Mother feels ignored by school on bullying

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  May 12, 2010 06:00 AM

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My daughter has been bullied for 2 years now. I requested she go to a different school, and I got denied. She is 11 years old and talks about killing herself.  She would rather not go to school anymore. School is a place to learn, not get victimized every day.  I have spoken to the principal but I get ignored. What's a parent to do besides move out of this town? Yes I do have her in counseling, but who pays for this? Not the school.  If i didn't have another child in a different school I would have moved last year when it began. Please - any advice would b helpful. Thank you.

From: Sue, Quincy

 

 

Dear Sue,

With new legislation that takes effect next September, teachers and administrators will be taking bullying very seriously. I  haven't yet seen if/how this legislation provides a process or recourse for parents who have a complaint like yours; I promise to learn about that.

Meanwhile, that doesn't help you right now. There are lots of missing pieces in your puzzle. What's going on in the rest of her life? In your family? Is your daughter depressed? Is she throwing these words around as a way to get attention because it's the only way she can get your attention? What does it mean that you get "ignored" by the principal?

And those questions are just for starters....

My advice is to get as much information as you can from your daughter about what happens (what classmates say & do & when & where it typically happens). She may or may not want to say who the students are but if teachers know when/where it happens, that can help them monitor the situation. Go back to the school, to guidance, with that information. Request a meeting with teachers, principal, and guidance.

Here's the key, though: Don't go in there all afire, throwing blame at the school. Go in there seeking a partnership: My daughter has a problem, I have a problem, how can we figure this out together? If you have previously been upset and angry, show them that you also can be calm and collaborative.

Often when a child is bullied there is something about the child that makes her a target. Be open to finding out what that might be because maybe it's something that can be fixed with some coaching. Is there even one teacher your daughter likes? Maybe that's a person who can help her feel safe in the classroom again.

It's GREAT that you have her in counseling. Does the professional know about the bullying? Does she know your daughter is threatening to kill herself?  These may seem like silly questions but don't assume anything, especially if these are not the initial reasons you went to this professional. Plus: Is this professional the best and most appropriate professional available? Does your daughter need hospitalization? Medication?

I can't answer any of these questions, but I can say this:

The solution isn't moving; that's assuming the problem lies within the school, and that's way too simplistic. One way or another, you need to unravel the cause of the problem and you need all the help you can get to do that.

Readers, please weigh in with ideas for Sue!

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

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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30 comments so far...
  1. I find it a little odd that you don't say anything about talking to the teacher or the school psychologist, Sue. The teacher would be my first conversation, and the psychologist (well, not my school's psychologist, who is utterly ineffective, but if the school had a good one...) next.

    I agree with Barbara that you have to go in with the attitude of solving the problem collaboratively, not demanding a solution. Changing schools might make the problem worse - kids can be really nasty to the new kid. I also agree that it's worth trying to figure out what is making her a target (although from what I've seen, there isn't always anything obvious) and trying to address that.

    Have you talked to your daughter about how to respond to bullies? Does she have any friends? Help her to grow her friendships - having good friends can make a huge difference. Talk to your daughter's counselor and see what his or her suggestions are.

    There is no easy solution when it comes to bullies. It will take a lot of work, but I'm hopeful that you can resolve the issue.

    Posted by akmom May 12, 10 06:57 AM
  1. "Often when a child is bullied there is something about the child that makes her a target. Be open to finding out what that might be because maybe it's something that can be fixed with some coaching."

    Barbara is absolutely right about this, but Ooooh! I have to admit that this makes me so angry! To think that our kids can't just be themselves. Even though it could be a helpful strategy for some kids & parents, it's really just a band-aid to the problem.

    The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Keep squeaking!

    Posted by RH May 12, 10 07:20 AM
  1. Is the bullying verbal or physical? Make a list of names, events and dates of what's been happening to bring to the principal's office. As detailed and as far back as you can. Schedule a meeting with the principal and the teacher and present your list. Do not take no for an answer.

    If the bullying is physical, you can file a police report. That will get the school's attention.

    Posted by Margaret May 12, 10 08:54 AM
  1. Pull your child out of school and homeschool!! This sounds like a serious situation.

    Posted by cambridgemom May 12, 10 09:36 AM
  1. RH,

    I so agree with you about "there is something about the child that makes her a target". Makes me angry too. It feels like what people used to (and sometimes still) say about rape victims, e.g. it's her own fault because of how she was dressed, where she was, how she acted, etc. I *know* that's *not* what Barbara means, but I've been struck by the parallels to rape every single time this topic has come up in the news, and it has come up a lot lately. (And has anyone noticed that the cases that get the most press seem to be predominantly about girls?)

    Am I the only one who feels this way? Is there a better way to talk about what kids can do to avoid appearing to be an easy target? Is there bias in the media that is reinforcing unhelpful stereotypes about bullying? Language affects attitudes.

    Sue,
    Sorry for the rant, probably not immediately helpful for your situation. But in the same vein, even if there is something about your daughter's demeanor or behavior that has made her an easy target, make sure she knows it is emphatically NOT her fault. On the other hand, she can't force the other kids to change, but she can influence their behavior by changing hers. For instance, I know that being told by my mom that I was being "too sensitive" and "just don't rise" was not helpful at all. A little genuine sympathy (by agreeing that the kids who were teasing me were being "mean", for instance) would have made me feel better, & specific coping strategies (which perhaps your daughter's therapist can provide) would have been much more helpful.

    Posted by Teased a lot in Jr High May 12, 10 09:37 AM
  1. Bullies are like cockroaches and schools that turn a blind eye are like negligient landlords. The reality is that even in 2010 some schools do not choose to take action. It's disgusting, and fumigation is the answer.

    If you have made two phone calls to the principal, and got nowhere, stop calling. We are assuming that you talked to the teacher before you talked to the principal. Ask your daughter's counsellor to assess the reliability of your daughter's statements about the bullying in case there is some other problem going on.

    WRITE A LETTER TO THE PRINCIPAL AND SEND IT BY REGISTERED MAIL. KEEP COPIES AND THE POST OFFICE RECEIPTS. State very clearly the kinds of bullying, most recent incidents, and names. State when you called the teacher and the principal. Send one more registered letter if necessary.

    If your daughter feels physically threatened and you have sent registered letters, call your local police and ask their advice. You must be able to show them evidence that you made the effort to contact the school directly before they will intervene.

    If the bullying is happening online, KEEP COPIES. Learn how to download and save all those files because that is really easy. Your daughter can get a new email address and learn some basics about online privacy. If you are paying for counseling, then your daughter doesn't need to be opening more harassing online garbage, does she? Fill up a burn-once CD with a copy of those files and give that copy to the police. Ask them to help you.

    I guarantee that you will never have to waste your time talking to any principal when he/she gets a visit from the police with such evdence.
    The police can also contact parents when they have evidence such as emails or online postings. This does NOT come with the new law--harassment has never been legal.

    Even if charges are not laid, the police making visits with such evidence in hand has a remarkable disinfecting effect on the matter. The school gets the message that they are accountable. The parents get the message that they are legally responsible for garbage being sent from their homes and cellphones.

    The best thing that you can give your daughter is such tools for putting a stop to illegal behaviour. Counselling is useful but real action is necessary for her emotional health.

