Monday, 12 September 2011

What about Bullying?

Now they're all back at school I was hoping life would be peaceful and uncomplicated. Each evening, when the kids come home from school we go through the usual.

"What did you have for lunch?"
"Something black"

"What did you do in class?"
"Something about war/drawing/got sent out."

"What do you have for homework?"
"Nothing."

However, today it was a little bit different. I have no idea how we got onto the conversation but I think I asked Finn who he played with at break time.
"No one",  he said "I just read my comic"  He wasn't moaning just stating a fact.
"...then Tom, Robert and David came over and pulled the comic out of my hands and ripped it up."

"Ooookaaay", I said carefully, "What did you do?"
"Nothing."

My son sat there and let some other boys take his comic and rip it up and did nothing.

"Why didn't you tell a teacher? Why would they do that and why didn't you do anything about it?" I was beginning to get a bit panicky.  I could hear the tone of my voice rising. I was holding down a rising bile in my chest...and I was afraid.

"Because no one will do anything and they say I'm weird!"

Then it all came spilling out.  For the past year my son has suffered constant torment.  Not from one boy but from 11. And I had no idea.

I sat down, with a piece of paper and wrote down everything he told me.

The torment does not come in forms of beatings but from sly nudges with bags, from shoulder bashes, from laughing and sniggering when he stands up to read or recite. They put out their feet when he passes by so that he'll trip. They pull out his chair when he's about to sit down.  He's been kicked down the stairs and suffered a bloody mouth.  He's been pushed off his bike.  He no longer plays football with the boys during games and plays rounders with the girls, because the girls leave him alone.

He's been told he's not cool.
He's been told he's thick.
He's been told he's strange because he loves skateboarding.
He's been told his weird because he loves to draw intricate, detailed sketches.
He's been told everyone hates him.

Why?  I have no idea. I think because Finn is "so nice" everyone thinks they can do what they want to him...and get away with it. And clearly they have. Finn won't complain to his teacher because  he says "she won't listen".

I've noticed that he wasn't invited to some parties but I wasn't duly concerned...not everyone gets invited.  During the summer he hadn't invited any one over and although I noticed that he spent time alone, I was unconcerned as I believed he was a loner. A bit like me.  Happy in his own company..but he isn't.  I now wonder whether the headaches that he has suffered from are as a result of the pressure that he has been under.  He tells me that some of the boys come up to him after he's suffered at their hands and tell him "Don't take it personally...it's just the way it is!" and individually, he tells me they are really quite nice...but in a group he is their target. He hadn't told me as he had accepted it as part of his life....and I feel disgusted with myself for not realising.

How do you tell your child he's the coolest boy on the planet and that he will go on to do great things because of his innovative thinking and ideas. That he is kind and thoughtful. How do you tell your child that some boys are shits and they'll maybe grow into shitty adults. How do you tell your son that there are nasty creeps out there, that pick on others because they are so inadequate themselves. Or do I tell him to get a grip or punch their lights out, when you know they'll stamp all over him? Do you tell him to grow a pair, or do you grow a pair for him and sort it out?


As he lay on his bed not weeping, nor feeling sorry for himself, I asked him

"Do you want me to punch their lights out?"

He laughed and said

"No Mummy, you'll probably get into trouble"

I can't do anything about it, because he won't let me. I want to take each of these boys and tell them they're wrong, but they're just kids. They don't really understand the concept of insidious bullying. They don't understand how it can make life a misery as they're only children. All I can do is prepare him. To make him strong. To know that being nice isn't a crime, or even wrong. To bite back when they hurt him, either with words or with his fists. I need to make him angry enough to stop it.
 

I can't change what others think about him and I can't make him popular but I need to make him know that he isn't "rubbish...because he isn't!! 

7 comments:

  1. Well, I believe that you should do something. One year of having suffered what you describe is far too long. Maybe talk to the teacher, and if it doesn't work, talk to the head teacher. Then, I would try to find an activity that he likes (karate? judo?), where he is at ease and can regain his confidence. Good luck.

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  2. Having spent most of the night awake, I know you're right. I can't let this go..it isn't fair on him and he is my main concern. I think I may have a chat with his teacher this morning. I think the judo might be a good idea. He's not keen on rugby as his brother is, which is a shame.

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  3. I agree - you really can't stand back and do nothing no matter what he says he wants. It's not in his best interests. He needs someone to watch out for him at school otherwise these boys won't stop, and your poor son could possibly become depressed.
    In the mean time, if he says some of them are nice on their own, invite them to come over or go to see a movie one at a time. I have been through a bit of this and found that when the kids as individuals, got to know my child a little better, they became allies and were less likely to join in the pack bullying at school.
    Poor little thing. And poor you. It's not easy being the parent in this situation.

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  4. Oh dear. So very worrying Mummy at the School Gate:( I concur with the other ladies - you simply must go into school and report this - every school has an anti bullying policy and they need to get off their backsides and implement it. It is not acceptable for your son to be treated like this.

    In addition to what the other ladies have suggested - if your son does not already do some sport inside/outside of school - try to get him involved with a football or rugby club, or or in fact any sport. If he's not a team player try karate or tennis or such like - I am a firm believer that sport builds a lot of self confidence and discipline and he will benefit from it. I also thinks it gives kudos to the boys who play it and that overflows into school life - and they therefore have less trouble at school.

    Fingers crossed for you and your son MATSG:)

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  5. That is so sad to read. My daughter was having a problem in high school with a boy who just kept picking on her. One night I was picking her up from an after school activity and I saw him. I called him over to my car and told him that he Will stop harassing her or my next step is to contact his parents and the school. He stopped. Kids are so mean. Good Luck I hope you can find some relief for your son.

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  6. How utterly heartbreaking. I totally agree with the other suggestions of a) speak to the school, they won't take this lightly and b) encourage him to do some sport or take up another organised activity outside of school so that he can make firm friends that aren't school friends. Kids can be so bloody horrible to each other can't they. Hope you get it sorted. Emma

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  7. Ladies, thank you so much for your kind words. It's made me realise that my little cub needs protecting even though I don't like confrontation myself. I popped into the school and had a word with the teacher and she promised to keep an eye out...unfortunately Finn is trying so hard to ingratiate himself with these thugs he gets caught up in it. I've given him a diary to note down all of the incidents and so far the bad times far outweigh the good. He thinks he's not sporty because he's been told so many times he's "rubbish" so he's given up. BH took him to rugby this week and for the first time he enjoyed it. I think he let his frustration out on the pitch.
    I think now that he realises I'm on his side (as if I would never be!!), he seems to be taking it all quite calmly and listening to our advice. Yesterday, one of the boys asked him who he thought he was looking at and he repled "No one very important at all!" and walked away. He said that the boy had no "smart comments" for that. We'll see though.I know it won't change over night.

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