Another bully thread (didn't want to hijack the other one) - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 18 Old 06-15-2007, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My oldest (12 years old-6th grade) will go for orientation at the jr high building in August. He is so worried about bullies and people picking on him. He was picked on quite a bit by two boys throughout fifth grade and is concerned about it for sixth grade. Luckily, those boys are in a different jr high building next year.

I feel really bad for him b/c he is so worried about dealing with bullies again. I am not sure what else to do for him. He spent his fifth grade year walking away from these boys only to have them follow him around. He finally reached his breaking point and was acting out his frustrations on these boys with his brother. I sat my son down and talked with him. We went to the principal the next day and she talked to the boy who seemed to start everything. The boy had gotten in trouble multiple times for bullying/picking on kids throughout the year that by the last two weeks he wasn't even allowed to be out on recess or eating with the other kids.

Really not sure what else to do.

Rebecca wife of Megan...moms to six crazy kiddos! Seth (15), Madison (13), Zachary (12), Trevor (12), Alex (10), and Nicholas (9)
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#2 of 18 Old 06-15-2007, 07:47 PM
 
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Well, you handled it well by going to the principal. I would call his new school and request a written copy of their policy on bullying. Most schools have them now. If not, then ask for their school rules, or code of conduct, in writing. Read this information with your son.

Help him to make a "plan" for just in case it happens again -- and in that plan, he could go directly to the guidance counselor and ask for help. He doesn't need to give names if that makes him feel more afraid -- but he could ask for help/advice. (Probably, he would end up giving names -- but hopefully, they could deal with it sensitively.) Make sure he knows where the counselor's office is, where the principal's office is, where the nurse's office is.... make sure he knows how to access people who can help.

Work with him on self-confidence. Nobody deserves to be bullied, no matter what. But certain behaviors and attitudes seem to elicit more negative attention than others. Talk to him about walking confidently, holding his head up, avoiding direct eye contact, etc.

Also, be sure that he is involved in activities that he likes and is good at. All children need to feel safe. Period. But children who know what they are good at have an easier time letting verbal teasing role off their backs. Being good at things, developing skills -- makes the biggest difference in confidence.
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#3 of 18 Old 06-15-2007, 07:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the advice. I hadn't even thought of pointing out the guidance counselor's office.

He is about 5'1" and weighs about 82 lbs, so he is tall and skinny. He loves to read and wears glasses, so I feel like he has a lot of things bullies are attracted to when they pick at other kids.

He going to try out band this year and is still going strong in soccer, though he doesn't play for this school district. Our neighbor's son, who picks on him some, is also going to this school. He is in 8th grade and my son is worried about him being there. The school says the 6th graders are only around the 7th/8th in hallways between classes, so I hope he can avoid him.

Rebecca wife of Megan...moms to six crazy kiddos! Seth (15), Madison (13), Zachary (12), Trevor (12), Alex (10), and Nicholas (9)
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#4 of 18 Old 06-15-2007, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
Work with him on self-confidence. Nobody deserves to be bullied, no matter what. But certain behaviors and attitudes seem to elicit more negative attention than others. Talk to him about walking confidently, holding his head up, avoiding direct eye contact, etc.

Also, be sure that he is involved in activities that he likes and is good at. All children need to feel safe. Period. But children who know what they are good at have an easier time letting verbal teasing role off their backs. Being good at things, developing skills -- makes the biggest difference in confidence.
Bingo. I tried saying this eleventy different ways and deleted them all before I posted it. If you genuinely like yourself and have confidence in who you are, a bully's words have no effect on you.
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#5 of 18 Old 06-15-2007, 09:36 PM
 
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Bingo. I tried saying this eleventy different ways and deleted them all before I posted it. If you genuinely like yourself and have confidence in who you are, a bully's words have no effect on you.
Yes. True. However, bullies also really truly hurt other kids physically. Self-confidence is preventative to a point, and it is the solution for taunting behaviors. But he needs a plan for staying physically safe as well.

Find out if the school requires teachers to stand in the hall between class periods, when the kids are in the halls.

Make a connection, if you can, with your neighbor kid's parent. ASAP. Be friendly -- establish a rapport before anything happens, so that you have a foundation built already if you have to approach them about anything.

Meet all his teachers, face to face. They will look out for your son more actively if they have the impression that you will be at their doorstep otherwise.
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#6 of 18 Old 06-16-2007, 12:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Find out if the school requires teachers to stand in the hall between class periods, when the kids are in the halls.

