Monday, December 6, 2010

School Bullies: Does It Really Start This Early?

The other day I was packing Big C's school lunch, and I asked him what he wanted in it.  I was shocked when he asked me not to pack his favorite fruit snacks.
 
"Why not buddy?" I asked.  "You love them." 
 
"Because this boy always tries to take them from me."
 
At first I was surprised.  Then I was sad for my son who would rather give up his special lunch treat than confront this classmate.  And then I was ANGRY.  How is it possible that bullying starts as early as 1st grade?!
 
Big C told me more about this boy and their interactions.  I learned that this boy regularly makes fun of Big C and rounds up his buddies to join in on the jokes.  I told Big C to laugh it off and try not to let the jokes bother him.  I told him not to sit near the boy at lunch.  I told him not to stoop to this boy's level by making fun of him in return.  And I told him that he needs to continue keeping me informed and to go to the teacher if the boy ever gets physical.
 
I didn't know what else to say.  I've read articles about bullying, but honestly, I never paid close attention because I figured I'd have years before I'd have to worry about it.  To think of my boy struggling with a bully at 6-years-old absolutely blows my mind. 
 
I wanted to tell him to retort with a snide comment of his own.  I wanted to tell him him to gather up his own friends to make fun of this kid.  I wanted to tell him to be tough and stand up for himself.  I wanted to tell him not to be vulnerable so he won't be prey for bullies that will only get meaner as he gets older.  And I wanted to tell him to get this kid's phone number so I could call his parents and tell them to shake some manners into their child!
 
But as much as I wanted to say these things, I didn't.
 
I want to teach my children to have the confidence to solve their own problems while at the same time maintain communication with me.  But that's much harder than it sounds.  I don't know if I said the right things.  I don't know if Big C is following any of my advice.  I don't know when I should write a note to the teacher.  I don't know how far this bully will go.  I don't know how Big C will handle it.  I just don't know. 
 
What do you think?  Has your child ever been bullied?  What advice should I give to my son?  At what point do I need to get involved?
 

11 comments:

  1. My son was bullied pretty much from the time he started school. Honestly, even if you do bring it up with the teacher and/or principal, don't be surprised if you're met with "kids will be kids." That's what we heard for years. It was to the point in 1st grade my son had stomach aches all the time because of the bullying at school. It was awful, and all the teachers and admin turned a blind eye. Sadly in that same district a boy from the high school committed suicide recently and cited bullying as the reason. He couldn't take it anymore.

    I'm not saying don't stand up for your child. You should. Bullying at any level needs addressed. You are your child's best advocate. Sometimes it takes something tragic for a school system to see there's an issue though. Even when they claim to have "zero tolerance" policies in place. It's really a sad situation in out schools.

    Sorry for the book. This is one of my hot button topics.

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  2. I would contact the school immediately. If the bulling isn't stopped now, at that age, the person bullying will just get worse. I know cause this happened to my now 12 year old. He didn't tell me until last summer and I finally walked up to the kid's dad and said your kid is a bully and explained the things he did. Other dads were there and the look on his face was pricesless. Other mom's jumped in and said 'yeah and your kid does this...' It was a real wake up call for that dad. The kid apologized but that doesn't replace the years of what happened. But if you tell the school the teachers should look out for things, and if they don't they are held liable.

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  3. With our oldest, we have dealt with a bully every single year until this one. He's in eighth grade. With our 2nd, we had our first bully situation several weeks ago. He's in third grade. It's kind of a luck of the draw thing sometimes.

    Honestly, in addition to what you told Big C, you should go ahead and contact the teacher now. In several of our situations our oldest would be "stuck" next to his bully due to a seating assignment or due to project pairing. In a couple of instances he didn't tell us that; we found out when we contacted the teacher. (Did you know that some teachers have seating assignments for lunch?! We had no idea until a few years ago.) Also, she (or he) needs to be aware so that she can watch for escalation.

