When your child is victim of a bully

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  February 3, 2010 06:00 AM

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Hi Barbara,

With all the recent discussion and focus on bullying, I realized I am at a loss as to what to instruct my 3rd grade son to do. He told me the other day that another 3rd grader from a different classroom (and apparently new to the school) teased him during recess about the way he says the word 'three' (comes out sounding like free). He wasn't dwelling on it, but now I feel like I am. We have very good communication and I thanked him for being open and telling me the truth. He is a very well-liked and kind boy who enjoys 3rd grade immensely. I mentioned that if this boy continues to confront him, he should seek out an adult and report it. Should I be encouraging him to take another course of action, or perhaps verbally defend himself more?

Thanks for your help.

From: Michelle, Framingham

Hi Michelle,

You're right, there sure is a lot of bullying in the news and, I agree, it's hard to know as a parent how to help your child.

The approach in anti-bullying is two-fold: to empower bystanders and to marginalize the bully.

 Easier said than done, of course, especially if schools do not have anti-bullying programs in place. Shame on them if they don't; there's no excuse these days, not even for budget-crunched schools. Here are school programs that are  government-sponsored  and here's a site for kids.

Nan Stein, a researcher at the Wellesley College Center for Women, has been instrumental in helping to establish anti-bullying curriculum nationwide. She was quoted extensively in the wake of the South Hadley teen suicide that has been attributed to bullying.


In an email, she writes, "I'm not one of these people who think that we must leave it up to kids to "confront" the bully/harasser, when we don't' expect adults to do that in the workplace. I would not advise this mom to have her son "tell" the boy to leave him alone, etc. If the school doesn't have mechanisms set up that permit "feedback" from kids to adults (and sometimes anonymous works best - like by dropping notes in a box), then I think there is no choice, though the kid may balk at it, to "tell the teacher," who may or may not do anything about it. That's the risk that we always run when we tell kids to "tell an adult" because lots of times the adults dismiss it or tell the kid to "handle it himself."  Then the kids get disillusioned with telling adults anything. Don't tell kids to tell their teacher unless YOU (the adults) are sure that adults have a plan for how to handle this other than by telling the "teller" to figure it out by him/herself.  Why not tell this mom to ask her son how he would like her to help him, if at all? Maybe he's the kind of kid who can let this stuff slide off his back?"

To which I would add that even in the absence of a incident, it's always a good idea to have a conversation with your child in which you get him to identify adults at school who he could turn to if needed. In fact, middle-school kids typically enjoy a kind of "what-if" game: what would you do if you saw someone cheat on a test; what would you do if someone you saw kids smoking a cigarette on school property? It's also important to get them to talk about why going to an authority figure is not "tattling/ratting" because if someone is in trouble, they may not know how to ask for help. And if a bully is hurting someone, and that person doesn't know to get help, the bully will just hurt more and more kids.


Cyber-bullying is a huge problem and teens are less likely to share that with you if they perceive you're a clueless parent. Read this.

Meanwhile, I hope we hear from some parents about how they helped their children with bully problems.


I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.



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37 comments so far...
  1. Missy Jenkins, paralyzed in the 1997 school shooting by a boy who was bullied, offers tips in her book I Choose to be Happy at missyjenkins.com.

    Posted by DogM February 3, 10 07:53 AM
  1. While the post is about a boy, I'd like to point out that "Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls" by Rachel Simmons is a great resource when your daughter gets bullied. It did wonders in helping us understand what was going on when our daughter was being bullied in school, and helped us (parents and child) find the way to make it stop.

    Posted by HBX February 3, 10 08:39 AM
  1. What do you do when the bully is a parent of another child, who because of an incident where my child was a victim, made her the out to be someone that caused the abuse. Won't let her child hang with mine and tells other parents she is bad news. My child is no angel, but she is 14 years old. This happend last year, the second week of school, some upper class jerk (the school is grade 7-12) decided to stick his hand down her shirt and when she reported it, she was made out to be in the wrong and not the victim. It has been one year and this woman and her son will not stop, she walks the halls in school to people she does not know calling her slut and whore. Why should she have a reputation at this young age. I have to call parents when she comes home crying because so and so can't hang out with her because they have spoken to this woman. I have call this woman and for ten min. could not get a word in until she finaly told me her husband wished my child would fall off the face of the earth at that point I hung up. The school does not care - my child has missed many days of school and has had to be dismissed many times. What kind of recourse do I have?

    Posted by marilou leblanc February 3, 10 09:17 AM
  1. Wow, this previous poster makes me really sad. It sounds like marilou has the same situation where a parent was the culprit behind a cyber-bullying situation that left a young girl dead from suicide. Marilou should take this to the police and possibly file charges in court. Some sort of civil rights must be tramped on here and bullying from parents should not tolerated. Unfortunately, some people equate freedom of speech with freedom to trash anther's reputation (defamation, slander).

    Posted by Very concerned February 3, 10 09:33 AM
  1. I have a 5 year old daughter in kindergarten. There is a little boy in the class who does not keep his hands to himself and, according to my daughter, punches everyone in the belly. I told my daughter that if he hits her that she should tell him to keep his hands to himself. In addition to saying something to him, I told her to tell her teacher and to tell me. The moment this situation was brought to my attention, I spoke with her teacher to see what was actually going on. Now her teacher is aware of my concerns and knows that if the situation escalates, or if the child hits my daughter, that I will be in touch with her. My next step, should the situation recur, would be to address the aggressor's parents in my daughter's classroom with the teacher present so that everyone leaves on the same page.

    I am trying to teach my children to use their words to help them in a bullying situation and to teach them the proper channels to follow if their words are not enough.

    Posted by celian February 3, 10 10:00 AM
  1. Marilou,
    Go see an attorney and have them write a cease and desist letter to this woman for libel and slander. That ought to shut her up.

    Posted by Lisa February 3, 10 10:00 AM
  1. Marilou, did you consider filing sexual assault charges? If their precious little son had to register as a sex offender, they would probably change their tune pretty quickly.

    I've never found that contacting the other child's parents' helps matters resolve. Frequently they become defensive. It's usually best done through the school. Requesting a joint conference at the school with the teacher or principal might be an alternative, but just calling up the house is most likely only going to escalate the situation.

    Posted by QMLB February 3, 10 10:42 AM
  1. I would add that it is imperative to leave some kind of paper trail as well. Keep a notebook with dates, names, incident, who was around, who was told about it and what was said. Children who are older and tech savvy can do this themselves and can also keep printouts of harassing e-mails and copies of text messages, too. Younger children will have to rely on parents to keep records of incidents the children relay. If a charge of bullying ever comes in front of a school administrator, I can guarantee that having that kind of record in hand will help your argument. And can also come in handy if criminal charges are considered. You don't need to keep being victimized.

