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What to do when your child is being bullied

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#1 AmityD

Posted 22 November 2011 - 02:21 PM

My son started school this year. And with that milestone the warm embrace and constant supervision of childcare workers and kindy teachers was replaced with a big school yard, full of big kids.

On his first day, as I tearfully waved goodbye to my baby, my husband enquired as to who would be taking him to the toilet when he needed to go. ‘No one’ I responded, ‘It’s school, he will go by himself.’ Slightly concerned by this realisation my over-protective husband then asked how many teachers were on duty during lunch and recess, only to be horrified when I replied that I was pretty sure it was only one or two. ‘But how can they watch all those kids?’ he asked, clearly thinking of the 1:4 ratio we have been used to. I reminded him again this was school, our little boy’s days of being carefully monitored were over, he was growing up.

Luckily my son adjusted to this big new world far easier than his father did and settled in to school wonderfully. And there have been no incidences to give me any concern about him sharing the school-yard with all those big kids, until last week. As we were walking home one day he casually informed me that he “got bullied today,” making my heart jump into my throat, as I calmly asked him to explain.

Thankfully I quickly realised it was nothing too major, with some year 2 boys holding the door shut when he was in the toilet and then jumping out to scare him as they let go. But still, the thought of anyone being mean to my precious, sensitive, gentle little boy had me seeing red. As he recounted the story it took everything in me not to march back to the school, grab those little brats by the collar and swiftly inform them not to even look at my child ever again. But of course I did nothing of the sort. Although I may have shot them a few evil eyes during pick up the next day (which I don’t think they noticed.)

Because, the more rational part of me knows it was just a case of kids being kids. As I told my son, sometimes boys in year 2 do silly things to show off in front of their friends, but you just tell the teacher if they are upsetting you. Which he had already done, with the anti bullying policy drummed into them from day one these days. So I resisted my inner mama lioness, stayed composed and left it to his teacher to handle. But this relatively harmless incident did give me a small insight into the devastation I would feel if my child was being seriously bullied. As a parent every instinct you have is to want to protect them, so what do you do when they are being hurt emotionally or physically outside of your control? Do you teach them to walk away, to fight back, to tell the teacher, not to dob, what is the right answer? It’s one thing teaching a 5 year old to immediately tell his teacher, but if your child is 15 the repercussions of that can make things a lot more complicated.

Controversially, an American human behavioural specialist, Dr John Demartini, who was in Sydney last week to lecture on the Benefits of the Bully says parents of bullied children need to back off and let them take greater control of their lives.

"A kid who is bullied is a by-product of over-support," he claimed. "If you have an over-protective mummy or daddy and over-protective everything and you think that everything has to be nice, you are guaranteed to be attracting a bully.

He also stated that bullies broke their victim's dependency and gave them a wake-up call, yet were unlikely to target children who fight back. "If kids go out there and learn martial arts, learn how to be intelligent and have friends, bullies will drop off," he said.

However, this opinion was panned by anti-bullying experts, with Australia's pre-eminent anti-bullying authority, Dr Ken Rigby stating violence was never the answer.

"Fighting is not something any reasonable education consultant would suggest as a means of dealing with bullying," said Dr Rigby. "I think the education department would be horrified at the idea of the man promoting that view.

So what are anguished parents to do when their child is being bullied? Anyone who watches nightly current affairs programs or listens to talkback radio knows that there are far too many families out there dealing with this devastating issue. And sadly the teenage suicide rate, often a result of schoolyard bullying, tells an even more tragic story.

It’s clearly an emotive issue that provokes a strong response. Earlier this year, when a YouTube video of schoolboy Casey Heynes body-slamming his bully Ritchard Gale hit the media it became a national story that continued for weeks. Commentators were split, with some applauding the serially bullied Haynes for fighting back and others cautioning the glorification of his return violence. I know I found it very hard to explain to my son why Casey was being labeled a hero when he had chosen to hit back, something that we teach him is never ok. However, I know if I was Casey’s mum a part of me would have wanted to do exactly what he did to the kid who had made his life such a misery.

So how do we as parents prevent our kids from being bullied, or doing the bullying themselves? And what do you do when it continues despite all your best efforts to address it?

I think the fact we are so much more aware of the issue now is at least a start in the right direction. I was bullied for a period when I moved to a new high school, but would never have known to put that name to it. To me it was just a part of high school that had to be endured. However I sincerely hope things will be different for my son’s generation. I’m sure there will always be bullies, but I hope the kids that have been taught from their first day of school that it’s unacceptable will at least know it must be stamped out, rather than endured.

Has your child ever experienced bullying? How did you handle it and were you happy with the way the school dealt with it? And how do you teach your kids to deal with bullying?

#2 reng

Posted 25 November 2011 - 10:51 AM

My son is in Kindy and our school has a really good way of dealing with bullying.  It's a small school, which might help, and they have a mentoring system where the big kids are responsible for a small kid each (a buddy).  

The buddies tend to watch out for their small kid in the playground and this appears to reduce the bullying.

However, it's not all plain sailing!  We had a note sent home last term from the principal saying that V had been seen fighting with another boy in the playground.  The school rang and said "don't worry too much, it's policy to send out this letter when we have an incident, but I want to let you know that V was retaliating not instigating"  "ok" "a boy in his class and the boy's big brother were sitting on V in the playground, V pushed them off and pushed the boy in his class over and pushed his head into the ground"  "umm, that sounds like an over-reaction on V's part"  "yes, we have talked to him about how to respond to being bullied, and if you could also talk to him about this, we would appreciate it."

Since then, no issue and V and the boy in his class have become good friends.  Go figure!

#3 baby mozart

Posted 14 February 2012 - 05:18 AM

i tell my son,this is your own thing
just do it if you want

#4 idignantlyright

Posted 14 February 2012 - 05:35 AM

QUOTE (AmityD @ 22/11/2011, 03:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thankfully I quickly realised it was nothing too major, with some year 2 boys holding the door shut when he was in the toilet and then jumping out to scare him as they let go. But still, the thought of anyone being mean to my precious, sensitive, gentle little boy had me seeing red. As he recounted the story it took everything in me not to march back to the school, grab those little brats by the collar and swiftly inform them not to even look at my child ever again. But of course I did nothing of the sort. Although I may have shot them a few evil eyes during pick up the next day (which I don’t think they noticed.)

That isn't really bullying. He may be your baby and yes if it were my DD or DS I would have been a little upset to, there are kids on the receiving end of stuff much much worse than that.

Has your child ever experienced bullying? How did you handle it and were you happy with the way the school dealt with it? And how do you teach your kids to deal with bullying?

Not going to go into full lengthy details as I have posted full details before. DS#2 was bullied by the same 2 kids for a long time, one eventually got expelled in high school for trying to set DS's hair on fire.
DD12 was bullied more in primary school by one little girl whose parents have gone overboard in their protectiveness(there is a story behind it). DD's method of coping was to just not play with the same girls this other girl was playing with. Eventually the other girls realised what a bully she was, and she ended up with only one friend as everyone else left her.

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