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#1 of 26 Old 01-14-2011, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We've been dealing with this situation at school since just a few weeks after school started back in August, and I am reaching the end of my rope.

 

Ds1 started 4th grade this year, at his request, after being homeschooled.  He's never had any social problems - he's a very outgoing and confident kid.  Things were fine at first and then we started hearing the reports about being excluded and teased on the playground.  It was hard for us to get all the info - it can be difficult to get coherent information out of ds1 sometimes - but we basically figured out that it was one particular kid, J.  According to ds, it started when J asked ds to be in his club, and then one day ds wanted to do something else at recess and J told him if he missed a meeting he was out forever.  The teasing by J started then and has never stopped.

 

Ds at first was telling the teacher or yard duty every time it happened, but yard duty ignored him, and the teacher told him not to be a tattle tale.  I met with the teacher about it, and she again complained about ds being a tattle tale, saying that these were things he had to figure out how to solve.  We talked with ds a bit, he tried not reacting/ignoring the kid, but it just continued.  I had another conversation with the teacher, even though she seems pretty exasperated with me in general.  This time her solution was that the boys were to stay away from one another.

 

Great, but this pans out in one of two ways:  ds is left to sit all by himself because J is part of the wallball group that ds wants to play in, or ds is playing with a group of kids and J comes and joins, and again starts mocking/teasing ds.  When he tells J to leave him alone, J repeats him in a mocking/sing song tone.

 

I went in yet again right before Christmas break to talk to the teacher.  She said that she talked with both kids and J says that ds is the one teasing him.  Now, I am not a "my kid is perfect" kind of parent, but I just don't buy it.  Ds has other faults, but never, ever, have I ever heard him tease another kid.  It's just not his style.  She said she talked with other teachers and they've never had any trouble with J.  She said she hoped things would "reset" over xmas break.

 

Back in Sept/Oct ds started having a lot of nightmares, he has developed a twitch with his eyes (I actually took him to the eye doctor to check it out), and every single day after school this is what we deal with - the reports about J. 

 

Dh and I went in to talk with the principal just the other morning.  It was a quick meeting as she was on her way to a meeting, but we laid it out for her and she said she'd talk to the teacher and get back to us.  She also said she'd talk to ds alone and hear the story from him.  She did, however, go on and one about what a sweet kid J is, and how she basically doesn't believe that he would be mean.

 

Yesterday I picked ds up and he was livid.  He said that J was calling him a dork, and told him that his middle name was stupid.  The principal wasn't in her office, but I called when I got home,  She said she hadn't had a chance to talk to the teacher yet but would get back to me.  20 minutes later she calls me and tells me that she went looking for the teacher and J was in the classroom with his tutor.  She went on to say that J says it's all ds - that J's parents are very upset about ds but that "they aren't the type to complain."  She said that J said that ds calls him stupid and makes fun of him.  Her solution is to call both kids in to her office and have them come up with a behavior contract that both of them had to sign.

 

I asked if anyone had ever talked to J's parents since we had been complaining about this since the beginning of the year, and we feel like we're the only parents trying to solve this, and she said that no, they hadn't talked to them, but it wasn't necessary because "they're good parents, no worries there."  

 

I feel like the school is biased towards J because they know him and don't know ds's history.  I know 100% that ds is not the one teasing J.  If they told me that ds was throwing a fit because he didn't the like rules of the game, I would believe them.  If they told me that he was being a bad sport I would believe them.  Teasing?  No.  There's no reason for it, and it doesn't make any sense.  When he's on the defense, when someone is attacking him, yes he will tell him they're stupid or try to otherwise defend himself, but I've never seen any inclination towards initiating this kind of thing.  His whole reason for wanting to go to school was to make more friends!  He knows he can come home at any time, but he really wants to stay in school and have this go away.

 

So, what do I do?  It's a he said/she said issue at the moment.  I've drafted a letter to the Superintendent spelling out what I've said here, but haven't sent it yet.  I suspect all hell will break loose if I do, and I'm not sure how to deal with it.  I could really use some advice! 

 

Thank you for reading this far!