    Posted by jozkid February 3, 10 11:19 AM
  1. wow Marilyn I think you should contact the police and/or attorney. QMLB and Lisa and other posters, have valid concerns here. Your daughter should not be going through this. And the offender shoudl not be allowed to get away with it. He should be held accountable

    Posted by jadee February 3, 10 11:19 AM
  1. This Modern Bullying problem is all a result of 50 years of Socialist Public Schools. First, the Leftists tell our kids that they have to fall-in-line and sing kumbaya; then when someone acts up, they act like the the disinterested baby-sitters they really are. Often, the teachers are in cliques with certain parents - so they are utterly useless. I know all of this because my wife's family have all been teachers for 3 generations.

    I have taken it upon myself to have my three daughters take martial arts. Someone touches you = one warning only... then next time -> wreck their face. Someone harasses You = Challenge them to a Mano-Y-Mano dust-up on the playground. There was a time when the rule was "you mess with the bull, you get the horns". When the socialists gained power in the 60's, the law of the jungle got castrated. One happy world is a lie, you can either teach your kids to be strong - or have them spend the next 30 years in therapy.

    Posted by DudeGuyKid February 3, 10 11:30 AM
  1. Forgive a sweeping generalization, but I've seen enough to know that most (not all) but most bullies are being raised in homes where the parents couldn't buy a clue if they had a million dollars. Do not look to these parents for help, they will just get defensive, and their child will be emboldened by the implied support. Either that, or their child will get a beating and then bring even more aggression and hostility to the classroom.

    In our post-civility world, bullying needs to be addressed preemptively and comprehensively in the CLASSROOM (sorry, teachers). Bullies must receive swift and public reprimand, and those students who are friendly and inclusive should receive swift and public praise.

    Unrepentant, pathological bullies should be removed from the school. Why should 1 student be allowed impact the educational environment & mental health of dozens of others?

    Posted by Noah February 3, 10 11:37 AM
  1. For the 3rd grader, the best solution is if the son has friends who will stand up for him. The peer group is the key. A bully only gets away with it because bystanders won't intervene or show solidarity with the victim. It's worse to confront the bully who works by exploiting an unequal power situation. If the bully is cocooned or made irrelevant because your son has friends who stand by him, then the bully has lost his power. As for Marilu, I would contact the police and file either sexual harassment or sexual assault charges. The worst thing schools do is make kids confront each other, because bullying is not the same a conflict resolution - that implies two equal parties. Bullying is the exploitation by a stronger party of a weaker one and conflict resolution ie bringing the parties face to face, doesn't work. The weaker party is at a disadvantage. If the school interviewed the two kids together, they made a major mistake and played into the bully's hands. A great resource for this is the MARC program at Bridgewater State College.

    Posted by Concerned Mom not a professional February 3, 10 11:37 AM
  1. This strikes home with so many people, myself included.

    My daughter was bullied and traumatized by a jealous girls. Despite being 'model' material, honest and so very caring, she was not part of the 'in' group upon transferring to a new school in 3rd grade. Because of one girl (the popular one), who was a friend before the transfer, my daughter's life was made miserable over 5 years.

    Every time my daughter became close to another person, this 'one' used her popularity to manipulate and destroy any friendships in order to maintain control. As a parent, one feels the extreme emotional pain a child suffers at the hand of another. We learn of the lies, betrayals and in today's virtual world every hurtful comment is seen by all.

    We got through it. But, it took getting out of high school to get there. As a parent, it is difficult enough to manage the 'coming of age' dynamics that pit child against parent. I did due diligence and snooped - this action helped for me to help her. I found her writing 'I know people will be sad if I run away, but I am so unhappy'.

    Girls are especially cruel. Relationship are far more important to them than boys. Girls are more emotionally attached and when toyed with or left out as a divisive ploy due to jealousy and whatever the excuse, it eats away at them to the point where death or drugs is the only escape. Some develop emotional attachments to unsavory people.

    I thought we'd never get through the challenges that came from having to navigate the world of bullying, but luckily we did. In fact, she does not even think ill of those who betrayed her and has become an amazing young woman with a heart of gold. Going through this has emboldened her in an effort to fight for the underdog. It has taught her that the world is not necessarily fair or certain and that she must take charge of her fate and always put her best foot forward.

    My heart goes out to this family. I'm sure they've had to share their daugther's many hurts at the hands of these pathetic, selfish brats.

    Posted by Joy February 3, 10 12:08 PM
  1. If you have any brothers Marilyn, maybe one of them can make a visit to this woman and her son and have a nice chat. I agree paper trails are a great idea. My late husband was a great enforcer for doing the right thing without getting violent. He loved children and hated to see kids being bullied...

    Posted by sophie08 February 3, 10 12:20 PM
  1. In my experience the bullying apple doesn't fall far from the tree. If the parents are rotten apples, then the kids will be too.

    I've seen it at playgrounds where 8 year olds are shoving toddlers down slides and putting them into dangerous situations. The parents of the older kids clearly know what's going on, but they see it as a sense of entitlement because their kid is "special"

    I will do my best to empower my kids with the skills to handle day to day issues (kids will be kids kind of stuff). They will know they can speak with me about anything and the same for their teachers (I hope). I'll gladly let other parents know if their kid is doing something that qualifies as bullying. If it persists, then I will pay the childs daddy a visit sans kids to make sure he really understands my view point.

    Posted by G February 3, 10 12:41 PM
  1. Also, I concur with the Posters who have stated "The Problem Starts at Home". This is usually 100% True for the most part; when you find a kid who is a behavior problem, you usually find a parent at home that is just as bad - if not downright worse.

    I coached my kids Soccer Team for two years, and had to remove a boy completely from the league; he wasn't simply bullying opposing teams, he was bullying his own team mates. When we tried to "talk" to the parents, they turned out to be a couple of psychotic half-wits. Some people simply are not fit to be reproducing...

    Posted by DudeGuyKid February 3, 10 12:51 PM
  1. Guys, the letter writer makes this seem like one isolated incident of teasing. Unless there is a lot more that has been left out, this doesn't sound like something that crosses the line into bullying. For it to be bullying, doesn't there need to be a pattern of abuse?

    In any case, I say the best way to deal with name calling is to ignore, ignore, ignore. If it seems like the "victim" isn't bothered by it, eventually the teasing will stop. I know, this is easier said than done and really hard for a 8-9 year old to get, but as your son gets older the kids will just get meaner. A good attitude about what is important and what is not will serve him well.

    If the teasing becomes a disruptive pattern, or if it becomes physical, then it is time for you to go to the teacher or principal and get it addressed.

    Posted by geocool February 3, 10 01:46 PM
  1. Marilou!!! I apologize for calling you Marilyn... sadly, I just realized that.

    Posted by Jadee February 3, 10 02:22 PM
  1. Depends on the situation. Verbal abuse? I'd tell my child to ignore it. Physical abuse is a whole 'nother story. If someone was physically harassing my child, I would get my child some serious self-defense training from someone decent. That doesn't mean some wanna-be karate boob down at the local mall. One warning, and if the bully continued, I would then tell my child to take the kid down, and hard. You can talk all you want. Get teachers involved. Talk to the bully's parents. Get a lawyer involved. The only real solution is to show the bully that there are consequences to his actions, and that the victim will not take his abuse one second longer than necessary.

