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#1 of 25 Old 08-04-2012, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We send our 7 y/o dd to a small charter school in our neighborhood.  There are only 16 children in the class.  She has been bullied by 2 "friends" for years.  I was hoping that by 3rd grade things would settle down.  The bullying is often subtle, but always cruel.  These children don't play with her, but they do intervene when she plays with mutual friends.  The other "friends" will drop her for the opportunity to play with the "queen bees".  I have tried having them over and treating them special. On Tuesday we had "Libby" over for a play date and swimming.  It seemed to go well.  On Thursday we ran into "Libby" who initially said "hi" to dd but then pretended she didn't exist when her older friend came to join her.  She and the other girl kept moving away from dd and when dd tried to join in the conversation "Libby" said " That's weird" and she and the other girl left my daughter standing with her mouth open.  There were lots of backward glances and smirks from "Libby" and I was shocked.  Hearing about this type of bullying second hand and then seeing it in person was a real eye opener.  I've tried talking to her mom who was incredibly defensive and in denial.  I am really worried about what the school year will bring. Any advice?  Does anyone know if the school has a legal obligation when the bullying is not physical?  The bully has made fun of dd's clothes, called her "fat" (she is not) and also ridicules her school work and art.

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#2 of 25 Old 08-04-2012, 10:51 AM
 
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 Any advice?  Does anyone know if the school has a legal obligation when the bullying is not physical?  The bully has made fun of dd's clothes, called her "fat" (she is not) and also ridicules her school work and art.

 

Hugs to your and your Dd. That's terrible. I am not in California (where you are according to your avatar), but it appears that the California Department of Education recognizes verbal and emotional abuse as bullying behaviour. 

 

Legal obligations aside, a good school administration will deal with all kinds of bullying including social/emotional bullying. I wouldn't want my kids attending a school where the administration wasn't capable or willing to deal with bullying of any kind. Responsible, caring administrators understand that it's important for all students to have a secure, safe learning environment. Since this has been going on for a few years, I'm wondering how the school has dealt with it in the past? Is there an anti-bullying program in place? If not, is there a parent-school organization that can help you get one started? Perhaps with some workshops and educational programs for parents, as well as students and staff. It sounds like the parents need as much intervention as the kids. 

 

It's extra tough when the school is small and there aren't a lot of other children to provide a large circle of potential friends. Is it possible to widen your DD's social circle with a few extra-curricular activities that won't involve classmates? Your Dd may also benefit from some coaching to help her respond to the bullies.  

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#3 of 25 Old 08-04-2012, 11:18 AM
 
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I would contact the teacher or principal and see if they can keep eye on things. Girl bullying really seems to pick up after second grade. The charter school my dd attended was really good about preventing and redirecting bullying of all sorts. I found that for my dd a larger public school was actually a better option though because there are more kids so more diversity and she really can go play with someone else if a friend is.being mean whereas in her little charter school there was nobody else and they all wanted to be the same. I switched her for academic reasons but if the
situation doesn't improve I suggest considering a move as long as there aren't serious problems with the public school she would attend.
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#4 of 25 Old 08-04-2012, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Responsible, caring administrators understand that it's important for all students to have a secure, safe learning environment. Since this has been going on for a few years, I'm wondering how the school has dealt with it in the past? Is there an anti-bullying program in place? If not, is there a parent-school organization that can help you get one started? Perhaps with some workshops and educational programs for parents, as well as students and staff. It sounds like the parents need as much intervention as the kids. 

 

I have only spoken with the teachers 1:1 and they have advised me that DD should look for friends outside of her class in the grade above and below her.  The school is a very well established school that tries too support a community feeling but when the culture at home is not supportive or aware I am not sure if the school can "fix" this.  I will have to go to the school this fall with a letter.  Another mother will write a letter as well.  There is a board but I have heard from another parent that they were very off putting so I have shied away. 

 

I really appreciate what you have to say.  Thank you.

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#5 of 25 Old 08-04-2012, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I would contact the teacher or principal and see if they can keep eye on things. Girl bullying really seems to pick up after second grade. The charter school my dd attended was really good about preventing and redirecting bullying of all sorts. I found that for my dd a larger public school was actually a better option though because there are more kids so more diversity and she really can go play with someone else if a friend is.being mean whereas in her little charter school there was nobody else and they all wanted to be the same. I switched her for academic reasons but if the
situation doesn't improve I suggest considering a move as long as there aren't serious problems with the public school she would attend.