    Posted by Irene May 12, 10 09:51 AM
  1. today, read the news... a group attacked a mentally disabled or challenged teen w/o provacation and even if there were some...is that person comprehending the total scene or trying their best to navigate this world with the tools they have? Nobody has the right to impose their negativity, physical or verbal on anyone else! Some people are so unbalanced they do not need a reason to be mean or aggressive. Please do not assume there is anything wrong with the victim. The only thing may be he/she did not kick their fannies the first time around... My sweet, innocent daughter went through something similar in 4th grade/5th and part of 6th...all different levels and some different people... she was petite and quiet.... I , too, went to all the sources & they were lame at best. The school and the church as it happended in CCD class too. The bullies were popular and from families appearing to have it all. School & church ineffective and wanted to move my child into a diff class...NO,NO&NO... she behaves..you need to move the kids who are not behaving responsibly out of class period...when they behave...they'd be welcomed back, etc... accountability...there is not any.... and the parents...no, they did not bother to return my calls either... I took care of it. I found one of the bullies in town with one of the more disturbed kids in town ( a girl) had issues and then and now...I took her aside, let her know I know what is going on and I instructed my daughter...she had my permission to knock your teeth out and to hit you and not stop until someone dragged her off you... it's called self-defense... and I said if it happens again, I'll call the police and file charges against you. Your parents don't seem to want to be involved and I mentioned that I realize it's possibly you kids erase the messages I've left at home... I stated I spoke to the school counselor, the head of CCD and left messages at home...done it all kid... you're obviously looking for attention and I'm going to give it to you. Next time; she will hit you and not stop and she will not get in trouble for it... a freebie... and encouraged... I actually told her I'd hit my daughter if she didn't hit you and not stop... she is instructed to do so... and on top of that the police will be involved and you can take whatever punishment the judge gives you since your parents aren't doing their jobs.... Not one more word, ever by high school the girl would say hi...my daughter never bothered with her...but I'll bet that girl remembers us a long time... I took all the steps... but you have to hold people accountable... and with the public school...a paper trail goes a long way... maybe a letter from a lawyer...... and your counselor and don't look for someone else to pay for counseling....do what it is your child needs.... the cards will fall where they may...when your child is strong... then if the situation leans itself toward the school not protecting your daughter causing her undue harm, etc... they'll pay eventually... Document, Document, Document...hold the school officials accountable. When my school knew I was serious, they were usually on it, I would state to them, I want you there in the school yard, and I'll be there to make sure you're there overseeing the situation and he was and I was! I said this has been ongoing and I am just finding it out and am upset and need you to do something or I will. I stated physical harm was threatened against my daughter, He wanted it to go away... Two times I had to go to him; both times he handled it... one other time my daughter had paper rolled into balls thrown at her all the way home on the bus and we were close to the last stop... What is wrong with busdrivers! I suggested I be the bus monitor and they definately were in need of one. I'm sure he wanted to save the money and not have me go nuts advertising the problem in this nice little town... the next day, it was handled and niether my daughter nor the other kids even knew I had a meeting with the principal... Guess what our town did...they got rid of this principal.... his wife wrote a letter in a newspaper praising her husband and he was one of the okay ones... however since I also had a child with needs which went unmet and he had some say in that and did not have our back; (having made a couple of phone calls to my home in my opinion, setting me up w/ the school negatively ) I did not answer his questions and did not stand up for him when the school dismissed him..... Karma... our system went on to get worse people in place....... again stupid people making decisions... often get stupid results... same old, same old...
    You, alone are your child's advocate.... make it happen at any cost... forget politically correct.... line 'em up... one step at a time.. be strong; show your daughter how to be strong and handle situations, without emotions... do this then take the next step... keep going until you have your desired solution or one you can live with happily and peacefully. School bites for lots of kids...let her know this is not forever... really a small part of life... get her books on this subject...it's all in the news right now.... empower her. If she writes a letter to the principal, the school board, etc... she will have mastered an important accomplishment and gain confidence from that and maybe end up standing up for the underdog in other situations...it will not hurt her character. Stand Tall.

    Posted by bea May 12, 10 09:58 AM
  1. Another thing the teacher or someone else at school (coach? band director? club advisor? guidance counselor?) might be able to do, in partnership with you, is suggest another child with whom you could gently promote a friendship. Not that you can make kids be friends, but a kid who feels that they have no friends and is being tortured daily by one group of classmates, may not even be aware of other kids who could be their friend, given a chance. And at least it gives you something specific and proactive to ask for their help with, in addition to the hard questions you need to continue to bring to the school.

    Posted by 12bucklshoe May 12, 10 10:25 AM
  1. I think Barbara's advice is too wimpy this time.

    It sounds like this has gone on enough without any real action. Find out the kids names and file assualt charges with the police if their action involved pushing, hitting, kicking, etc. - or if they threatended to do these things.

    If you have a town newspaper bring a copy of your police report to them and explain that bullying is happening. This is a HOT story right now. Pretty much any local newspaper would be interested.

    And lastly, feel free to file a lawsuit against the school for doing nothing to prevent bullying. You can do it in small claims court if you wish to avoid hiring a lawyer. Damages could be for something creative, like therapy, missed work, denying your child an education - kid's education is $12K+ per kid. The maximum damages are a few thousand - but it's enough to get their attention, and the only risk to you is a $30 filing fee.

    Hand out flyers to parents explaining how the school does nothing about bullies.

    Stand in front of the school during drop off time with a picket sign. BULLYING
    HAPPENS
    HERE
    Don't Let Your Child Be a VIctim!

    Yes, your kid will be embarrassed - but they will know that they have a parent who will fight for them. And the bullying will stop because the school will bend over backwards to get you to stop hassling them.

    You're not their during to day to stop the bullying - but the school staff is. So if your kid get bullied in school - Then you bully the school.

    Posted by Dan Cleo May 12, 10 10:45 AM
  1. Wow, threaten a little girl with physical violence. Novel suggestion, bea!

    Posted by geocool May 12, 10 11:47 AM
  1. I agree that this advice is too weak.
    1. If the principal isn't helping, the superintendent needs to be brought in.
    2. I don't think that the victim should the one be pulled out of school, BUT, just maybe the school should be paying for tutoring at home until they can get this problem under control. This might get the school system's attention. It's cheaper for them to suspend the bullies than to pay for tutoring for the victim.
    3. At the same time, this child should be seeing a counselor of her own, NOT a school counselor. If she's been talking about killing herself, she's probably been thinking about it for a long time. Take this very seriously.
    I wouldn't want to keep going in to work at a place where I was being bullied, this child shouldn't have to keep going in to school where this happens. Yeah, school's going to be out for the summer soon, but a month and a half can look like forever to a child.

    Posted by Susan May 12, 10 12:01 PM
  1. On August 6, 2009, my 13 tear old son was held captive by three other boys, and beaten repeatedly for 3 1/2 hours. Parts of the incident were videotaped. Our local police department acquired the (2) videos, my son's interview, and full coorboration in an interview with one of the offenders. It was a fight for us to get the case filed, and sentencing was beyond light. My son is in school with one offender, and no accountability has been required from anyone. Last night, we sat in an awards banquet and watch our community celebrate this offender- because he scores touchdowns!