 

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#2 of 26 Old 01-14-2011, 09:25 AM
 
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I have no advice for you but I do have a story of commiseration.  My ds switched school in 3rd grade.  He was being bullied by another child that had been there since K and had endeared himself to the adults.  He would only do things to my ds when adults weren't around.  Well finally an adult caught him and all sorts of bullying came out from other kids too.  The teachers really were clueless (I don't think his parents were). It took so long for my son to recover - it's been 3 years and the other child left the school at the end of last year and I'm finally getting my kid back.  

 

Can you and he sit down and create a couple different plans?  One for getting him what he wants from homeschooling and one getting him safe if kept in school?  Talk to him about his own safety?

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#3 of 26 Old 01-14-2011, 09:50 AM
 
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This situation is always insane to me. You have been complaining for half a year. The only reason you'd know to complain is by your ds telling you he's being bullied. Why on earth would a child who is a bully claim he's being bullied? Why would he want to draw attention to himself if he were the one bullying?

This was totally mishandled by the school. I would tell the principal that if appropriate action isn't taken immediately to stop J from bullying your son that you are going to send the letter to the superintendent. 

I'm assuming this is your zoned public school. Is there any way to send him somewhere different?


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#4 of 26 Old 01-14-2011, 10:42 AM
 
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I agree that the school is NOT handling this well. My DS had terrible bully issues in 3rd grade but the school reacted very differently and the problem resolved.

 

Basically, DS's best friend (I'll call him A) decided to climb the social ladder by throwing DS under the bus. He started being verbally abusive and getting in with the other boys (who never bothered DS before) by humiliating my DS. Granted, my DS is a pretty easy target. He's tall, handsome and smart but he's also VERY reactionary and we know this about him. At first, we worked on DS keeping his cool, trying to ignore, ect. When that wasn't enough, we went to the teacher but frankly, the teacher felt sorry for A because he's a little guy who struggles in school. We then went to the principal. She called in A's parents but the bulling actually got WORSE because mom started feeding her kid all this crap about my son deserving being bullied because we aren't religious. So, the principal went into full gear. She put all the boys involved in the bullying on contract including my own son. I HATED this at first but I can't argue results. Basically, any infraction caught by an adult or teacher was dealt with with penalties listed in their contract immediately. The group met with the principal weekly and they had to report on their own behavior as well as the behavior of the others. Any infractions meant loss of priviledges. Those that didn't have any infractions earned extra recess. Having DS be part of the group kept him out of suspician. He wasn't a "tattler" any longer. Plus, since DS never broke the rules, he always got extra recess. Within a week, things were better. In a month, the bullying had stopped though they stayed under contract the rest of the year. In 4th and now in 5th, DS hasn't been bullied at all.

 

It's very normal for kids to try and hide being bullied from their parents. If it hadn't been for the little girls in class running to their parents concerned, I might not have known that was why DS was having sleep issues and becoming more volitile at home.

 

The school needs to step in period. These are little kids and they just aren't going to "figure it out" on their own. Bullies get worse when they go unchecked. Victims get angry and more private about the abuse they are taking. They don't actually "learn to deal with it" in a healthy way. They just learn to keep it from adults!

 

Hugs to your son. I know it's just terrible and it really does change them.


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#5 of 26 Old 01-14-2011, 03:06 PM
 
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I would write a letter to the principal including a time line, basically backing up that this has been an issue for MONTHS and that the teacher has taken a "lord of the flies" attitude about it, which has allowed it to escalate. I'd make it clear that your child was reporting Js behavior long before J came up with his story. I'd also report the stress that this is putting on your child. I'd also state that dismissing Js behavior because it is new for him isn't him or the other child as the school any favors. I'd also ask to have the play ground monitors informed of what is happening so they can keep an eye on things.

 

Second, I would encourage my child to make friends other than this kid, both in school at out. Invite other kids over to play. Join a club or team. Make sure he keeps having other interactions so that "victim of bully" doesn't become his sense of self. He's having some problems with ONE child. Keep it as small of a problem as possible.

 

I'm a play ground monitor, and I think kids can really exagerate the "there's no one else to play with" thing. There are other kids. There are other things to do. Help him brain storm. But buying into the idea that he can't play with anyone because of this one child doesn't seem realistic to me. Help him see past this problem because he isn't able to right now.  May be you could make arrangements to observe recess

 

I would also ask that the boys not be in the same class again next year.

