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S/o bullying: Parents?


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A recurring theme in the bullying thread is how the kids being bullied never told their parents.

 

I'm just wondering why? That is not an accusation, I promise, but a sincere question.

 

Why is it that kids often don't tell their parents they are being bullied?

 

Is there anything we can do to change that? I speak as a mother and a principal. I am not naive enough to think that bullying never happens at my school even though I actively crusade against it. But I also am careful to constantly let kids know that there are "safe" people they can tell...their teacher, me, we even have a child safety advocate they can go to.

 

And yet some of it still goes unreported. How do we teach these children they can tell someone if they won't even tell their own parents?

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I think it comes from the fear that if you tell, then it'll only get worse. You know, the whole 'tattletale' thing. There's also the whole idea where some people, maybe parents, ridicule you for not being able to stand up for yourself. Although, I wouldn't be surprised if some parents were like that, as well.

Personally, I told my parents on one occasion and when they did something the school didn't listen. When no one listens, who do you turn to?

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It was embarrassing. I thought that there must be something wrong with me...that I was weird or somehow deserved the treatment because of something I had done. Also, if *I* couldn't figure out what to do or how to handle it, how could anyone else? I just felt helpless.

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I didn't want them to feel sad that they had such a nerdy little kid.  I was protecting them from unpleasantness.  

 

Also, it's utterly humiliating to be bullied.  Imagine your most embarrassing moment.  No, not your funny embarrassing moment where you had toilet paper on your shoe.  Imagine that moment where you made a complete fool of yourself and you still blush when you think about it and cringe.  Imagine a humiliating moment that is so humiliating you don't ever want to tell anyone about it.

 

Every single day was like that for me.  Every day, I felt utter humiliation.  

 

It's really hard to talk about your humiliation to someone else.  It's, well, humiliating.  Embarrassing.  It's difficult to even get the words out.  As a self-assured adult woman I could go to someone and tell them I was being abused. But as a shy 10 year old child?  No way.

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It is a combination of reasons.  One, it is embarrassing not to be able to handle things in school, or to admit that classmates dislike and disrespect you.  Two, the fear of retaliation once the bully finds out you got her in trouble.  Three, the "never give up" attitude - each day I had an idea of what I would do to end the nonsense.  Of course it never worked, but I wasn't ready to give up and call in the big guns.  Four, usually by the time I saw my parents I'd had a few hours to chill out and get distracted by more positive thoughts.  In my case the 8th grade bullying mainly happened during English class or lunch or band - in the middle of the day.  I didn't dwell on the bullying all day.  Possibly I didn't want to think about it any more than I had to.

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I told a teacher who didnt do anything. What she said to me about it made it seem my fault.

=

I was too embarrassed to tell my mum.

 

Eta: wanted to clarify...the teacher's poor handling is what made me embarrassed to tell. I wish I had skipped right to telling my mum.

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On a somewhat related point, I am always intrigued by the ability of abused children to smile and act like their world is sunny.  How do they do it?  The reaction of a bullied child may be somewhat analogous.

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I think dd was afraid to tell us because XDH and I were so proud of her for being popular. :(

 

I told. It didn't do any good and one of the Bad Things that happened was that Mom stopped sewing for me and I had to wear ugly prefab clothes that didn't fit right and she stopped saying, "Do you like this?" and started saying "Is this what the other little girls your age are wearing?"

 

Then I got punished for lying if I wanted to wear something I liked that other little girls my age weren't wearing. :(

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Sometimes the bullying isn't just at school. Sometimes there is abuse of some sort in the home, too, or an atmosphere so dysfunctional it amounts to the same thing. Sometimes the bullied has known no other reality, the bullying is their "normal", and the thought never occurs to them that they might be worthy of better treatment, or that others don't go through exactly the same treatment. If they don't know that something better exists how can they ask for it?

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1. My parents raised me that the adult is always right, the kid is always wrong, and you never contradict the adult in authority, ever. Undisputed. So, since the teachers NEVER stood up for me or cared a rat's rear about my safety, berated me for reporting the incidents, actually witnessed quite a lot of it and told me to suck itup and deal, told me to failsome coursework so i would have bad grades which was cool and acceptable, and warned me that they could make my life a living hell if I ever got them in trouble, I figured it wasn't worth all of the horror I'd go through for conradicting a teacher or god forbid, get one of them in a bind with the principal.