    Posted by Mike May 12, 10 12:24 PM
  1. If you think she is really, really serious about hurting herself, or is super depressed, take her out of school right away. Talk to teachers about doing her work at home or with a suitable tutor so she can complete the year. (At eleven, I don't know if they have an absentee/credits policy.) If you have to get a psychologist to write a note that its for emotional reasons, maybe the school will start to take it seriously.

    We all think the world will end if our kids get a little behind in school, it won't. She is likely not excelling as well as she would be without this emotional burden.

    Don't wait for policies and legislation to be effective.

    Posted by lala May 12, 10 12:40 PM
  1. Definitely try again with the school with--as Barbara says--a more how-can-we-fix-this-together attitude. But, also document conversations, phone calls, emails, responses gotten or NOT gotten. You want to have this information if you need to show that the school is not helping and working with you. Also, your daughter's counselor knows her, maybe she has some ideas about ways to approach the school and how to describe what is going on to the teacher/school counselor/principal.
    You may need to change schools but I would really try to work with the school and find a solution. It would be good for your daughter to see that problem-solving and working with others can help. Leaving just teaches her that you and she are powerless and the only thing to do is run.

    Posted by Meryl May 12, 10 12:47 PM
  1. This article just added fuel to the fire and helped give bullies a reason to bully. Afterall, according to this author---there must be something wrong with the child being bullied! WOW. How dangerous is that comment? DANGEROUS! Alot of time the child being bullied is going about their own life not bothering anyone. It is the bully that gets JEALOUS or just gets a kick out of putting someone down. The bully needs to feel powerful, the victim is not at fault. Even if the victim wears high-water orange pants---they have a RIGHT to do that and the bully DOES NOT have a right to pick on someone minding their own business, wether the BULLY agrees with them or not.
    School administrators should be held accountable. Go to your State Representative and your FEDERAL Senators--tell them we need anti-bullying laws. State Departments of Education want to stay out of it but they should be made to get involved. These schools have to answer to no one! Your child is unprotected. Sad but true.

    Posted by SportsMom May 12, 10 01:44 PM
  1. I agree that children have a right to be themselves without being bullied. However, if they are inadvertantly making the situation worse, it's worth teaching them how to head off the situation. One of the most important lessons (that some adults haven't learned) is how to get along in society without excessively compromising your personality. If the problem is that she still loves Dora the Explorer and has a purple backpack and carries a stuffed monkey around, it would be worth encouraging her to save that stuff for at home. There's nothing wrong with unusual interests/hobbies, but it's not always appropriate to display them to a wide audience. Note that I am in NO WAY saying that it's ok to tease or bully someone for being different - it's not, by any means - but it can be empowering to make a small change that helps drive the bullies away. I speak from experience.

    Posted by akmom May 12, 10 02:01 PM
  1. I agree with SportsMom. Blaming the victim is not the way to go. As the mother of a daughter that was CYBER BULLIED in a Catholic school (along with a number of other girls) I understand the pain of the parent of the child being abused as well as the child. Unfortunately for us the school completely mishandled our daughter's bully. First they expelled the bully--then decided--after pressure from other families with financial influence to bring the bully back in to the school without so much as an apology to all the victims.The Catholic school principal and the pastor simply swept the abuse under the rug (haven't we heard about that before). And the worst part--just like in the priest scandal--they put the bully right back into the class with the other girls she had threatened and humiliated online. We left. We are now in a school where the principal involves the police in any online threats.

    Posted by NolongerCatholicSchoolProponent May 12, 10 02:07 PM
  1. Communication and raising awareness is essential...

    Start at the scource of the problem - talk to the teacher...

    If necessary, escalate to higher outside resources - talk to the town mayor, talk to your elected representatives (town or state), talk to the chief of police..

    Best of luck to you and your daughter!

    Posted by TWJ May 12, 10 03:11 PM
  1. Ok, first of all-the school has just basically screwed them selves over, so ur free to do what u want as in self-defence. I am 17 years old and hearing impair, yes i was a target, was it my fault? haha no! my mom is strong. Also at the age of 7 i started taking karate classes because of my mom, she wanted me to be able to defend myself, and also these classes taught me alot about how to handle and use tools for bullying, and when legally ur allowed to beat the bully. currently i dont get bullied in highschool because, i made my mark on other people that bullied me. When the chance came to strike I took it, and i made sure everyone saw it because i wanted everyone to know that this person was a bully and i was about to give him what he deserved. that fight i gave the kid 2 black eyes and a broken nose, he didnt return to school for 2 weeks. I was left with only minor bruses...but people saw that i wasnt going to take bully for an answer . Soon after that a couple other bullies tryied at me and ended up with the same result. But now! Im free from that stupid chaos, people need to be taught a lesson, physically before they will do something

    Posted by JoshT May 12, 10 04:23 PM
  1. You say that you have tried speaking with the Principal but have been ignored? You also write that your daughter is now suicidal because of all this bullying? It's been two very long years of abuse for your daughter. Please do something "extreme" right away. Don't wait, and don't take the time to "document" your conversations, etc. This matter sounds urgent. If it was me, I wouldn't worry about treating the school with kid gloves. ***READ THE COMMENT (Posted by lala May 12, 10 12:40 PM) That sounds like what I would do.

    Good luck, and I'm sorry your daughter has to put up with this nonsense!!

    Posted by Joy Adams May 12, 10 08:21 PM
  1. Hire a lawyer and call the police. The school has liability. You can try to work with the school, but here is my story.My previously bright and happy 12 year old son was bullied by a male teacher. Each year, the teacher would single out a boy and yell at him relentlessly. This same male teacher would encourage girls to give him backrubs and to crawl under his desk while he was sitting in the desk. He would dangle his hands close to the breasts of girls. My son witnessed some of this questionable behavior. We complained to the principal, who did nothing. I tried to work with him, even helping to trap the teacher. I witnessed the teacher calling a 12 year old girl "Honey" and putting his arms around her; the principal did nothing. Several other parents (about 10) also complained to the principal. He did nothing. The other teachers covered up for this male teacher. Meanwhile, my son did worse in school and became depressed. The other teachers retaliated by denying my son the necessary help and attention. A vice principal was particularly abusive to me and denied the actions of the teacher. A guidance counselor and school psychologist were part of the coverup. The guidance counselor only remained because she was married to a principal that was favored by the school district. We ultimately complained to the superintendent and then hired a lawyer. ONLY THEN could an agreement be negotiated in which my son could finish the school year and move on to high school. The offending teacher was forced into retirement, but not until there was damage to my son and to other children. The superintendent did clean house, to his credit..

    My son has never been the same.

    Posted by asy May 12, 10 10:33 PM
  1. akmom - point taken, and of course I agree with you on the (very funny) example you gave.

    Posted by RH May 13, 10 02:01 PM
  1. I am a member of our school district's task for on bullying prevention, and it incenses me to see that some of you believe that "often" it is the target who does something to instigate the bullying. This is simply a MYTH, and serves to add insult to injury. As the bullying experts agree (please see Dr. Dan Olweus' work, Stan Davis, or the US HRSA sites---www.stopbullyingnow.com, www.stopbullyingnow/hrsa.gov), bullying is akin to sexual harrassment. Would you blame a rape victim for the crime??? No! Well, it's NOT the child's fault.

