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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bullying

One of my kiddos has been the target of some bullying.  Because several of my children and several of their friends, and several of my friends read this blog, it's probably best to not say which one.  If you're close to us, you probably know which one it is.

So we've known that there has been "issues" and "incidents" in the past.  Like over the past few years.  And we have chosen to deal with them at home.  Discussing appropriate ways to deal with name calling.  Who to tell.  Discussing what a man of character really looks like.  And until now, we've always felt we had a handle on it. But unbeknownst to us, things haven't really changed.  We've given sweetie pie some methods to deal with bullying, but it's continued.  And as a child ages, these things start to impact one's soul.  We could narrow it down to a couple specific kiddos as the source of the problem, but to be honest, it sounds as if there is a bigger issue at hand.  One where our sweetie finds themselves at the bottom of the pecking order.

Today's after-school homework session escalated into a very angry child.  Too angry.  Something told this mama that there was more at play than a forgotten assignment.  Up to my elbows in pies and gravy and cranberry sauce, all the turkey-day prep was literally put aside so I could do some active parenting.  We talked, I dug a bit, some of it came out.  I dug about a bit more.  Then the tears started to flow. Anger gave way to sadness.  Depression.  More details.  It's so hard to say the names aloud, even to your mama.  Even school "friends" getting in on the action.

In the end I heard, Thank you, Mama.  Thank you for helping me with this school stuff.  Ya, then my tears welled up.  This child is simply amazing.  Rising to a challenge.  Finding their place in the world, with a heart for God and a spirit I truly envy.

So we're taking the next step.  We're reaching out for help.  Asking the school to step up.  Maybe we should have done so sooner.  I'll resort to one of my mantras.  I do the best I can with what I have at the time.  Now I know.  Now I'll do better.  For my child.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'll take 'em.

I have no dinner prepared tonight.
And the house is a disaster.
And company is coming tomorrow morning.
Oh well.
Some things are more important.

Bullying Part II

19 comments:

  1. Oh, bless your and HIS heart, Nancy. No advice, but I'm proud of you for working through it so lovingly, and I'll pray you have oodles of wisdom for how to proceed. My husband was bullied as a child, and his parents did not cover him as they should have. That has had its impact, but God has brought him much healing. Will definitely shape us as parents.

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  2. I think it's a good idea to let the school know what is going on, also the other parents of the child doing the bullying. Blessings

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  3. Debbie- Really? Get in contact with the parents? The reason I shy away, is that I've done that in the past. Like I said, this has been going on a while. We live in a community that accepts little responsibility. And last time I was met with "My child?" and some retribution for both me and my sweetie. Different parents this time, but not sure I want to go there again. But... good to think about. Will consider everything at this point.

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  4. I'm so sorry. Parenting is so hard sometimes. I have not had to deal with this issue so I don't have any advice but I will pray for you all. It is soooo hard to see your child hurt:(

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  5. I always had the same problem when telling the parents, so I recommend against it. It seems to almost always backfire. Bullies often learn this behavior at home. I think going to the school is best. The most important thing is that your child realizes that you are going to bat for them. I actually resorted to switching my daughter's school after I got nowhere with the one she was attending. I wish I would have done it sooner.

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  6. It's important to let the school administration know what's going on. They might have other incidents on the bully by others, and this would help them deal with this person/people seriously and at the appropriate level. Many states have serious anti bullying policies and it's really really really important to file a formal complaint and ask for follow up resolution. Your kiddo might have to be a part of the mediation or fix, whatever their procedure is, but it's good to let them know what's going on! All children have a right to a bully free education/life!

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  7. Indescribable - We've already fired off a couple emails to the school. Having many children, in this case has an advantage, I know this school, it's teachers and administration well. Then follow through. We're still at step 1. Gonna keep proceeding.
    Thank you for the encouragement and suggestions. I feel empowered. My child feel supported. Good stuff indeed.

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  8. Oh Nancy...stay on top of the administration and take it one step further, talk specifically to each teacher. Sometimes administration likes to "handle" these things by dealing with the bully, in question, directly but letting each teacher involved in your child's life know what's going on with go a long way further than letting the admin pass it along. They very well may pass the information along, but when it comes from mom and dad...that means business :) Sending my love and prayers for your sweet boy!

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  9. Beth - Done. I mean it's only been 5 hours later and I've already touched base with principal, teacher and school counselor. Now I need to stay on top of follow up.
    But thank you so much. It's hard to know when to step in, and I'm feeling it was the right time.
    Can you tell I'm checking the comments ever 10 minutes for suggestions? It takes a village, and I'm currently using all the villager's advice!

