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Any advice on dealing with bullying in a school?
Old 09-16-2014, 11:24 AM   #1
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Any advice on dealing with bullying in a school?

DD2 is in 3rd grade. Last year she was bullied on and off, all in the form of harassment from a principal ringleader joined late in the year by a couple of co-conspirators. We reported it to the school and the little bastards were talked to and that was it. This year it started up the first week of school with as many as 6 little bastards. we immediately wrote a very sternly-worded email to the school indicating this was not acceptable and we are in regular (almost daily) contact with the dean of students whose beat this is. Now bastads' parents are being contacted by the school and they are receiving "consequences" at school, although the dean will not tell us what this constitutes. We are trying to stay on top of this, but the school documents very little at the classroom level and the class sizes are large since the school has an excellent academic record and people have done whatever it takes to get into it. At the moment, we are pressing for more systematized documentation of incidents by the classroom teachers, and we continue to try to keep the feedback loop short when one of the little bastards starts up again. At some point, we will be forced to start going up the chain to the principal, superintendant, and possibly even showing up at school board meetings. I do not want to go there if I do not have to. We are also trying to document everything ourselves.

Any suggestions on what else we could be doing? This is all harassment, with no physical attacks to my knowledge thus far. Frankly, if it gets to that point, I will be calling the local police department and filing charges. I will then be hiring a krav maga tutor for very petite DD2, since other martial arts take forever to get to effective self defense and she will not deal well with a structured class setting for that (plus krav maga tends to teach you to go for the nads, throat and eyes, which would be a good life lesson for the bullies).

DW and I are trying to come up with other effective strategies, but are a bit at our wits' end. I had to deal with this crap as a kid at about her age and got no help from the school. It ended when the main instigator hired two boys with candy and soda to waylay me and they foolishly chose to do so on a rainy day when I had my father's big, heavy, pointy umbrella handy. I don't think that route would work well here, so other suggestions would be helpful.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:42 AM   #2
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People say fighting doesnt solve anything, but when I was about 10 I kept getting bullied by a big kid. He kept teasing me and flicking my ear (he sat behind me). One day I turned around and hit him square in the face with a book. He never did it again. So to those who say fighting solves nothing. I say, "you are wrong".

Now I wouldn't recommend for you daughter to do that. I don't have daughters so I am of no help to you. Sorry.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:47 AM   #3
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I too was bullied from 1st grade through about 7th grade. I wish I knew then what I know now. The only way(that I know of) to stop a bully is to stand up to them. If they don't think you are afraid of them then they'll move on to someone who is.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:49 AM   #4
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Out fit her with a phone that records conversations/voice. If she can discretely record the bullying ... the school will have no choice but to expel. Right now it's a he said, she said. And the school will treat it that way until there is hard evidence.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:50 AM   #5
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So sorry to hear that your family is going through this, especially in our (supposedly) enlightened age when faculties and administrators get frequent in-services and legal warnings about these behaviors. (And, of course, there are the widely publicized incidents in the media.)

As a former high school teacher of "tough kids," and the parent of a boy who went through difficulties in our local school district (which is also highly rated, in a Lake Wobegon-ish town where everyone is supposed to be "above average"), I've worked with the strategies you mention, both as a teacher and as a parent.

First, as a teacher: if the local administration and school board won't support one's efforts to protect a bullied child, there's nothing a teacher can do. (Though I did break up a fight once, thanks to the other students in the class who pulled the kids away from each other.)

As a parent: the bottom line, after 5 years of documentation and meeting with the local school personnel, I learned from other parents that I should:

1. Hire a lawyer and threaten to sue;
2. Call my state department of education, report the
behavior, and request a state-appointed advocate.
(In our state, the advocates march into the local
school in question, and legally ensure that a child's
needs are met.)

One caveat re. #2: we were advised to do this because our son's special learning needs were not being addressed. I'm not certain if your state would do this for bullying.

The only reason I do include #2 here is that, ultimately, our local district was only going to respond to #1 and #2.

Again, you have my sympathy. Schools are supposed to be in the business of meeting the needs of every child. I've never understood the many forces that work against that goal.

Best wishes to you on this journey.

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Old 09-16-2014, 11:53 AM   #6
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My sister had this happening to her about that age and I as the older brother put an end to it by picking up the bullies up off their feet against a brick wall and told them to stop (or else). Not sure if she knows some older kids to be her bodyguard but force is effective against bullies.

Also crying and complaining is fuel for bullies.


