Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I wish I had a funny question, but I don’t. It became clear this week that there is a bully in my daughter’s 5th grade class, and my daughter is one of her targets. We’ve talked to her about standing up for herself and letting the teachers know what is happening. But she still wants to drop out and be homeschooled – she used to love school more than anything.
I’ve talked to the teachers, and they aren’t convinced that anything is going on. Apparently there were problems with this same girl last year, and they think my daughter is just remembering things from a while ago. But I’m not buying. My daughter never mentioned this girl last year even though they were in the same class, but after only 3 weeks of school this year, she’s sobbing hysterically. Any suggestions on how to help my daughter deal with this girl and to help me deal with her teachers in a way that doesn’t involve punching them.
You’re right, there is nothing funny about bullying. Nor is there anything even mildly amusing about adults who deny that bullying is taking place in their school even when it is brought to their attention by concerned parents.
Even though it seems like we’ve all read so much about bullying in the past few years that we’re on our way to getting a doctorate in the subject, we still struggle as to deal with it. Especially when it comes to our own children.
You are going to need to do everything in your power to get the teachers to become aware of the problem. Often the bullying occurs “under the radar” — during lunch or other poorly supervised activities. This means one thing: The teachers need to lower their radar and be aware what is happening. You can help by asking your daughter for specific examples of what kind of bullying she has experienced. How frequent is it? Does it occur during a specific activity?
You mention that your daughter is one of the bully’s targets– ask her who the others are. Contact the parents of those children and invite them to attend a joint meeting with the teachers. Ask for the school counselor to attend and the principal, as well. Document what your daughter told you and what the other children told their parents. Take notes about who says what in an intimidating three subject-thick notebook. Ask for specific ways in which the school is going to handle this situation going forward. And make a plan.
Don’t worry about the teachers not liking you or thinking that you are a pain. There are times for parents to take a step back and let school administrators do their thing. This isn’t one of them.