kblack asks:

my daughter is labeled at our small school system. She is bullied and made fun of.  I'm afraid it will never end. should I move?

My daughter has always been one of the bigger girls but it has followed her from elementary to middle school. even though she has lost weight she is still labeled as the big girl. Our school system consist of 1 elementary, 1 middle, and 1 High school. She has no chance to meet new kids it's just the same group thru the years. Would it be easier if I just moved for her??? She likes the idea of moving as well..
In Topics: Bullying and teasing
> 60 days ago



May 5, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

I am very sorry to hear that your daughter has been suffering from bullying for a good portion of her school career. As you may have heard, or have likely experienced with your daughter, the consequences of long-term bullying can be troubling and severe. Children who are bullied are more likely to report physical difficulties (e.g., stomach upset) and emotional distress (e.g., anxiety and depression). Thus, there it is very important that the bullying is stopped as soon as possible.

First, what has been the response of the school? Do they have an established bullying policy? If they do, have they been helpful in enacting it? If not, you may consider spearheading the campaign to develop a bullying policy. It is important that adults on campus are aware of the bullying, when it happens, and they are poised to intervene. Your daughter should have a friend or buddy in the moments throughout the day when the bullies are most likely to target her. There should be consequences associated with bullying, as well. Do not agree to "mediated" meetings between your daughter and the bullies. Research has shown that this is not effective because bullying involves an imbalance of power and mediated meetings are only helpful when the parties are on equal footing.

Second, if you have been working with the school for sometime to combat the bullying, and you remain unsatisfied with the outcome, it is certainly reasonable to consider a move. It is important to understand that changing schools can have either positive or negative consequences. Research indicates that some children who move because of bullying do well, and others do not.

If you do move there are a number of things that you can do to make the move more successful: 1). Coordinate the move so that your daughter can start school in the beginning of a new school year. It is much more difficult to join a new school and peer group after the school year has been established. 2). Allow your daughter to visit the school and shadow a student in the Spring before starting the new school year. This will give her an opportunity to meet some students and grow more accustomed to the school grounds and personnel. 3). Make an appointment to talk with the school principal of the new school and explain your daughter's situation. Learn about the new school's bullying policy and gain reassurance that the new school is prepared to immediately address any difficulties should they arise with your daughter's peers. 4). Talk with your daughter, early and often, about the opportunity at the new school and ready her for the transition. Help her to develop a plan for making new friends. If she knows someone at the new school, plan to invite them over to your home for frozen yogurt in the first or second week of  school. Help her think about how she will make new friends. Role-play conversations with peers she would like to get to know better to help prepare her for making friends.

There is no right answer to your question. You and your daughter must decide together what is best for the family, but there certainly are steps you can take to make the transition more successful, if you should decide to change schools.

Good luck!

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychologist

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