Is there such a thing as child on child sexual harrassment? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 06-03-2013, 09:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is a new issue to me so tell me what you think.

 

I have a 5 year old in pre-k.  She has come home two different times from school and told me that a specific little girl has been pressuring her to show her her privates.  She also says things to my daughter about not wearing underwear, not wearing clothes to bed and wants my daughter to pretend that she is naked or not wearing underwear/clothes to bed when they play in the "house" area of creative play.  My daughter is very private and doesn't like this sort of idea/talk/play and tells the girl but the girl seems to keep pressuring her.  My husband is a teacher at the school and the last time this happened he mentioned it to my daughter's teacher.

This time the same sort of thing happened, and then at nap time the little girl kept flashing her underwear at my daughter.

 

I just don't know how to handle this, what is normal, what to tell my little girl...

 

UGH.

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#2 of 30 Old 06-03-2013, 09:56 PM
 
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That isn't sexual harrasment but I would bring it up with the teacher again and ask her how she is handling this. Kids this age are often curious about body parts in an innocent way.
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#3 of 30 Old 06-03-2013, 10:05 PM
 
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The girl just sounds curious to me, too, which is normal at that age. I would find out who the girl's parents are and tell them through any means possible so they can help their daughter understand that your girl doesnt like it. This seems like the best course of action to me.
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#4 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 07:50 AM
 
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I'll go against the grain. Because this has happened repeatedly with the other child pressuring on your DD to behavior in a sexual way, I think it is appropriate to report it to CPS. The other child may be being sexually assaulted and may be acting out what she is living at the hands of an adult.

 

Reporting may be the only way to help this other child have a safe childhood.

 

I was repeatedly sexually assaulted as a child, displayed red flags all over the place, and no one ever reported or did anything to help me, and if ANY ONE had, my life would have been very different. Therefore, I would error on the side of protecting a child rather than making adults comfortable.

 

With your own DD, I would work on clearly saying "no, I don't want to play that way. Stop asking me!" And if the other girl continues when she is using her words, then to get up and walk away and tell and adult immediately. Learning to stand up for herself and set very clear boundaries will serve her well in the long run.


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#5 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The girl just sounds curious to me, too, which is normal at that age. I would find out who the girl's parents are and tell them through any means possible so they can help their daughter understand that your girl doesnt like it. This seems like the best course of action to me.

I know her parents.  She has been over once for  play date, actually.  So what do I say, exactly?  I am not good at this sort of thing at all.

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#6 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, that sucks so much, I am sorry that happened to you and I certainly don't want that happen to any child.  And I do know this child.  Her parents are not together anymore, so there has been some stress for her.

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#7 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 08:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That isn't sexual harrasment but I would bring it up with the teacher again and ask her how she is handling this. Kids this age are often curious about body parts in an innocent way.

 

And what is the difference?  If it was an older child it would be, right?

It's just that she pressures her.  She doesn't take no for an answer.  It's happened a few times and my daughter is being targeted by this little girl.  It feels weird to me, I don't know.  I never had anything like this happen to me as a child so that's what makes it seem weird.  Do your children pressure other children almost daily to see their private parts?  Do other children do this to your children?  I need to know how normal and frequently this happens to other children. 

 

And to be clear I have to my daughter to say no and be firm and then tell a teacher if it doesn't stop and this last time she told me she did tell her very firmly.   And then when they layed down for nap time the little girl kept lifting up her skirt everytime my daughter looked at her.  And then when my daughter rolled over she would tap her or poke her to try and get her to look.

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#8 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 09:02 AM
 
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As to sexual harrassment from one child to another, at that age I would say not really. I would be inclined to think the Friend is modeling behavior that she has seen/heard/observed/experienced.

 

I'm not sure what you would say to the parent, but what you are reporting is all kinds of red flags to me. You could call CPS/DFC or whatever they are called in your state and ask , without actually doing any reporting, I think. 

 

If you do talk to the parent, and try to be as non-confrontational as possible, but what you'd say, I don't know... 


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#9 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 09:07 AM
 
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I think it's normal for kids to be curious and such but his doesn't sound right to me. It could be a red flag that something is going on in this child's life. What is your gut feeling about it?

