Child Accused of Bullying...

My child who's in middle school has been accused of bullying by the middle school coordinators yet again.

He was given a detention in term 1 for name calling and I was made aware of it too. He admitted to it and I talked to my child and talked some sense into him.

He was again accused of bullying in towards end of term 1 and he denied that incident. He was given one detention the very same day and was given two further detentions. He was accused of hitting someone in the change rooms with a plastic bag containing clothes. He said it was an accident as he was swinging the bag in front of him and when the other person passed by, it might have hit him. He also mentioned as some boys turned off the change room lights, it was pitch dark.

I went to the school to meet with the coordinators and they said that some other kids saw my child coming from the direction of the accuser and assumed that my son hit the boy. I argued that you can't punish someone on the basis of assumption. The other two detentions were subsequently cancelled.

They also mentioned that my child has a history of bullying other kids, which was a shock to me as he had never gotten into trouble in the junior school and I never got a single phone call regarding his behaviour.

Moreover, I told the coordinators that no matter what, my son wouldn't complain about small issues to them. That's just his nature.

This week again someone has complained that my son is calling them names and as usual my son is denying it. The coordinators are more than eager to punish my son without listening to his side of the story.

My son has told me that the other kid keeps staring at him regularly. But knowing my son, he will not go and complain.

The latest incident looks like again a case of one person's word against the other. He talked to the coordinators today but instead of hearing him out, they were intent on blaming him for the latest incident.

I don't know how to handle this situation as it is a matter of trust. My son owned up to his mistakes and as a result I fought for his right to be treated fairly.

Any advice in dealing with this is appreciated.

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    What strategies are the school putting in place to prevent this type of behaviour re-occurring? Punishment is not a solution , or at least can't be the only solution.Does the school have an anti-bullying policy? Have you read it?

    I would recommend seeing a counselor. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be much help for children who are bullies/ accused of being bullies. Perhaps you could try eheadspace. They offer an online chat and email support services for young people aged between 12–25, as well as their family and friends. You can call them on 1800 650 890. Its a free call. They are available between 9am – 1am (AEDT) 7 days a week.

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    Father in denial their son is a bully at school.

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    Personally I went to an all boys school for most of my high school. This stuff seems extremely minor compared to what we did in high school, and this was barely 15 years ago and in a good private school.

    Name calling, hitting someone with a PE bag? Big deal? Or has the social climate really become that snowflake?

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      Or has the social climate really become that snowflake?

      Snowflake is what it has become. My son has been called names, but he doesn't care enough to go and complain.

    • -1 vote

      These days schools teach that everyone is a winner. Not resilience or how to be a good loser. Snowflakes are the result.

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        I take offence to this - as a teacher in no way do I teach that everyone is a winner, one of the things I try to instil in my 9 year old students is resilience as they often lack these skills - yes schools have had to make some ridiculous changes to policies (we now give out 4th place ribbons!) and discipline students over 'minor' behaviour issues but this is usually due to helicopter parenting and entitled children not the desire of teachers!

  • +3 votes

    I'm someone who had a professional career in industry as an economist and am now a teacher. I'll try to offer my view from the perspective of a teacher and someone who sees these sorts of things. I'm not sure if many will see my reply since I'm quite late to the party, but it is what it is.

    Without knowing your son and/or the other kids involved, it's impossible for me to know whether your son is actually bullying other people or not, but the fact of the matter is that bullying is taken extremely seriously in schools these days, perhaps even more seriously than it needs to be. My view on a lot of these things is that "kids will be kids" and they will call each other names, they will tease each other, they will be mean. Where we draw the line in schools should be the same as in real life, which is any sort of physical violence or unwanted invasion of personal space.

    To that end, I think that the issue of your son hitting someone in the changing rooms with a bag is a serious issue. However, as someone who hears these types of stories all the time, I'm quite sure that your son intentionally hit the other student. I doubt he meant to hurt the other student, but he was being a a pest and he knows it. Even if he didn't and it was accidental, your son is probably disliked enough by the other students to interpret what he did as hitting them, or even if they made it up, he must be hated enough for them to make it up. The key question here is why he is hated by the other students.

