chinamom22 asks:

How can I help my daughter deal with bullying from other girls?

Our 5th grader has had bully issues since kindergarten.  First in a parochial school, now in the public school.   GIRLS are terrible!  There is one girl in her class, whom ALL the class (boys & girls alike) are afraid of.   This girl has hit, pushed, kicked our daughter, called her racial names, spread vicious rumors about her, turned so-called friends against our daughter.  It is heart-breaking.  While the school has tried to intervene some, they cannot believe that this girl would be so cruel.  (she does it when no adult is around -- smart...)    The principal is wishy-washy and has not helped at all.  I've recently had the superintendent involved in a racial issue and he was amazing.  He dealt with it immediately and effectively to a point.

I believe that this bullying, tween year issues, growing up, and being more mature than her classmates, very intelligent etc. is starting to affect her emotions etc.    She made the comment to me that "I thought once you were friends, you were friends forver".  I told her that was a hard lesson to learn.  

We have only this year began to teach her to stand up for herself, without her getting into trouble.    She is becoming more and more vocal and if anything racial is said, she knows she has to go to the superint. immediately.  

any other suggestions?

As stated in the article here, I would love to teach the bully a lesson, but then that would just be a different form of bullying and probably make life worse for  our daughter.  
In Topics: Bullying and teasing
> 60 days ago



Boys Town National Hotline
Jul 1, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Thank you for writing to with your parenting dilemma.  Helping young women navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of the growing up years can be overwhelming.

It is good to know that you are committed to helping your daughter learn valuable behaviors that will help her to stay safe.  Standing strong in the face of adversity is hard for a young girl.  Learning to appropriately verbalize her opinions and to take a stand up for herself are skills that take maturity and judgment and aren’t necessarily mastered at a young age. Aside from going to the superintendent, I would encourage you to continue to encourage your daughter to try to evaluate relationships by taking the other person’s point of view.  If you can help your daughter to imagine what the other girl might be thinking and feeling you can deflate the power the other person might seemingly have over your daughter.  Usually, a bully is someone who really feels inferior and must inflict control over other people.  Teach your daughter that she is in charge of her behavior as is her classmate and that her classmate’s actions are a reflection of her, not your daughter.  Encourage your daughter to maintain a distance from this negative classmate and focus instead on the healthy friendships of others.  A strong connection to friends will help your daughter to feel strong when adults are not around.  Lastly, it sounds as if your daughter is learning an important lesson about friendship.  People sometimes come into our lives for a time but aren’t necessarily a part of our lives forever.  Help her to make connections with the people that help her to realize her goals and to feel good about herself.  Focus on your daughter’s unique gifts and talents, strengths and interests.  The more settled she feels about who she is, the less she will be negatively influenced by those around her.

Thanks again for writing to  For additional information on parenting through the tween years, be sure to visit  

Boys Town National Hotline


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Additional Answers (3)

lkauffman writes:
Hi there,

I'm terribly sorry to hear that you daughter has had such a difficult time in elementary school. It sounds like she has been coping with significant harassment for quite some time.

You have done a wonderful job approaching your daughter's teacher and principal. How were things left with the principal last? Has she agreed to help resolve future issues or are you expected to communicate with the superintendent from now on? Regardless, I think that you should continue to hold the school administration to task and expect that something be done. The negative consequences of bullying are well documented and your daughter's well-being should be protected by the school.

Also, given that your daughter has been dealing with a lot, it is important that you continue to listen and provide emotional support for her. I also believe that she might benefit from talking to the school counselor or a counselor outside of the school. I think that she needs someone to talk to about the pain and disappointment she is experiencing. In addition, she might find it useful to talk with someone about strategies for managing the bullies and future friendships.

Let us know how it goes! Good luck.
> 60 days ago

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Lionors writes:
I totally disagree.  There are several articles on here which indicate that bullies are NOT always children with poor self esteem, but rather, children who have extremely high self-esteem (probably quite unjustified) who feel they can do whatever they like.  They have a ripe field for exploitation now because we've essentially FORCED our kids to be victims.  How can they strike back?  Can't beat 'em up on the playground any more (and believe me, no bully tries again against a child who will stand up to him/her).

But back on topic.  What do we know about this child?  This child is striking when opportunity presents itself.  She's sly, physically powerful, and she's a coward.  Classic bully.  To stop her, you need to cut off her opportunity and make sure she has no *single* target to strike back against.  In short, you need to make it so that she knows she has a group against her, not just one defenseless child.  And for heaven's sake, don't worry about this little monster's precious self-esteem when you take action against her.  

To effectively eliminate the problem, you're going to need to do two things: Document, and get other affected parties involved.

It sounds like there are a LOT of kids who are having problems with this child.  I suggest you make a list of the kids who are also having problems with this child, contact each of the parents, and get them to talk to their child and come up with a list of occurrences which have happened, when, where and how.  Compile this list.  

It's important to figure out just when this kid is striking, because chances are, it's an opportunity which happens frequently.  Is it a certain teacher's class?  Is it a certain activity?  Figure that out, and you can figure out her pattern.  What you also figure out from that is who is not observing/supervising your children as they should.  It may seem silly to you to be making a list of 'X hit Y in the arm during Z class on this date'...but what you're doing is establishing a documented pattern of behavior.  This is extremely important, because you've just lifted it out of the category of 'she said/he said' into information which can be acted upon.

Once you've done that...

Step one:  Schedule an appointment with your principal and teacher -- AND the other affected parents.  Present your information and your concerns.  The mere fact that there is a *group* of parents with these concerns should convince them that this child is a menace that needs to be dealt with.  

It goes without saying that you should take excellent notes of this meeting.  Tape it if you have to, but make them know that you are on top of the information and you will follow up with it.  Trust me, it will make a difference.  And, it also gives you ammunition if you need to go over the principal's head (it sounds as if you have a total incompetent there.)

By reviewing your information about what is happening and when, the teacher and administration now have a chance to stop the bullying at its source.  Follow up both with the teachers and, most importantly, the children to find out if this is being done.  If it isn't, move to step 2.

Step 2:  If your first measures prove ineffective, write a formal business letter to your principal, copying the superintendent, the teacher, and the other affected parents.  Go over what happened in the first meeting and state what has happened since.  Demand a meeting with the principal, teacher, the affected parents AND the parents of the bullying child.  What you have to do is make sure that you outnumber the parents of the child in question.

By the way, if that child has caused any documented physical harm to your child, you may have grounds to file criminal charges.  If there is a police officer in your school building, find out what may be done.  You may not get any financial recompense (we never did when my stepson was slugged by a bully and required stitches as a result) but you have at least got something on the child's record and possibly gotten them the punishment they deserve (and hopefully the deterrence they need).  In our case, it was enough to get the kid suspended for the rest of the year, and that took care of the problem in and of itself.

Best of luck and my sympathies.
> 60 days ago

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EdieRaether , Teacher writes:
Again, be an advocate.  Passivity is not acceptable.
The problem will get worse and the girl needs help and counseling should be mandatory.   She is probably cruel because she has learned it from home.  Cycles of violence have to be not hesitate.

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