HELP! my 11 year old is being bullied! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 02-11-2009, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a gret 11 year old son who is A-student, good looking and not that bad in sport. Over the years he was just 'sensitive', but now in 6 grade he is literally crying on my sholder saying that everybody makes fun of him, that he hates his life etc etc. What should I do? I have no idea where to start and what to say to him. A top of it I went to school in different country and I have no idea what middle school is like in US. Any suggestions will be helpful.
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#2 of 21 Old 02-11-2009, 06:41 PM
 
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I'm really sorry this is happenning. Have you spoken to the school? His teachers? Is there a specific person who is making his life difficult? If there is it may be easier to address. There are probably some books for teenage/preteen boys that address adolescent issues and include bullying issues and work on increasing self esteem. My dd has one for girls. You may want him to see the school counselor if there is one and/or a private counselor. I would also continue to remind him of all his wonderful qualities that you admire. You may also want to encourage him to spend time with friends that he likes or be involved with some activities that he may enjoy like Odessey of the Mind. As a last resort, you may want to consider changing his school.
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#3 of 21 Old 02-11-2009, 10:42 PM
 
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Junior High in the US is brutal -as a rule- so switching unless it's to a much smaller school may not help. Kids seem to be just looking for stuff to pick at at this age and the only thing that makes it better is learning to handle it better. Not fair or right but making a stink at the school could make it much worse unless it's one or two kids who are acting way outside the norm.
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#4 of 21 Old 02-12-2009, 02:59 AM
 
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Bulling in school is a serious problem. My twelve year old nephew has been dealing with this issue for a long time. Things came to a head yesterday when one boy punched him in the eye, in his classroom and broke his eye socket. ( I don't recall the proper name of this bone)

You need to deal with the principal at his school ASAP. The school must have a zero tolerance policy in place. Look up your school districts code of conduct and what is written. Take it to the superintendent of the school if you need to. DO NOT DO NOTHING. He has come to you and it is your job to do everything in your power to make this stop.

I don't want to sound like an alarmist but there have been incidents here where I live of more then one middle school age child killing themselves over bulling. This is a real problem and your son needs to know you will not allow it to continue. Don't listen to people who say it is normal and all kids do it.

What happened to my nephew is so completely not acceptable, illegal and should never ever be tolerated.

Look for ways you can help your son be more proactive in standing up for himself. There are organizations that deal with this, one I know of is called LOVE Leave out violence, which is a peer to peer support and education group.

Do not stop until you are sure that some action has been taken in your sons school and help him to understand what happens in school is a very very small part of his life. Encourage him to be involved in ways that will help boost his self esteem, can he mentor a younger child? Volunteer together with him somewhere? Help him to take his power back and not buy into the culture of peers as the the ones to define who he is.

I am so sorry you and you son are dealing with this

There's nothing you can know that isn't known. ~ John Lennon
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#5 of 21 Old 02-12-2009, 10:38 AM
 
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From a less dramatic pov... Yes, MS can be tough. But it doesn't have to be. There are lots of activities for kids to get involved in with other like-minded kids.

What - specifically - is he having a problem with? What are they making fun of? Is it something fixable?

I have two.... unusual (*) kids. One is a Jr and the other a frosh in HS (different schools). The problems have really been minimal. A bit of teasing for one, one mean girl incident for the other. And that's through their entire PS experience.

(*) The older is just unique. Wednesdays, he wears a shirt advertising "Free Hugs" and gives them to one and all. He figures that people either like him or they don't - not his problem. The younger is cocky as all get-out. She's good and she knows it. And won't be afraid to tell anyone just how good she is. Doesn't win many friends, to be honest. But she, too, figures they can take her or leave her.

Both are also very sensitive kids otherwise.
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#6 of 21 Old 02-12-2009, 11:05 AM
 
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MS can be tough.

There is a thread on in Schooling at Home forum (as we speak) that asks parents if they had to send children to school for four years - which four would it be? And there was a chorus of "anything but middle school!"

http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1040381

To be honest, I would pull him from school. but I am quite pro HSing, and I hate bullying.