 

2. The ring leader of the bullies was well connected. Her parents owned the golf course and they gave the city cops, school principals, and superintendent free golf for overlooking their daughter's activities

 

3. The humiliation is extreme. Over time it whittes away your self esteem to the point that you don't think you are worthy of intervention. The concept that an adult would actually care becomes bizarre, foreign.

 

4. The culture of some schools is that bullies are heroes for being strong and victims deserve the horror for being weak. As a kid, you feel helpless to go against the sstem so you don't try. Keep your headlow, try to survive the war.

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On a somewhat related point, I am always intrigued by the ability of abused children to smile and act like their world is sunny.  How do they do it?  The reaction of a bullied child may be somewhat analogous.

 

Comedy is very therapeutic. Many of my friends who have had horrendous life crises (losing their kids and homes) have gone into standup.

 

It's much easier for me to say funny things like "I wannabe a famous writer when I grow up cuz that'll show them!" than "because of the trauma, I retreated into a fantasy world with delusions of grandeur and extreme perfectionism that led to depressive episodes and a paralyzing fear of failure that had a negative effect on my future employability".

 

Or in the more eloquent words of Joni Mitchell:

 

She's got a rose in her teeth

And a lampshade crown

One minute she's so happy

Then she's crying on someone's knee

Saying laughing and crying

You know it's the same release

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I also didn't tell my parents about the dirty old man who groomed and fondled me.  In that case it was because I was afraid my dad would go beat the guy up (or shoot him) and end up in jail etc. etc.  I had heard the cliches.  In reality my dad would not have done that, but I was afraid it would get super ugly and it wasn't worth it.  I was also ashamed of letting it get to the point it got to.

 

I don't know how we get kids to tell their parents about serious problems.  The usual advice is all stuff my parents did right, yet I still didn't tell.

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I told my mom a few things - and it was always "just ignore them".  or she'd tell me how she was bullied. (and this is supposed to make me feel better how?  or help figure out a productive way to handle things how?)   so, why bother telling her anything else?

 

from the time I was very young, she often made me feel I was a problem she wished would just go away and that she wasn't there to help me.   after my father died, things got exponentially worse both at home and at school.

 

I had pretty messed up family dynamics. 

 

to my knowledge, none of my adult children were bullied.  I'm sure I'd have heard by now if they had been.  so it is possible to break the pattern.

 

eta: my maternal grandmother bullied her progeny and my father was bullied and told he was a failure by his step-father, and his mother was made to feel inadequate by her step-mother . . . .

 

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Sometimes those bullying *are* the teachers. Other times those in authority tell you to suck it up or that if you ignore the bully they will stop. This is not always true, in some cases, it can make it worse.

My son's brief stint at public school, starting Grade 10, resulted in him being bullied by a teacher. The results were devastating.

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I

 

 

Then I got punished for lying if I wanted to wear something I liked that other little girls my age weren't wearing. :(

 

and to think, I got mad at my kids for telling me they liked something and it sat in the back of their closet becasue they *didn't* like it.  "telling mommy you like something that you'll never wear does NOT make me happy!"

but then I have a vivid memory of a dress with an enormous pilgrim collar that someone gave me that I detested (but they tried to make me wear) - and I was very outspoken about it!

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Shame?  Fear that you may have deserved it?

 

I did tell my parents.  They underresponded.  "It couldn't be that bad."  "You just need to get a thicker skin."  "If you didn't <fill in the blank>, they wouldn't pick on you."  I had enough shame.  The parental lack of response taught me that I couldn't count on them for support.  Tje worst was when they required that I go along on a family trip with the family of the kid who was the ringleader of my torment.  He brought along a few friends.  I spent the weekend hiding from his posse. 

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Sometimes there is no point telling. When you're a kid, school can feel like a life sentence and reality is what it is. Also, most people don't have the skills to help kids work out their issues and sometimes the issues can't be sorted out. If a kid is bullying because they spend too much time in an over crowded room, what is to be done about that?