    Please do your research before spreading misinformation. Olweus is the leader in this field. Stan Davis has studied with him.

    Posted by Against Bullying May 17, 10 01:20 PM
  1. I am so sorry that you and your child are enduring this.Frequently, there is nothing that the child who is being bullied can or should about what makes him or her "stand out". In my daughter"s private, award- winning school anyone who is viewed as different has the potential to be a victim. Jewish kids,Indian kids, smart kids who take academics seriously, kids from multi-cultural families,less affluent,non-athletic kids,boys who are small,boys with talents other than sports, people with non conservative ideas,Asian or Arab kids... You get the picture. Since my daughter entered the school many of these children have fled this "wonderful school". The problem in such situations is not with the child, but the environment. DO NOT THINK THAT THE TEACHERS ARE NOT AWARE OF THE SITUATION. They have witnessed incidents. The teachers chose not to act. DO NOT THINK THAT OTHER PARENTS HAVE NOT APPROACHED THE ADMINISTRATORS IN THE PAST ABOUT SUCH PROBLEMS.. Trust me this is an ongoing problem. In my daughter's school the environment is simply toxic. The bullies are the children of the Kingpin Dads and the Queen Bee Moms. The parents feel they are entitled and they pass this attitude on to their offspring. Frequently they are major donors or in some way have intimidated the school personnel.
    Do not think that going to the police will result in closure. One of my friends did and the school closed ranks. The adults who should have prevented the bullying after they were made aware of the problem, then made the parents and children's lives miserable. For two nights a van of men vandalized the family's cars and home. Only after the family apologized to the bullies families and withdrew charges did the bullying stop. The school said it was only a coincident and the family had no proof there was a connection..
    One of the bullies finally was disciplined. He has been mildly reprimanded for years about his behavior. However, his rich family always smoothed things over and made another donation. What did it take? He raped a girl on school property. Now the administrators are doing damage control and a cover-up.
    Please take your child's threat of suicide seriously. Stress to her how important she is to you. Tell her how much love her and how life without her would leave a hole in your family and everyone in your family. Find some activity where she can shine and be around decent people. Never leave her alone where a suicide can occur. An eleven year old who is in such a state of mind does not have the right to privacy. If you have to sleep in her room. Plan fun family outings and mother -daughter outings where she can talk to you in peace and privately. (You will be amazed what they will tell you while you are driving down the interstate in rush hour traffic.) Make certain that she know what a wonderful person she is. Speak to her of her future. Make sure that she know that this to will pass. FINALLY,GET YOUR CHILD OUT OF THERE ASAP. As an adult you would not endure a 40 plus hour work environment that left you felling suicidal. The school is worthy of your child.. Good Luck.

    Posted by Pat Hayward May 19, 10 05:15 AM
  1. My daughter has been bullied since the beginning of the school year. She has had a broken bone in her wrist, bruises and whiplash.
    I have documented everything. Spoke to the school several times, even the police. Where I live everyone covers everyone. My daughter makes good grades and all the teachers love her, but no one will do anything for the bullying. The school counselor said it was her fault. What is wrong with this world when I kids are being hurt mentally and physically and the school which by law is suppose to protect our children will not. They treat my husband and I like we are no one. My child is depressed and saddened by this. She loves learning but is miserable. Teachers praise my child, but the principal will not allow the teachers to protect my child. The principal says it is his job but he does not do it. The town we live in is about who you are not what you are. Children deserve to have an education without the violance.

    Posted by Celeste Zarate May 23, 10 10:37 PM
  1. My kid was bullied- physically by one other girl.

    I went to the school... they didn't help. I got smart, put her in martial arts.
    A few months later, when my kid kicked her ass... the bullying stopped.

    Children being victimized should NEVER happen. It is total nonsense that shild must 'fit in' to society's rules in order not to be bullied. No, that child should not have to change... the BULLY needs to be addressed, NOT the child who is being bullied. And YES, the problem lies within the school, if they aren't doing anything about it. That is pure rubbish.

    Posted by Kal June 5, 10 05:04 PM
  1. I agree with comments that the victim should not be "counselled" or "blamed" for being bullied. I would recommend Barbara F. Meltz read "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding, before she makes such dismissive statements about victims of bullying in schools. Mr Golding provides wonderful insight, drawn from his life as a schoolmaster, into the way children behave and function. I also agree with the comments posted about turning the spotlight on the school system. Workplace bullying has legal recourse, and so should school bullying.

    Posted by A concerned mum June 10, 10 06:36 PM
  1. This comment is the one that been the bone of contention here for many

    Often when a child is bullied there is something about the child that makes her a target. Be open to finding out what that might be because maybe it's something that can be fixed with some coaching.

    Okay -- yes if the child is picking her nose or doing something offensive. I suspect that is not the case here. I find this statement very sad. It's sad to me because I see Barbara as simply reflecting an accepted attitude in our community. The children need the adults to stand firm against bullying. Which does not mean physical violence or bullying back. What it does mean is stating firmly that the victim's behavior is not wrong or out of line. There is no reason for the victim to change their behavior. Their behavior is not the problem. The bully's behavior should be the focus because their behavior is wrong. Part of the experiece of school is to help children learn to socialize and encourage good values, such as respect, responsibility, ethics. Good values should be taught at home and supported in the schools. Actions speak louder than words. Suggesting that the victim needs to adapt or change or jump through hoops to make the bullying stop sends the message that bullies are not responsible for their behavior and do not need to change their behavior. I believe you should stand firm on this. Again, unless your child is doing something truly offensive, which I suspect here is not the case. I say stand firm and REJECT pressure to make your child examine and change her behavior to adapt to the bullies. As someone who was bullied in the past myself, I can also say that this does not work. Focusing on changing the victims behavior will not lead to a situation where the bullies learn how unacceptable their behavior is. The bullies will not learn how to take responsibility for their behavior and control their aggression.


    .


    Posted by Angela June 15, 10 01:45 PM
  1. Well, I can't give a definite solution. But, At my previous school, kids would abuse me, both mentally and physically. It got to the point where they tied me up and Dragged me around the parking lot, through bark, gravel, and various other things. My back was a mess, My shirt was destroyed, and the teachers just stood and watched it happen. I got suspended for aggrivating them, They got away scot free, And to this day I still have a scar on a large area of my back. Thankfully, My parents had enough. They barged into the office, and threatened the school with a lawsuit if they didn't either A) Stop all bullying, or B) Put me in a school where it wouldn't happen. They didn't want it to be on record so they were forced to send me to a Private school which costs ALOT of money each year. But because of the lawsuit threats, they had to pay the bill on their own.

    To shorten it up and get to the point, You may very well have to take drastic measures. Because it's not always just the kids that bully. The teachers do it too. I got 37 referalls in a month, even though I was suspened for like, half of it. Simply put, If she gets abused Physically even once, I can almost assure you that it WILL get worse. If it gets too bad, try to scare the school a bit, so that they will either fix the problem, or pay for her to go somewhere else.

    I hope this helps, if not, Sorry.
    P.S. If you're wondering, I am in school currently, and a Teenager. So I figured that you might want an inside look at what measures you might have to take. In the meantime, Just tell your daughter to look for just one reason to keep going. It worked for me.