If you cannot pull him (even if you can) I would make sure he has opportunities outside of school for social interaction, and a place where he can shine. School should not be the only place he learns about the world and himself. Martial arts, drama group - whatever catches his fancy.

As for whether to go all mama bear or not is a tough decision. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. There is a thread around here somewhere on that very topic - I will see what I can do to locate it.

Edited to add: just spent about 10 minutes searching the database and cannot find what I was looking for. Basically the thread was about whether people were sucessfull in talking to the school about bullying. If memory serves.....about 1/3 thought parental intervention helped the situation, 1/3 thought it was ineffectual, and 1/3 thought it made the situation worse.

Kathy
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#7 of 21 Old 02-12-2009, 02:13 PM
 
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Respectfully to the pp, I do not believe you need to take a "less dramatic" approach.

Your son has come to you for help and you need to find a way to HELP him.

I think you need to find a pro active way to get involved and make this stop.
When the light is shone on bullies then they lose their power. It is not acceptable for your son to be made to feel this way.

I am a homeschooling mother so I am biased, but I would never accept this as just one of those things. Your son deserves to be happy and if he is forced to spend 30 or more hours a week in a place that makes him so unhappy why would you ever stop until you are sure you have done everything you can to try and help him.

There's nothing you can know that isn't known. ~ John Lennon
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#8 of 21 Old 02-12-2009, 02:59 PM
 
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Ah...but has he come looking for help or for a shoulder to cry on???? They are different things.

I would talk to Ds and see what he wants.

There are so many variables when dealing with bullying.

I have been in this situation - and I did go all mama bear on the school. It did not work, and I think by the time I pulled Ds from school they had me pegged as a nitpicky parent (nothing like focusing on someone else to make you abdicate your own resposibility). None the less - I would do it again. Even though it did not work - I sent a message to Ds that this behaviour was not Ok and I was going to go to bat for him.

I did run the risk of making the situation worse by speaking out, and also creating a situation where DS did not want to talk to me for fear I would go to the school (he was really undecided on whether he wanted me to talk to the school).

I often read advice on MDC for parents to be very mama-bearish in response to bullying. I do not think this is bad advice - and I think it is often appropriate. But I have also read numerous stories where parents did intervene and it changed very little. We cannot rely solely on mambearness to solve a bullying situation.

I think, no matter how the parent responds to the situation (either talking to the school, or not) parents must talk to their children and let them know the bullying is not OK.

They must actively seek to change the bullying situation - either by removing the child from the situation, giving them tools to cope or stop the bully (and carefully monitorring the situation - bullying is often hidden from parents) and helping them to gain positive social outlets/build self-esteem outside of school.

Hugs to all parents and children dealing with this - there are no easy answers.

Kathy
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#9 of 21 Old 02-12-2009, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all suggestion, please keep them coming.
Our middle school is the only one in a district and the only way to change school is to send him to private school. I do not think that homeschooling is an option for us since I do not think that we will be able to do it. I do not want this dicussion being about homeschooling vs sending kids to school. DH's immediate responce to the situation is to change schools (we have a good school for gifted kids not to far from our house). However, atop of 25K a year for this school, this private school is only till 8th grade and in 2 years he will end up in a same high school with the kids he is now. Also, I do not think at this point that changing school is a good solution since life is full of problem down the road and I think changing environment is always possible. I might change my mind once I know more. Grantly, our middle school is in top 10 for the state rating based on tests. To complicate the situation, our school is very small. Only 2 6-grade classes, 22 student in each. To complicate matter even more, this particular year was 'short on boys', out of 44 student, only 13 are boys and the rest of them are girls. Kids do not have too much choice in picking the friends. I did go to school and talked to the principal, I am not sure where will it go from here. DS does not want me to do anything 'publicly', he wants to do it 'anonimously'. Any good books that he can read about the topic? Despite the fact that ds is talking to me, he is not talking about specifics, he is talking more in general.
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#10 of 21 Old 02-12-2009, 11:35 PM
 