Switching schools may be necessary.  I have been worried that we would encounter the same bully behavior wherever she went and that we would not be allowing her to gain social skills that are needed later on but I am feeling really bad for her.  A small community of learners should be elated to see one another when they bump into each other.   I feel that girls at this age should jump up and down and hold hands when they see each other and they have been in such a small group for 3 years.

 

You are right about the diversity of friends in a larger school.  It is definitely something worth looking into.  I'm glad that your dd is happier.

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#6 of 25 Old 08-04-2012, 07:41 PM
 
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I wouldn't assume that the same thing will happen at another school. Since this has been happening for years at your dd's current school and the best her teachers can offer is that she should try to make friends with kids in other grades, I would strongly consider changing schools. It doesn't seem like the school knows how to handle the more subtle ways that the kids have negative interactions and the kids are entrenched in their behavioral habits. My nephew just went through this at a lauded small private school. He is loving his new school from what I've heard.

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#7 of 25 Old 08-04-2012, 07:53 PM
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It sounds like the bullying culture is deeply ingrained in your charter school, if the teacher's suggestion is that your daughter is the one who needs to learn how to make friends (?!?!), and the board shoots down parents who want to see changes.  Every school is different, even neighboring schools may have very different social rules.  One thing to look for is Positive Behavior Support, where teachers and administrators actively identify and reward supportive behaviors among peers.  At my son's former school, students who maintained positive behavior for a full month were rewarded with a 20 minute dance party in the gym, which was so much fun that it reinforced socially inclusive behaviors. 


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#8 of 25 Old 08-04-2012, 09:53 PM
 
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I agree that changing schools may be your dd's best option. I find the teachers response appalling. I would write a letter to the principal when I withdrew my child explaining why - the teachers know the other girls in her grade are mean to her and feel she will never have friends in her grade.

Also, I think it would be good to help your dd find an activity she can work at and become good at. Something she really likes. I dont think it matters if it is learning an instrument ot joining a sports team, branching out and finding her strengths in others would, IMHO, be good for her.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#9 of 25 Old 08-05-2012, 10:28 AM
 
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Have you seen these articles about fraud in Oakland charter school?

 

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-charter-school-accused-of-fraud-may-close-3454213.php

 

and

 

http://www.times-standard.com/statenews/ci_20855605/audit-finds-fraud-at-oakland-charter-school

 

 

 

I am seeing fraud in charter schools all over the country. It makes one wonder if fraud, and bullying go hand-in-hand.  I know parents pick the best schools that they can, for children. Unfortunately, many of these for-profit schools fail, have their charter revoked, etc.  A Pennsylvania charter school is caught up in a scandal: 6.5 million dollars allegedly stolen: http://www.justice.gov/usao/pae/News/2012/Jul/brown,dorothy_release.htm

 

Despite all this, maybe your principal / teachers will be of help. My dd is 11, and I've noticed when she was younger, girls playing in 2s did fine, but add a third, and one was sure to be left out. Having been bullied as a child . . . . well, it was hard. Thankfully, bullying has been a topic of conversation in public schools. I don't know what your charter school's response has been, but there are information sessions on bullying and charter schools happening in some areas.

 

Hugs to you and your daughter.

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#10 of 25 Old 08-08-2012, 01:33 PM
 
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I think it's more common in charter schools because charters also unfortunately attract those with a sense of superiority and entitlement. And heck if the parents are that way, is it any wonder that the kids are the same?

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#11 of 25 Old 08-08-2012, 03:51 PM
 
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Is there only the 3 girls in the classroom? I am assuming minimal girls in her grade by the school's suggestion to look for friends in the class above or below. If so, ignoring other things, 3 girls often does NOT work. We've been there, done that, it is a triangle and someone gets left out. If that is the case then I can see how the school's suggestion is not far off. But if the classroom is more balanced and then these are just the girls that she gravitates towards, that is different. 


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#12 of 25 Old 08-12-2012, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are working on making her relationship more solid with a good friend that she does have at school.  She has a total of 10 girls in the classroom.  She is definitely attracted to the girls that are causing her pain.  I had lunch with one of their mothers last week and it was productive.  She and I are both working on talking about how friends treat one another and standing up for yourself and others. We are looking at changing schools as we may move to another district anyway.  I hate to say that I agree that some of the parents at this school have  a superiority complex but it may be true.  We have to look at our own issues and deal with them, I guess, because we are the only ones that we can change.  Youth is so precious and brief.  I just want to create a loving childhood for my kids so that they can change the world with their kind hearts.  That's all...
 