    Posted by Bob Martinson February 3, 10 02:39 PM
  1. "I would then tell my child to take the kid down, and hard."

    The problem with that is then your child is in trouble. Schools do not stand for physical violence as a response, and your child would be suspended. If you think that's a stupid rule, all I can say it is that *is* the rule. Go that route and find your child in serious disciplinary trouble.

    And I think for good reason: if a teacher is not there to witness, how many times do you think actual bullies would be claiming to have beaten someone "in self defense"? All the time. So schools have a zero-tolerance policy for violence. If there is physical abuse, the child needs to run for help right away.

    Otherwise, I agree with Bob -- if it is serious, don't just talk. Get a lawyer, go to the school head, go to teachers, etc.

    Posted by jlen February 3, 10 02:49 PM
  1. Wait... He made fun of your kid once??? Get a grip. If he does it all the time or hits then you have a problem.

    Posted by Ry February 3, 10 03:04 PM
  1. I guess you could wait and see...but it probably will happen again. Your child just might not tell you about it, if it seemed like you didn't take it seriously the first time. This happened with my son in fifth grade and he had a terrible year. By the time I realized it was still going on, and had a talk with the counselor and teacher, the year was almost over. I really wished I had gone into the school and spoken with someone earlier. They usually do know about the problem kids. If enough parents complain, they will be forced to take action such as separating that child from others at lunchtime, recess, etc.

    Posted by a mom February 3, 10 04:59 PM
  1. "This Modern Bullying problem is all a result of 50 years of Socialist Public Schools. First, the Leftists tell our kids that they have to fall-in-line and sing kumbaya; then when someone acts up, they act like the the disinterested baby-sitters they really are. Often, the teachers are in cliques with certain parents - so they are utterly useless. I know all of this because my wife's family have all been teachers for 3 generations.

    "I have taken it upon myself to have my three daughters take martial arts. Someone touches you = one warning only... then next time -> wreck their face. Someone harasses You = Challenge them to a Mano-Y-Mano dust-up on the playground. There was a time when the rule was 'you mess with the bull, you get the horns'. When the socialists gained power in the 60's, the law of the jungle got castrated. One happy world is a lie, you can either teach your kids to be strong - or have them spend the next 30 years in therapy."

    You're letting your three *daughters* study martial arts, instead of telling them to date boys on the football team in order to have big strong males to stand up for them at school while staying dainty themselves? How leftist, anti-1950s-tradition, and anti-law-of-the-jungle of you. ;)

    Posted by Leslie February 3, 10 05:16 PM
  1. Reality Check:
    * Telling a child to "ignore the bully" is HORRIBLE advice. First, its impossible. Second, it amounts to telling the kid that their problems aren't important, and you don't want to listen. Third, it leaves the door open for more abuse.

    * Don't expect any action from the school. They cant even teach the basics of language and math - they aren't capable (or inclined) to be social police.

    * Zero Tolerance policies are asinine and ineffective. Look at the published research.

    * Get a lawyer? For a case of 3rd grade teasing? Are you kidding me??

    To the parents who's kids are being bullied and harassed: 1)Do NOT ignore the problem 2) Meet with the teacher and principal to create the necessary paper trail 3) Work with your kid on ways calmly deal with teasing next time it happens 4) Equip them with basic, hardcore fighting skills.

    The Total Bully Solution has the entire template of how to bully-proof your kid in two weeks or less.

    Posted by AB February 3, 10 05:43 PM
  1. What does everyone think of a special needs kindergartener who repeatedly, repeatedly runs at after my son (also in kindergarten) and tries to kiss him. She did it one day while I was at the school, and she ran after him so hard she knocked him down. I'm uncertain regarding her diagnosis, other than that she has definitive behavioral issues. She can write (we get 'I love you' letters in his backpack). The two of them are not in the same classroom, but they see each other in the hallway, and at recess. What steps would you take to stop this? Yes, hahaha, a boy is chased to be kissed, but he truly dislikes it and it has been occurring for at least three months. He wants to play with his friends, etc, not be kissed. He now tells the playground monitors about the situation. They make the girl apologize - she apologizes, but then does it all over again.

    As a side note - my son gets very high marks in the classroom for his behavior and is known as being very 'nice'.

    Posted by jemifa February 3, 10 09:35 PM
  1. #24 AB, the people who are talking about getting a lawyer are referring to Marilou's situation (comment # 3)Not the LW's situation.

    Posted by JD February 4, 10 06:28 AM
  1. I don't normally condone violence but my father taught his 3 daughters that if a boy or girl touches you whether sexually or violently then you whack them back. A boy in third grade touched my behind, I turned around and slapped him in front of the entire class. He never did it again. Another boy groped me in the 5th grade and I kicked him in the shin in front of everyone on the school yard. He never did it again. This made me feel safe and secure and taught me could take care of myself when confronted with dangerous person. If someone touches you inappropriately then you push back. That means a child or an adult. Maybe if more people were taught to fight back and stand up for yourself there would be less abuse and less abusers.

    Posted by Candyce Carragher February 4, 10 08:32 AM
  1. The problem with bullying is and always has been 2 things: its definition and the ability of the grown ups in charge to manage it. Some things are percieved as bullying that are not, and not percieved as bullying that are. The adults need to recognize that even "nice" kids from "good" homes with involved parents can be bullies and deal with it accordingly.

    Posted by ash February 4, 10 11:02 AM
  1. My daughter has been bullied for years, this year I finally realized how bad it was, and went to the police. I had know idea it was occurring she is quiet but just now said something. She said if you ignore it they leave you alone. Why must a child go through the halls of her school ignoring it all the time? I wish I could have prevented it, but I do raise her not to use her hands. How do I know if it is still happening? I wish I could help her or know what is going on in school? She is now on antidepressants, I love my baby unconditionally and will do anything for her within the law of course. How do I protect her from home?

    Posted by Kelly February 4, 10 01:34 PM
  1. My second-grader came home yesterday and said there had been an anti-bullying presentation in school. I asked her what bullying was, and she couldn't describe it, other than 'well, it's like teasing, but worse'. She then went on to say that two older girls were 'bullying' her friend A, and I asked what that meant. "Well, they whisper to each other and look at A when they see her". I asked how she knows they are talking about A, and she couldn't tell me. I also asked if they ever say anything directly to A, or to others about A, and she said no. So much for helping the kids understand what bullying is... On a positive note, the school has a strategy that I think is reasonable if a child feels bullied - Tell them to stop, Ask them again, Get an adult (TAG). I also reminded her that the most important thing she can do if she thinks her friend is being bullied is to stand up for her friend, and, along with her friend, tell the bullies to stop.