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I did tell my mom.  Constantly.  Her reaction was, "Well, there's nothing I can do about it."

 

Even if she had done something about it, the school wouldn't have.  Where I grew up, the teachers often got a kick out of the popular students bullying the rest of us.  Occasionally they joined in the verbal abuse. The unspoken attitude was, if you don't want to be bullied, don't be such a loser.

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My brother told the teacher our parents and the principal.  It only made things worse.  He went further in to depression and then to drugs and alcohol.  They were not stopped till sadly they were killed (one by gun shot during highschool and one via suspicious situation shortly after hs) The one had a brother who murder someone and the other who beat the crap out of mom and committed suicide.

I figured out a way to deal with my bullies and hate school.

I am trying to figure out a way to work on it with my daughter and her sport teams (same girls different sports) Coach is a great coach but a bit of if you dont belong to my circle you dont belong type of guy to the adults but treats all kids as equals (except his dd which he expects way more from). And their are girls on her team who love my dd and some bully her because she is the tiniest and the youngest and more of a dancer than a softball or soccer or baseball player and their parents are ok with them calling them out.  Other parents hear it and call their kid out for it then and there. Sadly the biggest bully on my dd teams their parents dont like anyone that is not like them and because that child is a late in life miracle they think child can do no wrong. Thankfully my dd has a high self esteem. But she is very much a people pleasure so she hates to disappoint to anyone including mean girl on the team and that kid knows its.

 

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When my son tells me someone has said something hurtful he insists that I do nothing.  It isn't ongoing son I don't intervene because my son feels that it would escalate.  As it is they seem to have a tattletale pact.  I stress that it isn't rattling if someone is doing something dangerous or hurtful but the 3 boys would usually rather cut their tongues out then tell on each other. 

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My Dad and Mom were both extremely popular in school…class president, homecoming queen, etc.  

 

I'm adopted…and was always shy and introverted.

 

My Dad honestly does not understand shy people.  He has a billion friends and thinks everybody should.

 

I didn't tell them, but I did tell my older brother about the bullying when I was in 3rd grade and he was in 5th grade.  He waited for the bus one day (we attended different schools), and then when it arrived to drop me off, he got on the bus and punched the kid who was bullying me.  That boy never did again…but it didn't solve all the other issues.  Still, it was awesome to have my brother (or anybody) stand up for me (although I generally do not support violence.)

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I had no problem standing up for my little brother when he was bullied.  I infamously pummelled the everloving snot out of a kid twice my size and 3 years my senior for shoving my little brother's face into the sandbox. 

 

But standing up for myself, or even telling?  That was never going to happen.  I just didn't have the backbone or the self-esteem to do it.  I believed the bullies.  To be brief, it could have ended very badly if my mother hadn't made a rather drastic and dramatic move.  I resented that at first, but if I wasn't going to fight for me, she sure the heck was. 

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I told my parents, and got told to ignore it, buck up, get over it, and asked what I did to cause it.  I wish I hadn't told them, then I could at least have the fantasy that if they knew they would run to my rescue.  Instead I know the truth and that is that they did nothing and really put the blame on me.  My parents were also big on us learning that if you mess with one you mess with all when it came to me and my siblings and it is why I was rewarded by my folks for cracking a baseball bat over the back of my best friend's little brother when I was 11.  Her brother would have been 9, my little brother was 5.  We were going to play a pick up game of baseball, her brother wanted to play, but all the equipment belonged to my sister and she hated the brother (they were in the same class), her brother got mad at something my little brother said and started to choke him.  I used what I had and cracked him over the back.  friend chased me right into my house swearing at my mom.  End result, friend got grounded for 2 weeks (my mom called her's about the swearing), I got rewarded for protecting my brother, I lost the only friend I had, we didn't speak again for 6 years after that-the battle lines had been drawn. 

I don't know, maybe they were doing the best they could.  Frankly, I think they dropped the ball big time.  You can't blame the victim and you can't encourage fighting (in addition to the above they often also told us, don't start the fight but sure as hell finish it).  