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Old 09-16-2014, 11:55 AM   #7
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I am reluctant to hire a lawyer because I think that is part of what is wrong with this country. That said, we are documenting everything as much as possible and trying to push the school to do the same. If I am eventually forced to hire a lawyer, I will have tried very hard to do it another way and I will then be out for blood. There will be no "threatening" to sue; they will be having to defend themselves and I will want it to cost them dear in money, bad press and professional damage.
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Old 09-16-2014, 12:08 PM   #8
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How will training her to deal with physical attacks help her... if the attacks aren't physical?

Both my boys have had incidents of bullying. (They're pretty much poster children for poindexter type nerds.) We emphasized safety in numbers... Since their other nerdy friends were also targets - they started moving in packs. That helped. Plus more vigilance on the part of the teachers and the lunch mom.... the bully kids found different targets or moved on to other ways to entertain themselves.

Does your daughter have friends she can hang with /pair up with so she's not caught alone with these bullies?

The other thing that I worked with my boys on - was to mentally deflect the taunts/insults. Basically, cognitive therapy type approach - take the taunt, dissect it mentally to realize it probably doesn't actually apply... then look to see if it applies more to the bully, himself.... and laugh to yourself about what an idiot the bully is. That was less effective in the short run... but they've mastered it now that they're in middle school.... the jerks that tease them just bring a slow smirk to my boys face... as they realize the jerks are the losers so their words have no weight.

I was verbally bullied too - as a nerdy kid.... and that's what I did... with training/help from my dad to figure it out.
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Old 09-16-2014, 12:35 PM   #9
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brewer 12345 you have my sympathies. My daughter was/is a sensitive soul and was bullied by the queen bees at this age. I'm afraid RetireAge50 is correct: "crying and complaining" is fuel for bullies.

How is your daughter affected? Is she coming home every day crying and upset? You didn't say, so thought I'd ask the question. Does your daughter have a friend or friends? Or is all of this consuming her life? Can you discern what it is they are bullying her about?
Is there a lower school guidance counselor? Trying to get an idea of just how bad this is but it must be bad and I'm sure you are upset.

My daughter was in a small private school. After 5th grade and for other reasons, I moved her to a larger private school (along with 3 other parents who moved their children). Those other reasons included the quality of the education, the teachers (she must have had 9 teachers in 5th grade), my desire for her to be in a "bigger pond" with more choices, in a bigger pond where "parents" didn't dictate or should I say, "advocate" who all got picked for roles in the school plays, etc. Changing schools was the best thing I ever did for her....and by the time I did it, she wanted it as well.

I tried to concentrate on my daughter. Meaning putting her into things where she could excel. I'm sure you are already doing this. I took on the role of coaching her softball and basketball teams at the local YMCA (they weren't going to bully her as long as I was around). I also bought a stuff animal puppet and every night, while putting her to bed we would "role play" about her day. She got to tell the puppet her feelings (and I got to hear them!).... always ending in laughs or giggles. (maybe the puppet was in younger years, can't remember). I allowed her to have lots of sleep overs inviting all of them (and her other friends) , I gave big birthday parties, inviting all of them. In other words, I got to know the other girls and they me - so eventually they stopped some of the bullying.

It didn't matter how many times I told her "you will love your green eyes" one day...because she wanted blue eyes like the other girls, or just wait "you don't yet know how beautiful you will be"...(because she was in her awkward stage longer than others)..or that those "chubby cheeks will be apple cheeks one day because she was being called "chubby cheeks". What mattered was what happened that day. Fast forward and all predictions came true. She was a late bloomer and bloomed past some or most of the others.

Even at this age, other girls will pick up on the fact that you are fighting her battle for her and that may back fire I'm afraid. It won't win her any friends. So be as discreet as possible. Just my two cents.

p.s. All of that said, it depends on just how bad the bullying is. So please take with a grain of salt!
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:03 PM   #10
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I don't have any answers, but this really makes me sad.

The only time I was bullied in 7th grade, was when a larger girl took my books and said she was going to throw them in the toilet. I kicked her as hard as I could in the shins. When I got home, my mom had already been contacted by her mom, because I had "attacked" her. I told my mom what had really happened and never heard another thing about it from anyone, including the girl. I'm not advocating physical response, but it does seem to work in some cases.
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:13 PM   #11
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I think the self defense training is good for self confidence even if its never needed. However, knowing how to disarm verbal assaults using her own words and self confidence may be all that is needed to deal with the trouble makers.
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by brewer12345 View Post
I am reluctant to hire a lawyer because I think that is part of what is wrong with this country.
Since you are reluctant to use private schools, accept that you live in America for good or ill, that schools are the ultimate cya collection of cowardly administrators, hire the lawyer and sue the bastards.