Meet all his teachers, face to face. They will look out for your son more actively if they have the impression that you will be at their doorstep otherwise.
Good idea about the teachers in the hall. I will be meeting his teachers and I plan on being a fixture in there as much as possible. I am able to email them or call them during their free period to stay in contact as well.

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Make a connection, if you can, with your neighbor kid's parent. ASAP. Be friendly -- establish a rapport before anything happens, so that you have a foundation built already if you have to approach them about anything.
I am actually fairly good friends with my neighbors. The problem is she either doesn't believe her son would do anything wrong and/or the solution is to just stay away from each other. He doesn't get punished for things he does. Last summer, he had his brother hold my son down while they threw these acorn things at him. I saw from the back window and went out back immediately. I called her boys off my son and went straight to her house. She called them over and said if you can't play nice, don't play at all with him. Then her boys went back to playing outside. I was blown away that nothing else was done.

Rebecca wife of Megan...moms to six crazy kiddos! Seth (15), Madison (13), Zachary (12), Trevor (12), Alex (10), and Nicholas (9)
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#7 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 12:41 PM
 
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Houdini, I sympathize with you.

My son was bullied and started to become angry and aggressive. I had to put him in anger management at 8 yrs old. Last year, a kid attacked him on the bus and my son ended up in the ER with a bruised nose and shoulder (thankfully that was all it was).: Not even the bus driver did anything. This was after my son started using words to express his anger. My son didn't even try to defend himself, which greatly upset me. The bully/child was suspended for 2 days. He was 10 and my son was 9.

The police were called and they were supposed to prosecute but then they didn't for reasons unknown to me. The boy's parents didn't even call to apologize. They simply didn't care. It's very frustrating.

I'm always conerned about bullying and my son will attend a new school this year. He is tall and skinny like your son, but very strong and athletic. I have already met with the parent coordinator at the new school and talked to them about bullying and she assured me that they take it seriously. There was even a mural on the wall, where all the children in 2 grades had to write an essay on bullying. So, hopefully this will be a much better environment.

It's so distressing to think about this happening. The bullying with my son went on for MONTHS before I found out, as he told his grandmother, who then told me. He said he didn't want to tell me because he didn't want me to worry.: Even though it's not a solution to everything, I so wish I could homeschool...
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#8 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 01:00 PM
 
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Work with him on self-confidence. Nobody deserves to be bullied, no matter what. But certain behaviors and attitudes seem to elicit more negative attention than others. Talk to him about walking confidently, holding his head up, avoiding direct eye contact, etc.
Is your son interested at all in the martial arts?? I have found my sons Taikwando class has been a real confidence booster for him. The instructor focuses on self respect as well as respect for others. They talk a lot about how being confident is how you carry yourself. just a thought....

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#9 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is your son interested at all in the martial arts?? I have found my sons Taikwando class has been a real confidence booster for him. The instructor focuses on self respect as well as respect for others. They talk a lot about how being confident is how you carry yourself. just a thought....
He would love to take martial arts, but we don't have the money right now. I am hoping in the fall we will be able to get him going with some lessons.

Thanks to everyone who posted on this thread.

Rebecca wife of Megan...moms to six crazy kiddos! Seth (15), Madison (13), Zachary (12), Trevor (12), Alex (10), and Nicholas (9)
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#10 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 05:00 PM
 
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When you are ready talk the the instructer. I know my instructer and her husband are not just in it for the money but also for the love of the sport and the love of teaching. On the QT she offers sliding scales to some of her students. She counts on a lot of volunteers and fundraising to go to touraments too so she has "traded" lessons for parents offering to pitch in at bakes sales, the float for the 4th of July parade, etc.

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#11 of 18 Old 07-05-2007, 07:13 PM
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Houdini, I sympathize with you.

My son was bullied and started to become angry and aggressive. I had to put him in anger management at 8 yrs old. Last year, a kid attacked him on the bus and my son ended up in the ER with a bruised nose and shoulder (thankfully that was all it was).: Not even the bus driver did anything. This was after my son started using words to express his anger. My son didn't even try to defend himself, which greatly upset me. The bully/child was suspended for 2 days. He was 10 and my son was 9.

The police were called and they were supposed to prosecute but then they didn't for reasons unknown to me. The boy's parents didn't even call to apologize. They simply didn't care. It's very frustrating.

I'm always conerned about bullying and my son will attend a new school this year. He is tall and skinny like your son, but very strong and athletic. I have already met with the parent coordinator at the new school and talked to them about bullying and she assured me that they take it seriously. There was even a mural on the wall, where all the children in 2 grades had to write an essay on bullying. So, hopefully this will be a much better environment.