I do remember my mom standing up the 4th grade teacher who was a complete pill and on a power trip but she never did anything about the 6th grade teacher who was so much worse.  Looking back though I also see my mom was a bully herself.  The worst part is I hear my mom coming out of my mouth when dealing with my own kids at times.  

My kids tell me when they are getting bullied.  Sometimes I help them turn the other cheek, Sometimes I yell at the person and put them in their place and sometimes I have involved the police.  It depends on what form it took...like 1 kid making 1 rude comment they are to turn the other cheek, constant comments and taunting by someone and I step in, anything physical I call the police.  We went to court twice because of a boy targetting my kids, both times boy was charged with assault with a weapon.  First time was for chucking rocks at ds, 2nd time was throwing lit fire crackers at dd14 and ds15, they were only 11 and 12 at the time.  The last time my kids were targetted the 2 that have been verbally taunting ds15 for years targetted ds10 and dd6 with their comments.  My 2 were on the front lawn playing and those 2 came up making threats and insulting them etc When I came outside they took off, I jumped in my car and went after them, cornered them at a church downt he street, stood on the sidewalk a good 50 feet from them so everyone could see I was not near them and I let them have it.  I tore up one side of them and down the other and warned them both if they ever targetted my kids again I would have them on the hood of my car like a freshly killed deer.  They have stayed far far away from all 4 of mine ever since...that was just over a year ago.

My kids know they can tell me because I will step in.  Now that the oldest 2 are teens I don't intercede as much, usually I give them the tools and give them my support while encouraging them to stand up to the bully themselves in order for them to save face and not make them bigger targets.  If it doesn't work then I step in.  



You know back when I was a kid bullying was seen as a norm, that all kids needed to learn from it.  It was often encouraged even if not overtly by the adults around us.  Even when oldest was small this was the case.  When he was 9 he attended navy league for a while.  That was a special offshoot of cadets for kids aged 9-12.  The leaders would make it clear they supported the kids straightening someone out in the lockerroom after a meeting if that person caused trouble during a meeting.  For example, they had classtime each week, and ds15 had undiagnosed adhd meaning he would interrupt the class etc.  If he did that the whole class got punishment, so extra cleaning duties at the end of the night.  They were then encouraged to make him get in line behind closed doors of the locker room.  Ds wasn't forth coming until the 3rd week in a row that he was beaten up, because the leaders not only allowed but encouraged this, so he thought I would too.  Um nope.  These days, in their cadet corps if you are caught bullying you are kicked out of the corps and get a black mark on your record, that record is part of the DND.  Schools out here have antibullying day where everyone wears pink shirts and signs an antibullying pledge.  Kids who are caught bullying at school face suspensions etc.  It is not foolproof and bullying can often still slip through the cracks but I am seeing more and more schools with zero tolerance policies and at least trying to put an end to it.  At the school I work at, I find the administration is trying hard to end it, but a lot of parents, especially of the grade 3 class for some reason, are actively teaching their kids to become bullies.  We deal with it in our daycare program too, especially from those kids/parents.  A lot of retaliatory behaviour taught etc.  Makes it really hard to work with the kids and get them to realize it is not welcome in our program at all.  What I have started doing this year is making parents leave work early and pick up their child if their child is bullying another.  Its amazing how quickly they start to switch to telling their child that bullying is wrong when it is hitting their paycheque.  With the families I deal with ultimately we had to punish the parents of bullies rather than the bully before any changes started happening.

Okay my thoughts went all over the place.  I have barely slept and worked 2 jobs today, my mind is mush lol

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I was very protective of my mother. At the time she didn't need any other issues to deal with and I was always a quiet, introverted child anyway...the good girl.

 

I know that my mother did suspect it but she pretended not to know because she couldn't deal with the guilt. It wasn't her fault it was happening and it wasn't something she could fix either. It wasn't just one child or even a group of children. It was everyone. My mum talked to the teachers and school principal several times and they said they would watch out for me but never did.

 

The closest my mum came to helping me was that she didn't punish me when she found out that I ditched school a lot or ask why I chose to walk the one hour to school and back instead of catching the bus.

 

Luckily for me I was very smart in school so ditching had no effect on my grades.