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#13 of 25 Old 08-13-2012, 10:09 AM
 
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Check out the book "Girls will be Girls" by JoAnn Deak. I thought it was very insightful about what goes on with girls at this age (and other ages and stages as well). http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Will-Confident-Courageous-Daughters/dp/0786886579

 

What you are describing is very common at this age in a small school setting or in a larger public school setting. It's unfortunate and in a larger setting she might have more chances to make friends outside this group, but there probably wouldn't be many more girls in her class at public school, of course they would be different girls. 

 

If you can't get the teachers and administration on board with monitoring the queen bee behavior I would consider switching schools. It's not a healthy environment. Just because it's common doesn't make it okay.

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#14 of 25 Old 08-13-2012, 02:40 PM
 
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IME, 3rd-4th grade is the worst grade for this. The kids who have these tendencies have gotten much more subtle and less overt, so it's harder for the teachers to catch them. Plus more kids, developmentally, are able to play that game, and the need to fit in is higher than it was in 1st and 2nd grade. If the teacher's solution is to have her make friends in a class above her, I'd be really worried. That essentially means she's given up on trying to discipline these kids, as far as I can tell.

 

If you can help your daughter find a friend (just one) who is not these girls and is strong enough to resist being one of the cool girls, I'd give it another go. If it continues this year, I'd pull her. The only question is whether I'd pull her in Dec. or June.

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#15 of 25 Old 08-14-2012, 05:53 AM
 
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Hello, and please forgive me for adding my issue to this particular topic, but my situation is so similar.

 

After 2 years of homeschooling, my DD asked if she could go back to public school.  (Our local public school happens to be a charter school.)  Unfortunately, the particular area we live in is mostly low-ish income and low-ish parental education level, and most of the parents in our apt complex are NOT involved w/their children.  The result is bratty, bossy, bullying kids whom DD now goes to school with.

 

I'm worried about a couple girls in particular; they have been mean to DD and other kids (I have personally witnessed), yet DD wants to hang out with them.  What's worse, on the very first day of school, as I was cleaning DD's desk at home, I found a diary-type note she had written that talked about how one of these girls had taught her what "f**k" means, what "s*x" is, and about a boy she likes who she "is dating" and who she "wants to make out with".  This has shattered me and I now feel SOOOO guilty about agreeing to let her be around who I'm sure are many other girls like this.

 

My dilemma about this is, she made a commitment to go back to public school (we had a long discussion about this before we gave our ok), so do we let her continue while trying to empower her to choose her friends wisely, to help her learn the importance of seeing commitments through and how to choose friends, or do we get her out of that situation and back into homeschool and coordinate playtime with kids I trust?  I don't want to keep a bubble around her, but I also wouldn't knowingly put her into a potentially dangerous situation.  Is there some gray area to find here, i.e. do not let her ride the bus (she of course sat in the back with this one particular girl and other "bad" kids), and limiting the amount of play time she gets w/these kids outside of school?

 

Thank you everyone for your insight!

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#16 of 25 Old 08-14-2012, 07:58 AM
 
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Hello, and please forgive me for adding my issue to this particular topic, but my situation is so similar.

 

After 2 years of homeschooling, my DD asked if she could go back to public school.  (Our local public school happens to be a charter school.)  Unfortunately, the particular area we live in is mostly low-ish income and low-ish parental education level, and most of the parents in our apt complex are NOT involved w/their children.  The result is bratty, bossy, bullying kids whom DD now goes to school with.

 

I'm worried about a couple girls in particular; they have been mean to DD and other kids (I have personally witnessed), yet DD wants to hang out with them.  What's worse, on the very first day of school, as I was cleaning DD's desk at home, I found a diary-type note she had written that talked about how one of these girls had taught her what "f**k" means, what "s*x" is, and about a boy she likes who she "is dating" and who she "wants to make out with".  This has shattered me and I now feel SOOOO guilty about agreeing to let her be around who I'm sure are many other girls like this.

 

My dilemma about this is, she made a commitment to go back to public school (we had a long discussion about this before we gave our ok), so do we let her continue while trying to empower her to choose her friends wisely, to help her learn the importance of seeing commitments through and how to choose friends, or do we get her out of that situation and back into homeschool and coordinate playtime with kids I trust?  I don't want to keep a bubble around her, but I also wouldn't knowingly put her into a potentially dangerous situation.  Is there some gray area to find here, i.e. do not let her ride the bus (she of course sat in the back with this one particular girl and other "bad" kids), and limiting the amount of play time she gets w/these kids outside of school?

 

Thank you everyone for your insight!

 

 

I think you are dealing with 2 different issues. 