A long time ago, I met a little girl that was constantly touching herself. It seems so normal but for some reason it raised a red flag for me and I said something to her uncle. Turns out her dad was wanted in another state for child molestation!!! CPS became involved in their lives but I don't know what happened, unfortunately. I was very young at the time myself. Listen to your gut.

What a difficult situation. I would talk to her teacher and see what she says. You could talk to her mother and begin by saying, "I don't know how to say this and please know that I'm not trying to offend you, but..."

If nothing is done then I would speak with the principal. When I was a social worker we were under obligation to call CPS if we suspected anything. I imagine teachers have the same instructions and better them to call them than you.

And I might just tell your daughter to say no and go immediately to tell the teacher so that the teacher becomes aware of the recurrent nature of it.

Good luck!

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#10 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think it's normal for kids to be curious and such but his doesn't sound right to me. It could be a red flag that something is going on in this child's life. What is your gut feeling about it?
My gut feeling is that something is wrong, it makes me uncomfortable that there is such a persistence, that this little girl doesn't seem to take no for an answer, that is off to me.
A long time ago, I met a little girl that was constantly touching herself. It seems so normal but for some reason it raised a red flag for me and I said something to her uncle. Turns out her dad was wanted in another state for child molestation!!! CPS became involved in their lives but I don't know what happened, unfortunately. I was very young at the time myself. Listen to your gut.

What a difficult situation. I would talk to her teacher and see what she says. You could talk to her mother and begin by saying, "I don't know how to say this and please know that I'm not trying to offend you, but..."

If nothing is done then I would speak with the principal. When I was a social worker we were under obligation to call CPS if we suspected anything. I imagine teachers have the same instructions and better them to call them than you.
I asked my husband to speak to her teacher at work today.  I think you are right, if it keeps happening I am going to say something to the principal.
And I might just tell your daughter to say no and go immediately to tell the teacher so that the teacher becomes aware of the recurrent nature of it.

Good luck!
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#11 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 09:45 AM
 
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The difference is intent and age IMO. If it was your child doing the same thing I really doubt you would feel it is harassment. It does need to be addressed by the teacher and parents if it continues, but sexual harassment and five year old curiosity are very different and deserve different reactions.
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#12 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 09:51 AM
 
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Yes it is definetly possible that something worse could be happening .  I would call CPS .  Make a report of it . Even tho things may not happen right away at least there will be a record of things as a older grader scholer kid was doing stuff with young kids in our area . We later found out almost an year later it was the babysitter who had issues .

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#13 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 10:56 AM
 
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I don't think I'd call it harassment, because that to me signifies an intent other than is probably going on here, but it is sexual acting out and to a level where it is a red flag. I think talking to the school is a good idea.
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#14 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 11:54 AM
 
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Children bully, and harassment is bullying. So, "yes", children can harass. And in this case the harassment is clearly sexual.

Is a young child as responsible as an older child for being a bully? No. The level of responsibility for the behavior increases with age.

No matter what you call it, as her parent you are responsible for protecting her and modeling appropriate behavior for to follow (if she chooses) as an adult. So, if the situation was one where a coworker is making her uncomfortable, what would you want her to do? Put up with the behavior? Take action? If you would want her to take action, what action? Report it? Find a different employer? Whatever it is that you would want her to do (or you would choose, or want to choose, yourself), that is what you should do for your daughter now.

Don't worry that some are reluctant to indentify harassment. That's a common problem.

I, like other posters, am also worried about the girl doing the harassing. It seems that she may be repeating actions that she is subjected to elsewhere, possibly at home. In addition to protecting your own child, I think you should take action that helps the other little girl. If the school doesn't take action, you probably should report it. I hesitate to suggest that, as being reported is horrible for a mom. But someone needs to find out if that girl is being abused.
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#15 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, Pek, I think we are on the same page.  I hate it when life gets hairy like this.  I am worried that I am going to do the wrong thing.  I don't want to scar my little girl, but I do want to empower her, I am not great at subtlety and I would love suggestions of what to say to my little girl.

 

And I want to mention that I do think I would still consider it to be harassment if it was my daughter doing it.  I think I would be very concerned.

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#16 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 12:30 PM
 
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I hate it when life gets hairy, too.