    Posted by akmom February 5, 10 01:03 PM
  1. It breaks my heart to hear these terrible stories. I hope you all find some relief for your family and children. I have 3 words... Small Private School...... Our school offers and requires parents and students to attend bullying education. If it is discovered your child a bully or other bad behaviors they are dismissed. The student handbook in our school really means something. We are not a rich family but we save our money and spend over 10K to send our child to private because we strongly believe the public schools cater to the lowest denominator and do not have to tools or the will to keep our kids safe.

    Posted by sk February 10, 10 03:52 PM
  1. SK: I'm glad you are having a good experience at your "small private school." It sounds like it a school that is doing the right thing to protect children. But many public schools are also doing the right thing. I am proud of the way my child's public school handles bullies. And it is a school located in a regular, working-class town--not one of the "elite" towns. Not all private schools are bully-free. And not all children at public schools are losers. A good friend of mine, a psychologist well-known in her field, goes around to schools helping families and staff deal with bullying issues. Let me tell you, she has been to many, many private schools in which children torture one another. Bullies are everywhere--in all settings.

    Posted by A public school mom February 10, 10 04:45 PM
  1. SK,
    wow, you said it so well, so succintly, "cater to the lowest denominator". You are probably right in all aspects of public education these days. I can't believe the resources available today to all the sped kids and nothing for the gifted kids. Educators have really dumbed down educational standard in this country,
    Unfortunately, I don't know of any private schools near me that only charge 10k . And when you have more than one child, forget it! Its just too expensive for most people. But it would be nice...

    Posted by Laura February 13, 10 07:28 AM
  1. SK: unfortunately all of society seems to be catering to the lowest common denominator these days, including the government and the workplace. Even waiting in line for coffee invites bullying, as those more important than the rest of us cut the line while loudly talking on their cellphones, and then drive away while texting, putting us all at risk.

    Enough is enough. Teasing is one thing, but there is no middle ground for tolerance anymore in these situations as everything is an extreme now; with the adage: "give an inch, take a mile" being the new reality. We have created a generation of parents and children who have learned they can do whatever they want and everyone else has to deal with the consequences, not to mention a cottage industry for people who are going to charge thousands of dollars to tell victims how to hold hands and put up with the abuse. Zero-tolerance bullying policies seem to only enhance that the victim cannot defend him/herself, and the schools are overwhelmed or just don’t want the headaches. And I have yet to meet a parent who will admit that their kid is the bully. There’s always an excuse.

    No more excuses. Deal with the issues as if they were adults. Kick another person with a shod foot? It’s assault & battery. Continuous comments about one's gender preference? Hate crime. Act up on the bus? No more bus service for you. In-school issues? In-house suspension for you AND a parent to accompany you - see how fast that puts an end to their little darling's reign of terror when the parent is made responsible. Cyberbullying? Treat it as if it was a keg party at the house - the adults are held criminally responsible. Give the power back to the society, the school officials, and the victims, hopefully empowering them all to stand up to the bullies and their parents and say "NO MORE!" Our children's educations, and lives, should not be constantly be short-changed because another child is controlling the situation.

    Posted by WorkingMom February 22, 10 12:48 PM
  1. When I was in middle school I was bullied constantly by a kid in one of my classes. When I finally told my mother (months later) she marched me to school, then to the class, where the teacher then pulled the kid out of the class and then ripped him a new one in front of me and my mother. He never bothered me again. My heartfelt wish is that this would happen in EVERY case of bullying.

    Posted by annec1 February 23, 10 12:55 PM
  1. Two months ago I learned that my 9 yr old son was being bullied at school by a neighborhood boy whose also in his 3rd grade class. This other boy had befriended my son mostly on the weekends when he was evidently bored and had no one else to play with, though I didn't realize this was the case till later on. However, he would ignore, shun, tease, mock, and insult my son at school and in front of other kids. The few times I saw this at home during some neighborhood gatherings it confused me and I asked his mother about it. Little did I know that she was fully aware of the issue, as I later discovered.

    My son NEVER said a word about being bullied and was reluctant to name anyone until one day it just came out. He never told me or complained but in retrospect the signs were all there. He would look tired and drained after school, and often he didn't feel well on library day when the bully was usually mean to him, even in the presense of his own mother! Imagine how powerless my son must of felt. Ironically the bully's mother was the one to confirmed her own son's behavior towards my child when I first called her to address the problem. She volunteers at the school library and saw the bullying/ excluding etc first hand. She basically described the same scenario that my son told me about. She also told me that he sat all alone on the bus during the class field trip. Apparently she felt bad for him, and as a chaperone she sat with him. Her empathy and story would later change drastically.

    I called the school, disturbed by what I learned. Initially they seemed dismissive and actually skeptical, they were short, hurried, and made me feel that I was bothering them or magnifying the problem. I'd have no reason to do so, and I was shocked by this initial response; especially since the bully's mother had validated my claim by witnessing it herself!! I was relieved that she "stepped up" and told me; by doing so because she really clarified some concerns I felt but couldn't quite put my finger on. I must add that I initially tried to resolve it between the two of us, but she didn't call me back the next day to talk more like she said she would . The following day I called the school because in any event they needed to be made aware. My child has a right to peace and respect the 6 hrs a day he spends at school. I thought Pembroke schools had a zero tolerence to Bullying as both parents and students sign a cooperation pledge at the begining of the school year. This pledge covers behavor and school performance, respect and so on.

    Later this mom turned on me; she got angry as I'm sure she felt ashamed of her child's actions especially because she volunteers at the school. I simply wanted the issue addressed and the bullying to stop period. This was NOT a personal vendetta of any kind, I was actually grateful to this mother who generally sticks her head in the sand concerning her kids agressive actions. She became quite nasty once I called the school, those here who've suggested that bullying begins with parents are 100% correct. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. This seemingly quiet young woman said the most insulting things to me I could barely believe I was talking to another adult! She felt that I betrayed her confidence by calling the school. I admit it was akward to share her testimony. I only did so when the teacher doubted me. Evidently she had not seem the bullying first hand, and I was put in a position where I needed to qualify it and this involved sharing what the other mom told me. Before I did that she thought I was confusing it with some of the normal, typical boy's horsepay between the 2 kids, which was NOT the case.

    As the bullying continued the principal who was empathetic, made some changes with seating arrangements in the library,cafeteria etc, to no avail. The bully is an insecure kid who likes to have his way and be in control all the time. Of course this is the hallmark of a bully. I'm totally stressed over all this, my son has been enormously resilient by mostly ignoring the bully's daily abuse... but why should he have to? The bully is an "Eddie Haskell" type and mostly acts up out of sight from teachers like at recess.

    Yesterday I called the school and the principle was out so I spoke with the assistant principal, who isn't a patient listener, nor understanding. I get the feeling my persistence irks her, when all I want is to resolve this ongoing issue. I don't want to be appeased, nor spoken to in a condescending way. I told her about another incident that happened at lunch the day before. She actually questioned the fact that the bully once again told my son to "shut up" at lunch, since he now sits at the further end of the same table, she questioned how that was possible.There was a definite inference that my son made this up, when this child doesn't even want to talk about any of this! Come on.....how does one resolve this if an authority at the school doubts it?

