Yes, you read that correctly, we had a situation and we have had one for some time ….we’ve tried to teach our son how to handle the minor problems himself….but we needed intervention and we got it!!!
Here’s my story, read it, celebrate it and keep your eyes on the prize of continued success for wiping out these horrible issues.
My ten-year-old has been the subject of what I would deem petty and childish incidents for the last year and a half. We intervened last year only to learn that what we thought was one kid going after him turned out to be two boys, name calling and pestering one another. I will say that my son reported these incidents to us several months earlier and I suspect we dropped the ball on that one and he started retaliating because he was frustrated.
However, in the last 6 months, his emotional state and his mental state regarding even going to school has deteriorated. This is a kid who gets up 30 minutes early, gets dressed, gets his school stuff gathered up and is ready for school at least 45 minutes before it is time to go. This is a kid who loved school. Given, once he started going to the Gates Program once a week, he wasn’t near as thrilled with the other four days at school but he understands how it works and rarely complained. Again, until shortly after school started this year.
If we inquired about school at all, he would turn into a heap of tears and we could barely make sense of what he was trying to tell us. Finally, 2 weeks ago, we had a talk and I felt like it was in our best interested to find a way to protect our son. I insisted he give me all the details including any time that he had spoken negatively toward these kids. He promised me that he had given them no reason to mistreat him.
And with that, I sent him to school the next day and as soon as I knew folks at school had settled into a routine, I called the school. With the background of the story being so long, I”m going to hit the highlights here.
The three boys mentioned were called to the office. All three admitted that they had been mean to my son, they admitted to calling him names and just generally bullying him. But, they also said that there was a girl involved and that while they were willing to take responsibility for their part, they felt she was as much a part of the ordeal as they were.
The administrator then called the young girl to the office and had a conversation with her as well. I do not know if she admitted what she had done because at that time, I had no idea that this girl was involved.
On a side note, there is another girl that has been mean to my son for that last 2 years so when I heard about this, I assumed it was her. It wasn’t.
I called the school several times to inquire about what had been done and no one would return my calls. A friend helped me draft a letter to the school insisting that someone handle the situation and report back to me what was happening. My gut told me to wait, call one more time and ask for some answers. And thus, I did.
What I learned was worth the wait and although this isn’t the case for most parents, my son was safe during this time due to the school’s successful intervention. However, on Monday I asked my son if things were better . He broke down in tears, yet again. He indicated that boys were fine but that these 3 girls were doing it and had always been part of the problem, but they were girls and he didn’t want to tell me.
We discussed the issue and yesterday, I made another call to the school. Here’s where this conversation is one that needs to be heard by every parent in the world. I asked the principal if he was able to handle the situation with “the boys” and my son. Here’s a general overview of that conversation:
Principal: yes, and….
Me: ut oh, do we have a problem on our end..
Principal: no no no problems from your side, none at all
Me: *breathing sigh of relief”
Principal: However, once I spoke with the boys, they owned up to their part of the bullying but all three said that this one girl was as much to blame as they were.
Me: Was it Susie QMean from before?
Me: What about Susie QSweet?
Him: er…No, I don’t really like to talk about other people’s children…
Me: It was Susie QMean wasn’t it?
Him: Well, it was one of them yes.
Me: Well we had a problem with those 3 girls yesterday.
Him: YESTERDAY? Something happened YESTERDAY?
Him: I thought I made it clear where we stood on this when I spoke to the 3 boys and 1 girl last week. I will take care of her.
Me: Ok, well apparently the three girls were partaking of the name calling and insulting yesterday.
Him: *obviously frustrated* – I will get this taken care of, I was pretty plain about what we were going to tolerate and what we were not going to tolerate but Susie QMean must not have got the message.
Me: Well the boys apologized and haven’t been a problem anymore.
Him: I didn’t even suggest that they needed to apologize but as I said, they did own up to their part in the trouble. But, this girl seemed to be the root of it all and she didn’t get the message I guess.
Me: Well I appreciate you looking into this for me.
Him: Well, I won’t be at school tomorrow but tell your son not to say anything to them and to tell his teacher if there is a problem. I am making myself a note to talk to the girls on Thursday. I didn’t know about two of them but the one girl I already spoke to and I felt certain that she understood exactly what I was expecting from her. But, I promise you, she will understand after I have an opportunity to talk to her on Thursday.
So, yea, read this again, “I was pretty plain about what we were going to tolerate and what we were not going to tolerate but Susie QMean must not have got the message.” and “she will understand after I have an opportunity to talk to her on Thursday.”
And for every parent out there who has heard this message from school officials and been left without a solution, I say to you, don’t stop. Keep pushing and keep on insisting that actions be taken to stop the bullying.
This administrator said he handled it with the boys almost 2 weeks ago and those boys have had a change in attitude. It can be done. The bullying can be stopped. As for this young girl, I suspect that she will get the message soon. I will keep you posted though as I am not going to let this rest.
On a side note, a really good friend with experience in education advocacy drafted a general letter that I had planned to send to the school and the school board today if I had not been able to get answers yesterday. Luckily for me, I didn’t need it this time but if you are in need of some help and would like a copy of it so that you can make use and make it fit your needs, don’t hesitate to ask, it is a good one.
Never underestimate the power of a phone call or a visit to the school to request the situation be handled, but if that doesn’t do what you need, move on to the next step. This written letter is exactly what you need and by sending it to the administrators and school board, you’ve taken the next step to bully prevention. Finally, this letter can also be send to the local newspaper if need be to ensure that your child is safe at school and let it be known to everyone the manner in which the school is handling the problem.
Luckily for me, I have a good school leader and I knew I did, I was getting frustrated with the amount of time that had passed since I inquired about the trouble but in the interim, my son was reporting no problems from those boys so I felt sure that the issue was under control.
If you’ve experienced bullying yourself or you’ve experienced it through your child’s eyes, you probably are one of the few still reading this horribly long post. But, hopefully, if you are in need of assistance, you will find some solace in our story and obviously, email me and I’ll send you a copy of the letter in case you need to use that as well.
Thanks for reading and hug and kiss your kids every morning before school and every night before bed. Help build confidence in your kids so they know how to handle the minor misgivings of others but also arm them with the trust and confidence to speak up about the problem as well.
One way to work with kids in a group setting is to find a way to put them in more and more social situations but in an environment where the adult can still monitor behavior. Our kids like to go skating and if you live near the roller derby in the UK, you might a great opportunity there as well.