    I think you're sort of missing the entire point. These isolated incidents, they don't mean anything. Kids get called names every day and it's probably only 2% of name calling that ends up actually being problematic and being reported to the coordinators. The key question is why it has escalated to this point, to the point where other kids have felt the need to involve teachers, where teachers feel the need to punish your son. I think there are underlying issues you need to talk to your son about.

    The worst thing you can do is to make this a battle between you + your son and the rest of the school. That will just alienate him even more and make him more of a target. Forget all the crap about bullying, start by trying to figure out whether he's happy at school and whether he's having a good time there. If not, try to find out why. Sometimes these issues have very deep roots that manifest itself as kids being problematic. It's worth spending time to figure out why that's the case. It may be the case that the best course of action is to move to a different school and get a fresh start.

  • +1 vote

    Can I just suggest that how you respond to this is also critical to him and his development.

    Notwithstanding who is right or wrong, you can find a better way of addressing it than pointing out that other people are wrong or also contributed.

    What can you, and your son do that is within your own control to make the situation better. Even if he is being treated unfairly there is a learning experience to be taken from this. Maybe he hasn’t done anything wrong and others are wrongly accusing him of behaviours because of an existing perception - how do you change this perception? If your first response is to take it into your own hands what does that say about his own ability to learn from this and become a better person from it?

    My suggestion would be to encourage him to own every aspect of what is happening, including when he feels he has been unfairly treated. Be the first to apologise even if he’s not in the wrong for example. Be the person who is trying to resolve a situation instead of being right. This way if there’s a good outcome he can grow knowing he lead the way, or if not, he will know that he has been a good person and learn how to handle situations like this in the future through his own ability.

    Sorry I don’t have more direct suggestions but I hope the principle is something you consider

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    I was seriously bullied in high school.

    The numerous groups of bullies managed to get teachers to take their side and managed to frame me for bullying, theft, cheating.

    Best option is to change schools if you can. If your child is a bully, the behaviour will continue. If he isn't, he should settle into the new environment - head down, chin up.

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    Corporal punishment?!

    As someone who teased others in 3rd-4th form (and occasionally made them cry).. I guess thats similar after reading your thread again… I was an absolute arse and my parents had no idea at all… Same goes for my friends who did the same thing. We were golden children and got away with it all.

    Teachers also didn't notice or give us enough trouble other than the occasional detention or talking to. Luckily my friends and I turned out okay before high school was up and all the people we teased ended up being our friends (or at least not enemies).

    In regards to your kid:

    1. The transition from junior to middle school is tough. Trying to fit in; having the right friends, clothes, topics to talk about… Bloody hard. Sometimes kids will do shitty things to fit in or get attention and perhaps your kid has the wrong friends/group he's trying to be with. Talk with him and more importantly, know his friends and who they are… If they're all idiots then he's playing you and needs a reprimand. Try to help him fit in somehow with the right group.

    2. He's already been labelled as a bully or trouble by school. That's hard to escape so either he'll play up more or become more ostracised the older he gets. I would talk (as it seems you're believing your boy over the school coordinators) to each of his individual teachers somehow and see whether they can confirm if he is indeed disruptive or a bully (teachers will generally know but most don't want to be involved with these sorts of incidents as - more work for them). Through discussions with the teachers you should have a clear idea whether he is trouble or whether his behaviour can be fixed.

    3. As a parent, it'll be hard hearing your kid is either bullied or a bully. You have to be there for them and support them but I wouldn't believe everything they say (no matter how good an egg they seem). They are still kids and will do and say things to not face negative consequences. I wouldn't encourage them to disregard what teachers or the coordinators are saying… (Nor do it myself) This will lead to not owning up to ones mistakes later in life - or shifting the blame on others. I'd suggest you yourself to talk to others and not get down yourself…

    4. Get him to open up somehow, at this age it's tough to get a kid to talk. Try to have someone he can open up to at home (mum or older cooler cousin?) work things out through as a family and probably do more family things or things where you can involve his friends (invite them around). That may help break up assume of the stuff he's purportedly doing at school.

    5. Corporal punishment!?

    Personally I don't believe him but that's based on my experience. My suggestions as above are meant to be helpful. Good luck.

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