Bullying at School

Updated on August 01, 2008
J.L. asks from Cedar City, UT
8 answers

I have an 11 year old boy and just the last couple of weeks of school this year, I find out that he is being picked on by the kids at school. It is a very small school and not many friends to choose from. He never mentioned to me that this was going on the entire school year. When I questioned him, he said he didn't tell me because he didn't want me to hate the kids. I asked him why he was nice to them when they were mean to him and he told me that it was because I told him to be nice to everyone. How do I help him cope with this and get this to stop? I have talked to the principal and the teacher about it. He wants to be friends with the kids even though they are not nice to him. One kid in particular will be nice to him after school but bully him at school around the other kids. When this kid was questioned on why he did it, he said it was because my kid was the new kid. We have only been here one year. My son will be in the sixth grade next month. Help!

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answers from Phoenix on

You would love Canadian child psych Gordon Neufeld's book: Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Should Matter More Than Peers.
It is a strong reminder that the most solid and true base our kids will ever have (emotionally psychologically and socially...is us, the parent/primary caregiver. It is what will allow our kids to blossom into real emotional maturity. Peers can never help with that. Peers are emotionally weak...they bully (or side with bullies) and they crush individuality, even when not bullying.
Bullies need intervention...they are sad, hollow kids who really have no friends...just people who fear them. A bully will never have a full life...always blaming others for his/her actions.
Make sure your son knows you are always there for him...unconditionally. Good grades, bad grades. Good behavior, bad behavior. Good day, bad day. He needs to know that although it is fun to have friends, often they come and go throughout our lives. It is better to have no friends than ones you fear. You and other trusted adults are his true vacation from the petty garbage peers dish out.
Home schooled kids have an advantage over kids in any school...big or small. They do not have to navigate the dangerous waters of UNSUPERVISED peer interaction and relationships ALL DAY. It allows for more time to really study. This is also why uniforms and separate boys and girls math classes are making a comeback in public schools.

Telling kids to be nice to each other just does not work. If you leave your son in this school you are going to have to go into the adult leadership there, and make your case for things to be taken seriously. Also I'd make it clear to your son that he does does not have to be nice to everyone. Civil..yes. Nice...NO.



answers from Phoenix on

I had a son the same age who had to deal with a bully. My son was always small for his age and got picked on a lot...especially by a large boy who lived on our street. We have always told our kids not to start fights and to just turn and walk away. However, after months and months of bullying from this kid (my son didn't tell me about all of it until after this incident I'll explain later) he came home with urine all over his pants. He said that the bully had urinated all over him at the bus stop in front of a whole bus full of kids and everyone was laughing at him. That was the last straw for me. I went over to this kids house (he was a latch key kid) and invited him over to our house to talk or fight...whatever it took to stop this behavior. He came over to our home with a buddy determined to have a fight. My son thought I was crazy but I told them I was tired of all this bullying and we were going to resolve this right then. I put both boys on the driveway and told them when I said GO that they were to come out fighting. I told them that there was to be no kicking, biting etc....basically a clean fight. My son looked at me like I was crazy. I was sobbing on the inside but acted confident with my decision on the outside. I told the boys that the first person to take a step off the driveway boundaries was declared the loser. I shouted "GO" and stood back. At first my son was very scared and kept backing away as the bully stepped forward. The bully socked my son in the chest. I yelled to my son "stand up for yourself, Matt". My son decided he had had enough and started swinging. It only took 2 punches from my son for the bully to run away. My son shouted at him..."who's the loser now". Neither boy was really injured physically. But, from that day on the bully NEVER touched my son or picked on him again. I realize this was a bit "harsh" sounding to some, but my son who is 35 years old now says that was a turning point in his life. He realized that bullys are really cowards and only pick on people who don't stand up for themselves. My husband and I raised 7 children. They were always told not to ever start a fight but to stand up for themselves if necessary. All 7 of our kids feel good about themselves and are wonderful parents. None every bullied or picked on others because they know how hard it is to be the kid picked on. I use prayer a lot and asked God for daily inspiration on how to raise my children. Eventhough this was one of the toughest things I ever did as a Mom, I felt inspired to do it and it worked out for us.
Hug your son and let him know how special he is.
J. F.



answers from Phoenix on

my youngest son was a preemie so he has always been small. at least until the summer before his sophomore year when he grew so much he had stretch marks on his hips. he has always been a great athlete. even for his size he was the best player on his pop warner team. in junior high his team was undefeated. he had no problems until he entered high school. the summer before high school he joined a gym so that he could do dtrength training for football the next year. he love d football. his reputation followed him to high school. at this gym he was encoraged to do bodybuilding and he loved it. wond secnd place in his age group at the national meet. of course everyone in our small town found out about it and it was a constant fight aobut him wearing speedos. i know that the other football players were intimdated by his accomplishemnts. one in partivular the son of an aisstant coach and the ringleader. he made varsity his freshman year but wasnt getting much play time so he opted to go to JV. as is said he loved football but one day he came home and said he had quit. the coach called crying and said that he didnt know why he had turned in his equuipment and after a couple of weeks of questioning him he said it was becsue the bully wouldnt leave him alone he idd it at school and practice. and his dad was aware of it ane egged them on. so this guy is a junior he is huge. my son had joined cross coutnry instead and was the top runner form the start. his teammates encouraged him and were proud of him and treated him well. i was told not to get involved and since my son had adapted so well to cross country and seemed happy we were ok with that. then wresltign came around and this kid was also on the wrestlign team. my hsuband became a volunteeer coach per my sons wishes. my husband had wreslted in high school and college and iknew a lot more than the seince teacher that was assigned as coach. the other kids dad was also a volunteer coach. and it was hard at first.my son restled at 105 lbs and his son was at 180 that year. my son had been doing freestyle wrestling since age 8 so he knew a lot more hthan this other kid did. so one day he starts picking on him at practice and my son lost it. the coaches told them to take it on the mat and my tiny little son took care of the bully. he was umiliated and word got around. he didnt like it and once during school he confronted him in the hall and told him he was going to beat him up. the athletic director told us they were by his window and before he could get out of his office, my son had this bully on the ground and was beating him up. the bullys dad tried to get my son suspeded but his son got suspended becuse the athletic director saw it all. he was a bone is my sons side until he graduated but he never picke on him any more. that last year the wrestlign kids got together and boycotted wrestlign practice unless that kids dad was out. this went on for a week until he was let go. he was a bully too. then he tried to blame my hsuband for getting fired and my husbnad told him that thye would settle it the same way the kids did if he wanted. but he declined. there is a buyllying law in arizona. we foudn this out but decded to let my son settle it his way. you need to talk to the principal and let him know you are aware. and if nothing gets settled trheaten to file a lawsuit. if it involves money they wil do somethign about it but i think itis best if you let them settle it on their won becuse the kids are mean they will isolate him if they knwo the parents are involved. get him involved in a marial arts of sprts or something. i dont encourage fighting but i knw that sometimes it is the only way to settle things. bullies are inscure and the parents are ususlly just like them.