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#6 of 26 Old 01-15-2011, 01:46 AM
 
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I don't have advice but did want to offer my support. I'm infuriated on your and ds1's behalf. I cannot believe they are trying to turn this around on your ds and on you too (I thought the principal made a couple of insulting insinuations there).

Your ds does know he can go back to homeschooling at any time right? I know that doesn't solve all your problems but I do think it's empowering for him to know he could stop going whenever he wanted.

I went through this in 8th grade, a kid who was a high performing student and son of a principal in the district bullied me. He even tried to blame his bullying of another girl on me (a nasty note he'd written her). It couldn't be proved I did it (duh) but no one wanted to believe it was him. He just went on bullying.

 

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#7 of 26 Old 01-15-2011, 06:19 AM
 
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Ugh. That's tough, and I know as a mom it hurts you to see your son upset.  I don't have any advice, just wanted to give you some good vibes, praying it is all resolved quickly. goodvibes.gif

 

Hugs to you & your son.grouphug.gif


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#8 of 26 Old 01-16-2011, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone.  Last week was a rough week.

 

Fri am I walked through the office to sign in to go serve lunch, and noticed my son's music instrument, along with some others, sitting on the chairs in the office, and the Principal's door was closed.  I talked with the seretary, and she said that my son was in with the principal, along with 3 other kids and their teacher.  She didn't know anything other than that.  A few minutes later the door opened and they all came out.  I checked in briefly with my ds, and he said he was fine (he didn't appear upset at all), but they had to go on to their music class so I didn't get a chance to talk with him much.  I hung back, and when they were all gone poked my head into the Principal's office to ask what was going on.

 

She said that she'd spent all morning on this - first talked with my ds alone, then J alone, and then having gathered that 2 other kids were also somewhat involved, met with all of them and their teacher.  Then, first thing she says, is something that my son has done - excluding a kid or something like that.  And I said "Well, why do you think he would be doing that?" and then she said something else that my son had done, calling a name I think, and I said again "Well, do you think there might be any reason he would be doing that?"  I admit I was getting testy at this point, because in every single interaction with the teacher and principal all I've gotten is accusations of what my kid is doing, no discussion of what the other kids are doing.  She raised her voice (I'd say yelled) and said 'I"m not here to argue with you!"  I calmly told her that I wasn't trying to argue with her, but that I didn't understand why the only response I'm getting from anyone is about what my kid is doing, not what is being done to him.  Without invitation, I went and sat down in her office, and we had a tense but civil discussion about the meetings.  She said all the kids had admitted to exclusion and name calling, and one of the kids admitted to rallying the others to exclude ds from the group.  She said they all talked about it and cleared the air and are going to work on getting along and being kinder to each other.  She said she didn't have them sign the contract yet because she wanted to see if this could work first.  She said she also told the PE teacher that ds and J are to always be on the same team, not competing against one another, because a lot of problems start there.  Ds's teacher came over to me at lunch and said she had no idea the problem was this bad or widespread, and she's really hopeful it will be worked out now.  Her attitude seemed a bit improved, like she finally realized I'm not just some whiny, oversensitive parent, which is kind of how she was treating me before.

 

I talked with my son after school, and didn't get much details from him, but he says he's happy with the resolution and thinks it will work.  I don't have much choice but to see how things go.  I'm sure the Principal is pissed at me, but I don't really care.  While I appreciate the time she has put into this, I don't appreciate her hostile attitude.

 

I did put together a letter detailing everything, mainly just to do a brain dump and get it out of my head, but also just in case I need it for future reference.  Ds does know he can come home at anytime, but I have made it clear that it's a big decision, and he can't decide to homeschool one day and then go to school the next.  So far, he wants to finish the school year and think about whether to go back next year or not.

 

So, I'm not really sure it's been solved, but at least it's been put on the table as an issue to be addressed.  I think that's what ds was most happy about - he at least feels like the adults acknowledge that these things are happening and that the other kids have been talked to.  I still don't know that any of the other parents have been notified at all, which irritates me, but I can let it go for now.

 

Blech.

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#9 of 26 Old 01-16-2011, 01:19 PM
 
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I have a daily planner that I used to keep track of ds behavior at school for his therapist; perhaps you can keep one for any further developments with this issue.