Ok. What to do for your daughter. Options that I can think of are : 1) pull her out of school (like quitting a job); 2) report it to authorities in the school and insist they do something (like reporting it to human resources); 3) switch schools (like switching jobs); 4) give her a script to say when the girl does the harassing, possibly including telling the teacher. That's all I can think of right now. I tend to react in situations like these, not plan in advance what I'm going to do. It would depend on how much longer she would be in pre-K, I think, as to what I would do for my daughter. If the situation is about to change, I would just make that change happen sooner. So if she's going to be home for the summer soon, I'd probably just pull her out now. I don't know enough about your situation to really suggest a plan.

About the other girl. I'd do what I was going to do for my daughter, then take steps to help the other child, unless I was unexpectedly in a situation where I could say something to someone who is able to help the girl. If that happened, I would speak up, even if I hadn't completed my action for my daughter.

I hope this helps a little. It's a tricky and sticky situation. I feel for you. Let us know how things turn out. I'm rooting for you!


Edited to add : I just read through this and it sounds blah. I was thinking while typing, so it's rambling musings, mostly. Sorry about that! I dislike changing what might have already been read by someone, so I'm leaving it and hoping there's something useful in there. Wishing you well!
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#17 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 12:50 PM
 
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And I want to mention that I do think I would still consider it to be harassment if it was my daughter doing it.  I think I would be very concerned.

 

I would be very concerned if my child were acting like this, too.

 

One of the reasons that I think the right thing for you to do is to contact CPS is because the school cannot tell you whether or not they do. That is private information that they can't give another parent. The line between children play acting and the children acting out is obviously very blurred, and no one at the school can tell you which side they feel this situation falls on. Therefore, to ensure that CPS is called, I would call them myself. 

 

If they have already reported, then all the better. The file is stronger with multiple people noticing red flags.

 

Second, have you spoken to your child's teacher? I think you need to ASAP so that she can better watch the other child, move the children around, etc. The situation you describe is beyond what your child should have to navigate by herself, and its time she have some support at school.

 

I would also request that the girls not be placed in the same class next year.


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#18 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 01:37 PM
 
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I would be very concerned if my child were acting like this, too.

 

One of the reasons that I think the right thing for you to do is to contact CPS is because the school cannot tell you whether or not they do. That is private information that they can't give another parent. The line between children play acting and the children acting out is obviously very blurred, and no one at the school can tell you which side they feel this situation falls on. Therefore, to ensure that CPS is called, I would call them myself. 

 

If they have already reported, then all the better. The file is stronger with multiple people noticing red flags.

 

yeahthat.gif  CPS is a big deal, I get that. hug2.gif But cost/benefit analysis - CPS gets involved, they find nothing, even if other mom suspects you called and you lose a friendship, this isn't the end of the world (the child is showing genuinely disturbing behavior).  On the other hand, if you see these red flags, and just trust the school to do something so you don't have to - well, it could possibly ruin a child's life.  To me, it's worth the social risk to save a kid.

 

The red flags you are noticing are significant.  At minimum, this child is being exposed to alot of adult behavior/media/conversations that are damaging.  Trust your gut.  thumb.gif I know it feels yucky, like you are personally judge and jury, indicting someone you know, but that's not on you.  All you do is report what is going on, simple facts, and CPS will figure out the rest.  Like others have said, even if nothing comes of it immediately, it's good to have a record.

 

 


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#19 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 01:45 PM
 
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I have a question. If the OP calls CPS will they keep who reported it confidential?

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#20 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 02:33 PM
 
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I'm changing my opinion to harassment now that i have read how extreme it is, i didnt realize it was happening almost daily. That is really bad and makes it obvious that she is acting out. She is looking for attention in a sexually-based way, which sounds to me like this means she was receiving sexual attention and now its either stopped or she is seeking a new outlet. It might be possible that she was being molested by her dad and now that he's not living there anymore has stopped or greatly diminished. What i know for certain is that this goes way beyond normal curiousity and simple acting out--she has learned these behaviors which is why they are pinpointed and obsessed over. I would call CPS and give a report, this could be the help this little girl needs.
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#21 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 07:01 PM
 
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Another vote for calling the CPS hotline. It may have been her dad, a new date of her mom's, someone else, or no one. Regardless, her behavior is damaging to YOUR child, and while it's up to you to teach her how to handle herself in situations like this (and there will be more as she grows up), that doesn't mean the other girl should be allowed to continue and not receive whatever help she needs too.