It's so distressing to think about this happening. The bullying with my son went on for MONTHS before I found out, as he told his grandmother, who then told me. He said he didn't want to tell me because he didn't want me to worry.: Even though it's not a solution to everything, I so wish I could homeschool...
This is really sad. Kids are terrified to defend themselves because of Zero Tolerance Policy bs. One kid attacks another, and if the victim defends themself, both kids end up suspended these days. So kids who don't care if they're suspended will attack, and kids who really don't want that mark on their record will just sit and take it
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#12 of 18 Old 07-06-2007, 12:31 PM
 
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This is really sad. Kids are terrified to defend themselves because of Zero Tolerance Policy bs. One kid attacks another, and if the victim defends themself, both kids end up suspended these days. So kids who don't care if they're suspended will attack, and kids who really don't want that mark on their record will just sit and take it
I can't explain to you how sad it is. It's really out of control how little responsibilty both the schools and the parents take with respect to this issue.

I like what people have said about martial arts. My son was in it when he was younger and I'm looking for a place now that's affordable. I definitely want to put him back in that.
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#13 of 18 Old 07-06-2007, 03:54 PM
 
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My son is starting the 6th grade next year at a jr high and is a little worried as well. He is short, husky (not fat but very solidly built) and wears glasses. We had to really work with him on not responding to bullies at around age 8 or 9. He has learned that 90% of the time, if he doesn't allow what they are teasing him about to effect him mentally, they will drop it and leave him alone. We used role playing a lot. We worked through tons of scenarios that he might run into and what he might say or do. It helped him figure out what to say/how to react, and helped him to start thinking of quick comebacks, etc. I'm doing that now with him on a pretty regular basis, although very informally now, because he's too cool to need to do it anymore or so he thinks.....

We use role playing a lot to help him figure out how to deal with gangs, drugs, peer pressure, etc. He says it has helped him tremendously because then, when situations come up, he already has some idea how to deal with them.

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#14 of 18 Old 07-08-2007, 04:21 AM
 
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All the advice so far has been great.

I do caution against being a fixture at his school. I don't know where you live and how big the school is, but if you are there regularily, he'll get hassled about that too "Hey Georgie, how come your mom's here AGAIN?"

We can go to the various authorities all we want, and expect them to expel kids, prosecute them etc. But in the end, I believe we should be equipping our kids to deal with schoolyard bullies on their own. Pacification habits (walking away, placating the bully, buying/bartering their acceptance) that are learned and used now will carry on into the workforce.

Every workplace has a strong personality, bordering on a workplace bully. That bully was the bully in school and it just carries on. Everyone knows, and everyone says "Oh, that's just the way Butch is...". Remember the two realities in "Back to the Future"? The high school jock was a bully in school, and was a bully afterwards. It holds true.

Team sports helps build confidence and gives a kid experience in dealing with a variety of other kids. It also gives him an outlet for anger and aggression.

If you can do this... I think kids need to know how to defend themselves, and that it's OK to do that, and that (in this day of zero tolerance) that you have his back, that you will defend him to the school staff when you get called cause he knocked the bully out.

Taekwando, boxing, rough play, football, wrestling etc will all give him an idea how to deal with aggressive kids. If you can't afford the dues, go talk to the teachers at the dojo -- offer to clean, help, wash the towels and windows, answer phones etc. Explain the situation to them and ask if you can trade some sweat equity on your part for a few sessions for the boy. I can't imagine that a sensei would be so callous as to let a kid get bullied and not want to teach him something helpful.

Nothing stops a bully better and faster than a broken nose. Will he get in trouble? Sure. Let him serve his 3 day suspension from school at home, get him some movies and a couple of favourite meals. Let him know you are proud that he stood up for himself (or a weaker kid, if that's the case) and that you'll support him NEXT time it happens too.

I speak from experience, and that was my case. I couldn't sit by and watch the popular kids terrorize the short/fat/ugly/glasses/zit-faced kids anymore. So one day, as I watched the ring leader stuffing a short kid with glasses and an atomic-wedgie into a locker, I stepped in and ended the reign of terror in a most ungentlemanly fashion. I was suspended for 3 days for fighting. I spent those three days being treated like a king at home -- we fielded phone calls from the other parents for days -- all appreciative.

