Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Bullying: You're not going to like what I have to say

“You’re not going to like what I have to say.”
I remained quiet to let him speak.
The Boy stared out the window pensive as if collecting his thoughts.
“Effy was horrid to me again today.”
My heart sank. Not AGAIN.
“Tell me what happened?”
“Well he huffed at me all the time and said I was slow in a baby voice.”
Nothing really to get wound up about is it? But when it happened every day and has been happening for weeks before Christmas you get the idea that Effy has a problem and seems to be taking it out on The Boy.
In fact a few weeks before the end of last term I had had a conversation about Effy’s behaviour with The Boy after he had said that Effy had hurt him and that he had taken to preventing The Boy and his best friend from playing on the bar by shaking it until they had fallen off. But it wasn't just Effy there were other incidences.

There had also been the incident about Golden Time – that precious 20 minutes at the end of a Friday when the children are allowed to do anything they want. The Boy had been hurt and was going to tell the teacher but the culprit had warned The Boy that if he did tell then The Boy would lose Golden Time as well, as the culprit would claim The Boy had hurt him too. Bit of an impasse there.
I accept that at school as in life there are strong personalities and weaker ones, those prone to bullying/picking on behaviour and those too eager to please. But in a school there should be a zero tolerance on this sort of behaviour. It is NOT acceptable.
At a small school where there are only 30 children in the playground full stop then there is no excuse for not noticing.
When it was first brought to my attention I asked The Boy what he wanted to do. Did he want me to tell the teachers? He was reluctant. I suggested I e-mail them without saying who culpritswere so that no one would get into trouble. He thought about it for a night and the next morning said he’s like me to tell the teachers because it wasn’t just him who was having trouble. So I told the acting head teacher and his class teacher and thought: job done.
It’s never that simple is it?
Over the Christmas holidays The Boy stayed with his Granny in Yorkshire and had by all accounts a wonderful time. He also talked to Granny, and talked and talked.
He wanted to know what a “Nancy Boy” was, and when asked why said that he was being called “Nancy Boy” by Effy. By turns over the next few weeks we learned a lot.
The Boy was not only being called names, he was being physically pushed around, intimidated and ridiculed and it had been going on for ages.
Yesterday as we drove into Ipswich on a quest for a new washing machine; I asked how the day had gone, knowing that the children had all had a talk about why it is important to be nice to each other by the head teacher.
Him, a bit hesitantly: It was Ok.
Me: Just OK?
Him: Well it was Ok until Effy put a hoop over my head even though I didn’t like it.
Me: He put a hoop over you?
Him: Yes he put a hoop round my neck in PE
Didn’t the teacher see?
No he did it when she wasn’t looking
Did you say to Effy to stop it?
Why not
He would just keep doing it
Darling you must stand up for yourself. You must tell people if they do something you don’t like or else how do they know?
But I do
But you didn’t today did you?
It’s very difficult.
No it’s not all you have to say very loudly is Effy stop it I don’t like it or Effy go away or Effy leave me alone. Nice and loud and he’ll soon get the picture especially if lots of people see him doing it and being told that you don’t like it. Come on practice it now with me.
And we did but he soon got quiet again
I’m scared
Oh darling I know you are scared but if you don’t pretend to be brave and stand up to him he’s going to keep doing it and you don’t want that do you?
I just want him to be my friend
I know you do but sometimes friends drift apart darling, sometimes they say horrid things and do horrid things for no apparent reason.
Did that happen to you?
Oh he’s a perceptive soul. I said yes that it had happened to me and he wanted to know more so I told him how A and I fell out, how she’d written in her diary how silly and childish I was and how she’d deliberately left it out for me to read. It was classic girl stuff – indirect but effective and no one could be held responsible but the victim herself. I said that sometimes friends were no longer friends but that perhaps over time they could eventually be friends again.
When will the real Effy come back?
I don’t know darling I just don’t know.


Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

Oh my heart aches just reading this. That feeling of wanting to constantly protect your child yet encourage them to stand up for themselves. So very difficult, especially your boy admitting he is scared. I presume you will be visiting the Head again to get it sorted. Let's hope they can come up with a better strategy for dealing with the problem xx

Cait O'Connor said...

That was so moving Toady. The only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them I am afraid. And that includes the staff at the school as well as your dear son who sounds too kind, very sensitive and very wise beyond his years. I would telephone the Head and/or visit her again. Get it sorted now.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Poor little scrap . You'll have to contact the Head again . They have a duty to protect all the children in their care and provide a positive and happy environment .
Good luck with it all and good luck to your son who's being very brave .

Expat mum said...

Oh poo. There's definitely something going on with that child and the school needs to be told. You have to insist something is done. Not wishing to sound too altruistic, but what about trying to get them together again - so that they can appreciate each other? My middle guy used to be verbally bullied by a boy who was half his size. It wasn't until they were actually seated next to each other in class (by a very wise and brave teacher) that they came to appreciate each other. They're not best friends but they have definitely come to an understanding.

Preseli Mags said...

It's such a difficult situation and one I recognise. H is getting picked on and told she is 'slow', not just by one child, but by a group. (She's not slow, quite the opposite.)

Her teachers say it's just normal child behaviour but H finds it upsetting. We have a double problem here because H says that it's because she's not Welsh.

It's so difficult when things happen at school and you aren't there to see exactly what is going on. (And I just had to pause typing while H told me about 'the kids in my class that are mean to me'.)

Like Trish my heart ached to read your blog. We just want our children to be happy, but it's so difficult to know what to do in a situation like this.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Oh poor little lad. I'm with the others, a quiet discussion with the head just to highlight that it is happening. As you say it is a small school, the head herself can keep an eye on it.

Good luck, what a hard hard situation for you all. I think you are handling it really well. x

Pam said...

A good teacher will be extremely vigilant to this. It's one of my pet aspects of teaching, catching happenings in peripheral vision, to seem not to notice so I can write down all instances as they happen.If the teacher clamps down immediately, the bully becomes even more underhand and sneaky. Best for the teacher to gather evidence and present it to the bully's parents as "this, this and this on these particular dates". Bullies watch the teacher like a hawk, and in the playground it's a problem as the teacher can't be everywhere at once. But boy I've had some victories tackling this....often causing furious blushing by simply stating quietly in a very surprised ear "don't think I didn't see/hear this and know EXACTLY what you're doing. I'm onto you." It's the sneakiness of bullying I can't abide - such cowards.Unfortunately for younger children, a teacher's day is very full of "tattling and tales" that somehow snows under the real thing.It can be exhausting, My own daughter was bullied in high school. She insisted I didn't do anything about it, but a shrivilling stare by me, scorching in fact, seemed to fix the perpetrator as she simpered up, forced by her mother, to congratulate my daughter on her State champion debating award. My daughter could argue her way out of anything but was helpless and fraught in the face of bullying.Gutless. The bullies need to have their names and deeds recorded on school records, then explained by the school that they need to get those records cleared up before moving up the school system.Half the time the bullies don't care and neither do the parents. Sorry Tattie, you've got me on a pet peeve. Good luck.

Pam said...

...just want to add (as if I haven't said enough) that bullies often don't appreciate a quiet and gentle talk, they see it as a weak approach ie the equivilant of "don't do that dear" as Johnny wrecks the joint. Rather than hurt, you have a right to be very angry about this.

Mud in the City said...

So hard. But actually this very 'male' form of bullyinh - physical intimidation etc is easier to point at tangibly than the typical femalepsychological games. Easier to stand up to. Easier to show the marks from. But horrid nonetheless.

diney said...

