My girls are being bullied

This week is Anti-Bullying Week, and so it’s appropriate that we bring you a problem about bullying from a mum of two…please share your own experiences to help this mum and her children…

My two girls are 10 and 13. Both are being bullied. PP

They go to different schools, and have just a couple of good friends each – and even those relationships are rocky, so it came as no surprise to find that both of them are being bullied, one because she wears glasses and the eldest because she is adopted.

I’ve talked to both schools and surprisingly it’s the youngest’s school that is most willing to help and support – they’ve offered a buddy, a safe supervised space at lunchtime so she can get away from the playground if she wants, they’ve offered a word with the offenders, and the playground staff are going to keep a slightly keener eye.

But eldest’s school are less keen to step in, and have suggested that she needs to learn how to encounter and deal with this herself to prepare for the future, when they think it will inevitably get worse. I’m disappointed in this approach, but short of going to the Governors, is there anything I can do? My daughter is an anxious person anyway and I worry about the ways she might begin to express her anxiety at this obvious bullying.

You can find out more about Anti-Bullying Week here.

5 thoughts on “My girls are being bullied

  1. Suddenly Mummy

    This is not an acceptable response. The oft-touted idea that children need to ‘toughen up’ by experiencing difficult things so that they are prepared for the ‘real world’ is completely false. Adults are best placed to encounter and overcome difficulties if their childhoods have been safe and secure and their self-esteem and sense of self-worth has not been crushed to nothing. The school has a duty to provide a safe and secure environment, free from bullying, while they are in loco parentis. Children should not knowingly be allowed to struggle in order to ‘toughen them up’. Yes, your daughter does need to develop strategies for coping with difficulties, but the role of the adults here is to work alongside her to teach her and support her, not to just let her in the deep end to sink or swim. I would approach the school again and ask to see their anti-bullying policy – they ought to have one – and then go through every single line of it with them, asking how they intend to apply it with regards to your daughter. Also, could you consider speaking to a different member of staff? SENCO, maybe, or head of year, or pastoral head? It may be that you get a more appropriate response elsewhere. Either way, I think you are well within your rights to challenge what they have said as a completely unacceptable and insufficient response. Sorry if I sound ranty, but bullying is a serious issue and it really frustrates me when schools don’t respond appropriately.

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  2. Tattooed Mummy

    I thought schools had to have an ‘anti bullying policy’ and I’m fairly sure that doesn’t mean do nothing! I would definitely escalate this. You don’t state the nature of the bullying and verbal and exclusion type bullying (often found in groups of girls) can be hard to prove but in my experience bullies do take care if they know they are being watched and someone is onto them! I was bullied at school but never told anyone at the time, I spent years of my adult life thinking I was useless, ugly and generally rubbish. Don’t feel that you are a pushy parent, you are a caring one, force the school to step up and do something.

    I agree with Suddenly Mummy too – keep talking to various teachers.

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  3. Kate

    If you’re not happy with school’s response (and I wouldn’t be) go in and ask to see their complaints policy – that usually shakes things up. It’s usually to speak with the head and if you’re not satisfied, write to them and then write to Chair of Governing Body. I’d advise you not to approach an individual governor because if there is a complaint and there has to be a complaints committee convened, they wouldn’t be able to hear your case if previously involved in it as they wouldn’t be considered independent.

    I would definitely take it down that route. You are following their procedure. Asking for the complaints policy in the first place usually focuses minds as they will be keen to resolve it perhaps before the complaint becomes formal. It is the sort of thing they have to report on to governors. Also, they usually have to report bullying incidents so I would definitely ask if this has been recorded in this way.

    I am a school governor at my children’s primary school. Our head teacher’s report always reports on bullying incidents, every one is noted along with what action the school took. Most schools do take it seriously and there is nothing wrong with taking it down that route because it’s your child and she is what matters to you. It’s about telling a school when something is wrong and it makes them put it right. If that doesn’t work, and they won’t take you seriously, I’d question if it was the right school for your daughter as she deserves the same level of protection as the rest of the school. I don’t see how being adopted makes that different.

    Hope this helps.

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  4. RachelB

    Your eldest’s school is definitely not acting appropriately. It sounds as if they’re falling back on the old problem – it’s a difficult issue to resolve, so let’s blame the victim.

    By law, all state (not private) schools “must have a behaviour policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. This policy is decided by the school. All teachers, pupils and parents must be told what it is.” Might also be worth seeing if there’s an element of illegal discrimination (applies to all schools) e.g. if your daughter has a disability or is from an ethnic minority community. (see https://www.gov.uk/bullying-at-school/the-law) Schools also have duty of care.

    There are some useful websites that go through what you and your daughter can do to counter the bullying. I found these helpful – http://www.bullyonline.org/schoolbully/tackle.htm, http://www.kidscape.org.uk/ and http://www.bullying.co.uk/bullying-at-school/advice-on-contacting-your-child-s-school-about-bullying/.

    On a more personal note, my nephew (not adopted, but sadly bullying is horribly common) had a really difficult time with being ostracised and bullied at around your eldest’s age. My brother encouraged him to take up an activity outside of school, far from the bullies. My nephew made friends there and gained a lot of social self-confidence, which helped him build resilience.

    Good luck and keep posting. I’d be very interested to know how things turn out.

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  5. Five Go On An Adventure

    I was in school only this week to tackle my 13 year olds problem with bullying. Parents and schools are here to help our children learn how to deal with all sorts of situations and sadly bullying is one of them. My 13 year olds school have set him up with a mentor who is going to help him with word patterns and body language to avoid confrontations, his head of year has started a diary with him where everyday when he comes home from school we write in any bullying incidents, we then talk about 2 positives that have also happened – I think that this is really important because I want my son to remember the positive experiences that happen every day. As well as writing down of the bad stuff. Interestingly writing down the bad stuff seems to help with the moving on and leaving the negative stuff for his head of year to deal with. A diary makes it clear to everyone what is happening, who the perpetrators are and how frequently the incidents are happening. All schools have an anti bullying policy you should be able to find it on your schools website and as a school governor I agree with Kate. As with so many things us parents have to be pro -active and persistent. Good luck, thinking of you – it’s heartbreaking to watch a child struggle and not be able to fix it.

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