Urgent Request: Bullying Advice Needed

A reader and first time parent of a child being bullied at school sent an e-mail requesting help from you.

Help me! My child, a sixth grader, is experiencing some bullying by a kid who is known for this type of thing. The bully is doing a lot of verbal stuff out of ear shot range of the teacher and also trips my kid and runs into him in the hall extra hard knocking him down and saying it was an accident. How long do you wait to go to the teacher or higher? Should I call the mom of the bully first?

Well, just don’t do this. I mean it might work for you but it didn’t feel super effective to me.

22 thoughts on “Urgent Request: Bullying Advice Needed

  • November 9, 2010 at 11:11 am
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    Doesn’t the school have any helpful FAQ’s on this for parents? You would think they would have something to the effect of, “If your child says he/she is being bullied, then here are the steps we recommend you take” on their website or somewhere.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 11:13 am
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    Not sure which of the HPMS/MIS counselors has the 6th graders but that’s where I would start. In my experience, the counselors have the pulse of most of the kids in their grade – and virtually all of the bullies. They will treat you/your child with total confidentiality but will get the teacher(s) in the loop as well so that they can take some proactive measures too – moving desks, etc.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 11:31 am
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    You can’t rely on the school. I would call the Mother of the bully myself. I had a similar scenario earlier this year and I walked right up to the boy’s Mom on the football field, introduced myself and said, “Let’s talk about what’s been happening with our boys”. She denied any responsibility on her son’s part, so I can’t say it went well… but it made me feel better that I tried to be adult about it. And I showed my son how you should try to work things out reasonably before you quit turning the other cheek and knock the snot out of someone who won’t leave you alone. I think 5-6 graders especially have a tough time figuring out what is friendly teasing and when it crosses the line into bullying. At least with boys, who tend to be physical anyway. Side note: watch GLEE tonight. The topic is bullying – although it’s about a gay student being bullied, so decide for yourself if you are comfortable with that angle.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 11:35 am
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    Marcia Pool is super approachable and has probably had similar complaints about the child who is bullying (they don’t usually just bully 1 kid). I would call her — she almost always answers her phone or send her an email (she is really prompt with those too). In addition to being a principal, she is a mom of boys so she will understand and will handle it in a way that won’t embarass your son. I would not call the mom of the bullier — that is very likely to backfire on your son.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 11:40 am
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    There is a sign on the front door of the school about No Bullying Zone meetings or something like that coming up. Call the office and find out about them.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 11:59 am
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    It disappoints me that the school isn’t more PROactive than reactive. If they know who the bullies are, address the situation. I’ve found teachers to be weak in this area. When a girl was bullying my daughter a few years back, the teacher moved their seats so they were sitting next to each other, figuring that it would solve itself. No follow up, no attention to the matter, and sure enough, the problem got worse. My wife finally called the mother, she denied it, but then it “magically” stopped.

    Counseling the victim of bullying, and not the bullies, is like treating the symptom, not the cause. Might make it feel better, but doesn’t stop the problem.

    @ Cynthia S- Good for you. Even if they react like that during the discussion, at least it is on their radar screen

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  • November 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm
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    My kid was bullied in an elementary school known for its indifferent principal. I called the mom, and she denied it like there’s no tomorrow. Then the bullying got worse rather than better, with other kids getting involved. I wish there had been a happy ending, but there wasn’t.
    In the middle school, I know that they take it very seriously. Going to the counselor and the principals is absolutely the right thing to do. Good luck.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm
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    My kids are under strict orders: End the bullying by any means necessary.
    If they see it being done, confront it, end it.
    Case in point: some genius was making fun of a special needs kid in elem last year. I was proud when a mom called my wife and said she saw one of my boys end it. No wiggle room. No excuses. END. IT.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 12:51 pm
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    One of the challenges with bullying is that for one kid, it feels like bullying, and for other kids, it’s just teasing or rough housing. My child was super sensitive, a little less mature and an easy mark for kids used to wrestling and horsing around. If someone took his lunch, he was clueless about how to get it back and devastated because he felt so helpless. To the other kids, it was just a little practical joke and no big deal. That what they’re doing is bullying is hard for some kids to grasp. It doesn’t excuse it, but it can explain why some kids don’t see their actions that way.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm
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    Isnt it alittle ironic to be discussing bullying on this blog? I find too often that most of the bullying at school is done by kids that have seen this behavior at home.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 1:34 pm
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    i went through a lot bullying when i first went to bradfield school back in 1957 and iwas abused by the teacher in first grade and one time the teacher took me in to the back room and shook the heck out me and because of abuse i ended up failing first grade at bradfield and as i went though school i endened up getting abused and bullying by onther kids and it still hurts me to this day and i hope that parents and teachers can do something to stop this any child has the rights to feel safe going to school and feel safe living in a community

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  • November 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm
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    HSMOM, You are right on. That is exactly the text book profile of a bully. He/she is usually being bullied at home by a parent or family member.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 2:54 pm
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    LM: Interesting angle, and I agree it can be tough sometimes to really nail down what is going on.