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I've typed then deleted so many times in that thread.  The long and short of it is that attempting to tell my parents confirmed for me that the biggest bully in my life was not at school.  I learnt that my mother was not on my side, no matter what, so it was up to me to fix the school stuff, because the home stuff wouldn't change.  Sometimes parents aren't helpful.

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In one case I were new to the school. In 4th grade, mean girl leader turned all of her friends against me and I accepted that because I was the "new kid", even though I had been popular and well-liked at my previous school. At the previous school, my mom had been an active volunteer, at this school she couldn't because of the distance from our house. I figured this was my place in this school and no one in authority would support me. 

 

In the other case, my mom had nicely said a similar thing that the bully was yelling vile things about. I thought they were right and I was just a loser because of it. My dad is very passive and wouldn't have done a thing. 

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I did tell my mother, many times. The only help she provided was to comfort me, which was nice, and to tell me to ignore them, which did not work.

 

Heather, I think some parents are not very effective advocates for their children. I'd put mine in that category. So I stopped talking about it.

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I did tell my mom.  Constantly.  Her reaction was, "Well, there's nothing I can do about it."

 

Even if she had done something about it, the school wouldn't have.  Where I grew up, the teachers often got a kick out of the popular students bullying the rest of us.  Occasionally they joined in the verbal abuse. The unspoken attitude was, if you don't want to be bullied, don't be such a loser.

That was very much the culture of my middle school. Three teachers watched me be seriously physically attacked resulting in injuries that needed immediate treatment. They laughed the whole time and told me that if I'd just figure out how to fit in, this wouldn't happen and the "training" was good for me.

 

Really, though, one of the biggest reasons you give up on asking for help from the adults is that you've learned that it only ends badly for you and the name of the game is survival. Once you are singled out for this, there is NOTHING the school can do for you, and rarely will your parents of that generation step in because they were mentally conditioned to believe the school is god, the teacher is always right, the kid is always wrong, kids exaggerate, nothing that bad ever happens, yada, yada, yada, yada, and if you believe that, then you feel absolved from having to take action.

 

My parents tried. They really tried. But, it was extreme. I clammed up so they really didn't get the extent of what was going on until I was injured, stopped eating, and became electively mute. I can remember them questioning me about school, trying to get me to talk, trying to get me to even speak about music...my passion, my obsession, and nothing. I spoke only in piano lessons. My piano teacher was my lifeline, lessons and practice sessions my path to a different world where I could stop thinking about my life and how terrified I was to go to school every day. When they realized I wasn't going to come out of it, dad went to the school, went BALISTIC on the principal, and demanded a meeting with the teachers and the superintendent. All of them told him I needed to let my grades slip so I wouldn't be at the top of my class, needed to stop practicing my flute so I wouldn't be first chair, and get some designer clothes, a different haircut, and start wearing heavier make-up so I would be more "in" with the bully crowd of girls. Not one of them had any remorse for the fact that I was at home with two broken ribs, wrapped heavily in ace bandages, and unable to move without terrible pain. None. He did tell the principal that if I was attacked again - I was going to have to return after my ribs healed if they hadn't found another school for me - he would most personally enjoy a night in jail as his reward for smacking the principal black and blue. He told my mom that he warned the principal and my home room teacher that if I received a bruise, a touch, a flick, a hair pull, if I was so much a brushed against in any way, shape, or form, he would give them a bruise for every incident. Dad was a strong dude, ex air force, and I think they believed him because for the two weeks I had to return to the school after I had approval from the doctor, I was never touched again. As a matter of fact, not one single student came near me or spoke to me except my friends L and A. I think he scared the teachers so badly they came to school and said my dad was going to beat the snot out of them if they looked at me funny. It worked.  

 

I personally believe that these non-humans were bullies themselves in school, liked the adrenaline rush they got from abusing other people, and went into education in order to gain access to a steady stream of victims. I have always felt that when a teacher applies for certification, the state should be allowed to subpoena juvenile records, and ALL school files kept on them from middle school forward. I know that my parents forced the issue of complaints against the bullies being placed in their permanent records because he hired an attorney to see to it that this was done and a huge threat of lawsuit was made if they didn't. Schools today with their policies pretty much have to record and file every single complaint that comes across their desks. So, it might be possible to actually see which adults were the evil perps as kids. Frankly, if they have multiple complaints in their files of harassment, abuse, bully tactics, physical assault, etc. then they should not be allowed in the profession, ever. Sorry, actions have consequences and no one can trust that you've truly changed if that is the case you make. If you lived for tormenting other human beings as a student, you don't get to turn around and have unrestricted access to new victims. Go sell cars or something for a living.