"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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#10 of 26 Old 01-16-2011, 09:45 PM
 
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Re: bolded bit.  Her being hostile is unprofessional, period.   She will just have to build a bridge and get over it... wow, the nerve of you.  Actually asking that she do her JOB and do it fairly & professionally??  What on earth will the world come to? wink1.gif  I sincerely hope that the situation does improve for him at school!  But as for how you handled it, I wouldn't change a thing.. and I would keep documenting if anything else does happen
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post

I talked with my son after school, and didn't get much details from him, but he says he's happy with the resolution and thinks it will work.  I don't have much choice but to see how things go.  I'm sure the Principal is pissed at me, but I don't really care.  While I appreciate the time she has put into this, I don't appreciate her hostile attitude.

 


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#11 of 26 Old 01-17-2011, 06:08 AM
 
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Does your school have a bullying complaint/investigation policy?  In my state, each school district is required by law to implement its own bullying policy that includes a procedure for receiving complaints, investigating them thoroughly by speaking with all relevant students & parents, and issuing reports and meeting with parents.  The state also collects data on "verified acts of bullying."  You may want to check to see if your district has something similar that needs to be followed.  If anything, it is a way to make sure the school administration is doing its job.  If the problem continues, you may want to ask if the school has other resources like the school psychologist or social worker who may be able to get involved with the kids on some level.

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#12 of 26 Old 01-17-2011, 12:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post

 

I asked if anyone had ever talked to J's parents since we had been complaining about this since the beginning of the year, and we feel like we're the only parents trying to solve this, and she said that no, they hadn't talked to them, but it wasn't necessary because "they're good parents, no worries there." 

That is INSANE. If they are good parents, they will want to know that their kid is teasing and excluding another child from play.

 

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#13 of 26 Old 01-17-2011, 01:42 PM
 
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Having worked in the schools- this response seems standard ( one on one conferenceing/talk with teacher/meeting with the group involved before a contract is formed), though the principal could have been much more civil.

 

The comments that he has 'good parents' is also uncalled for and unprofessional. Parents are often surprised that their kids can be mean/cruel to other kids and no one wants to admit it is is 'their' kid. Most bullies keep their behavior as hidden as possible from adults for fear of punishment. Some parents are aware that their child has a 'history' of namecalling, etc.---but most deny it or blame the other child. 

 

She probably can not (due to privacy) tell you what or who else she has talked to (parent/kid) about it and the outcome of those talks. Honestly, she is supposed to relay the information concerning your son and your son only. Which is frustrating, but legally she should not relay any information about other families and behavior concerns (even if they have to do with your son) unless you are all present to witness the conversation.

 

I would start keeping a journal/timeline. Document what your son says, document any 'bullying' going on. If it does not resolve, go to the superintendent. He is supposed to handle problems the principal does not/can not. 

 

I hope it gets better. 3-5th grade is tough. Kids tend to ramp up 'bully' behavior and see what they can get away with at that age. Peer relationships start to get bigger and more complex and often , kids will follow a strong personality for fear of being alienated. 

 

I also agree w/ the PP that there is rarely 'no one' to play with on the playground, though I dont doubt at all that your son is excluded from who he WANTS to play with. Talk to your son and possibly observe the playground. Maybe set up playtimes outside of school with kids he wants to be friends with (then he is more likely to play with them at recess).

 

Absolutely request that your son is kept seperate from the other boy (dont know if I agree with same teams in gym....could led to interactions that are not as well monitored as different teams would be) as much as possible (including in the classroom).

 

See if you school has a social worker/psychologist on staff that can moderate an anti-bullying group/conflict resolution team (some schools have them). I would be surprised if they dont, most schools have multiple 'kids' that are concerns for bullying and they try to solve it before it gets to be a bigger problem through a social worker.

 

Hope it resolves soon. Sometimes a bully will 'quiet' down when they know they are being watched by adults more closely. I hope that is the case for you and your son! If not, dont hesitate to go higher up the chain of command to make sure that it is resolved.

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#14 of 26 Old 01-17-2011, 05:41 PM
 
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why not call the other parents?   you may be surprised to hear that the school has only notified the parents of an issue once....not at all surprising.