If you live in Peshawar do you not carry a gun since this is part of what is wrong with Peshawar?

Ha
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:36 PM   #13
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How is your daughter affected? Is she coming home every day crying and upset? You didn't say, so thought I'd ask the question. Does your daughter have a friend or friends? Or is all of this consuming her life? Can you discern what it is they are bullying her about?
Is there a lower school guidance counselor? Trying to get an idea of just how bad this is but it must be bad and I'm sure you are upset.
This is boys picking on a smaller girl. I presume they are picking on other kids as well (as that is the nature of bullies), but I don't know for sure.

This has been going on for a year. It affects DD2's feelings about school, how motivated she is in anything to do with school, and she frequently comes home upset. I notice a change in her behavior on school days vs. weekends, breaks, and the Summer. She does have friends, but she tends to be a bit inwardly focused, which makes it easier for the bullies to isolate her.

DD1 is at the same school and she is a big girl (75th percentile 5th grader while DD2 is generously a 25th percentile 3rd grader). The harassment is hard to spot as it is happening, but I am considering asking DD1 to have a chat with some of these little bastards on the school playground. I hesitate because I do not want DD1 to get dragged under/disciplined.

I am willing to work with the school a bit longer, but if this is not resolved soon it may be time to lawyer up.
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:45 PM   #14
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A tough situation, to be sure.

Self defense training will go a long, long way. Hopefully this is something she will never need, but at a minimum it will instill confidence, and if she can portray that, perhaps they'll go find someone who isn't nearly as confident. Worst case is that she has to stand up to these lowlifes, and if she has the proper training, she'll be able to handle it.
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:54 PM   #15
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Sometimes the only answer is to move schools or just move.

You really have my sympathy. Now, you have to ask why they started to bully your daughter......do they bully others.....would this happen to her in another setting?


One of my kids was small so he was trained in martial arts.....he was never bullied but he could have taken care of himself. The real challenge is your daughter is probably miserable.....I feel so sorry for her. You might consider a trained social worker or school counselor to give you advice. Just getting angry and threatening to sue might shut them up......but that doesn't really solve your problem. Your daughter needs to be with peers that are her friends.....her buddies.....her confidants. how do you accompish this?

My DW worked on problems like this at her school years, ago. The most important goal was making school a place of learning and fun.....with friends......Search yourself, your financial capabilities for a private school or somehow change the setting. I'm so sorry you have this problem.....I hope it improves for your daughter's and your families sake.
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:06 PM   #16
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Just getting angry and threatening to sue might shut them up......but that doesn't really solve your problem.
I don't think suing is the solution unless it gets the bullies expelled which is unlikely. You suing the parents for financial damages will do nothing to help your daughter unless it finances a different school setting. Someone needs to stand up to the bullies. If not DD2 then maybe DD1
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:22 PM   #17
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I don't think suing is the solution unless it gets the bullies expelled which is unlikely. You suing the parents for financial damages will do nothing to help your daughter unless it finances a different school setting. Someone needs to stand up to the bullies. If not DD2 then maybe DD1
Realistically, you would sue to force the school to take action if they cannot be convinced otherwise.
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:44 PM   #18
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Realistically, you would sue to force the school to take action if they cannot be convinced otherwise.
So what are you hoping for? A court order that requires the school to expel the bullies? That is very unlikely for "just" verbal harassment. I guess it won't hurt to try.
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:45 PM   #19
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Does no one in authority see this bullying in action? Schools nowadays have all sorts of staff and probably cameras, too. Back in the day, if a teacher at my school had witnessed something like this, the little perp(s) would have been dragged by the collar down to the principal's office and the parents called in. That would have been the end of the story. Have not the teachers been told to be on the lookout now that you have tipped them off that this is happening?
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:52 PM   #20
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Does no one in authority see this bullying in action? Schools nowadays have all sorts of staff and probably cameras, too. Back in the day, if a teacher at my school had witnessed something like this, the little perp(s) would have been dragged by the collar down to the principal's office and the parents called in. That would have been the end of the story. Have not the teachers been told to be on the lookout now that you have tipped them off that this is happening?
When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, one of the teachers joined in in bullying me. You can't always count on the teachers to do what's best for the students.
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