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dani5302
dani5302 asks:
Q:

What can be done about bullying in school if the principal and teachers are unwilling to help?

My grandson, who is in the sixth grade, is being hit, kicked, and teased, daily by three girls in his class in a private Christian school. He will not defend himself physically because, "Boys are not supposed to hit girls."

These girls are making his life miserable. His parents have reported the bullying to the school principal and to my grandson's teachers, and they are told that this is "normal" interaction between children.

What can his parents do to prevent this bullying?

In Topics: Bullying and teasing
> 60 days ago

|

Expert

Jami
May 8, 2009

What the Expert Says:

It's unfortunate that the principal and teachers weren't more willing to help. From the research we know that students often report teachers and other school adults do not intervene in bullying and teasing incidents. We also know that incidents that are more covert in nature, like teasing, are difficult for adults to detect. I wouldn't give up on the effort to involve the school though. Be sure to present this issue to school official by providing them with the factual information about who, what, when, and where the occurances are taking place. Most schools have an anti-bullying policy in place. Check with the school and advocate for change if they are not implementing their anti-bullying policy.

It's great that you are teaching your grandson not to retaliate by hitting the girls back. Retaliation usually ends badly. It will likely escalate the problem and highlight the imbalance of power already evident. We know that by definition, bullying involves an imbalance of power between the student(s) bullying and the victim. In the case with your grandson, it sounds like he is outnumbered by the girls who are bullying him - creating an imbalance of power.

Talk with your grandson about sticking with peers, so that the imbalance of power is less likely to result in him being victimized. If you can identify with him where this is happening most frequently (e.g., bathroom breaks, recess, transitions to other rooms), you can encourage him to have supportive peers nearby especially during those times. Research tells us that children are less vulnerable to victimization if they are with supportive peers. He can also stand or sit near a supervising adult during these times, making it more difficult for him to be targeted. If your grandson reports that this is a time where there is a lack of supervising adults around, talk with the school about increasing supervision during that time.

Find out how the students who are near him react when he is being bullied. If they are providing attention to the girls who are bullying him (whether positive or negative attention), it is likely reinforcing their behavior. When these students are not receiving attention for their bullying behavior, they are more likely to stop (there's no more audience). You may want to role play with him how to walk away and avoid giving attention to those students.  

It may also be a good idea to talk with your grandson about how to report bullying behavior to his teacher. You could role-play with him what he should say to his teachers, encouraging him to know the difference between tattling and reporting bullying behaviors. Let him know that when he is feeling threatened or hurt by someone else, that is not tattling. Too often students are afraid to talk to the teacher about what is happening for fear they are tattling. However, without the help of adults, some bullying situations may not stop.  

Your grandson is lucky to have a supportive family. Keep talking with him about what is happening at school and what strategies he is using and can use if he continues to be bullied. Bullying does not have to be a "normal" part of childhood.


Jami Givens, MA, PLMHP
School Psychology Doctoral Candidate
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Target Bullying Research Lab: www.targetbully.com

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Additional Answers (16)

ronald
ronald writes:
Dan,

Have the parents write a letter to the teacher and to the principal. The letter should document the occurrences, and request/demand that these bullying occurrences are causing social and psychological harm to their son. You should cite some of the effects on the child being bullied as identified in the article that I have highlighted.

Ron

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nosii3
nosii3 writes:
they are wrong no kid should be miserable because they're being bullied by another kid I think you should talk to the girls one on one and tell them how your son is feeling and tell them they should stop and if they dont i think you should thalk to there parents and if it happens again take legal action
> 60 days ago

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bellabella
bellabella writes:
My daughter went to catholic school and started getting pick on. I went and talk to the principle, and she said there was nothing she could do. I reminded her I am paying good money for this school, where I didn't expect this to happen, and further more the promblem started in her school, and escalates outside the school, since it started there, she is in charge she must do something about it, she saw things from my view, and agreed, and took care of the problem. Insist they do something, but its hard for a boy being picked on by girls, he doesn't hit girls, and I feel bad for your son, maybe yu  should pull him out
> 60 days ago

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Mslovley
Mslovley writes:
I understand, my seven year old son is also being bullied by classmates and now there's an incident where the child has brought a bb gun to school. The child was not suspended, even though he didnpt denie that he had the bb gun. My son is in counseling and taking some karate to help him with his self confidence. I think that you should do what ever you can to help your grandson with the bulliying at school. Some teachers and school officals are not going to take it serously until the child is hurt or worse. I have been bullied so I know first hand how bad it can get and I would not want anyone's child to have to go through that alone.
> 60 days ago

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SHELLR
SHELLR writes:
All schools should have a bullying policy in place, so if this problem has been raised with the teachers and principal and the only responce is the behaviour is normal ask to see their policy because yes sadly bullying is common it still isn't right and should be stopped. Then take this problem above their head to the board of governors etc and keep going up the chain until somebody listens. Speak to other parents too and find out if they have had any issues with these pupils or indeed the schools policy on bullying.Sadly a lot of schools do just fob you off but keep pushing as no child deserves to be bullied it is your grandsons right to attend school and have a good and happy education.
Good luck x
> 60 days ago

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dgraab
dgraab , Parent writes:
Here are some responses to your question that Education.com received on its Facebook fan page...