 

that being said, if this escalates, do this:

* write a letter to the parents, cc: school principal,

* send it certified mail

* explain what you believe has happened and

* if it repeats itself, you will seek legal counsel.

 

also/or send another letter addressed to the principal asking what actions have been taken to protect your son from bullying.  chances are, no aides or special ed teachers (art, gym, etc) have been made aware of this potentially volatile situation.  you may chose to do this one first, or do them in combination.

 

what will happen?  first, they will know that you are taking this absolutely seriously.  do not expect the school to address this to your comfort.  the parents, as they may immediately find out that if they do not cease their child's activity, that they can be held liable for bullying.  trust me....action will be taken by the school and/or the parents as a result of this letter.  the school also knows that if they dont do everything in their power after a certified documented "no way that they can not know of the situation" letter, they can also be held liable.

 

so, if you want to nip this in the bud,. do the above...but do not jump to it unless you think its warranted.  i only mean to say that you should do this if its seriously bullying.  its a fine line between boys being boys and the start of true bullying, but once its crossed, the parent usually knows much faster than the teacher/principal.


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#15 of 26 Old 01-19-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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Quote:
She probably can not (due to privacy) tell you what or who else she has talked to (parent/kid) about it and the outcome of those talks. Honestly, she is supposed to relay the information concerning your son and your son only. Which is frustrating, but legally she should not relay any information about other families and behavior concerns (even if they have to do with your son) unless you are all present to witness the conversation.


I hope it gets better. 3-5th grade is tough. Kids tend to ramp up 'bully' behaviour and see what they can get away with at that age. Peer relationships start to get bigger and more complex and often , kids will follow a strong personality for fear of being alienated.

 

 

 

It is important to remember these things. My ds transitioned from homeschooling to public schooling at the same age. We went through some big challenges with bullying and ds trying out some new behaviour as he made his way into the school social scene. He was bullied by another boy but he also started getting into the whole name calling and excluding thing even though he had never done it before. It is normal behaviour for kids this age to try these things out. My ds knew we didn't want him doing these things so he was careful not to tell us that part of what was going on - but his sister had no qualms whatsover about telling us fuller versions of what was going on in the playground  eyesroll.gif


From the meeting you just had with the principal it sounds like your ds is participating in this group dynamic which makes handling it different than if he were solely being a target. The behaviour contract among the boys sounds like a good idea. All of the children are likely to want to blame their behaviour on someone else but even if one person is blamed or held responsible for "starting it" that won't solve anything. The problem dynamic exists now and four boys are feeling hurt so they all need to have it worked out. Sometimes with kids this age it is more important to move forward and figure out how to change things than to look back and figure out who is responsible for the problem in the first place. The problem among these boys now exists, so how are they going to fix it? I am always telling my kids that few problems among people ever get solved by waiting for the other person to change - we all have to work at our part in it. That is where a contract could be helpful because it is something concrete with clear expectations. They will all make mistakes but at least they will have something to refer back to when they need to get back on track.


It is important to remember that teachers shouldn't be telling you what communication they are having with other parents about their child's behaviour, even when it impacts your ds. That can be frustrating but that is how it works. My dd has had the same girls in her class for a few years now and I know too well which ones have problem behaviour and I speak with the teachers when necessary but even when the teacher and I both know the long standing issues of a particular child and some of the family dynamics, the teacher never crosses that line into talking about the other child's behaviour and what is being done about it. I also know that the teachers don't use names or speak about me or my child to other parents. I live in a small town and have had a few school situations where I assumed that the other parents would know I was the one complaining but they clearly didn't.


I am sorry that the principal handled herself poorly but I am glad to hear that your ds feels happy with the resolution and thinks it will work.
 

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#16 of 26 Old 01-19-2011, 05:29 PM
 
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Professional and acceptable: "For privacy purposes, I cannot give you that information. Please be assured that this discussion will also be held in confidence."

 

Unprofessional and making one doubt the principal's discretion: "No, I haven't talked to them, but it isn't necessary because they're good parents, no worries there." 