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#22 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you both. 

I have had my husband, who is a teacher at the school, talk to her teacher twice now.  She has moved them apart at nap time permanently, I hope.  I will talk to her myself, I think, just to have the chance, when I go in to talk to the principle and also, I'm thinking, the counselor.  I am hoping she can help me decide about calling cps?  I need to talk to my husband, that is just so friggin stressful to make a decision about!

I think I will request that they not be in the same class, next year, too.

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#23 of 30 Old 06-04-2013, 07:55 PM
 
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Thats a great idea to talk to the counselor and principal, they will probably both have good advice and do what they can to remedy the situation. Children being harassed shouldnt be taken lightly, it can be detrimental to their health. When i was 10 this boy kept harassing me, he would follow me around, stare at me all the time, say lewd things when he was near me, it was really horrible. It was the first time i experienced insomnia and anxiety. No one took it that seriously, i think they just saw it as kids being kids. Its wonderful that you're ensuring your daughter's mental well-being, you are an awesome mom smile.gif
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#24 of 30 Old 06-05-2013, 08:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thats a great idea to talk to the counselor and principal, they will probably both have good advice and do what they can to remedy the situation. Children being harassed shouldnt be taken lightly, it can be detrimental to their health. When i was 10 this boy kept harassing me, he would follow me around, stare at me all the time, say lewd things when he was near me, it was really horrible. It was the first time i experienced insomnia and anxiety. No one took it that seriously, i think they just saw it as kids being kids. Its wonderful that you're ensuring your daughter's mental well-being, you are an awesome mom smile.gif

Thanks for saying that, I don't feel like a great mom, I feel so confused!

My dd did have a stomach ache the other night after talking about it, so that totally makes me feel awful, she is actually stressed out about this.  And she is naturally such a modest person, so I know this comes out of left field to her.

 

As I have been thinking about this thread it reminded me of something that happened prior to all of this.  This little girl has only been to our house one time for a playdate.  The time she did come over was the day after a huge rain storm and there was a lot of flooding in our neighborhood so I let the girls go splash around in the big pond sized puddles.  Obviously they got pretty soaked and when we got back to the house I gave them each a stack of clothes and told them to change.  When they emerged the little girl said to my daughter, "Today was the best day ever, because I got to see you naked."  At the time I thought it was quirky. 

Now I think it's just another link to this odd behavior.

I hate that it's all so confusing to my little girl because this is someone she likes and is friends with.

The first time it happened at school my dd told me she thought about showing the girl her privates because she felt bad that the girl kept asking over and over, like she must really want to see them.  And another time she said the girl told her to look down her own skirt at her own privates and my daughter said she did because she didn't think that was a big deal and maybe it would make the girl happy and she would leave her alone about it. 

She is so young, she doesn't know how to handle liking someone who is mistreating her, y'know!?

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#25 of 30 Old 06-05-2013, 09:46 AM
 
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I have a question. If the OP calls CPS will they keep who reported it confidential?

 

 

yes -- the OP also has the option to stay anonymous when making the call.

 

The more that is said about this other child's behavior, the more I think that calling CPS is a good idea. You don't need the school's permission

 

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 I know it feels yucky, like you are personally judge and jury, indicting someone you know, but that's not on you.

 

You aren't being judge or jury. You don't even know who might be responsible for this, so how could you be?  You are just setting wheels in motion so that *if* CPS feels an investigation is warranted, that someone with training in talking to kids about these things will talk to this little girl and try to figure out if she is safe or not. That's all. You aren't accusing anyone of anything.
 

If someone is molesting this child, and if there is proof, then eventually that person might be indicted, and might go before a judge. may be. hopefully.

 

All you are doing (should you decide to make the call to CPS) is letting the system know that a very small child might not be safe. 

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#26 of 30 Old 06-05-2013, 09:16 PM
 
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Thank you, Linda - you explained that far better than I could! thumbsup.gif

 

I hear alot of handwringing and hesitation in your posts, OP - I just wanted you to know, I believe you can do this. nod.gif  There's really nothing to lose.  Reporting all of these instances to us (ultimately) won't help. Reporting it to the teachers may or may not help - they might never call, and if they do, you have no idea what they said or left out or forgot to mention.  You are the closest person to the situation, via your daughter and your own observations at your home (which the school can't speak to).  