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  10. At my school when we had a really bad friendship triangle the CYW (guidance counsellor) organized a social skills group that ran one recess a week. As the teacher it was my job to sell it to the parents of the children involved so with out and out bullying you may want to request that admin make the calls instead of the teacher. I gift wrapped my calls with the "your child and his/her friends are working on developing appropriate problem solvings skills. They have been coming in from recess saying X or Y and seem really upset. The school is running a social skilla group for this grade and I think that it would be a great opportunity for him/her to develop self-confidence, the ability to stand up for themselbes while appropriately expressing emotions." All parents agreed. In the group there was no blame placed. Rules of conduct were jointly established and sent home so that the kids bought into it. The CYW also arranged times for the students involved to be paired up as leaders, helping when the SKs went out with the Grade 1s for recess the first time. Having them play board games together to work on fairness and problem solving skills as well as just friendly discussions about issues. In my case it helped.

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  11. Homeschooling is always an option...and I don't mean that facetiously. Homeschooling lets you give your child a quality education while focusing on family values while controlling the environment more while your child is learning and growing. It is not sticking your head in the sand ( most homeschoolers I know are more socially adaptable and aware than those I know who are not homeschooled) Anyway...just thought that I'd throw that it for consideration. God bless!

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  12. Bullying is insidious. It's very difficult to get under control. I hope the school is responsive. I've been through it with two schools.

    First school ignored me until I told the teacher my six year old came home from a party with hand print shaped bruises on her chest-- after that the teacher agreed to stop pairing my child up with the bully. I tried speaking with the parents but that only got my child labeled and picked on more.

    Second school simply ignored it. Bully's parents had a lot of money, so the school ignored it. Talking to the parents that time didn't blow up in my child's face, but it also didn't change the situation at all. Parents wrote it off as perfectly normal kid behavior.

    After we started homeschooling (not because of the bullying but I'll admit that made the choice easier to make) I found out the bullying had been worse than my child let on. She told her sister more and her sister told me. Had I known the full extent of it at the time, I'd have made a much bigger fuss at the school.

    A friend had to get the police involved before the middle school took any action when her daughter was being punched by, and received death threats from, a bully.

    So sorry your child is going through this. Glad you were able to be there to offer support. I hope you see some positive changes very, very soon! Make sure your child knows s/he is not alone-- lots of kids go through this and while the kid being bullied has to deal with it, it is absolutely not their fault.

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  13. I am so sorry that your child and family are going through this! Bullying is such an awful thing and these days it really seems to be out of control.

    I think you are doing all the right things. There is a website called bullies2buddies.com-- check it out.

    Best Wishes,

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  14. I SO understand what you & he are going through, as we've been through the same thing here this year (I just posted about some of our struggles a week or so ago).

    It's so hard to watch your children struggle & deal with this stuff. And so hard to know what we're supposed to do.

    Sadly bullying is out of control these days, and noone wants to do anything about it.

    I'll keep you in my prayers & hope things change very soon!

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  15. Oh Nancy, y'all are in our thoughts and prayers. I was bullied as a kid, and being able to be open about it with my parents was very helpful. Even if there wasn't much they could end up doing (I was in high school at the time, so I really had to deal with a lot of it myself). Your mama instinct in superb -- you all will get through this.

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  16. Heh - I called the mom of a girl o felt was bullying Mya last year. Her response? "I'm sorry if you THINK" my child has done something wrong."

    Then she emailed ALL THE OTHER neighborhood moms to apologize for anything her kid "may" have done to THEIRS.

    Ooooooooookkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.............

    We are neighbors. That was September 2010 and we still havent spoken.

    I don't miss her or her kids bullying.

    Praying you'll find a way to stand up for the one you are responsible for. The one whose voice God has called you to be.m

    Hugs!
    Sara

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  17. Us too, last year for Thing 1 and this year for Thing 2. Keep on top of the school. It may seem futile, but dont back off of them. Most schools around here have a "zero tolerance" (ahem ahem, yeah right) policy, so if you have to get into it with them dont be afraid to push that hard. Also let them know that if they dont handle it and you feel that your child is threatened in any way, you will be forced to call the police to do the job they wont. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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  18. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/teens/teen-behaviour/the-best-defence-against-bullying/article2240619/

    This article has a different take on defeating bullying... the trick is getting other parents or the school to promote this idea... but seems to make sense to teach our kids to stand up against the bullies, rather than expecting the teachers or parents to do it. The bullies are seeking attention however they can get it, if peers take a stand against them, they lose all power.

    If only it could be so simple!

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  19. I'm so sorry for your child. So sorry. My son has been the target of bullying since he was 4. At 5 we switched to another school when the headmistress wouldn't help us. This year alone we've switched him to another homeroom and transferred him from 4th to 5th grade with the schools help and it has seemed to ease the bullying a bit.

    But I know it still happens, if not as often. He won't tell me but a mom knows. And it's just because he's extremely intelligent, has problems with social cues and doesn't like being teased. It's no excuse for what's happening at school.

    The bullying has to stop for every kid out there who hates going to school because they know someone will tease them, pick on them, or mark them out as different. I really hope the school, and the teachers, take your concerns seriously and make it stop. Every child has the right for school to be a safe and rewarding, and fun, place to be.

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