How do I help my son deal with bullies without becoming physically aggressive himself?
My 10 y/o son has attended the same school for 2 years now. He has been the subject of horrible bullies. Our son was raised NEVER to be aggressive toward others; walk away from the bullies. Last year he held true to our teachings however, this year, he is already being bullied (he is no small child and could harm another child with one slap). My husband and I are tired of our son always doing the right thing, walking away. I have never believed in an eye for an eye. However, I am tired of my son taking the cruel words and physical attacks from other children that I am nearing the point of simply advising him to return the cruel words and physical aggression back at the bullies. However, we also know one slap from our son could do serious damage to another child. We are tired of hearing school staff telling us that our son will "just have to ignore the bullies." What is wrong with school staff dealing with the bullies so the other well behaved children can have a peaceful, enjoyable and stress free day at school. What has happened to our schools? The school administrators? Our oldest son is a vice principal in Maui, HI (our 10 y/o lived on Maui until he was 6 y/o and still returns home to Maui), bullying is NOT tolerated in Maui. Children and parents MUST take responsibility for their actions. No so on the mainland. I know we are not alone in our concerns. Are there sensativity classes on the mainland? Is holding a wrong doer responsible frightening to school personnel? Help.
We hear your concern about the lack of action taken in dealing with bullying in your son's school. There are some school districts that do a very good job of addressing bullying, while others do very little. I'm sorry to hear that you are in a school that seems to give you the same answer without changing anything for your son. It must be especially frustrating for your family because you came from such a supportive school district in Hawaii. To lose that support must be very hard for all of you. Although you feel as if your concerns aren't being heard, it's important that you continue to speak to the school administration about what your son is experiencing. If you feel like you are not being heard take it to the next level up. Have you tried talking to the superintendant of schools, the school board, or the parent teacher association? If not, give it a try. When you present your concerns, give factual information, including written statements from your son, detailing what he has experienced.
You're right in teaching your child that violence is not the answer. Teaching him that now will be a lesson he must carry with him throughout his life. Fight the temptation to tell your son to fight back. Taking the high road will benefit him in the long run. If your son ends up hurting a bully, it will be he who gets in trouble, not the bully. Remind yourself and your son that the actions you choose today will follow you for the rest of your life.
Don't give up. Keep contacting the appropriate administrators until you get an acceptable plan of action by the school. Hang in there.
I'm so sorry your son is going through this (and that you are). You're right that every child deserves to feel safe and happy in school every day.
Some schools do an amazing job of managing bullying and others still have a lot of work to do.
You've asked so many great questions here. And unfortunately they don't have easy answers. If your son's school isn't going farther than telling kids to ignore bullies, than you've got your work cut out for you to educate these educators. Education.com has a special edition on bullying that I think you'll find really helpful in understanding the latest research on bullying. This article in specific talks about how schools can successfully address bullying: http://www.education.com/reference/article/what-programs-stop-bullying/
I think you should ask for a meeting with your son's teacher and the school principal. Lay out your son's experience in very specific detail. What he experiences, when, from whom, and how he responds. Be clear that you've tried the "ignore" strategy and that it's not working and then talk about what you've learned about that might work. If you're not heard in that meeting, you may have to think about escalating to the district level. You can make a difference and you'll be helping not only your son but other kids who are sure to be having a similar experience in that environment.
One other quick note - it's important that you take an honest look at ways your son may be responsible for the situation. NO child deserves to be bullied, but there may be things your son is doing that keeps him a target. (It's unusual that a big kid who's just ignoring bullies would stay a target for that long. Not impossible, but unusual). Taking an honest look at ALL aspects of the situation will help you get it resolved more quickly.
Revenge of those Bullied: Our Greatest Danger
The most dangerous bullies are those who have been bullied themselves. For every child that chooses to take his or her life to stop the torment, there are that many more stuffing their pain and then striking back.
Please let me help!! Bullying will not be conquered by setting bigger traps...but by changing the hearts and minds of the kids who bully.
I am a speaker and author on Bullying and also have a character building program for kids that transforms potential into possibilities. It facilitates healthy life choices and habits by encouraging a positive belief system that improves problem-solving skills to increase self esteem. I Believe I Can Fly! is a values-based system of “optimal thinking,” self motivation and discipline that overcomes the social challenges of our children.
We are putting all the responsibility for this problem on the victim and while we must act to protect the innocent, we must shift our thinking to prevention and have those who bully... be responsible for the change that will make our society a caring and compassionate culture. Change must come from the INSIGHT out. We are approaching this matter with more of what the VICTIM can do. Please see www.stopbullyingwithedie.com if you want to make a true shift in consciousness and get it right.
Love and light...
You should talk to your sons teacher. If it continues and the teacher doesn't do anything about it then you need to address it with the school principal. Bullying is definitely not tolerated at the school I work at and we are trying to become more aware of it. I'm sorry you have to deal with it. I hope it gets better.