 

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#27 of 30 Old 06-06-2013, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for saying that.  Because of my past I have a low confidence in certain situations and it helps to have that reflected back, because ultimately I can handle this. 

Today I went and sat down with her teacher and that went well.  I am awaiting a call from the principal and the counselor and my daughter had a sit down emergency conference with the girls parents, my husband told me.

I spoke with my mom and she had some good advice as well.

I feel better equipped.

I am planning to call Cps after speaking with the counselor.

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#28 of 30 Old 06-06-2013, 08:47 PM
 
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Thank you for being willing to take the steps to care for both your daughter and this child at her school.  I see major red flags in this repeated behavior - it goes way beyond normal childhood explorations.

 

So many people hesitate to call CPS, but I know of horrendously unhealthy situations that had to have many many many reports before CPS did anything.  It's not like one call will automatically have an investigator showing up to assess the situation.  Your daughter's class mate will be lucky if there is an investigation due to one or 3 call/s.  Once CPS does start an investigation, that's all it is - an investigation.  There are no assumptions.  CPS may put the family in touch with resources so this child can get support in working through whatever she is trying to express by her behavior.

 

FYI - if your husband is a teacher at a public school or pre-K school, I believe he is a mandated reporter.  Meaning:  if he is aware of signs of abuse he is legally obligated to report this to CPS.  Your daughter's teacher and principal would also be mandated reporters.

 

As to what you might say to your DD?  

I hear that this makes you feel uncomfortable.  That feeling is a message and it is important to listen to.  Your body is your own and it is your choice to share it only if you want to.  It is ALWAYS okay to say no when someone asks you to take your clothes off or wants to touch you.  Even if they are your best friend.  Just say no, and then tell your teacher and mommy or daddy.  I had a talk with your teacher and she said you can come to her any time and tell her when you feel uncomfortable.  (for children who are shy about verbalizing things, work out a signal that your daughter can do with her hands to tell the teacher instead of talking, and have her teacher communicate the same message - that she can approach the teacher any time)  Your friend is not a bad person but it is not okay to keep asking you to (insert appropriate action here).  You need to feel safe a comfortable at school and we are all here to help you with that.

 

Anyway, hope that helps.  I am heartened that there are concerned and observant people like you in this world!

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#29 of 30 Old 06-07-2013, 06:10 AM
 
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Thank you for saying that.  Because of my past I have a low confidence in certain situations and it helps to have that reflected back, because ultimately I can handle this. 
Today I went and sat down with her teacher and that went well.  I am awaiting a call from the principal and the counselor and my daughter had a sit down emergency conference with the girls parents, my husband told me.
I spoke with my mom and she had some good advice as well.
I feel better equipped.
I am planning to call Cps after speaking with the counselor.

Your daughter had a meeting with the girl's parents? Was your husband there, at least? That would not sit well with me if she was alone. Or even with a school rep.

I hope things improve for you, quickly!
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#30 of 30 Old 06-10-2013, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Your daughter had a meeting with the girl's parents? Was your husband there, at least? That would not sit well with me if she was alone. Or even with a school rep.

I hope things improve for you, quickly!

Oh!  No, I typed that very wrong!  Her teacher had the sit down, sorry, no way!

I didn't even want my dd to have a sit down with the counselor with me there after seeing how much talking about this is stressing her out.  But I kept her home from school on Friday which was really nice, we just hung out, played together and stuff.  It breaks my heart because she had started to move into mentally trying to figure out why this happened to her/make it her fault somehow.  She was starting to come to me with things that had happened at school that were no big deal and ask me if they were bad or not.  So during our time together Friday I casually told her that she didn't have to try to find a reason that this happened, that it was over, the grown ups were going to take care of it and she was going to be ok to move on, to stop stressing out.  And it seemed to really strike her in a positive way.

Today I went to school with her this morning and it turns out the little girl wasn't going to be there so I didn't stay, but tomorrow I plan to stay all day and maybe Wednesday too.

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