And the bully? I made an enemy that day, but at least if he was focused on me, he wasn't terrorizing 15 other kids...
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#15 of 18 Old 07-09-2007, 10:35 AM
 
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I don't know where you live and how big the school is, but if you are there regularily, he'll get hassled about that too "Hey Georgie, how come your mom's here AGAIN?"
My experience is, in my kid's school, that the kids are a little envious and think its cool that I'm around. "Your so lucky," is what my son hears from his peers, when he hears anything at all. I really think its a myth that kids this age don't want their parents around anymore. Parents are more involved, and to later ages, than they have been in the past -- kids are accepting it as normal.

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Every workplace has a strong personality, bordering on a workplace bully. That bully was the bully in school and it just carries on.
I would be highly surprised to hear that adults are regularly beat up, hassled out of lunch money, and threatened with violence on a daily basis at work. Additionally, there is not the same element of stark social and age-group stratification in the work place, that allows children to intimidate each other in this way at school. Its not the same dynamic. Nothing in adult life is quite the same dynamic as middle school.

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Nothing stops a bully better and faster than a broken nose. Will he get in trouble? Sure. Let him serve his 3 day suspension from school at home, get him some movies and a couple of favourite meals. Let him know you are proud that he stood up for himself (or a weaker kid, if that's the case) and that you'll support him NEXT time it happens too.
Maybe this would have been decent advice a few short years back, but not now. I personally know of kids who are taken before juvinille court for defending themselves at school. A three day suspension gives you a rep. and a record that follows you into highschool, and believe me -- it does not give you the support of the adults who can protect you during those years.

Its also more dangerous than it used to be. Kids are bringing weapons to school, for goodness sake. Hit a kid in the nose today, and what might you be in store for from that kid tomorrow?

If my kid were in an environment on a daily basis where the ONLY recourse was violent self-defense, then I would remove the from that environment. Indeed, I feel it would be irresponsible to do otherwise. Living and coping in a dangerous environment may be noble or character building in certain situations, but its just not useful in middle school. Its damaging and counter-productive.
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#16 of 18 Old 07-17-2007, 01:13 AM
 
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actually I think dadinblue made some good points. First of all, I was thinking of the movie "Hoot" which has at its core a bus bully dynamic, very artfully handled -- middle school to boot. It would be a great escapist movie for any middle school boy-- in fact it was my 12 year old nephew who told me about it.
Second, I do agree that a middle school boy who's mom shows up at school a lot is more likely to be teased, whatever the mother thinks. Those moms sometimes do have more influence with teachers but most middle school boys I know would not want their moms overly visible at school if they were being picked on. I'm not arguing against involvement but I think it should be done more behind the scenes.
Last, there are definitely workplace bullies, even in my high tech well paid professional company, where I handle HR matters. This very day I had to write up a plan for someone to deal with his anger management/bullying problem-- and he's a brilliant guy who is very valuable to the company-- everyone just happens to dread having to work with him and many have quit. One doesn't have to hit to be a bully. This guy has had men in tears more than once, and that counts.
I agree about being careful about initiating any aggression tho. Self defense, yes, absolutely. I think the idea of approaching the martial arts schools with some proposal to barter or volunteer or work for a few hours is a great idea. The one that takes you up on it is likely to be the one that has its heart in the right place in terms of wanting to help your son.
Bullying is the worst. Your son will find strength.
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#17 of 18 Old 07-17-2007, 01:34 AM
 
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Another suggestion about the martial arts classes: does the town or city where you live offer any kind of low-cost classes? Is there a Y nearby that might have more inexpensive classes? I was really surprised at the options my town offered when I checked on their web site. Also, when I was in middle school, our principal happened to be really into karate and ran a free after school club to any kid who wanted to learn the basics. I'd ask around; you never know what you might find out!

I think the major benefit of the martial arts classes would be, as PPs have pointed out, the boost in confidence. Potential bullies would look for easier prey if your son was able to defend himself, and carried himself as if he KNEW he'd be able to do it. I am NOT saying he should engage in a fight, as some have suggested, but that he would actually be able to fend off an attack.
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#18 of 18 Old 07-18-2007, 09:26 PM
 
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My mom helped out a lot in my brother's school and that was good. She was nice to the other kids and was a positive role model. He didn't get teased because they all looked up to my mom.
When he got to high school he joined football. He was pretty skinny when he started but he has been working out and doing very well. I think when you join sports teams it helps out with bullying because you gain friendships. Maybe not in every instance but I am sure it helps.
I homeschool. The thought of one of my children having to worry about the bullying and their safety makes me feel sick. You seem to be a very caring mom who will be there for her son when he needs you!
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