04 Oct
Bully For You

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.

Signed,

Frustrated

________________________________

Dear Frustrated,

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.

Good luck!

Marinka, TMH

resource

 

16 Responses to “Bully For You”

10.04.11#1

Comment by natecammom.

Excellent advice Marinka! Document everything!!!

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10.04.11#2

Comment by hokgardner.

I’ll come out and identify myself as “frustrated.” We have our daughter keeping track of incidents when they happen and telling us about them, so that we can document them. The girl seems to do most of her mean stuff during laps in PE and in lunch line, two times when teachers are not right there. We also have one other family talking to the teachers because their daughter has been bullied, too.

We have a teachers’ conference on Monday, and I’ll be arriving loaded for bear.

Most of all, we are reassuring our daughter that we are firmly on her side in this situation and will fight to make sure school is a safe place for her.

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Plano Mom Reply:

You have already done so much for your daughter just by believing her and making sure her voice is heard. I’m hoping everything works out for the best, even for the poor girl doing the bullying. The administration is not helping her either by allowing her to continue in antisocial behavior.

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Plano Mom Reply:

And yes, I called her “poor girl.” She’s a victim too – no child is born being an ass – that is learned too.

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hokgardner Reply:

I agree. There is something going terrible going on in this girl’s life. There have been other incidents at school in the past week that make it obvious she’s troubled. I’ve talked with my daughter about how it may explain why she behaves this way, but it doesn’t justify it.

10.04.11#3

Comment by Bean.

Remember that you have legal options if the school doesn’t come through. I never want to start screaming “SUE” right off, but when people (the school) won’t do what’s right and their responsibility, I say go for it.

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Karin Reply:

even before “sue” comes into play, if the teacher and administration won’t help, you can move it up the chain to the school board. They take this kind of thing seriously especially with all the recent teen suicide/homicide stuff being in the media.

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Bean Reply:

excellent point.

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10.04.11#4

Comment by rojopaul.

I wonder if it would help to try talking to the parents of the bully. Or is that a no-no? I had a parent talk to me after softball practice that my daughter was rough housing and because she’s taller, and was lifting up the other girl around her waist, the other girl was afraid to tell her she didn’t like that. I addressed it with my daughter and told her the other girl didn’t like it when she was picked up and kept the lines of communication open with the coach and the other parent throughout the season to make sure nothing happened in the future. Not all parents are unreasonable and if the situation were reversed, I’m sure they would want to know so they could properly address the situation as well.

On the flip side, my high schooler was being harassed by a girl throwing gum at her, etc. and if the teacher won’t do anything, you have to go up the chain of command to the vice principal and principal. The public schools have a ZERO tolerance policy for bullying and often times, as others have said, the teacher is helping another student or it’s happening during less supervised times. If it’s happening in P.E., I would definitely discuss it with the P.E. teacher. If they are aware, they can keep an eye on both parties involved.

Good luck to you!

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hokgardner Reply:

My feeling is that talking to the parents would be pointless. This has been going on long enough and with enough kids that they are aware of the problem and are choosing not to address it.

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10.04.11#5

Comment by Angie Uncovered.

Bullying is so devastating for kids and you’re doing all the right things to make sure that it’s addressed. I believe the comment above regarding addressing the school board is a great idea even if the teachers do take action. It might be what the board needs to take on the issue head on.

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10.04.11#6

Comment by The Flying Chalupa.

I love the idea of contacting the other parents and inviting them to a join meeting – brilliant! And yes to the backup plan – switching classes and if necessary, schools.

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10.04.11#7

Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

I really don’t have anything to add beside that your daughter is very a very lucky girl to have you in her corner. :) You’re doing the right thing for her and you’re doing it wonderfully. Kick ass and take names. Please make sure you come back and let us know how it all turns out, ok? But I have no doubt that you’ll succeed. ((HUGS))

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10.04.11#8

Comment by erin@mommyonthespot.

This advice is awesome! Document is key! I would also talk to the school counselor, too.

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10.05.11#9

Comment by raleigh mom.

I recently read an article about the Gracy family (well known for mixed martial arts/Ju Jitsu). They held an anti bullying camp, in which they gave children ways to handle a bully when nothing else worked. Now I am certainly no proponent of fighting, and neither are they in this case. They documented one little boy who was continiously bullied by the same kid. After the camp, the boy first asked the bully to stop very firmly. When this didn’t happen, the boy used one of the “submission” moves he’d learned where he shoved the bully in the chest (catching him off gaurd and causing him to fall) and then sat on him in a way as to not hurt him but keep him from moving. Then he TOLD the bully not to do it again. The next day the bully apologized. Of course the school started the disciplinary process, but once they realized their lack in helping the boy he did not get into any trouble. Of course, this method isn’t for everyone, and would need training on the right way to do this. But sometimes, extreme circumstances call for extreme measures.

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10.06.11#10

Comment by Megan.

Go up the chain of command if this is not being addressed, and take the parents of the other kids being bullied with you. They MUST address this. Make sure they do no matter how much you have to jump up and down to get their attention.

Good luck.

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