    Posted by Levi Proctor February 15, 11 04:52 PM
  1. I am an educator and parent and I beleive schools do too little to prevent bullying but they are trying. Too many school personnel turn their backs on bullying and therefore the bullying gets worse. Many of the teachers that I have spoken to are themselves afraid of the child bully and are afraid to attempt to stop the bullying which gives the bully even more power. I think that once a student is deemed a bully that student and their family should be targeted for bullying intervention and required to take some sort of bullying intervention classes that assist with stopping the bullying behavior as well as the punative consequences if they dont stop their negative, ugly bullying behaviors and the schools have to be consistant with actually following through. ..I have so much to say about this...Im getting upset just writing this message...I know there is much to this epidemic...but Im an educator that will fight for the safety of my students....I have no tolerance for children or adults that bully....I dont allow bullies to bully and once I deem you a bully I do something about it.... and I wont stop until it is taken care of....I HATE BULLYING behavior and I cant understand how adults allow it to happen...OK Im done for now...legislation needs to catch up with the times

    Posted by Bethel February 4, 12 05:00 PM
 
30 comments so far...
  1. I find it a little odd that you don't say anything about talking to the teacher or the school psychologist, Sue. The teacher would be my first conversation, and the psychologist (well, not my school's psychologist, who is utterly ineffective, but if the school had a good one...) next.

    I agree with Barbara that you have to go in with the attitude of solving the problem collaboratively, not demanding a solution. Changing schools might make the problem worse - kids can be really nasty to the new kid. I also agree that it's worth trying to figure out what is making her a target (although from what I've seen, there isn't always anything obvious) and trying to address that.

    Have you talked to your daughter about how to respond to bullies? Does she have any friends? Help her to grow her friendships - having good friends can make a huge difference. Talk to your daughter's counselor and see what his or her suggestions are.

    There is no easy solution when it comes to bullies. It will take a lot of work, but I'm hopeful that you can resolve the issue.

    Posted by akmom May 12, 10 06:57 AM
  1. "Often when a child is bullied there is something about the child that makes her a target. Be open to finding out what that might be because maybe it's something that can be fixed with some coaching."

    Barbara is absolutely right about this, but Ooooh! I have to admit that this makes me so angry! To think that our kids can't just be themselves. Even though it could be a helpful strategy for some kids & parents, it's really just a band-aid to the problem.

    The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Keep squeaking!

    Posted by RH May 12, 10 07:20 AM
  1. Is the bullying verbal or physical? Make a list of names, events and dates of what's been happening to bring to the principal's office. As detailed and as far back as you can. Schedule a meeting with the principal and the teacher and present your list. Do not take no for an answer.

    If the bullying is physical, you can file a police report. That will get the school's attention.

    Posted by Margaret May 12, 10 08:54 AM
  1. Pull your child out of school and homeschool!! This sounds like a serious situation.

    Posted by cambridgemom May 12, 10 09:36 AM
  1. RH,

    I so agree with you about "there is something about the child that makes her a target". Makes me angry too. It feels like what people used to (and sometimes still) say about rape victims, e.g. it's her own fault because of how she was dressed, where she was, how she acted, etc. I *know* that's *not* what Barbara means, but I've been struck by the parallels to rape every single time this topic has come up in the news, and it has come up a lot lately. (And has anyone noticed that the cases that get the most press seem to be predominantly about girls?)

    Am I the only one who feels this way? Is there a better way to talk about what kids can do to avoid appearing to be an easy target? Is there bias in the media that is reinforcing unhelpful stereotypes about bullying? Language affects attitudes.

    Sue,
    Sorry for the rant, probably not immediately helpful for your situation. But in the same vein, even if there is something about your daughter's demeanor or behavior that has made her an easy target, make sure she knows it is emphatically NOT her fault. On the other hand, she can't force the other kids to change, but she can influence their behavior by changing hers. For instance, I know that being told by my mom that I was being "too sensitive" and "just don't rise" was not helpful at all. A little genuine sympathy (by agreeing that the kids who were teasing me were being "mean", for instance) would have made me feel better, & specific coping strategies (which perhaps your daughter's therapist can provide) would have been much more helpful.

    Posted by Teased a lot in Jr High May 12, 10 09:37 AM
  1. Bullies are like cockroaches and schools that turn a blind eye are like negligient landlords. The reality is that even in 2010 some schools do not choose to take action. It's disgusting, and fumigation is the answer.

    If you have made two phone calls to the principal, and got nowhere, stop calling. We are assuming that you talked to the teacher before you talked to the principal. Ask your daughter's counsellor to assess the reliability of your daughter's statements about the bullying in case there is some other problem going on.

    WRITE A LETTER TO THE PRINCIPAL AND SEND IT BY REGISTERED MAIL. KEEP COPIES AND THE POST OFFICE RECEIPTS. State very clearly the kinds of bullying, most recent incidents, and names. State when you called the teacher and the principal. Send one more registered letter if necessary.

    If your daughter feels physically threatened and you have sent registered letters, call your local police and ask their advice. You must be able to show them evidence that you made the effort to contact the school directly before they will intervene.

    If the bullying is happening online, KEEP COPIES. Learn how to download and save all those files because that is really easy. Your daughter can get a new email address and learn some basics about online privacy. If you are paying for counseling, then your daughter doesn't need to be opening more harassing online garbage, does she? Fill up a burn-once CD with a copy of those files and give that copy to the police. Ask them to help you.

    I guarantee that you will never have to waste your time talking to any principal when he/she gets a visit from the police with such evdence.
    The police can also contact parents when they have evidence such as emails or online postings. This does NOT come with the new law--harassment has never been legal.

    Even if charges are not laid, the police making visits with such evidence in hand has a remarkable disinfecting effect on the matter. The school gets the message that they are accountable. The parents get the message that they are legally responsible for garbage being sent from their homes and cellphones.

    The best thing that you can give your daughter is such tools for putting a stop to illegal behaviour. Counselling is useful but real action is necessary for her emotional health.