    I wonder if the bully's mom being at the school 1 day a week, has any influence over what and who they believe or not? Obviously I'm the one calling upset, therefore making their job harder. Why does the victim get revictimized always? How can I be more proactive? After the recent episode I went to talk to the bully's mom for the first time since she confirmed her son's actions to me almost 3 months ago. I figured the school's attempts were having no effect on her son's behavior, well she refused to speak and called the police on me!

    Why was I not surprised, considering a while back she had the nerve to defend her child's behavior saying my son doesn't have the "right sneakers" and isn't good in sports!!! Talk about placing blame and excusing bad behavior. My son is a polite, well behaved, smart student. Has anyone else noticed the trend in victims of bullies?....They all seem to be attractice, kind, smart kids...go figure!

    Posted by Msintuitive February 27, 10 01:52 PM
  1. MSIntuitive:
    That woman will pay someday for raising a sociopath. He'll kill her in her sleep for buying him the wrong car like the Menendez brothers. Try to get your son in an accelerated program in another school where he will be safe. Otherwise homeschool him or move to another school district. In my state it is possible for a 14 year old to take the GED and start junior college. Success is the best revenge. Bullies end up in prison or dead.

    Posted by Mary Rene April 14, 10 11:49 PM
 
37 comments so far...
  1. Missy Jenkins, paralyzed in the 1997 school shooting by a boy who was bullied, offers tips in her book I Choose to be Happy at missyjenkins.com.

    Posted by DogM February 3, 10 07:53 AM
  1. While the post is about a boy, I'd like to point out that "Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls" by Rachel Simmons is a great resource when your daughter gets bullied. It did wonders in helping us understand what was going on when our daughter was being bullied in school, and helped us (parents and child) find the way to make it stop.

    Posted by HBX February 3, 10 08:39 AM
  1. What do you do when the bully is a parent of another child, who because of an incident where my child was a victim, made her the out to be someone that caused the abuse. Won't let her child hang with mine and tells other parents she is bad news. My child is no angel, but she is 14 years old. This happend last year, the second week of school, some upper class jerk (the school is grade 7-12) decided to stick his hand down her shirt and when she reported it, she was made out to be in the wrong and not the victim. It has been one year and this woman and her son will not stop, she walks the halls in school to people she does not know calling her slut and whore. Why should she have a reputation at this young age. I have to call parents when she comes home crying because so and so can't hang out with her because they have spoken to this woman. I have call this woman and for ten min. could not get a word in until she finaly told me her husband wished my child would fall off the face of the earth at that point I hung up. The school does not care - my child has missed many days of school and has had to be dismissed many times. What kind of recourse do I have?

    Posted by marilou leblanc February 3, 10 09:17 AM
  1. Wow, this previous poster makes me really sad. It sounds like marilou has the same situation where a parent was the culprit behind a cyber-bullying situation that left a young girl dead from suicide. Marilou should take this to the police and possibly file charges in court. Some sort of civil rights must be tramped on here and bullying from parents should not tolerated. Unfortunately, some people equate freedom of speech with freedom to trash anther's reputation (defamation, slander).

    Posted by Very concerned February 3, 10 09:33 AM
  1. I have a 5 year old daughter in kindergarten. There is a little boy in the class who does not keep his hands to himself and, according to my daughter, punches everyone in the belly. I told my daughter that if he hits her that she should tell him to keep his hands to himself. In addition to saying something to him, I told her to tell her teacher and to tell me. The moment this situation was brought to my attention, I spoke with her teacher to see what was actually going on. Now her teacher is aware of my concerns and knows that if the situation escalates, or if the child hits my daughter, that I will be in touch with her. My next step, should the situation recur, would be to address the aggressor's parents in my daughter's classroom with the teacher present so that everyone leaves on the same page.

    I am trying to teach my children to use their words to help them in a bullying situation and to teach them the proper channels to follow if their words are not enough.

    Posted by celian February 3, 10 10:00 AM
  1. Marilou,
    Go see an attorney and have them write a cease and desist letter to this woman for libel and slander. That ought to shut her up.

    Posted by Lisa February 3, 10 10:00 AM
  1. Marilou, did you consider filing sexual assault charges? If their precious little son had to register as a sex offender, they would probably change their tune pretty quickly.

    I've never found that contacting the other child's parents' helps matters resolve. Frequently they become defensive. It's usually best done through the school. Requesting a joint conference at the school with the teacher or principal might be an alternative, but just calling up the house is most likely only going to escalate the situation.

    Posted by QMLB February 3, 10 10:42 AM
  1. I would add that it is imperative to leave some kind of paper trail as well. Keep a notebook with dates, names, incident, who was around, who was told about it and what was said. Children who are older and tech savvy can do this themselves and can also keep printouts of harassing e-mails and copies of text messages, too. Younger children will have to rely on parents to keep records of incidents the children relay. If a charge of bullying ever comes in front of a school administrator, I can guarantee that having that kind of record in hand will help your argument. And can also come in handy if criminal charges are considered. You don't need to keep being victimized.

    Posted by jozkid February 3, 10 11:19 AM
  1. wow Marilyn I think you should contact the police and/or attorney. QMLB and Lisa and other posters, have valid concerns here. Your daughter should not be going through this. And the offender shoudl not be allowed to get away with it. He should be held accountable

    Posted by jadee February 3, 10 11:19 AM
  1. This Modern Bullying problem is all a result of 50 years of Socialist Public Schools. First, the Leftists tell our kids that they have to fall-in-line and sing kumbaya; then when someone acts up, they act like the the disinterested baby-sitters they really are. Often, the teachers are in cliques with certain parents - so they are utterly useless. I know all of this because my wife's family have all been teachers for 3 generations.

    I have taken it upon myself to have my three daughters take martial arts. Someone touches you = one warning only... then next time -> wreck their face. Someone harasses You = Challenge them to a Mano-Y-Mano dust-up on the playground. There was a time when the rule was "you mess with the bull, you get the horns". When the socialists gained power in the 60's, the law of the jungle got castrated. One happy world is a lie, you can either teach your kids to be strong - or have them spend the next 30 years in therapy.

    Posted by DudeGuyKid February 3, 10 11:30 AM
  1. Forgive a sweeping generalization, but I've seen enough to know that most (not all) but most bullies are being raised in homes where the parents couldn't buy a clue if they had a million dollars. Do not look to these parents for help, they will just get defensive, and their child will be emboldened by the implied support. Either that, or their child will get a beating and then bring even more aggression and hostility to the classroom.

    In our post-civility world, bullying needs to be addressed preemptively and comprehensively in the CLASSROOM (sorry, teachers). Bullies must receive swift and public reprimand, and those students who are friendly and inclusive should receive swift and public praise.