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#17 of 26 Old 01-19-2011, 07:28 PM
 
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A PP mentioned calling the other parents involved yourself. I think this is an EXCELLENT idea. Schools are very ill-equipped to deal with he said-she said situations. A behaviour contract? Please. This may sound a little corny, but what about inviting J and his parents over for hamburgers? Or brownies? My guess is that the only reason for the hate-on between the boys is playground politics. If you can put them together outside school, the connection changes, KWIM? It may have to happen more than once - maybe you can meet at the mall for milkshakes or all go skating together another time. Threatening legal action should be a last resort and ultimately doesn't teach your child any valuable life lessons about how to make friends and influence people ;)


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#18 of 26 Old 01-20-2011, 05:21 AM
 
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I've been in a similar situation. 

This is the good & the bad of the solutions & strategies I tried:

 

 - Bad: I kept trying to get my DS to talk about what was going on. He hated it. If it happened again, I'd just make sure he knew I was always available to talk and help, if he wanted. I think my overconcern made him think I thought he couldn't handle it, if that makes sense. YMMV.

- Medium/Good: talked to the teacher. She had a hard time believing the boys would be mean to my son, because they are very bright, polite kids. They ARE great kids - they were just trying on some power, and my DS was at the wrong end of that experiment. 

- Best: I encouraged my introverted son to reach out to other kids, and set up opportunities for them to come over. This helped the most. He was in grade 3, so still young enough to help with this kind of thing - not sure how long that strategy would work. But he realized he wasn't as dependent on these 2 best friends. It was empowering, we really emphasized that over a year, HE had made big changes, by making new friends (still friends with the original two). That had a domino effect. Once the original two saw that he had other options, they changed their behaviour towards DS.

- Good: talked to the parents of the other kids. I knew them quite well, and both families are really nice, so that helped. They were mostly great about it. I got some comments on how my DS was too sensitive. He wasn't equipped to deal with it, that's true -  but I hope he is better equipped were it to happen again.

 

It was awful at the time, but he has handled subsequent difficult social situations with grace, and I'm really really proud of his growth. 

 

OP, I think you're handling the situation well. We live in the real world - teachers and principals aren't perfect, school isn't perfect. Though it was so hard for me at the time, I realize in hindsight that navigating through a difficult situation with your parents support is a very valuable experience. The process & the skills that your DS is seeing modeled by you will come in handy for him one day. I think your DS's perseverance is admirable, and yours, too.

 

And, should the situation become untenable, you have a solid plan (homeschool). 

 

I tried to take the situation and stop thinking in terms of being victims, to it being an opportunity to develop strong coping skills... and this year DS is doing really well.

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#19 of 26 Old 01-20-2011, 07:34 AM
 
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I would write the school a letter explaining that you have and your son have been reporting the teasing/exclusion issues since Septemeber - and that you are both extremely disappointed that it took until January for the school to take you seriously.  They have failed for these months to create a safe environment or take the concerns of one of their pupils seriously. 

 

Honestly, I would I hope for an apology for you and your son...but even if that does not happen they need to know they acted horribly in your eyes and have done nothing to build a climate of trust.

 

I hope the meeting with the principal resolves things.  I kind of doubt it (although I certainly would not tell DS this). I expect there will be a brief period where things are calm and then they will start up again unless the school is very strict about supervision and works to get to the bottom of things.  Even then, I am not convinced schools can control bullying.  Bullying is often hidden and done in sneaky ways. Some people may disagree but this has been my experience.

 

I would put some timelines around things and switch school or HS if it continues - even if DS does not want to.  Bullying is serious and can have lasting consequences.  There are times when a parents concerns should trump a child desire - and bullying that doesn't stop even after extensive intervention is one of them.  I would definitely put it in terms of self protection_ we try to solve problems, but if that doesn't work, we do not allow ourselves to be continually harassed and we get out.

 

Lastly, I need to disagree with some of the above posters who said they would invite J over to the house, etc.  If your son dislikes J, or if J is often mean to him, there is no way I would invite him over.  Home is a safe place,  there is no way I am inviting someone I know torments my son into it.  

