesperson released a statement Wednesday that said, “We have been in close contact with parents, our staff and local authorities, and are fully cooperating with the investigation. The children alleged to be involved in the situation are not part of camp at this time.”
A letter was also sent home to parents, but officials declined to release any additional specific information about the incident.
YMCA code of conduct prohibits harassment of any kind.