    Unrepentant, pathological bullies should be removed from the school. Why should 1 student be allowed impact the educational environment & mental health of dozens of others?

    Posted by Noah February 3, 10 11:37 AM
  1. For the 3rd grader, the best solution is if the son has friends who will stand up for him. The peer group is the key. A bully only gets away with it because bystanders won't intervene or show solidarity with the victim. It's worse to confront the bully who works by exploiting an unequal power situation. If the bully is cocooned or made irrelevant because your son has friends who stand by him, then the bully has lost his power. As for Marilu, I would contact the police and file either sexual harassment or sexual assault charges. The worst thing schools do is make kids confront each other, because bullying is not the same a conflict resolution - that implies two equal parties. Bullying is the exploitation by a stronger party of a weaker one and conflict resolution ie bringing the parties face to face, doesn't work. The weaker party is at a disadvantage. If the school interviewed the two kids together, they made a major mistake and played into the bully's hands. A great resource for this is the MARC program at Bridgewater State College.

    Posted by Concerned Mom not a professional February 3, 10 11:37 AM
  1. This strikes home with so many people, myself included.

    My daughter was bullied and traumatized by a jealous girls. Despite being 'model' material, honest and so very caring, she was not part of the 'in' group upon transferring to a new school in 3rd grade. Because of one girl (the popular one), who was a friend before the transfer, my daughter's life was made miserable over 5 years.

    Every time my daughter became close to another person, this 'one' used her popularity to manipulate and destroy any friendships in order to maintain control. As a parent, one feels the extreme emotional pain a child suffers at the hand of another. We learn of the lies, betrayals and in today's virtual world every hurtful comment is seen by all.

    We got through it. But, it took getting out of high school to get there. As a parent, it is difficult enough to manage the 'coming of age' dynamics that pit child against parent. I did due diligence and snooped - this action helped for me to help her. I found her writing 'I know people will be sad if I run away, but I am so unhappy'.

    Girls are especially cruel. Relationship are far more important to them than boys. Girls are more emotionally attached and when toyed with or left out as a divisive ploy due to jealousy and whatever the excuse, it eats away at them to the point where death or drugs is the only escape. Some develop emotional attachments to unsavory people.

    I thought we'd never get through the challenges that came from having to navigate the world of bullying, but luckily we did. In fact, she does not even think ill of those who betrayed her and has become an amazing young woman with a heart of gold. Going through this has emboldened her in an effort to fight for the underdog. It has taught her that the world is not necessarily fair or certain and that she must take charge of her fate and always put her best foot forward.

    My heart goes out to this family. I'm sure they've had to share their daugther's many hurts at the hands of these pathetic, selfish brats.

    Posted by Joy February 3, 10 12:08 PM
  1. If you have any brothers Marilyn, maybe one of them can make a visit to this woman and her son and have a nice chat. I agree paper trails are a great idea. My late husband was a great enforcer for doing the right thing without getting violent. He loved children and hated to see kids being bullied...

    Posted by sophie08 February 3, 10 12:20 PM
  1. In my experience the bullying apple doesn't fall far from the tree. If the parents are rotten apples, then the kids will be too.

    I've seen it at playgrounds where 8 year olds are shoving toddlers down slides and putting them into dangerous situations. The parents of the older kids clearly know what's going on, but they see it as a sense of entitlement because their kid is "special"

    I will do my best to empower my kids with the skills to handle day to day issues (kids will be kids kind of stuff). They will know they can speak with me about anything and the same for their teachers (I hope). I'll gladly let other parents know if their kid is doing something that qualifies as bullying. If it persists, then I will pay the childs daddy a visit sans kids to make sure he really understands my view point.

    Posted by G February 3, 10 12:41 PM
  1. Also, I concur with the Posters who have stated "The Problem Starts at Home". This is usually 100% True for the most part; when you find a kid who is a behavior problem, you usually find a parent at home that is just as bad - if not downright worse.

    I coached my kids Soccer Team for two years, and had to remove a boy completely from the league; he wasn't simply bullying opposing teams, he was bullying his own team mates. When we tried to "talk" to the parents, they turned out to be a couple of psychotic half-wits. Some people simply are not fit to be reproducing...

    Posted by DudeGuyKid February 3, 10 12:51 PM
  1. Guys, the letter writer makes this seem like one isolated incident of teasing. Unless there is a lot more that has been left out, this doesn't sound like something that crosses the line into bullying. For it to be bullying, doesn't there need to be a pattern of abuse?

    In any case, I say the best way to deal with name calling is to ignore, ignore, ignore. If it seems like the "victim" isn't bothered by it, eventually the teasing will stop. I know, this is easier said than done and really hard for a 8-9 year old to get, but as your son gets older the kids will just get meaner. A good attitude about what is important and what is not will serve him well.

    If the teasing becomes a disruptive pattern, or if it becomes physical, then it is time for you to go to the teacher or principal and get it addressed.

    Posted by geocool February 3, 10 01:46 PM
  1. Marilou!!! I apologize for calling you Marilyn... sadly, I just realized that.

    Posted by Jadee February 3, 10 02:22 PM
  1. Depends on the situation. Verbal abuse? I'd tell my child to ignore it. Physical abuse is a whole 'nother story. If someone was physically harassing my child, I would get my child some serious self-defense training from someone decent. That doesn't mean some wanna-be karate boob down at the local mall. One warning, and if the bully continued, I would then tell my child to take the kid down, and hard. You can talk all you want. Get teachers involved. Talk to the bully's parents. Get a lawyer involved. The only real solution is to show the bully that there are consequences to his actions, and that the victim will not take his abuse one second longer than necessary.

    Posted by Bob Martinson February 3, 10 02:39 PM
  1. "I would then tell my child to take the kid down, and hard."

    The problem with that is then your child is in trouble. Schools do not stand for physical violence as a response, and your child would be suspended. If you think that's a stupid rule, all I can say it is that *is* the rule. Go that route and find your child in serious disciplinary trouble.

    And I think for good reason: if a teacher is not there to witness, how many times do you think actual bullies would be claiming to have beaten someone "in self defense"? All the time. So schools have a zero-tolerance policy for violence. If there is physical abuse, the child needs to run for help right away.

    Otherwise, I agree with Bob -- if it is serious, don't just talk. Get a lawyer, go to the school head, go to teachers, etc.

    Posted by jlen February 3, 10 02:49 PM
  1. Wait... He made fun of your kid once??? Get a grip. If he does it all the time or hits then you have a problem.

    Posted by Ry February 3, 10 03:04 PM
  1. I guess you could wait and see...but it probably will happen again. Your child just might not tell you about it, if it seemed like you didn't take it seriously the first time. This happened with my son in fifth grade and he had a terrible year. By the time I realized it was still going on, and had a talk with the counselor and teacher, the year was almost over. I really wished I had gone into the school and spoken with someone earlier. They usually do know about the problem kids. If enough parents complain, they will be forced to take action such as separating that child from others at lunchtime, recess, etc.