 

If you think about it, the things that happen to kids in school are prosecutable offences if perpetrated on adults in the work place. Children are subjected to horrors that grown adults rarely ever endure and if something like that does happen are often able to press charges. Most certainly employers not wanting to be sued are loathe to keep employees that do this to others.

 

Lord of the Flies. That is what the middle school was. Lord of the Flies.

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Sometimes those bullying *are* the teachers. Other times those in authority tell you to suck it up or that if you ignore the bully they will stop. This is not always true, in some cases, it can make it worse.

This was the case for me. Saying that an adult was wrong went against everything I'd been taught about respecting adults, so I didn't.

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I did have one bully teacher.  He did not bully me, but he was a bully.  He used to say stuff to students like, "Why are you so stupid?"  Or, "Why can't you be more like those students?"  It never occurred to me to tell my parents about it because we were taught to listen to teachers.  If a teacher said something, it must be right.  KWIM?  I think it's awful.  I wish I could go back and tell that jackass off.

 

My 9th grade biology teacher was a name caller. In my case, he had a problem with my oldest brother and it carried down through 4 of us. My parents were well aware of what he would say - but - he was a teacher and they were teachers - their lack of action had to do with their belief that the school personnel are always in the right.

 

I was paddled in the 6th grade because I was caught talking in the cafeteria during lunch (we didn't always have silent lunches - it was dependent upon the lunch ladies - if they saw you talking after they had flicked the lights you received a black square - black square = paddle); my mom's response to my outrageous behavior was to inform me that I would also get the belt at home.

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I never told my parents, I thought this is just what kids did.  Some kids were nice some were mean and that's that.  On some things I told the teacher who did what he could.    As a parent now I call the bully on it when I witness something.  Or go straight to parents.  

 

 

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Like a few others here, I didn't tell my parents because I knew they'd be disappointed and sad. Not in me, necessarily, but it meant a lot to my parents that I be popular and well-liked and pretty and all those things that I really wasn't. My mom made it perfectly clear that she was disappointed in me for having a weight problem and not being pretty enough. I didn't want to be a disappointment on the popularity front as well.

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I am not someone who likes to relive stress by talking about it. I think I didn't talk to my parents because they were not likely to be able to really change it, but also because I just wanted to leave all that stuff at school and not talk about it at home. I am pretty close to my mother, and I know she is on my team in life, but I kept a lot to myself.

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I would like to add that after I was beaten up in 8th grade (I did not hit back because I was not angry), we were both separately taken to the office and questioned.  The vice principal was very nice and tried to get me to admit the truth.  However, the reason the bullies scheduled the fight was because I had not been punished the last time one of them started hitting me while we were exiting a classroom.  (That time the teachers did not accuse me because although I had "hit back," it was obvious I was the victim and it was just a wussy left-handed hit to avoid the scorn of my classmates.)  So anyway, I knew things were going to get even uglier if I told the truth.  I lied and said we had both agreed to the fight and I had hit the other girl etc.  Afterwards I was told that the bullies still had it in for me because I only got a 3 day suspension (first offense) while the other girl got 5 days (repeat offense).  I might as well have told the truth, but I was afraid to.

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When I told my mom I got these standard answers--

to just ignore them

oh he must like you, do you like him?

I was so popular in school I never had these problems

 

I never talked to my mom about it again.

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I think most people have said mine already. 

 

If the parent you go to was bullied, they may not know what to do. They may want to help you (and I can think of 2 experiences outside of school where mine knew just what to do) but their experience may be that school bullying is not fixable, that it's something you just have to live through. They may even cut you off because it's easier than imagining what you're going through, what they went through. 