    Posted by Irene May 12, 10 09:51 AM
  1. today, read the news... a group attacked a mentally disabled or challenged teen w/o provacation and even if there were some...is that person comprehending the total scene or trying their best to navigate this world with the tools they have? Nobody has the right to impose their negativity, physical or verbal on anyone else! Some people are so unbalanced they do not need a reason to be mean or aggressive. Please do not assume there is anything wrong with the victim. The only thing may be he/she did not kick their fannies the first time around... My sweet, innocent daughter went through something similar in 4th grade/5th and part of 6th...all different levels and some different people... she was petite and quiet.... I , too, went to all the sources & they were lame at best. The school and the church as it happended in CCD class too. The bullies were popular and from families appearing to have it all. School & church ineffective and wanted to move my child into a diff class...NO,NO&NO... she behaves..you need to move the kids who are not behaving responsibly out of class period...when they behave...they'd be welcomed back, etc... accountability...there is not any.... and the parents...no, they did not bother to return my calls either... I took care of it. I found one of the bullies in town with one of the more disturbed kids in town ( a girl) had issues and then and now...I took her aside, let her know I know what is going on and I instructed my daughter...she had my permission to knock your teeth out and to hit you and not stop until someone dragged her off you... it's called self-defense... and I said if it happens again, I'll call the police and file charges against you. Your parents don't seem to want to be involved and I mentioned that I realize it's possibly you kids erase the messages I've left at home... I stated I spoke to the school counselor, the head of CCD and left messages at home...done it all kid... you're obviously looking for attention and I'm going to give it to you. Next time; she will hit you and not stop and she will not get in trouble for it... a freebie... and encouraged... I actually told her I'd hit my daughter if she didn't hit you and not stop... she is instructed to do so... and on top of that the police will be involved and you can take whatever punishment the judge gives you since your parents aren't doing their jobs.... Not one more word, ever by high school the girl would say hi...my daughter never bothered with her...but I'll bet that girl remembers us a long time... I took all the steps... but you have to hold people accountable... and with the public school...a paper trail goes a long way... maybe a letter from a lawyer...... and your counselor and don't look for someone else to pay for counseling....do what it is your child needs.... the cards will fall where they may...when your child is strong... then if the situation leans itself toward the school not protecting your daughter causing her undue harm, etc... they'll pay eventually... Document, Document, Document...hold the school officials accountable. When my school knew I was serious, they were usually on it, I would state to them, I want you there in the school yard, and I'll be there to make sure you're there overseeing the situation and he was and I was! I said this has been ongoing and I am just finding it out and am upset and need you to do something or I will. I stated physical harm was threatened against my daughter, He wanted it to go away... Two times I had to go to him; both times he handled it... one other time my daughter had paper rolled into balls thrown at her all the way home on the bus and we were close to the last stop... What is wrong with busdrivers! I suggested I be the bus monitor and they definately were in need of one. I'm sure he wanted to save the money and not have me go nuts advertising the problem in this nice little town... the next day, it was handled and niether my daughter nor the other kids even knew I had a meeting with the principal... Guess what our town did...they got rid of this principal.... his wife wrote a letter in a newspaper praising her husband and he was one of the okay ones... however since I also had a child with needs which went unmet and he had some say in that and did not have our back; (having made a couple of phone calls to my home in my opinion, setting me up w/ the school negatively ) I did not answer his questions and did not stand up for him when the school dismissed him..... Karma... our system went on to get worse people in place....... again stupid people making decisions... often get stupid results... same old, same old...
    You, alone are your child's advocate.... make it happen at any cost... forget politically correct.... line 'em up... one step at a time.. be strong; show your daughter how to be strong and handle situations, without emotions... do this then take the next step... keep going until you have your desired solution or one you can live with happily and peacefully. School bites for lots of kids...let her know this is not forever... really a small part of life... get her books on this subject...it's all in the news right now.... empower her. If she writes a letter to the principal, the school board, etc... she will have mastered an important accomplishment and gain confidence from that and maybe end up standing up for the underdog in other situations...it will not hurt her character. Stand Tall.

    Posted by bea May 12, 10 09:58 AM
  1. Another thing the teacher or someone else at school (coach? band director? club advisor? guidance counselor?) might be able to do, in partnership with you, is suggest another child with whom you could gently promote a friendship. Not that you can make kids be friends, but a kid who feels that they have no friends and is being tortured daily by one group of classmates, may not even be aware of other kids who could be their friend, given a chance. And at least it gives you something specific and proactive to ask for their help with, in addition to the hard questions you need to continue to bring to the school.

    Posted by 12bucklshoe May 12, 10 10:25 AM
  1. I think Barbara's advice is too wimpy this time.

    It sounds like this has gone on enough without any real action. Find out the kids names and file assualt charges with the police if their action involved pushing, hitting, kicking, etc. - or if they threatended to do these things.

    If you have a town newspaper bring a copy of your police report to them and explain that bullying is happening. This is a HOT story right now. Pretty much any local newspaper would be interested.

    And lastly, feel free to file a lawsuit against the school for doing nothing to prevent bullying. You can do it in small claims court if you wish to avoid hiring a lawyer. Damages could be for something creative, like therapy, missed work, denying your child an education - kid's education is $12K+ per kid. The maximum damages are a few thousand - but it's enough to get their attention, and the only risk to you is a $30 filing fee.

    Hand out flyers to parents explaining how the school does nothing about bullies.

    Stand in front of the school during drop off time with a picket sign. BULLYING
    HAPPENS
    HERE
    Don't Let Your Child Be a VIctim!

    Yes, your kid will be embarrassed - but they will know that they have a parent who will fight for them. And the bullying will stop because the school will bend over backwards to get you to stop hassling them.

    You're not their during to day to stop the bullying - but the school staff is. So if your kid get bullied in school - Then you bully the school.

    Posted by Dan Cleo May 12, 10 10:45 AM
  1. Wow, threaten a little girl with physical violence. Novel suggestion, bea!

    Posted by geocool May 12, 10 11:47 AM
  1. I agree that this advice is too weak.
    1. If the principal isn't helping, the superintendent needs to be brought in.
    2. I don't think that the victim should the one be pulled out of school, BUT, just maybe the school should be paying for tutoring at home until they can get this problem under control. This might get the school system's attention. It's cheaper for them to suspend the bullies than to pay for tutoring for the victim.
    3. At the same time, this child should be seeing a counselor of her own, NOT a school counselor. If she's been talking about killing herself, she's probably been thinking about it for a long time. Take this very seriously.
    I wouldn't want to keep going in to work at a place where I was being bullied, this child shouldn't have to keep going in to school where this happens. Yeah, school's going to be out for the summer soon, but a month and a half can look like forever to a child.

    Posted by Susan May 12, 10 12:01 PM
  1. On August 6, 2009, my 13 tear old son was held captive by three other boys, and beaten repeatedly for 3 1/2 hours. Parts of the incident were videotaped. Our local police department acquired the (2) videos, my son's interview, and full coorboration in an interview with one of the offenders. It was a fight for us to get the case filed, and sentencing was beyond light. My son is in school with one offender, and no accountability has been required from anyone. Last night, we sat in an awards banquet and watch our community celebrate this offender- because he scores touchdowns!

    Posted by Mike May 12, 10 12:24 PM
  1. If you think she is really, really serious about hurting herself, or is super depressed, take her out of school right away. Talk to teachers about doing her work at home or with a suitable tutor so she can complete the year. (At eleven, I don't know if they have an absentee/credits policy.) If you have to get a psychologist to write a note that its for emotional reasons, maybe the school will start to take it seriously.

    We all think the world will end if our kids get a little behind in school, it won't. She is likely not excelling as well as she would be without this emotional burden.

    Don't wait for policies and legislation to be effective.

    Posted by lala May 12, 10 12:40 PM
  1. Definitely try again with the school with--as Barbara says--a more how-can-we-fix-this-together attitude. But, also document conversations, phone calls, emails, responses gotten or NOT gotten. You want to have this information if you need to show that the school is not helping and working with you. Also, your daughter's counselor knows her, maybe she has some ideas about ways to approach the school and how to describe what is going on to the teacher/school counselor/principal.
    You may need to change schools but I would really try to work with the school and find a solution. It would be good for your daughter to see that problem-solving and working with others can help. Leaving just teaches her that you and she are powerless and the only thing to do is run.

