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timberdrake
timberdrake asks:
Q:

My child is being bullied and has been verbally abused by the bullies father? What can I do legally?

What can I do to stop this bully and her father from terrorizing my child and 3 other kids in the neighborhood? The cops refuse to help because they are 10 year olds. The will not take action against the father for screaming at my child and telling her to get her "filthy brat a$# off his street." She came home hysterical and she peed her pants. This is uncalled for.I went over there to ask him why he yelled at her and immediately began degrading me and name calling. My 17 yr old made it there before me and he lite in to her also. They called the cops today on us for meeting my daughter at the bus stop and said we were intimidating their daughter. No one said a word to her or about her. Any suggestions?
In Topics: Bullying and teasing
> 60 days ago

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Expert

MomSOS
Oct 18, 2009
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What the Expert Says:


This sounds like a difficult and frustrating problem.  However,when safety concerns are an issue for a child, a parent has the right, as well as the responsibility, to take whatever appropriate steps need to be taken to insure the child's well being and safety.  Since what you have tried does not appear to be working, here are some suggestions you might consider.  You may want to try one, some or all, of these ideas.

I am assuming that the bus stop you referred to is the stop for the school bus. If this is the case, you have legitimate reason for involving school personnel.  They also have a responsibility to care for the safety of all the children who ride the bus.  You might try having a conversation with the person(s) at your child's school who is/are in charge of busing.  They may be able to provide some assistance, or some advice, with the bus aspect of this situation.  

In addition, schools today are very aware of the social problem of bullying. Many schools districts have as part of their mission the goal of stamping out bullying.  Your child's school may have dealt with similar circumstances.  They may have some ideas for how to deal with this situation.

You mention that this man is terrorizing other kids too.  Have you thought about calling a parent meeting with the parents of the other kids? There may be strength in numbers and the more parents that are involved in addressing this problem, the greater chance there is that you may come up with solutions. Bullying is about power and control and about one person trying to take "authority over" someone else, and it usually easier for the bully if it is a one-to-one confrontation. An enraged bully can intimidate a 17 yr. old girl pretty easily for many reasons, not the least of which is the age difference.  No one, especially a youngster, needs to be exposed to that kind of abuse. Even the option of an adult trying to face down a bully alone is very tricky, as you have unfortunately found out. Usually bullies are not open to negotiation. I would encourage you to keep your teenage daughter, or any one for that matter, from trying to face this man alone, and trying to convince him to control his behavior.  

You mention that the cops have been no help. While not true everywhere or in all cases,  police are often unwilling to get involved in "domestic" situations.
And, if there is no "hands on" criminal act, often the police are actually powerless to help. However, some schools have a particular police officer assigned to the school itself, or one or more officers in the community who deal especially with student issues. You might try doing a little investigative research and find out (maybe through the school) if there is an officer in town who might be sympathetic and helpful. It probably is unrealistic to expect that an officer will face this guy and fight the battle. If it did happen, I would be surprised, but you never know what help you might get.  

Of course the option of a lawyer may be the one you decide to try. And if all else fails, it may be the best option if you can afford it.  Lawyers have dealt with intimidation before and may be able to make some suggestions for facing down the bullying in legal ways that take the power play away from the bullying individual.

Now, about your little girl, herself.  She is being intimidated and that can be damaging.  I would encourage you to let her teacher, guidance counselor, and other staff who are working with her know what is going on, even if they do not have a solution to the bullying itself.  It is important that everyone be alert to any signs of emotional distress for this child. What you can do as parent(s) is to reassure her that she is not at fault. While adults get this, kids often do not, especially if an adult is the bully.  You can reassure her that the adults are going to handle this, and you will keep her safe. Keep her off his street if possible. Does she need to be there? Let her play with whom and where it is safe. Until you figure out how to straighten out this problem, it may be better for her to stay and play closer to home.

Whatever you decide to do, your reassurance to your daughter that she is a good girl and not at fault, and that the adults will handle this, is very important for her emotional well being. Let's face it.  Bullies are not emotionally healthy individuals. You cannot change that fact, but you may be able to work toward setting limits on the bully. What you can do is act from strength; refrain from engaging at the bully's level, and do everything you can to make your child feel safe and cared for.

In a later post you report that CPS has been investigating; and at the same time you report some outside harassment, i.e. the fireworks and house banging. What I encourage you to do is to stay focused on your own self-care, and that of your children. You state firmly that your parenting is good. Keep doing what you know is best and right. You might want to keep a documentation of the harassing incidents to present to legal counsel, if you decide to retain it.

Now, here's an interesting, and maybe surprising idea.  Rather than see CPS as an adversary, I wonder if they might be included in a solution to the bullying  problem?  Often CPS and other similar agencies can offer services that can help.  People often take the presence of Child Services as an insult, but maybe they could be allies in a difficult situation. After all, their goal is the same as the parents'--keeping children from harm.


Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP




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Additional Answers (3)

Windy1
Windy1 , Child Professional, Parent writes:
If a parent feels their child is truly in immediate danger and their concerns remain unaddressed, they can consider consulting with an attorney to explore their legal options such as obtaining court-ordered relief. Good luck.
> 60 days ago

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timberdrake
timberdrake writes:
Things have gotten even worse. Now we have CPS investigating us for the 5th time and they have been here 4 times in the last 2 years and not found anything to open a case on. Last night someone was banging on my house siding and tonight they have taken to shooting illegal aerial fireworks at my home.  I called the police and they did nothing. No one saw who did it. I cops totally refuse to help. I feel like CPS is harassing us to see if I will mess up. I wont, my kids are my life. I am disabled and I know that makes me a Statistic waiting to happen in their eyes. Although it takes me longer to get things done, my home is not filthy but it is cluttered and messy.  I can fold one load of laundry standing up then I have to sit down and rest my back. But i don't let  my back rule my life. Motherhood does not stop for pain.  I even cook from scratch 99% of the time. I do not believe in the boxed junk. It is not as nutritious as homemade and has many things in it that I do not want my kids putting in their bodies. I could use any advice.
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
Hello, I would try looking for another house to live in if it was me. It sounds like the whole ordeal is causing a lot of stress and if moving into a better neighborhood would help, then your kids would be better too. I wish you well.
> 60 days ago

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