 

The first is the bullying behaviour. Before deciding whether to pull her from school because of this issue, consider how it is impacting her and how well she is dealing with it. If it is distressing her and damaging her self-image and she doesn't think she can manage the situation even if she is given tools and support, then removing her from school is a probably the best option. I wouldn't make that kind of decision without a lot of discussion with her and her agreement that it's best for now. I would also make certain she understood that she wasn't leaving school because of anything she failed to do, but rather because it isn't the right place for her right now. You don't mention whether the school is trying to deal with the bullying behaviour. If it looked like the school could deal with it and your dd wasn't affected by it (she had several good friends, she can see the bullies for what they are, she isn't being distracted and demeaned by them), then I'd answer differently. 

 

The second is the stuff about boys and sex. I'm guessing that your DD is about 9 years old, since you say you homeschooled for 2 years and then she had a year of school (so she finished third grade?). Whether she goes to school or not, she's going to be encountering information about sex and sexuality, especially as she heads into the tween years. It is time for her to know what sex is. It is time for her to know the slang terms. It is time to talk to her about boys (and girls - I found there are lots of girl-girl crushes at that age) and healthy relationships, if only to encourage her toward friendships and keep romance for when she is ready to manage the emotions of a romantic relationship. I honestly don't think homeschooling is going to prevent her from hearing about romance, sex and slang terminology. 

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#17 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 09:14 AM
 
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Hi, and thank you so much for your reply.  After reading, thinking, and talking with some of my local homeschooling moms, I'm feeling better about the situation(s).  Since I'm mostly concerned about a specific handful of girls, we'll be limiting the time DD gets to spend with them and concentrating on arranging playdates with our homeschooling friends instead.  Fortunately, the "problem girls" are in other grades or classrooms, and she doesn't even get to see them during lunch - maybe only recess.  And beginning this morning, we are taking her to school instead of letting her ride the bus.  We spoke w/her yesterday afternoon about re-evaluating the school situation in another week or two.  We've made other changes at home, too, like limiting more what she can do on the computer and what she can watch on TV.

 

As far as the boys/sex issue, yes, DD is 9 and we have been very open with her about body parts, how hers will change and why, and she has a basic knowledge of mating.  We just hadn't gotten to the "when a man and a woman love each other very much...." speech yet!!  This year was when we were planning on including sex education in our homeschool studies anyway.  What I'm hoping is that between reeling her back in from some of these "so called" friends and providing her with some adult-moderated conversations about sex, we can get the horse back into the barn on that issue.

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#18 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 09:53 AM
 
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Sounds like you're on a good track. My kids haven't wanted to ride the bus and school starts so early here and they're such bears in the morning that I find it much easier to drive them the short distance to school than to try to get them to the bus stop a half hour early.

 

I think it's much easier to introduce the specifics of sex at an early age. There's no embarrassment (at least on the part of the kids) and it's just a natural thing like learning about your circulatory system or your digestive system (poop—gross!; intercourse—gross!!). My kids have known all about it since they were 2 and 5. They haven't been scarred for life and definitely think it's gross now at ages 8 & 11 (moreso now than when they were younger), but they will not fall prey to misinformation on the playground and words like the F-word (which they also know from school) don't have the power that they would since they know what it's about. We loved the Robie Harris books and the American Girl books. Both are very positive and the American Girl books are very girl-affirming, specifically The Care and Keeping of You.

 

I'd look into arranging some playdates with girls from school as well as homeschooling friends. We have some great homeschooling friends, too, but the homeschoolers aren't at school, and the girls need an ally and friend on the playground and at lunch to counteract the negative behavior of the other girls.


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#19 of 25 Old 08-17-2012, 06:48 AM
 
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As far as the boys/sex issue, yes, DD is 9 and we have been very open with her about body parts, how hers will change and why, and she has a basic knowledge of mating.  We just hadn't gotten to the "when a man and a woman love each other very much...." speech yet!!  This year was when we were planning on including sex education in our homeschool studies anyway.  What I'm hoping is that between reeling her back in from some of these "so called" friends and providing her with some adult-moderated conversations about sex, we can get the horse back into the barn on that issue.

 

That's the thing. It's normal for these girls to be curious and to talk about sexuality. They are just kids though so they will be awkward about it. This includes using crude language. Especially if the adults in their lives haven't taken a lead in providing some guidance about healthy relationships. Unfortunately, too many people think that after they've discussed the mechanics of sexual reproduction, the job is done. 

 

It sounds like you have a good plan in place. Good luck dealing with the bullying behaviour. 

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#20 of 25 Old 08-19-2012, 05:10 AM
 
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My friend just told me about her son being bullied in a small private school in about the 2nd or 3rd grade.  She pulled him out and put him in the public school and he soared.  He had tons of people to be friends with and his grades were great.  He's graduated now and doing wonderfully.
 