 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by elisheva View Post

A PP mentioned calling the other parents involved yourself. I think this is an EXCELLENT idea. Schools are very ill-equipped to deal with he said-she said situations. A behaviour contract? Please. This may sound a little corny, but what about inviting J and his parents over for hamburgers? Or brownies? My guess is that the only reason for the hate-on between the boys is playground politics. If you can put them together outside school, the connection changes, KWIM? It may have to happen more than once - maybe you can meet at the mall for milkshakes or all go skating together another time. Threatening legal action should be a last resort and ultimately doesn't teach your child any valuable life lessons about how to make friends and influence people ;)



 Again, legal action should be the last resort.  But if someone is intimidating a child, there is no way for the child to truly learn anything on how to avoid dangerous people.  A friend of mine recently went through this.  For months, her son was tormented.  The child was then restricted from interacting with her son, which worked 90% of the time.  Eventually, the child started tormenting another child with physical aggression and true wounds.  You can teach a child to deal with normal behavior...but true bullying is NOT normal behavior....I still wouldnt know how to deal with someone who is unbalanced and dangerous, and why should I learn that skill?  Again, its a fine line between real bullying and school power plays, but only the parent can make that determination.

 

That being said, do not rely on the school...the school's utmost priority is to protect the school from litigation.  Use this to your advantage.  Document everything.  Every converastion with the principal, what they said, what they were going to do....just showing that you have records of the events in question legitimizes your concern and forces them to deal with the sitaution properly, and not just say "but they are nice boys"


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#21 of 26 Old 01-20-2011, 02:30 PM
 
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 But if someone is intimidating a child, there is no way for the child to truly learn anything on how to avoid dangerous people.  


Do you really think it's this serious in 3rd grade? These other kids are dangerous? I disagree. I stand by my suggestion to get to know the family better. It's time to build real community not hide out in our own homes with our own group because we want someone else to solve the problem.


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#22 of 26 Old 01-20-2011, 04:07 PM
 
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Have you been in this situation? I ask because it can be really serious even in 3rd grade. My little boy has been seriously changed from being bullied in 3rd grade. Someone he really trusted turned on him. The boys in class humiliated him at every turn. They eventually started to physically push him into walls and trip him on the playground. DS was falling apart. He couldn't sleep. He had nightmares. He started lashing out at his sister and at us. His grades slipped. It was really terrible. Even though the school took it seriously and put a stop to the bullies, the scars still remain two years later. He's more sensitive. He doesn't trust people. He's wary of new social situations. DS had NONE of these issues prior to 3rd grade.

 

I KNEW this family of the instigator. My DS was this boys friend! For 3 years, DS was the ONLY child that showed up to the birthday parties. Being community did nothing to make them reign in their child. In fact, they started making excuses to their child as to why it was OK.

 

My poor little brother was tortured for years and it only got worse and worse. He wasn't in physical danger in 3rd grade but by 6th, he was getting beat up on a regular basis by these same kids. The other parents did NOTHING to stop this.

 

Dealing with other parents on your own can put your own children in more jeapordy. I made the mistake of approaching a mom when our DD's were having trouble. The mom lashed out and spent YEARS telling other families really terrible things about my DD. Thankfully, DD is a stellar citizen and people figured out that this woman was lying. Still, in a large school, there are plenty of people who don't really know you and so DD spent all of middle school having to cope with these rumours passed around by an ADULT!

 

I'm all for community but be smart about it. We have formed a wonderful community of friends and family for our children. I just suggest going though teachers and principal first because frankly, I've rarely met a parent of a known bully who was reasonable.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elisheva View Post

 But if someone is intimidating a child, there is no way for the child to truly learn anything on how to avoid dangerous people.  


Do you really think it's this serious in 3rd grade? These other kids are dangerous? I disagree. I stand by my suggestion to get to know the family better. It's time to build real community not hide out in our own homes with our own group because we want someone else to solve the problem.




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#23 of 26 Old 01-20-2011, 04:44 PM
 
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Bullying is not the same thing that we experienced growing up....its taken on a whole new context in the last 10+ years.  For whatever reason, some children's behaviors escalate.  My friends was such a case.  After months of pleading with the school, talking to the teachers, they were finally successful at separating their child from the other child.  When this happened, the bully turned onto another victim, and they watched how he slowly escalated his actions to the point of taking scissors to another child's skin.....and this was 2nd grade.

