Yi guys, I am having a problem with my 8 year-old son. He was bullied athis school orientation by two neighborhood kids, who continue to bother him. I called the assistant principal on Tuesdayand got nowhere. The school said they'd keep an eye on the situation. That's B.S.! My son, who used to love going to class, now despisesit. I am a single mom. If you were me what would you do .. tell my sonto fight back and stand up for himself .. or .. confront the parents ofthe bullies? I think part of the problem is that my son has grown upwithout a father figure. He may be lacking abit of toughness.
Slacker asks Steve if he thinks bullying is worse now than it was when they were kids. Steve replied it is the same. Slacker said he was mistreated but was never bullied. But thinks people would consider it bullying today. He was in the academics and the band kids but he was never pushed around and picked on. He doesn’t care who you are, any two people are going to be more alpha than the other one. People use bully too lightly because it definitely exists. But it is a catch-all. People’s feelings get hurt all the time and then use the word bullying. If a kid kicks rocks at another kid it is considered bullying now.
Steve never got bullied, but he does think people get “picked on.” Every child is going to get teased as a kid because kids are mean. Steve was a part of the stoner crowd, athletics, and academics so he got along with everyone. He said she needs to nip this in the bud now because that can lead to bullying later on in life that would be worse.
What should she do?
She needs to teach her son to stick up for himself. My single mother taught me that and it helped me a lot! I was bullied by a group of girls until it had to get physical and they left me alone. People are always going to find weaker beings to pick on because they can, until the weaker one can become strong and fend for themselves.
Please don't fight your sons battles.... like his mom, your kid is tough. When enough is enough he'll deal with it. It could be walking away, asking mom for her opinion, getting a teacher to step in or he may just fight back. However he doesit, it's his journey to be a boy/young man.
Call a professional
Professor Shari Simmons at Colorado State University teaches about this topic. She does seminars in schools and she speaks on this topic at national mental health conferences. She is also a Director for UC Health's Teen Crisis Center in Fort Collins... I think she is the is the expert in Colorado. Parents, teachers and professionals LOVE her... get her on your show!
From a teacher...
As an elementary school teacher, I have so many thoughts about this:
1. First off, props to all parents for everything that you do, especially those of you that do it on your own. It's not because she's a single parent, bullying can happen to anyone any time. Keep building up your child's self esteem and encouraging them to make friends. Those two things seem to make the biggest difference in the lives of ALL of my students.
2. I agree with you guys that "picking on someone" can often be labeled as bullying, but some bullying has become somewhat more intense over the past few decades, especially with the anonymity of the internet. People are able to say things online that they would never, ever say to someone's face.
3. To Anonymous- Many kids are afraid to talk to someone about bullying, especially when they get older, so thank you for listening to and being an advocate for your child.. As a teacher, sometimes parents come to me with something that happens outside of the classroom that has a serious impact on a child's learning. I need to know those things. Keep those lines of communication open!
3. I think that it's important to get more information. There's a difference between kids casually teasing one another and continuous bullying. What kinds of things are the other kids saying? How often are they saying it? Where are they saying it? Did anyone else hear it? What happened? It's important to get as much information as possible and document it. Teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators can make a much bigger difference if we have specific information.
4. If it's random teasing, teach your child how to handle that. We give kids a lot of strategies in my district, including ignoring it, laughing it off, or walking away. The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of people who will say hurtful things out there, and it doesn't stop after a student graduates from school. Kids need to learn how to handle that sort of thing as early as possible to best prepare them for their adult lives. Another thing we stress at our school is "bystander bullying." The concept is basically defined as those kids who watch someone be continuously teased or threatened and don't do anything about it. We encourage them to stand up for each other, or invite the bullied student away from the situation.
5. If it is more serious than "picking on", like constant teasing or threats, seek the help of your child's teacher and the school guidance counselor. Those individuals can keep an eye on the situation, check in with other students, and let other staff know what to watch for. Kids also need to learn how to recognize when their strategies are not working and know how to seek help. I would encourage you to have your child talk to his or her teacher/counselor first to prepare them to independently problem solve in the future.
6. Many districts have harassment policies. If your child is being bullied for being part of a protected class- i.e. their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc; more serious actions can be taken by the district. Check your school's handbook for more information.