 

If the same action or abuser doesn't repeat what they're doing, if the abuse is always different or comes from unconnected sources, it's hard to tell someone. If one person stops something they do once or twice it doesn't affect the hundred other things that are done or the wide-ranging group of people who see you as an easy target. 

 

Bullies often pick things with an element of truth. You are overweight. You are too thin. You are taller than everyone. You do stutter. Do you deserve cruelty for those things? No, but they are the group, aren't they? They're society. They pick what they allow and don't allow. Remember, this is you at a young age, an age when you are creating your identity. Part of your identity is what society decides you are. This is a complex psychological process and not always conscious. It takes a lot of time to filter though all of it. Often times bullying is a part of that process, and people can get caught up deciding what society's feelings mean in terms of our own identity. Do I really report someone for telling me the truth? (After all, I am overweight, underweight, too tall, too short, dumb, too smart, geeky, not interested in 'normal' things.) How can I positively be a part of the group? Do I need to change? Can I? This is all often so complex that the bullying is simple in comparison. Some may even find it so painful or frightening that they shut school things in a school box when they go home. It's easier then facing the fact that there's something broken or not like everyone else about you. 

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I didn't tell my parents because they didn't listen to me.  Even about stupid stuff.  For example, my father got it in his head that I didn't like milk that was left after dunking the cookies, so he insisted I drink the milk while dunking.  No matter how many times I said I loved the milk, but the more milk you drink, the less cookie gets dunked every time.  We would go on long trips and as an only child I had the backseat to myself.  At the start I would get the pillows just right, get my book out and settle in and sigh happily.  Every stinking time my mother would jump down my throat because I was "sighing unhappily".  One time they picked me up from camp and they asked if "They had food for us." Meaning, did the camp offer to feed us.  They had, so I said Yes. I didn't eat any because I knew we always went to a special restaurant on the way home.  I was then forced to sit in the restaurant WITHOUT EATING while they ate because they wouldn't believe me that I was hungry and I hadn't eaten the stupid dry hamburger I had been offered.  

 

So, when I was being bullied I told them but quickly dropped it when I was brushed off with the normal platitudes.  They jumped in when my clothes were damaged and tried to get the bully girls parents to pay for new pants for me.  But, of course that did nothing.  

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With the worst of my bullying, I did tell my parents but I just couldn't tell them quite how bad it was. No idea why, they would have listened but I just froze up. When they knew a little bit of it, they went to the teacher who blew it off because she was PART of the bullying. It wasn't until they found a note that I wrote in play in my mom's drawer (oops, forgot to take it out) talking about how I wanted to punish the teacher's children because the teacher was such an awful person that they realized how bad it was. I'd written down some of the stuff the kids were doing to me, that the teacher was saying, etc. My mom was horrified and asked if ALL THAT was happening and it was.

 

She had another meeting with the teacher who told her that if they bought me $80 jeans that the other 10 year olds were wearing, maybe the fact that I was a 5'7" and rapidly growing 10 year old wouldn't be such a big deal. I looked too different to fit in with the kids. I was taken out of the district and went back to my old school and teacher that week. My parents drove 30 minutes one way each day to take me to school when they realized quite how bad it was but at first they didn't realize it was terrible. Things like kids stabbing me in the eye with a spork at lunch, etc. I still cringe when I see the teacher on a mutual friend's Facebook page as an adult.

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If the parent you go to was bullied, they may not know what to do. 

 

I think the above is so true, and kids can be very perceptive about these things.  Parents or other adults may not know what to do even if they themselves weren't bullied.  I saw a number of occasions where a well-meaning adult tried to address bullying, and actually made things worse.  "Lets get you two together and have the victim talk about how the bully made you feel.  OK, now that we've had this incredibly awkward five minute conversation everything is addressed and fine now".  Yikes.  Now the victim is even more humiliated, and the bully knows she was effective, and won't be punished in any meaningful way.

 

And to be completely honest, I'm not sure that I myself would know how to stop a bully from going after my kids, if they were in a situation like public school, where they both had to be there, and had to be around each other all the time.  Especially if there were a lot of unsupervised time, like before and after school.