    Posted by Meryl May 12, 10 12:47 PM
  1. This article just added fuel to the fire and helped give bullies a reason to bully. Afterall, according to this author---there must be something wrong with the child being bullied! WOW. How dangerous is that comment? DANGEROUS! Alot of time the child being bullied is going about their own life not bothering anyone. It is the bully that gets JEALOUS or just gets a kick out of putting someone down. The bully needs to feel powerful, the victim is not at fault. Even if the victim wears high-water orange pants---they have a RIGHT to do that and the bully DOES NOT have a right to pick on someone minding their own business, wether the BULLY agrees with them or not.
    School administrators should be held accountable. Go to your State Representative and your FEDERAL Senators--tell them we need anti-bullying laws. State Departments of Education want to stay out of it but they should be made to get involved. These schools have to answer to no one! Your child is unprotected. Sad but true.

    Posted by SportsMom May 12, 10 01:44 PM
  1. I agree that children have a right to be themselves without being bullied. However, if they are inadvertantly making the situation worse, it's worth teaching them how to head off the situation. One of the most important lessons (that some adults haven't learned) is how to get along in society without excessively compromising your personality. If the problem is that she still loves Dora the Explorer and has a purple backpack and carries a stuffed monkey around, it would be worth encouraging her to save that stuff for at home. There's nothing wrong with unusual interests/hobbies, but it's not always appropriate to display them to a wide audience. Note that I am in NO WAY saying that it's ok to tease or bully someone for being different - it's not, by any means - but it can be empowering to make a small change that helps drive the bullies away. I speak from experience.

    Posted by akmom May 12, 10 02:01 PM
  1. I agree with SportsMom. Blaming the victim is not the way to go. As the mother of a daughter that was CYBER BULLIED in a Catholic school (along with a number of other girls) I understand the pain of the parent of the child being abused as well as the child. Unfortunately for us the school completely mishandled our daughter's bully. First they expelled the bully--then decided--after pressure from other families with financial influence to bring the bully back in to the school without so much as an apology to all the victims.The Catholic school principal and the pastor simply swept the abuse under the rug (haven't we heard about that before). And the worst part--just like in the priest scandal--they put the bully right back into the class with the other girls she had threatened and humiliated online. We left. We are now in a school where the principal involves the police in any online threats.

    Posted by NolongerCatholicSchoolProponent May 12, 10 02:07 PM
  1. Communication and raising awareness is essential...

    Start at the scource of the problem - talk to the teacher...

    If necessary, escalate to higher outside resources - talk to the town mayor, talk to your elected representatives (town or state), talk to the chief of police..

    Best of luck to you and your daughter!

    Posted by TWJ May 12, 10 03:11 PM
  1. Ok, first of all-the school has just basically screwed them selves over, so ur free to do what u want as in self-defence. I am 17 years old and hearing impair, yes i was a target, was it my fault? haha no! my mom is strong. Also at the age of 7 i started taking karate classes because of my mom, she wanted me to be able to defend myself, and also these classes taught me alot about how to handle and use tools for bullying, and when legally ur allowed to beat the bully. currently i dont get bullied in highschool because, i made my mark on other people that bullied me. When the chance came to strike I took it, and i made sure everyone saw it because i wanted everyone to know that this person was a bully and i was about to give him what he deserved. that fight i gave the kid 2 black eyes and a broken nose, he didnt return to school for 2 weeks. I was left with only minor bruses...but people saw that i wasnt going to take bully for an answer . Soon after that a couple other bullies tryied at me and ended up with the same result. But now! Im free from that stupid chaos, people need to be taught a lesson, physically before they will do something

    Posted by JoshT May 12, 10 04:23 PM
  1. You say that you have tried speaking with the Principal but have been ignored? You also write that your daughter is now suicidal because of all this bullying? It's been two very long years of abuse for your daughter. Please do something "extreme" right away. Don't wait, and don't take the time to "document" your conversations, etc. This matter sounds urgent. If it was me, I wouldn't worry about treating the school with kid gloves. ***READ THE COMMENT (Posted by lala May 12, 10 12:40 PM) That sounds like what I would do.

    Good luck, and I'm sorry your daughter has to put up with this nonsense!!

    Posted by Joy Adams May 12, 10 08:21 PM
  1. Hire a lawyer and call the police. The school has liability. You can try to work with the school, but here is my story.My previously bright and happy 12 year old son was bullied by a male teacher. Each year, the teacher would single out a boy and yell at him relentlessly. This same male teacher would encourage girls to give him backrubs and to crawl under his desk while he was sitting in the desk. He would dangle his hands close to the breasts of girls. My son witnessed some of this questionable behavior. We complained to the principal, who did nothing. I tried to work with him, even helping to trap the teacher. I witnessed the teacher calling a 12 year old girl "Honey" and putting his arms around her; the principal did nothing. Several other parents (about 10) also complained to the principal. He did nothing. The other teachers covered up for this male teacher. Meanwhile, my son did worse in school and became depressed. The other teachers retaliated by denying my son the necessary help and attention. A vice principal was particularly abusive to me and denied the actions of the teacher. A guidance counselor and school psychologist were part of the coverup. The guidance counselor only remained because she was married to a principal that was favored by the school district. We ultimately complained to the superintendent and then hired a lawyer. ONLY THEN could an agreement be negotiated in which my son could finish the school year and move on to high school. The offending teacher was forced into retirement, but not until there was damage to my son and to other children. The superintendent did clean house, to his credit..

    My son has never been the same.

    Posted by asy May 12, 10 10:33 PM
  1. akmom - point taken, and of course I agree with you on the (very funny) example you gave.

    Posted by RH May 13, 10 02:01 PM
  1. I am a member of our school district's task for on bullying prevention, and it incenses me to see that some of you believe that "often" it is the target who does something to instigate the bullying. This is simply a MYTH, and serves to add insult to injury. As the bullying experts agree (please see Dr. Dan Olweus' work, Stan Davis, or the US HRSA sites---www.stopbullyingnow.com, www.stopbullyingnow/hrsa.gov), bullying is akin to sexual harrassment. Would you blame a rape victim for the crime??? No! Well, it's NOT the child's fault.

    Please do your research before spreading misinformation. Olweus is the leader in this field. Stan Davis has studied with him.