 

At the heart of it, bullies become just that because they seek control.  While some children display a strong desire to control over themselves (whether bad in the form of an eating disorder or good in the form of academics), some children seek to control their peers.    Regardless of its reasons or specific context, children today do not have the ability to "deal" with these individuals, primarily because the abusers abuse simply because they cannot deal.  It can have a traumatic effect on its victims.  Fortunately, most experiences never develop into the worst situations, but unless you are equipped at pushing and forcing the school to deal with it properly, an unruly situation can turn even worse.  So, arm yourself with all that you have and, if you are certain that you are judging the situation properly, then a parent must do everything in their power to protect their children when they are not yet able to do so for themselves.


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#24 of 26 Old 01-20-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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Bullying definitely needs to be dealt with properly.

 

I think that in this case it is important to read the OP's later post talking about a more recent incident where four boys (including J and her ds) all admitted to being part of the current problem.  At this point it isn't just J who is saying and doing things that hurt other children and even if he was the one who 'started it' earlier in the year, all of the children and all of the parents need to take responsibility for what is happening right now.

 

Sometimes even the best behaved and well adjusted children will try out behaviour that isn't typical of them as they grow up, especially in this older age group. I think that just as we expect teachers and other parents to work with their children for bullying or unkind behaviour we need to anticipate that we will need to do the same at least occasionally with our own children. Bullying is one thing but this second incident does not sound like clear cut bullying to me. If all four of the boys involved are saying that they were excluding others and name calling and the teachers say that this is what they witnessed, then every boy involved is part of the problem and needs some sort of guidance. If they are all taught to perecive and present themselves as targets of bullying without acknowledging their own unkind or bullying behaviour, no one will get anywere. Severe threats, violence and intimidation are one thing - but a group of 5th grade boys all figuring out peer power dynamics in a similar way is not in the same league as outright bullying. The OP's ds has admitted that he was excluding others too. This kind of thing is common in kids this age and they need the adults around them to teach them the approproate skills for dealing with their feelings and the actions of others, not talking about legal action.

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#25 of 26 Old 01-20-2011, 06:39 PM
 
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Shantimama....maybe and maybe not. It can be very hard to know what goes on with kids.

 

My experience with schools is that they try very very hard to get each child to take responsibility for their part in incidents.  I think they do this because a) they believe in personal responsability  and b)  they do not want it to be a bullying issue - that scares them.  So they focus on "what is your part in this" so they can make it seem like a more minor social/getting along issue.  Ironically, they push "personal responsability" partly so they do not have to take responsability for what they as adults have going on in their school.  I could be wrong, but I have seen this happen.

 

Quite frankly, I would be suspicious of the last meeting.

 

The OP's son has claimed to be teased and excluded since the beginning of school.  The Op reports that he is not usually an instigator in these type of situations.  All of a sudden he admits to being a part of it?  I think if he is a part of it, it is because he has been bullied for quite some time and is now sick of it, and is turning the tables on them.  Alternately, he does not really have a large part in this, but the school, in their desire for their not to be a bullying problem, has questioned the kids in such a way as it can be brushed off as "oh, they all have a part in it".

 

Let's face it: thus far the school has not responded well to the OP's concerns.  They have not shown themselves to be trustworthy and I would not trust their version of things unless I talked to my son and he really did admit he has played a large part in the issue since the beginning.  

 

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#26 of 26 Old 01-21-2011, 05:23 AM
 
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I would ask how the OP's DS wants to be supported. As I wrote in my OP, I think I overstepped the line in my interventions. I DO think the OP's situation has gone on too long, but it now is what it is. I think it's important that he feel as little like a victim as possible, and feel empowered. Sometimes as parents it hurts us so much to see our children excluded or teased or hurt that we prevent them from trying to work it out, which is by far the best outcome. With our support, of course. 

 

I think I did my DS disservice by charging in and trying to "fix" the problem so tenaciously. I am NOT advocating neglect, or a "let them work it out" path, but instead of going into high anxiety mode (which is what I did, not the OP), letting my son lead the way. In our case, it was some normal kids behaving in an out-of-character way, being pretty mean. They eventually worked things out.

 

Often the "bully" kids are not hardened awful kids. They are regular kids trying out some pretty rotten behaviour that they have probably seen modeled to them, by siblings or on the playground. I suppose the behaviour was bullying, but I would not call those kids "bullies".


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