answers from Phoenix on

It sounds like you have a great kid. My little brother had the problem when he was young because he was over weight. One day he had enough and punched the main kid and it stopped. It is hard to be a parent and let your child be pikced on. I tell my boys not to hit anyone but do not let anyone hit them. I tell them it is okay to defend themselves. If they have to hit someone to do so then I will respect that but by no means do you start it.

Maybe your son would like Karate classes. That would teach him so many things and help buid his self confidence.



answers from Tucson on


I have a daugter that is 13 now and a son that is 11 and my daughter was having problems like this in the 3rd grade. I knew she was shy and not outgoing like my son. I had already put both of them into Tae Kwon Do. This was a HUGE help for her. We had talked to the kids as did the instructor about not talking about taking these kinds of classes for the most part. Sometimes when you tell people about it, they want to test the waters. However for her, we finally told her that she should stand up and defend herself and use her training. She was not to start a fight, but if someone tried to hit her, then she was allowed to block and do what is necessary for her to protect herself. I also went to the princepal and told him straight up, that if it came down to it and she had to defend herself then I would not tolerate her getting in trouble for that at all. That seemed to make her relax some. There are such strict rules these days at school that even if you do defend yourself then you can get into trouble. So most kids will put up with it to avoid that.

I also gave her permission at the time to talk about her classes and what she does. She even did a "show and tell" kind of thing where she did a performance with her Tae Kwon Do. She gained a whole new respect from the kids. She also has a lot more confidence and does not get bullied any longer.

Both of my children have exceeded my expectations in Tae Kwon Do. She is now a 1st degree black belt and got it at the age of 12. This is a great thing for a young girl. My son now holds the ranking of 2nd degree black belt at the age of 11. It is a gift that I could never give them, but they gave it to themselves. No one can ever take that from them and they are so proud of it as we are also. It takes a lot of time and dedication, but it is so worth it. They also made some great friends while they were taking classes and once they were higher ranking was able to help teach the classes. I highly recommend doing something like this for your son, it will stick with him throughout his life and help him in all kinds of areas and aspects.

Best of Luck



answers from Phoenix on

Hey J.!

First I have to tell you that your son is an amazing person! I hope you have told him how proud you are of him for taking the high road and setting a wonderful example for the other children about how to act like a real human being. You haven't mentioned how this situation is affecting your son. Is he sad or is his academic life disrupted? Does he have friends outside of school that are true friend? If he is really upset then he may need some mentoring from someone who has experienced bullying, if not, then I would only focus on the problem, which is the bullies. Since you have already talked to the people at school and you seem to be saying that the situation has not changed, then I would suggest that you go directely to the parents of the children involved to let them address it with their children. You may even get some to agree to meet with you and your son and have a talk with them about what happens at school and how that can change. I am sure that at least some of the parents will not be receptive, but I believe it is reasonable to assume that enough would be responsive that it may change the dynamic of the situation enough that the children who have been tolerating it or following others as they participate will decide that they don't like the situation and won't be a part of it any longer. Your son is an age when children are becoming territorial and relationships with peers and within peer groups are becoming more important so what your son is experiencing is a common problem at that age. That doesn't mean it should be tolerated, only that we as adults need to undertand that this behavior is also the result of children growing and their world view changing. However, the boundaries should be clear about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. I hope for the best for your family in this situation, it is one that no one wants to have to deal with but again I have to say that your son sounds like a terrific kid!!

Best wishes!




answers from Phoenix on

I have a little brother who will be going into fifth grade in a couple of weeks. He was just diagnosed with Asperger's, making social situations very difficult for him. He really wants to have friends, but isn't successful at it. When he was in third grade my mom began getting reports of him being bullied. She worked with the school and had several meetings with the vice principal, teachers, and school psychologists, but nothing seemed to stop the bullying. Going to the parents directly was not an option because there was a language barrier and my mom was unable to clearly communicate. Finally, as a last resort, she signed him up for karate lessons. He wasn't very good and would never be able to defend himself in a fight, but when the bullies at school heard he knew karate, they left him alone. It worked for him. In the karate classes he learned self-confidence and compassion for other people. All around it was amazing. He still has some trouble at school, but doesn't fear being beat up and that really helps.
I congratulate your son on being so caring and mature in his thinking. He sounds like a remarkable boy.



answers from Phoenix on

I agree, go to the children's parents. I have a zero tolerance policy on bulling. Maybe if more parents knew their kids were bulling then we would have less children making 'kill' lists in school.

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