    I think you've told Big C everything right. It's so hard to watch them struggle through these things. I'm sorry you are all having to deal with it this early and I hope the situation gets better quickly.

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  4. As a teacher who has had to deal with bullying in her room, I think now's the time to get involved. I think the teacher needs to be informed on what is going on. If it's happening at lunch and recess, she's probably not witnessing it. I know I'd want to know so that I could address it.

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  5. Oh my. That's such a tough situation. Bullying starts so young these days and it's so sad. I think you did the right thing. It's hard not to tell your kids to fight back, but the best you can tell Big C is to just try and be the bigger person. If he stands up for himself and tells this other kid to just knock it off and keeps showing this kid he isn't bothered by him, hopefully the bully will move on. It might be best to contact the teacher just to put it out there. The bully might not realize what he's doing and its better to nip it in the bud now before he gets older.

    Good luck!

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  6. Thanks to all of you for sharing your stories and offering advice. I emailed the teacher so hopefully she'll keep her eye out. As a teacher myself, I want to know about situations like this. In fact, I have a student who is on the path to becoming a bully, and he's very good at picking fights when I'm not looking. I know as a teacher I should already know the answers to my own questions, but as I'm learning, it's tough to be on the parent side of it! Thanks again.

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  7. I write a story on my site about a farm family surviving disaster with a son about your son's age, so the bullying issue went to my heart.

    Group pressure can be a friend here, so all teachers (I'm a college professor, and I even do it with my students) at least once a semester should tell their class they need to have the courage to stand up and speak out when they see something mean.

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  8. This post made me so mad! I read it the other day from my phone so I couldn't comment.

    It makes me so MAD to hear this! When Isabel was in 1st grade, she was bullied at the bus stop by a 2nd grade boy. He pushed her right in front of me! I couldn' BELIEVE IT! I turned into a lion and wanted to eat him alive! I had a VERY long talk with him about how he should NEVER put his hands on another person, especially a girl! Come to find out, he lived in an abusive house and his father pushed his mother around all the time. That apple never falls far from the tree.

    But still....you just want to protect your cub forever. Why must children be so mean and at such a young age? Obviously they have issues at home that they are living in everyday, and they are just trying to be in control of something outside of their home. It is very sad!

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  9. I know this might not be what you want to hear...but I taught 7th grade math for a number of years. The last year I taught (about 2 years ago) I was advised of a specific bully who was picking on a specific student. So, I stood right next to, in front of, and within 2 feet of the bully student for the duration of class. As they exited my doors, the one being bullied punched the bully in the face for what he did during my class! I was oblivious to everything! It still bothers me and even haunts me that I could miss something so obvious. Apparently the rest of the class was aware and following along.

    Hnestly, this very idea of bullying is what sparked my idea to homeschool. Not that I need to "shelter" my kids from "reality"...but at the same thought...why thrust them into a world that they don't have to be ready for? Yes, bullying exists, but why should my kids be subject to it? Just because everyone else is...I don't think so.

    I would have wanted to tell my kids the same thing you did. Good job! Be his advocate! The squeeky wheel gets the attention.

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  10. In first grade?!?!? That's insane! I haven't dealt with that yet but I'm NOT looking forward to it. I hope things work out for your kiddos. I hate bullies. When did that become okay??

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  11. Its so hard to see your babies hurting...my son experienced some pretty traumatic bullying last year also...which would have been 1st grade =( I wrote a post about it...you can read it here: http://briansgirl1999.blogspot.com/2010/06/blog-against-bullying.html
    This bullying escalated to the point that we actually pulled him from school, and the administration was really failing him in the way they were handling it. And since they were a small Christian school we didnt' have many more options. We really knew God wanted him home with us anyway, and we decided to homeschool him again. But I will tell you, there are still days when it comes back to haunt him, and he has a hard time dealing with certain situations =( I hope your little guy is having an easier time!

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