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What does your son want?
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#11 of 21 Old 02-12-2009, 11:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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he wants it (bulling) going away! but he wants that happen so that the kids would not know that he talked to parents or school official.
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#12 of 21 Old 02-15-2009, 06:09 PM
 
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Again - what is the teasing/bullying about? Some things are more easily fixable than others.
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#13 of 21 Old 02-17-2009, 12:25 AM
 
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Any good books that he can read about the topic? Despite the fact that ds is talking to me, he is not talking about specifics, he is talking more in general.
A lot of times on threads about bullying, I see people quote "The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander" or something similar. I don't know anything about this book, I haven't read it, and I don't know if it would be for the parent or the kid. (Thankfully we haven't had any bullying to work through yet, but we're about to enter middle school so we'll see). But I've seen the book title many times on MDC, so I have filed the book title away so that I can get if necessary. Many many times.

Hope that can be helpful.
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#14 of 21 Old 02-17-2009, 05:55 PM
 
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Also, I do not think at this point that changing school is a good solution since life is full of problem down the road and I think changing environment is always possible.
While I do agree that life is full of challenges and learning to work them out, I have to question how much "real life" does a 6th grader need to be experiencing?

I don't remember how, but I stumbled across a very frightening phenomenon I had never heard about before: "Bullicide"

I was bullied so much growing up. The scars are deep. I often say I wish I would have been physically beaten up rather than teased with such cruel words.

I have no idea how to handle this. There is such a fine line between "helping" and making it worse. I'll just say reading threads like this makes me more convinced to HS.

Big hugs!

Katie : Mom to three under four. Yes, i don't sleep often.
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#15 of 21 Old 02-19-2009, 04:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 5thAttempt View Post
I have a gret 11 year old son who is A-student, good looking and not that bad in sport. Over the years he was just 'sensitive', but now in 6 grade he is literally crying on my sholder saying that everybody makes fun of him, that he hates his life etc etc. What should I do? I have no idea where to start and what to say to him. A top of it I went to school in different country and I have no idea what middle school is like in US. Any suggestions will be helpful.
Does he have a teacher that you like/trust? That can make all the difference. When my dd had this problem I talked to one of her teachers. Like your son, dd was insistent that she didn't want anyone to know that she had said anything. The teacher came up with the idea that some of the school aides would "witness" the bullying and he would confront the girls who were bullying. I'm not sure that anyone actually saw what was going on but the teacher told me that he sat down with the "bullies" and, very non-confrontationally said that some of the teachers had witnessed "some incidents"--he was very non-specific--he would have related the incidents that I told him about if he'd been pressed (specifically they were stealing dd's lunch every day--just casually walking by her table and grabbing her lunch bag. They also stole ribbons out of her hair and grabbed bracelets off her wrist). The teacher told them that sometimes words/actions can really hurt and what seems like harmless teasing can by very traumatic--and that it wouldn't be tolerated, etc. etc. It worked--the bullying stopped.

I would try to get the teachers involved....you want them to start watching what's going on in the lunchroom and on the playground. I know your son wants it to be anonymous and you want him to trust you, but in this case I think you need to step in. My dd was so relieved when the bullying stopped. She saw that the teachers were really on her side.

Good luck.....
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#16 of 21 Old 03-10-2009, 12:37 AM
 
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see thechildtoday.com there are discs you can buy about bullying. I highly recommend Kim John Payne's work.

Consciously mothering 3 girls and 2 boys
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#17 of 21 Old 03-11-2009, 10:45 AM
 
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5th attempt, My son J went through a similar period in 6th grade. By the middle of the school year he was coming home in tears.

I immediately e-mailed his homeroom teacher, to see if the teacher's perception of what was happening in school was consistent with my son's. Maybe my son was doing something first that started it? But the teacher felt that my son's assessment was pretty accurate, and he (the teacher) felt VERY strongly that social acceptance and learning in middle school is at least as important as academics.