>From JustAsk Expert, Brenda Melton, school counselor, http://www.education.com/answers/profile/BMelton/

"Write a letter to the principal and be specific about what has happened to the child at school. You need to say you are concerned about the child's safety and well-being. Then ask the administration to intervene and ask for a meeting to discuss what will be done to prevent further bullying. If you are not satisfied with the response or outcome, then you need to speak with an administrator at the district level.

Little can be ignored when a parent or caregiver puts their concerns in writing. Don't add emotions to the letter. Be very factual and stick to the issue of bullying not their lack of response in the past. Be future-focused."

>From Jennifer Lyons O'Donnell of Community Matters' Safe School Ambassadors program

"Students see hear and know things adults don't and can intervene in ways adults can't. Our Safe School Ambassadors program empowers the students to prevent, de-escalate and stop bullying and other forms of cruelty."
http://www.community-matters.org
http://www.safeschoolambassadors.org
> 60 days ago

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machinebike
machinebike writes:
Schools have created a "breeding ground" for peer pressure and bullying. Instead of focusing on what the students are doing wrong, focus on what the school officials and teachers are doing wrong.
An example would be "student of the month" or"honors" class....while the teachers "raise" a student, they are putting another down.
> 60 days ago

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paulettemestas
paulettemes... writes:
You can file a complaint with your local police dept. And you should
> 60 days ago

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carolynbarrett33
carolynbarr... writes:
go twice to the school principal,then the higher up ,until you cant go anymore,everyone has a boss and people to answer too.then police,then lawyer,.he has right's also,....nana
> 60 days ago

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ravens12
ravens12 writes:
well the teachers are not going to do any thing because there to woried about the other kids and being fired. i would call the police or social security to see what tey can do. or sew the school or the girls parents.
> 60 days ago

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LoriDay
LoriDay , Teacher writes:
I am an educational psychologist, school administrator, consultant, and mom. Most states have by now adopted anti-bullying laws that direct public schools to intervene and investigate, make expectations for compliance explicit, and communicate consequences for schools that do not properly respond to bullying among their students. Private schools must create their own policies to maintain regional and national accreditation. The laws are very strict. Find out if your state has such a law. If not, chances are it soon will. Here is a site that explains all of this further:  

http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/hhs_psa/pdfs/sbn_tip_6.pdf

Having been the Head of School for a private PS - Grade 8 school in Massachusetts, I have seen and heard it all when it comes to this topic. I easily spent close to 25% of my time some weeks dealing with bullying and bullied kids--and bullying and bullied parents--and each year the time sink grew worse, especially once kids grew older and had access to more technologies for cyberbullying. There was often a line outside my office on Monday mornings of upset parents and/or students waiting to hand me FaceBook print-outs or show me saved text messages. It was very stressful for everyone, and a huge distraction from teaching and learning.

For more information and help with this or other educational issues, I am Lori Day of Lori Day Consulting, http://www.loridayconsulting.com
> 60 days ago

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EdieRaether
EdieRaether , Teacher writes:
This is not acceptable.  It is NOT normal and you must insist and be an advocate.  
Also teach him how to defend himself.  Sign up for my newsletter and check out my blogs or book as I do address this issue but in the meantime.......their passivity is not reason and I don't accept excuses.  
Take a stand.
Edie

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susiewilson
susiewilson writes:
I have the same problem with my daughter. She is being teased by boys and girls. She is also in the sixth grade. I am working on the counselors monitoring her secretly with other children to see how the other children are acting with her. If this behavior continues I am considering homeschool for maybe a year or two to see if this will help her. My daughter will not stand up for herself and she has become agressive at home and taking things on her family and has been crying alot. I really don't know what to do. I hope my information helps you somewhat.
> 60 days ago

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gogirl1234
gogirl1234 writes:
try putting him in another school or talk to the girl's
 parents
> 60 days ago

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donuts
donuts writes:
I think that bullies are weak people and something should be done about it. I would request to speak with the bullies parents with the staff  and the bullies in a confrence so that everyone knows how serious this and hope for positive results or legal actions to follow.
> 60 days ago

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kim20
kim20 writes:
It is very sad and upsetting that teachers and officials are not taking proper actions. Some parents do not know or realize that their child is even being bullied. The child could try to stay clear of the three girls. Maybe he could move away from the girls in the classroom and avoid the girls in other activities. I would also try to meet with the teacher and principal again and explain that they are sincerely concerned for his safety. I would recommend for his parents to become more active in Parent Teacher Organizations if it is available. Other parents may gather an organization or push the Board of Directors to create a bullying rule or investigate the situation farther. Writing a letter to the Board of Directors or a higher authority is another option if the school does not have a Parent Teacher Organization. The parents could take the child out of school although it may not be the ideal situation. Physically touching a child should be considered bullying and the school should be more concerned with his well being and his and other students safety. He is likely not the only child being bullied in the school.
> 60 days ago

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