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#21 of 25 Old 08-19-2012, 12:16 PM
 
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Back to the OP, I would be especially worried about the bullies, since they bullied your dd in front of you.  How brazen! It seems clear that they are not afraid of consequences from adults.  I wonder what the dynamic is at school (and at home) that lets them feel so confident about their poor behavior?

 

I would definitely look for other schooling options for your dd, while at the same time I would put pressure on the school to solve this problem.  I would email the principal with my concerns, and schedule a meeting.  I would definitely want the situation written down.  Ask the principal what his/her plan will be to prevent your dd from being bullied by the same children again this year.  I might consider having in my hand the state law on bullying and ask how the school plans to comply with state law in this case, and point out how state law has not been complied with if that's true.  I would follow up the meeting with an email with the action plan you came up with in the meeting, ending with, "please respond if this is not accurate." You want the principal to take responsibility for this situation and he or she will be well aware that a paper trail holds them responsible. 

 

I think it's terrific that you're helping her strengthen her friendship with one girl, but the other girls need to stop the bully behavior as well.      I also think it's laudable that you're trying to work with a bully-mother and hope that helps, but the school needs to stop up as well. 

 

Good luck and keep us posted.  I feel for your sweet dd!

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#22 of 25 Old 08-31-2012, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Agdurannie, I'm glad that you chimed in.  I had an interesting discussion with an educator about this recently.  She asked the kids who were studying different mammals at what age these mammals reproduced and then asked about humans and when they could reproduce. When the kids said 13 or 14 she asked them if they thought that this was wise and they thought about it and said, "no".  She told them that at his age kids need to be focusing on learning and playing and that boyfriends and girlfriends come much later.  It sounds really simplistic now that I'm writing it, but it sounded like it had a profound effect on the little class of 6-8 year olds.  It sounds like you are doing such a great job with your DD.  I want to acknowledge what a great job you are doing in respecting her choices and allowing her to be part of the decision making process in your family.
 

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#23 of 25 Old 08-31-2012, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Back to the OP, I would be especially worried about the bullies, since they bullied your dd in front of you.  How brazen! It seems clear that they are not afraid of consequences from adults.  I wonder what the dynamic is at school (and at home) that lets them feel so confident about their poor behavior?

 

I would definitely look for other schooling options for your dd, while at the same time I would put pressure on the school to solve this problem.  I would email the principal with my concerns, and schedule a meeting.  I would definitely want the situation written down.  Ask the principal what his/her plan will be to prevent your dd from being bullied by the same children again this year.  I might consider having in my hand the state law on bullying and ask how the school plans to comply with state law in this case, and point out how state law has not been complied with if that's true.  I would follow up the meeting with an email with the action plan you came up with in the meeting, ending with, "please respond if this is not accurate." You want the principal to take responsibility for this situation and he or she will be well aware that a paper trail holds them responsible. 

 

I think it's terrific that you're helping her strengthen her friendship with one girl, but the other girls need to stop the bully behavior as well.      I also think it's laudable that you're trying to work with a bully-mother and hope that helps, but the school needs to stop up as well. 

 

Good luck and keep us posted.  I feel for your sweet dd!


You brought up so many good points.  The original girl,"Libby" has many supportive grown ups, but I would have to say that her mother takes "self absorbed" to a level I didn't know existed.  There is also a race among some of these parents to grow their young child into a mini adult.  I just don't get it.  I cherish childhood. 

 

I worry that my daughter might become a "mean girl" in order to fit in.  I worry that waiting for a school to fix a problem that has gone on for multiple years will be at the expense of our DD.  We are looking at a school that talks about community every day and has good supervision at play time.  We've had mixed thoughts about a larger school with more people to choose from and a small school that may have the same issues.  For us it comes down to our own DD.  We think that she is sensitive and may benefit from a smaller school.  I hope that we are right as there are many good qualities about the school that she attends.  I've only mentioned the worst issue and not all of the redeeming features that drew us to the school initially.

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#24 of 25 Old 09-04-2012, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Today is a new day.  DD started a new school.  This school is only 4 days a week which will allow us to have more time with our precious DD.  The school is new, but already has a great reputation for facilitating community and friendships among the students and families.

 

The old school is going to focus on building healthy relationships in the class that DD attended.  I just don't see that much healthy change happening without strong supportive family involvement. There is only so much that a school can do. 

 

I appreciate everyone's input and am very grateful to this forum at Mothering to hear other discussions and have some much needed validation about my feelings as a mother.
 

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#25 of 25 Old 09-04-2012, 01:30 PM
 
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Sounds like a good move. I hope she has a great year!


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