This teacher worked together with my son's other teachers, and together they helped my son get through the year. The homeroom teacher quietly enlisted the help of two other boys who had gone through similar experiences, and they sort of "adopted" J - including him in group projects, for example. We also talked to Ja bout ways that he could deal with the situation - such as the fact that while he could not change how othe people behaved, he COULD change the way he responded to it. The less fuss you make, the less attractive you are to a bully.

By the end of the school year, J was a different kid - more outgoing, confident, and happy. It was a group effort, to be sure - willing teachers, as well as DH and J and I, working together to solve the problem.

Take an active role - it doesn't need to be adversarial ( in our case it was not at all - we all had the same goal, which was to help J). I never went to the principal - I went right to the teacher. And it wasn't as much about changing the bullies (although I believe that was adressed as well), but more about helping J cope.

Best wishes to you and your son, and I hope things improve for him. Respecting his feelings is the first step - I'm glad that he trusts you enough to come to you with his problems.

If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

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#18 of 21 Old 03-17-2009, 12:09 PM
 
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Part of me wants to say, give your son the tools to stand upto them - a bully deproived of their audince is simply a coward but I know that if this went wrong it could go horribly so.
Aproaching a teacher he likes and admires, in absolute confidence might be your best bet.
For the record, I was bullied in primnary school and never liked secondary school (both all female schools) but made and still have five of the most wonderful friends in college.
Remeber you and your son are in the RIUGHT here. Bully is NEVER acceptable behaviour.
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#19 of 21 Old 03-17-2009, 02:03 PM
 
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You are right to stand up and say that bullying is not right, ever. It does not have to be "just a part of growing up."

You might find some resources at:
http://www.nonamecallingweek.org

Talk to your child's teacher and counselors, see if they can address bullying whole-group with the class or the entire grade (or school). A good place to start is by showing the animated film Bully Dance (http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/bully.html) as a point of discussion. It can be rented for $30 (you could offer to donate this). Reading and discussing the handouts from the NNCW website can help, too. (Maybe you could donate those, too, perhaps a workplace or copy shop would be willing to donate the copies.)

If the school seems bewildered by all of this, a starting point might be to consider asking principal to have the teachers AND STAFF to use the topic as a point of discussion in their weekly professional development meetings, perhaps with an outside facilitator coming in to speak for 15-30mins.

Another strategy that works in a lot of situations in addition to bullying is to teach your child about responding to people directly with "i-Messages." This is a one-sentence statement that describes how you feel when a certain behavior is presented, and what you need to feel better. E.g: “Julie, I feel mad when my pencil is taken without asking. I need to have my pencil back, please.” ... This takes a LOT of practice, but is an excellent tool to work on over the years. It focuses the problem on how the action is making one feel, which many students will respond to.

Last, students under this kind of strain often can be at risk for hurting themselves (e.g. cutting themselves for pleasure), or desperate enough to want to "end it all." Do not be afraid to ask your child, "Do you feel so badly that you have you thought about hurting yourself or killing yourself?" If he answers yes, take him seriously and ask whether he has thought about a plan for this, or a method. If he answers yes to this, take him very seriously and find some professional help immediately. Don't leave him alone. Let his teachers and counselors know so everyone can keep an eye on him while he is getting help.

I have used all of these strategies in my sixth grade class when I was a teacher in a large metropolitan area with students who had all kinds of "issues" and backgrounds. The education takes a long time and you need all of the adults on board with a "no tolerance" attitude (especially the ones on the playground/lunchroom/library). I had to stand strong against bullying -- even against my asst. principal who sometimes wanted to "let this one go, he won't do it again." We send children messages about how to behave through our own behavior as well as through consequences and discussion

...The i-messages are a great strategy for ALL age levels (age 2-102); if you want a worksheet on practicing i-msgs, send me a private message and I can email it to you.
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#20 of 21 Old 04-10-2009, 12:42 PM
 
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11-Year-Old Hangs Himself after Enduring Daily Anti-Gay Bullying. Full Story:

http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/al...cord/2400.html
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#21 of 21 Old 03-29-2010, 12:34 AM
 
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as a resource to anyone who has wandered here....here is one library's list of books about bullying:

http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/library/About_Bullying.asp
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