    Posted by a mom February 3, 10 04:59 PM
  1. "This Modern Bullying problem is all a result of 50 years of Socialist Public Schools. First, the Leftists tell our kids that they have to fall-in-line and sing kumbaya; then when someone acts up, they act like the the disinterested baby-sitters they really are. Often, the teachers are in cliques with certain parents - so they are utterly useless. I know all of this because my wife's family have all been teachers for 3 generations.

    "I have taken it upon myself to have my three daughters take martial arts. Someone touches you = one warning only... then next time -> wreck their face. Someone harasses You = Challenge them to a Mano-Y-Mano dust-up on the playground. There was a time when the rule was 'you mess with the bull, you get the horns'. When the socialists gained power in the 60's, the law of the jungle got castrated. One happy world is a lie, you can either teach your kids to be strong - or have them spend the next 30 years in therapy."

    You're letting your three *daughters* study martial arts, instead of telling them to date boys on the football team in order to have big strong males to stand up for them at school while staying dainty themselves? How leftist, anti-1950s-tradition, and anti-law-of-the-jungle of you. ;)

    Posted by Leslie February 3, 10 05:16 PM
  1. Reality Check:
    * Telling a child to "ignore the bully" is HORRIBLE advice. First, its impossible. Second, it amounts to telling the kid that their problems aren't important, and you don't want to listen. Third, it leaves the door open for more abuse.

    * Don't expect any action from the school. They cant even teach the basics of language and math - they aren't capable (or inclined) to be social police.

    * Zero Tolerance policies are asinine and ineffective. Look at the published research.

    * Get a lawyer? For a case of 3rd grade teasing? Are you kidding me??

    To the parents who's kids are being bullied and harassed: 1)Do NOT ignore the problem 2) Meet with the teacher and principal to create the necessary paper trail 3) Work with your kid on ways calmly deal with teasing next time it happens 4) Equip them with basic, hardcore fighting skills.

    The Total Bully Solution has the entire template of how to bully-proof your kid in two weeks or less.

    Posted by AB February 3, 10 05:43 PM
  1. What does everyone think of a special needs kindergartener who repeatedly, repeatedly runs at after my son (also in kindergarten) and tries to kiss him. She did it one day while I was at the school, and she ran after him so hard she knocked him down. I'm uncertain regarding her diagnosis, other than that she has definitive behavioral issues. She can write (we get 'I love you' letters in his backpack). The two of them are not in the same classroom, but they see each other in the hallway, and at recess. What steps would you take to stop this? Yes, hahaha, a boy is chased to be kissed, but he truly dislikes it and it has been occurring for at least three months. He wants to play with his friends, etc, not be kissed. He now tells the playground monitors about the situation. They make the girl apologize - she apologizes, but then does it all over again.

    As a side note - my son gets very high marks in the classroom for his behavior and is known as being very 'nice'.

    Posted by jemifa February 3, 10 09:35 PM
  1. #24 AB, the people who are talking about getting a lawyer are referring to Marilou's situation (comment # 3)Not the LW's situation.

    Posted by JD February 4, 10 06:28 AM
  1. I don't normally condone violence but my father taught his 3 daughters that if a boy or girl touches you whether sexually or violently then you whack them back. A boy in third grade touched my behind, I turned around and slapped him in front of the entire class. He never did it again. Another boy groped me in the 5th grade and I kicked him in the shin in front of everyone on the school yard. He never did it again. This made me feel safe and secure and taught me could take care of myself when confronted with dangerous person. If someone touches you inappropriately then you push back. That means a child or an adult. Maybe if more people were taught to fight back and stand up for yourself there would be less abuse and less abusers.

    Posted by Candyce Carragher February 4, 10 08:32 AM
  1. The problem with bullying is and always has been 2 things: its definition and the ability of the grown ups in charge to manage it. Some things are percieved as bullying that are not, and not percieved as bullying that are. The adults need to recognize that even "nice" kids from "good" homes with involved parents can be bullies and deal with it accordingly.

    Posted by ash February 4, 10 11:02 AM
  1. My daughter has been bullied for years, this year I finally realized how bad it was, and went to the police. I had know idea it was occurring she is quiet but just now said something. She said if you ignore it they leave you alone. Why must a child go through the halls of her school ignoring it all the time? I wish I could have prevented it, but I do raise her not to use her hands. How do I know if it is still happening? I wish I could help her or know what is going on in school? She is now on antidepressants, I love my baby unconditionally and will do anything for her within the law of course. How do I protect her from home?

    Posted by Kelly February 4, 10 01:34 PM
  1. My second-grader came home yesterday and said there had been an anti-bullying presentation in school. I asked her what bullying was, and she couldn't describe it, other than 'well, it's like teasing, but worse'. She then went on to say that two older girls were 'bullying' her friend A, and I asked what that meant. "Well, they whisper to each other and look at A when they see her". I asked how she knows they are talking about A, and she couldn't tell me. I also asked if they ever say anything directly to A, or to others about A, and she said no. So much for helping the kids understand what bullying is... On a positive note, the school has a strategy that I think is reasonable if a child feels bullied - Tell them to stop, Ask them again, Get an adult (TAG). I also reminded her that the most important thing she can do if she thinks her friend is being bullied is to stand up for her friend, and, along with her friend, tell the bullies to stop.

    Posted by akmom February 5, 10 01:03 PM
  1. It breaks my heart to hear these terrible stories. I hope you all find some relief for your family and children. I have 3 words... Small Private School...... Our school offers and requires parents and students to attend bullying education. If it is discovered your child a bully or other bad behaviors they are dismissed. The student handbook in our school really means something. We are not a rich family but we save our money and spend over 10K to send our child to private because we strongly believe the public schools cater to the lowest denominator and do not have to tools or the will to keep our kids safe.

    Posted by sk February 10, 10 03:52 PM
  1. SK: I'm glad you are having a good experience at your "small private school." It sounds like it a school that is doing the right thing to protect children. But many public schools are also doing the right thing. I am proud of the way my child's public school handles bullies. And it is a school located in a regular, working-class town--not one of the "elite" towns. Not all private schools are bully-free. And not all children at public schools are losers. A good friend of mine, a psychologist well-known in her field, goes around to schools helping families and staff deal with bullying issues. Let me tell you, she has been to many, many private schools in which children torture one another. Bullies are everywhere--in all settings.

    Posted by A public school mom February 10, 10 04:45 PM
  1. SK,
    wow, you said it so well, so succintly, "cater to the lowest denominator". You are probably right in all aspects of public education these days. I can't believe the resources available today to all the sped kids and nothing for the gifted kids. Educators have really dumbed down educational standard in this country,
    Unfortunately, I don't know of any private schools near me that only charge 10k . And when you have more than one child, forget it! Its just too expensive for most people. But it would be nice...