    Posted by Against Bullying May 17, 10 01:20 PM
  1. I am so sorry that you and your child are enduring this.Frequently, there is nothing that the child who is being bullied can or should about what makes him or her "stand out". In my daughter"s private, award- winning school anyone who is viewed as different has the potential to be a victim. Jewish kids,Indian kids, smart kids who take academics seriously, kids from multi-cultural families,less affluent,non-athletic kids,boys who are small,boys with talents other than sports, people with non conservative ideas,Asian or Arab kids... You get the picture. Since my daughter entered the school many of these children have fled this "wonderful school". The problem in such situations is not with the child, but the environment. DO NOT THINK THAT THE TEACHERS ARE NOT AWARE OF THE SITUATION. They have witnessed incidents. The teachers chose not to act. DO NOT THINK THAT OTHER PARENTS HAVE NOT APPROACHED THE ADMINISTRATORS IN THE PAST ABOUT SUCH PROBLEMS.. Trust me this is an ongoing problem. In my daughter's school the environment is simply toxic. The bullies are the children of the Kingpin Dads and the Queen Bee Moms. The parents feel they are entitled and they pass this attitude on to their offspring. Frequently they are major donors or in some way have intimidated the school personnel.
    Do not think that going to the police will result in closure. One of my friends did and the school closed ranks. The adults who should have prevented the bullying after they were made aware of the problem, then made the parents and children's lives miserable. For two nights a van of men vandalized the family's cars and home. Only after the family apologized to the bullies families and withdrew charges did the bullying stop. The school said it was only a coincident and the family had no proof there was a connection..
    One of the bullies finally was disciplined. He has been mildly reprimanded for years about his behavior. However, his rich family always smoothed things over and made another donation. What did it take? He raped a girl on school property. Now the administrators are doing damage control and a cover-up.
    Please take your child's threat of suicide seriously. Stress to her how important she is to you. Tell her how much love her and how life without her would leave a hole in your family and everyone in your family. Find some activity where she can shine and be around decent people. Never leave her alone where a suicide can occur. An eleven year old who is in such a state of mind does not have the right to privacy. If you have to sleep in her room. Plan fun family outings and mother -daughter outings where she can talk to you in peace and privately. (You will be amazed what they will tell you while you are driving down the interstate in rush hour traffic.) Make certain that she know what a wonderful person she is. Speak to her of her future. Make sure that she know that this to will pass. FINALLY,GET YOUR CHILD OUT OF THERE ASAP. As an adult you would not endure a 40 plus hour work environment that left you felling suicidal. The school is worthy of your child.. Good Luck.

    Posted by Pat Hayward May 19, 10 05:15 AM
  1. My daughter has been bullied since the beginning of the school year. She has had a broken bone in her wrist, bruises and whiplash.
    I have documented everything. Spoke to the school several times, even the police. Where I live everyone covers everyone. My daughter makes good grades and all the teachers love her, but no one will do anything for the bullying. The school counselor said it was her fault. What is wrong with this world when I kids are being hurt mentally and physically and the school which by law is suppose to protect our children will not. They treat my husband and I like we are no one. My child is depressed and saddened by this. She loves learning but is miserable. Teachers praise my child, but the principal will not allow the teachers to protect my child. The principal says it is his job but he does not do it. The town we live in is about who you are not what you are. Children deserve to have an education without the violance.

    Posted by Celeste Zarate May 23, 10 10:37 PM
  1. My kid was bullied- physically by one other girl.

    I went to the school... they didn't help. I got smart, put her in martial arts.
    A few months later, when my kid kicked her ass... the bullying stopped.

    Children being victimized should NEVER happen. It is total nonsense that shild must 'fit in' to society's rules in order not to be bullied. No, that child should not have to change... the BULLY needs to be addressed, NOT the child who is being bullied. And YES, the problem lies within the school, if they aren't doing anything about it. That is pure rubbish.

    Posted by Kal June 5, 10 05:04 PM
  1. I agree with comments that the victim should not be "counselled" or "blamed" for being bullied. I would recommend Barbara F. Meltz read "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding, before she makes such dismissive statements about victims of bullying in schools. Mr Golding provides wonderful insight, drawn from his life as a schoolmaster, into the way children behave and function. I also agree with the comments posted about turning the spotlight on the school system. Workplace bullying has legal recourse, and so should school bullying.

    Posted by A concerned mum June 10, 10 06:36 PM
  1. This comment is the one that been the bone of contention here for many

    Often when a child is bullied there is something about the child that makes her a target. Be open to finding out what that might be because maybe it's something that can be fixed with some coaching.

    Okay -- yes if the child is picking her nose or doing something offensive. I suspect that is not the case here. I find this statement very sad. It's sad to me because I see Barbara as simply reflecting an accepted attitude in our community. The children need the adults to stand firm against bullying. Which does not mean physical violence or bullying back. What it does mean is stating firmly that the victim's behavior is not wrong or out of line. There is no reason for the victim to change their behavior. Their behavior is not the problem. The bully's behavior should be the focus because their behavior is wrong. Part of the experiece of school is to help children learn to socialize and encourage good values, such as respect, responsibility, ethics. Good values should be taught at home and supported in the schools. Actions speak louder than words. Suggesting that the victim needs to adapt or change or jump through hoops to make the bullying stop sends the message that bullies are not responsible for their behavior and do not need to change their behavior. I believe you should stand firm on this. Again, unless your child is doing something truly offensive, which I suspect here is not the case. I say stand firm and REJECT pressure to make your child examine and change her behavior to adapt to the bullies. As someone who was bullied in the past myself, I can also say that this does not work. Focusing on changing the victims behavior will not lead to a situation where the bullies learn how unacceptable their behavior is. The bullies will not learn how to take responsibility for their behavior and control their aggression.


    .


    Posted by Angela June 15, 10 01:45 PM
  1. Well, I can't give a definite solution. But, At my previous school, kids would abuse me, both mentally and physically. It got to the point where they tied me up and Dragged me around the parking lot, through bark, gravel, and various other things. My back was a mess, My shirt was destroyed, and the teachers just stood and watched it happen. I got suspended for aggrivating them, They got away scot free, And to this day I still have a scar on a large area of my back. Thankfully, My parents had enough. They barged into the office, and threatened the school with a lawsuit if they didn't either A) Stop all bullying, or B) Put me in a school where it wouldn't happen. They didn't want it to be on record so they were forced to send me to a Private school which costs ALOT of money each year. But because of the lawsuit threats, they had to pay the bill on their own.

    To shorten it up and get to the point, You may very well have to take drastic measures. Because it's not always just the kids that bully. The teachers do it too. I got 37 referalls in a month, even though I was suspened for like, half of it. Simply put, If she gets abused Physically even once, I can almost assure you that it WILL get worse. If it gets too bad, try to scare the school a bit, so that they will either fix the problem, or pay for her to go somewhere else.

    I hope this helps, if not, Sorry.
    P.S. If you're wondering, I am in school currently, and a Teenager. So I figured that you might want an inside look at what measures you might have to take. In the meantime, Just tell your daughter to look for just one reason to keep going. It worked for me.

    Posted by Levi Proctor February 15, 11 04:52 PM
  1. I am an educator and parent and I beleive schools do too little to prevent bullying but they are trying. Too many school personnel turn their backs on bullying and therefore the bullying gets worse. Many of the teachers that I have spoken to are themselves afraid of the child bully and are afraid to attempt to stop the bullying which gives the bully even more power. I think that once a student is deemed a bully that student and their family should be targeted for bullying intervention and required to take some sort of bullying intervention classes that assist with stopping the bullying behavior as well as the punative consequences if they dont stop their negative, ugly bullying behaviors and the schools have to be consistant with actually following through. ..I have so much to say about this...Im getting upset just writing this message...I know there is much to this epidemic...but Im an educator that will fight for the safety of my students....I have no tolerance for children or adults that bully....I dont allow bullies to bully and once I deem you a bully I do something about it.... and I wont stop until it is taken care of....I HATE BULLYING behavior and I cant understand how adults allow it to happen...OK Im done for now...legislation needs to catch up with the times

    Posted by Bethel February 4, 12 05:00 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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