Hi - I'm glad I found your site. This is such a moving post, and your little boy must be really hurting. All we want to do is to protect them from the hurt, and it really must be the school who get to grips with this. I've had one or two problems with my daughter when she cries because so-and-so has left her out and was talking about her with her other friend etc., but it all seems to blow over the next day. With my son, one little 10 year old used to mock him for being unable to pronounce his 'r' (as in 'wabbit' like Jonathan Woss. I sought the boy out one afternoon when I knew his mum was going to be late and looked angrily at him, telling him that if he ever mentioned my son's speech again then I would be telling his mother and the head. Suddenly the bully was a red faced little boy and he never did it again. I'm not suggesting that this was the correct thing to do, but it worked. Good luck.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Horrible for you all. Bullying effects the whole family. It's toxic and nasty.
I so agree with Pam... her way is really the only way. Evidence. Lots of it and then get right in there. The bully needs to know that he is being seen/heard by the teacher and that it is intolerable. You are doing all the right things... talking and really hearing your Boy's distress. I remember being bullied in primary school and actually PRETENDING to my mother that I had stood up to the bullies. She was thrilled. I was even more alone than before.
Knowing that adults know and understand and are doing something is half the battle. The other half is making sure that the adults know and understand and are doing something with the bully too.
Best of luck. let us know how he gets on. xxxx

Crystal Jigsaw said...

This is really heartbreaking and I so sympathise with the Boy. Schools are very good at covering up bullying, making it seem as though the bully has a deep rooted problem and we should be sympathetic towards him or her. But that isn't simple is it. Why should we be sympathetic when we see our own child hurt in such a cruel way.

I went through all this with Amy's school and it turned very nasty, but I'd go through it all again if I ever found out she was being bullied at her new school.

God bless, sweetheart, hoping this resolves soon. And keep on top of those teachers before they brush it under the carpet.

CJ xx

Liz (LivingwithKids) said...

I feel so sorry for your boy. We've had experience of bullying at school - fortunately they dealt with it immediately but of course part of the problem is that the children don't always have the courage to speak out. They absolutely must deal with the problem at school xxx

Withy Brook said...

I do so feel for the Boy. As everyone else has said, this has got to be dealt with by the Head and the staff. The Boy can't do it on his own. Although he needs to learn to stand up for himself, it is not in his character to be really ruthless because he is such a lovely little chap.
The Head should work on it with you, as a team. Best of luck and love to the wee fellow.

A Modern Mother said...

OMG I just had that same conversation with my eldest last night. We practised saying in a loud voice "DO NOT kick me". I know this is far from over but it is interesting we had the same advice.

mountainear said...

Poor soul - I feel my protective, maternal hackles rising. I know as a mum I'd just want to put it right and make his world perfect again.

I think the school should be told and that they should act - how I don't know. Accept no excuses - it's not just 'boys being boys' or typical childrens' stuff, it's totally inappropriate, nasty behaviour. In an ideal world the Boy would stand up for himself - but it's never that simple if it's not in his nature. Not easy either in a small school where there is nowhere for either party to withdraw or be withdrawn to.

I'm he knows he has your ear, understanding and support and that you'll help him through what I hope is a brief if unpleasant interlude. Best of luck. Let us know how you get on.

elizabethm said...

So much sympathy and wise advice here that I am not sure I can add much other than to let you know that there are loads of us on your side out here. My daughter suffered a bit in primary school and we did teach her to say loudly and crossly "Stop that! I don't like it." This did work, partly because it attracted the teacher's attention and brought it out into the open. We spend so much time teaching our children to suppress and control their anger but sometimes they need to understand that it is ok to be angry with someone who is being mean to them for no reason.
Good luck. I also do agree that the school should be told - a two pronged attack. What sort of relationship do you have with the bully's family? Sometimes a joint approach to helping them be friends again can work, a shared trip somewhere with both children and their mothers maybe? You need to be on good terms with the parent for that to work!

BLACK said...
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Tattie Weasle said...
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