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Actually the more I think about it (it was a LOOOOOONG time ago), my parents had to know about the bullying because they would have been informed of the 3-day suspension I willingly took.  I am sure I would have told my mom that I didn't really do anything wrong but would rather be suspended (safe from those jerks for 3 days at least) than endure additional bullying.  My mom might have asked me if I wanted her to talk to the school or anything - to which I would have said NO.  Or she might have given me some advice like, "just act scary and hit back, you'll only have to do it one time and they'll stop.  Worked for me."  (That may be true, but it still takes a leap of faith that I lacked.)

 

Of course nowadays, with "zero tolerance," you really have to think twice before hitting back when a bully hits you.  My nephew (who had a spotless record) almost got thrown out of the IB program because of just that happening in 8th grade.  His parents had to hire a lawyer and bring witnesses and the whole nine yards.  It's ridiculous.  I guess he should have just stood there and let the person beat him to a pulp (like I did!).

 

Wish we could all just skip 8th grade, LOL.

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With zero tolerance he would have been removed just for being beaten up. Zero tolerance means zero common sense applied. Under zero tolerance if you are hit or abused, you also are punished. It's the dream of bullies everywhere. The real point is that you will NEVER, EVER report being hurt or abused because you will be equally guilty for "participating."

 

The first four years I home schooled I read the education new, blogs, ect to stay informed of the whole education scene in this country. The third time I read about a girl getting suspended for "participating" in her rape on school grounds I quit reading that stuff. Zero tolerance was a slick move on the part of lazy administrators everywhere.

 

My 12yo cousin was suspended from school for picking up, and moving a boy who was S##ually harassing him out of his way. My cousin did not push, hit or in any way injure they boy, just moved him out the way. The boy he moved was gay and had been begging him for a hug and kiss in front of other students. The harassing student had been doing this to my cousin for WEEKS and no teacher had stopped him although many had seen it. The principal of the school wanted to call the police on my cousin, as touching a gay student is a "hate crime". My cousin's mom informed the principal that she would sue the school for the harassment her son had endured and make a huge public stink. This is just one example of zero tolerance. It allows lazy administrators to keep their jobs without being real leaders.

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Anne nailed it. I love her statement that Zero Tolerance allows lazy administrators to keep their jobs without being real leaders. Yup...no need to dust those brains off and exercise it's muscle.

 

It also absolutely does ensure that no on stands up, no one fights back. You are equally guilty for defending yourself though if you are 18 and in adult court, that would never stand. Every state has laws on the books about having the right to defend yourself from an attack and many say that if you feel your life is in danger you can use lethal force if necessary. I mean really, children endure things at school that do not happen as adults or if they do happen, end up being investigated and prosecuted by the law or the offender at least has a financial judgment brought against him or her. NO ONE at GM could ever get a way with treating dh the way he was treated at school. Not a co-worker, a boss, the CEO, the CFO, nobody. It wouldn't matter how high up the social food chain, if you beat somebody your out. If you verbally harass, you may very well be on the way out as well. Lawsuits talk. Why this country thinks children deserve LESS protection than grown adults I will never know! However, I suspect that it is because this country was founded on the "children are seen but not heard" and physical property of parents, not real humans with basic human rights and that this mentality has trickled down through the centuries and never corrected. After all, when you look at what happened to indigenous peoples, the settlers were the real bullies and heroes for doing it too so it's no surprise then if a culture does not wake up and as a large body of the population take a stand against such behavior, it will continue in some form decade after decade. The form it takes now is bullying in our schools and neighborhoods because children have unprotected status and there is no fear of the law.

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I didn't tell my parents for a variety of reasons. I was embarrassed that it was happening. I knew I was weird, gawky and geeky and somehow admitting to being bullied would make it more "real." Plus, these kids might be coming from some nasty home lives ( the bullied) which was the case with me and my group of friends in middle school. Our parents were always fighting, rampant alcoholism, major depression, etc. Hard to tell your mom that you're being bullied when she's getting beaten, KWIM?

 

So, I think you're doing the right thing by being approachable and caring, OP. I think if I could've been assured that my parents wouldn't be involved, I'd have worked with the school. I often went to go to the school counselor and talked, but nothing was done. It was more a way of getting out of class. Follow-up is huge, IMO. I remember feeling as though these adults just honestly did.not.care.

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