    Posted by Laura February 13, 10 07:28 AM
  1. SK: unfortunately all of society seems to be catering to the lowest common denominator these days, including the government and the workplace. Even waiting in line for coffee invites bullying, as those more important than the rest of us cut the line while loudly talking on their cellphones, and then drive away while texting, putting us all at risk.

    Enough is enough. Teasing is one thing, but there is no middle ground for tolerance anymore in these situations as everything is an extreme now; with the adage: "give an inch, take a mile" being the new reality. We have created a generation of parents and children who have learned they can do whatever they want and everyone else has to deal with the consequences, not to mention a cottage industry for people who are going to charge thousands of dollars to tell victims how to hold hands and put up with the abuse. Zero-tolerance bullying policies seem to only enhance that the victim cannot defend him/herself, and the schools are overwhelmed or just don’t want the headaches. And I have yet to meet a parent who will admit that their kid is the bully. There’s always an excuse.

    No more excuses. Deal with the issues as if they were adults. Kick another person with a shod foot? It’s assault & battery. Continuous comments about one's gender preference? Hate crime. Act up on the bus? No more bus service for you. In-school issues? In-house suspension for you AND a parent to accompany you - see how fast that puts an end to their little darling's reign of terror when the parent is made responsible. Cyberbullying? Treat it as if it was a keg party at the house - the adults are held criminally responsible. Give the power back to the society, the school officials, and the victims, hopefully empowering them all to stand up to the bullies and their parents and say "NO MORE!" Our children's educations, and lives, should not be constantly be short-changed because another child is controlling the situation.

    Posted by WorkingMom February 22, 10 12:48 PM
  1. When I was in middle school I was bullied constantly by a kid in one of my classes. When I finally told my mother (months later) she marched me to school, then to the class, where the teacher then pulled the kid out of the class and then ripped him a new one in front of me and my mother. He never bothered me again. My heartfelt wish is that this would happen in EVERY case of bullying.

    Posted by annec1 February 23, 10 12:55 PM
  1. Two months ago I learned that my 9 yr old son was being bullied at school by a neighborhood boy whose also in his 3rd grade class. This other boy had befriended my son mostly on the weekends when he was evidently bored and had no one else to play with, though I didn't realize this was the case till later on. However, he would ignore, shun, tease, mock, and insult my son at school and in front of other kids. The few times I saw this at home during some neighborhood gatherings it confused me and I asked his mother about it. Little did I know that she was fully aware of the issue, as I later discovered.

    My son NEVER said a word about being bullied and was reluctant to name anyone until one day it just came out. He never told me or complained but in retrospect the signs were all there. He would look tired and drained after school, and often he didn't feel well on library day when the bully was usually mean to him, even in the presense of his own mother! Imagine how powerless my son must of felt. Ironically the bully's mother was the one to confirmed her own son's behavior towards my child when I first called her to address the problem. She volunteers at the school library and saw the bullying/ excluding etc first hand. She basically described the same scenario that my son told me about. She also told me that he sat all alone on the bus during the class field trip. Apparently she felt bad for him, and as a chaperone she sat with him. Her empathy and story would later change drastically.

    I called the school, disturbed by what I learned. Initially they seemed dismissive and actually skeptical, they were short, hurried, and made me feel that I was bothering them or magnifying the problem. I'd have no reason to do so, and I was shocked by this initial response; especially since the bully's mother had validated my claim by witnessing it herself!! I was relieved that she "stepped up" and told me; by doing so because she really clarified some concerns I felt but couldn't quite put my finger on. I must add that I initially tried to resolve it between the two of us, but she didn't call me back the next day to talk more like she said she would . The following day I called the school because in any event they needed to be made aware. My child has a right to peace and respect the 6 hrs a day he spends at school. I thought Pembroke schools had a zero tolerence to Bullying as both parents and students sign a cooperation pledge at the begining of the school year. This pledge covers behavor and school performance, respect and so on.

    Later this mom turned on me; she got angry as I'm sure she felt ashamed of her child's actions especially because she volunteers at the school. I simply wanted the issue addressed and the bullying to stop period. This was NOT a personal vendetta of any kind, I was actually grateful to this mother who generally sticks her head in the sand concerning her kids agressive actions. She became quite nasty once I called the school, those here who've suggested that bullying begins with parents are 100% correct. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. This seemingly quiet young woman said the most insulting things to me I could barely believe I was talking to another adult! She felt that I betrayed her confidence by calling the school. I admit it was akward to share her testimony. I only did so when the teacher doubted me. Evidently she had not seem the bullying first hand, and I was put in a position where I needed to qualify it and this involved sharing what the other mom told me. Before I did that she thought I was confusing it with some of the normal, typical boy's horsepay between the 2 kids, which was NOT the case.

    As the bullying continued the principal who was empathetic, made some changes with seating arrangements in the library,cafeteria etc, to no avail. The bully is an insecure kid who likes to have his way and be in control all the time. Of course this is the hallmark of a bully. I'm totally stressed over all this, my son has been enormously resilient by mostly ignoring the bully's daily abuse... but why should he have to? The bully is an "Eddie Haskell" type and mostly acts up out of sight from teachers like at recess.

    Yesterday I called the school and the principle was out so I spoke with the assistant principal, who isn't a patient listener, nor understanding. I get the feeling my persistence irks her, when all I want is to resolve this ongoing issue. I don't want to be appeased, nor spoken to in a condescending way. I told her about another incident that happened at lunch the day before. She actually questioned the fact that the bully once again told my son to "shut up" at lunch, since he now sits at the further end of the same table, she questioned how that was possible.There was a definite inference that my son made this up, when this child doesn't even want to talk about any of this! Come on.....how does one resolve this if an authority at the school doubts it?

    I wonder if the bully's mom being at the school 1 day a week, has any influence over what and who they believe or not? Obviously I'm the one calling upset, therefore making their job harder. Why does the victim get revictimized always? How can I be more proactive? After the recent episode I went to talk to the bully's mom for the first time since she confirmed her son's actions to me almost 3 months ago. I figured the school's attempts were having no effect on her son's behavior, well she refused to speak and called the police on me!

    Why was I not surprised, considering a while back she had the nerve to defend her child's behavior saying my son doesn't have the "right sneakers" and isn't good in sports!!! Talk about placing blame and excusing bad behavior. My son is a polite, well behaved, smart student. Has anyone else noticed the trend in victims of bullies?....They all seem to be attractice, kind, smart kids...go figure!

    Posted by Msintuitive February 27, 10 01:52 PM
  1. MSIntuitive:
    That woman will pay someday for raising a sociopath. He'll kill her in her sleep for buying him the wrong car like the Menendez brothers. Try to get your son in an accelerated program in another school where he will be safe. Otherwise homeschool him or move to another school district. In my state it is possible for a 14 year old to take the GED and start junior college. Success is the best revenge. Bullies end up in prison or dead.

    Posted by Mary Rene April 14, 10 11:49 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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