    Sadly – in this day and age – going to the other parent no longer works, because too many parents just either don’t care, or don’t think their kid could EVER do something like that. It’s too bad that parents no longer take the side of other parents and teachers, and instead run to the defense of their kid.

    My first thought it that the parents of a bully KNOW what their kid is doing and for some reason can’t/won’t stop it. But with the current separation of kids and parents (parents out socializing/kids on their computers) I think many parents don’t have a clue what their kids are doing – or even who their kids are!

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  • November 9, 2010 at 4:02 pm
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    There was a terrific speaker at the Middle School PTA meeting today on bullying and cyberbullying. Too bad you missed it. Lots of good tips on dealing with bullies. Perhaps you can get a copy of the hand-out from the school or the PTA. Staff from the Family Place gave the presentation. Good tips. Good discussion.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 10:16 pm
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    its simple really.
    you kick them.
    as hard as you can, in the shins.
    no one can fight laying on the ground.

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  • November 9, 2010 at 10:57 pm
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    1. speak up

    2. first to the school, then hope for but do not expect a positive change, if no change,

    3. then to the parents, they will likely deny it, but the problem will probably improve, but if not,

    4. then teach your child to retaliate

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  • November 10, 2010 at 8:20 am
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    sorry, left on the last step to combat bullies:

    while they are laying on the ground, holding their
    shin(s) and writhing, you point at them, and at
    the top of your lungs you shout “BULLY!!!”

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  • November 10, 2010 at 10:00 am
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    Although I should add that based on this picture, BOTH of these kids SHOULD be bullied.

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  • November 10, 2010 at 10:14 am
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    @fomer scott, that doesn’t work when:
    you get kicked in the back of the knee going up the stairs
    you get punched in the arm walking down the hall
    you get ketchup poured into your dessert in the cafeteria
    all of the kids ignore you at recess
    the bullies claim you are being a bully
    the bullies mutter nasty things at you under their breath
    the kids stand up and go to another table as you sit down at lunch
    they grab your backpack knocking you over backwards
    they grab your lunch and won’t give it back
    if you get up to get a napkin at lunch, they throw your lunch away
    they constantly knock your pencil off your desk
    and so on and so on
    All of these things can occur without teachers seeing or hearing them, and the teachers often cannot believe that these things are happening. Sometimes the positive reputation of the bullies’ parents can make the administration less likely to believe your child. Who wants to punish the kid whose parents donate big bucks to the school or whose parent is the room mom? Since we haven’t had any trouble in the middle school, I’m speaking about elementary school experiences.

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  • November 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm
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    Our daughter was bullied at UP Elementary several years ago. We met with Dr. Carter and the counselor, Billie Kissinger, and they took steps that ended the problem.

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  • November 10, 2010 at 11:19 pm
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    honestly, true story.
    back in the day at UP elementary,
    the third grade class bully, preachers kid, of course.
    he just picked on everybody.
    one day, he picked on the wrong guy.
    the guy, a current HP school board member,
    called the bully out, under the “monkey bars”
    on the UP play field, during recess.
    one punch. and down the bully went.
    no more bullying. ever.
    if this happened today, there would have been
    expulsion for the guy, counseling, therapy.
    maybe a lawsuit.
    but in the mid 60’s “playground justice” was
    sweet and complete.

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  • November 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm
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    I have been dealing with the bullying of one of my kids for the last 3 years. I made the MISTAKE the first year of telling my child to just wait and ignore the bully and they would stop: The WORST advice ever, but that is just how things were dealt with (or not dealt with) back in my day. My poor kid became more and more distraught until one night she cried and I finally woke up. I told the teacher who immediately called the mom of the bully and it stopped. That was at Bradfield.

    At the middle school a boy was physically and verbally abusing my same child. My husband and I gave her permission to defend herself and fight back for the first time in her life, and even told her what to do: Kick them in the shins as hard as you can! The school would never support this idea, but I was just sick of teaching my daughter to always be nice only for her to be singled out as weak and be beaten upon by a large boy. I told her that if she ended up in the principal’s office for fighting back, she wouldn’t be in trouble with us. So the next time the bully pushed her, she kicked him twice and shoved him back and the physical abuse stopped cold.

    I thought it was over and then the bully started up again a month later with calling her names. I emailed her teachers and they immediately informed the principals, vice-principals, assistant principals and whozits in charge, and the kid was brought in the next day and dealt with. His mother was called and lots of meetings occurred about his horrid actions. My daughter was also counseled, and so in the end, I was pleased with the school’s response.

    The biggest problem is that bullying is so prevalent these days, and I don’t know if the schools can ever effectively stop it. I would love to see more talks given encouraging the bystanders to step in and help if they see bullying in action. Make it seem heroic that they could help out a fellow student. Identify the Alpha-students of each class and get them to start a movement of intolerance of all bullying. My daughter said the thing that hurt her the most was that her classmates didn’t step in to support her and even laughed sometimes.

    My heart goes out to you and your child. Call and email the school. Make them do something and be completely 110% supportive of your child. This is why we are here.

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