to be angry about how school is handling bullying

(32 Posts)
deliverdaniel Mon 18-Aug-14 04:31:44

I'm having one of those moments when whenever I talk to the teachers school I feel as if I'm being totally unreasonable and overly precious about my kid, and then when I step away from them adn think about it I feel angry all over again, so would really appreciate some perspective.

We have moved abroad to a place that is very 'progressive' in educational philosophies. DS is 3, nearly 4 and has just started near the end of the academic year in a new preschool. He is the youngest in the class of 20 and all the other kids have been there since the start of the year (last september.) he is having some understandable problems settling in, which is normal and to be expected, but one thing is really bothering me. There is one kid who is constantly hitting him and taunting him (the kid is nearly 5 and quite big.) When DS first told me about it, I assumed it was normal kid behaviour, jsut a little overly aggressive, and mentioned it to the teacher. She said that this kid was always like that, and they had been working with him on his aggression issues all year, and that I just had to tell DS to handle it better/ tell him to stop etc. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, DS went from being a confident happy independent boy, to a wreck- constantly crying, desperate not to go to school, very clingy with me, telling me that this boy was hitting him and mean to him at school. I mentioned it again to the school and asked them if they had a no hitting policy, how they were handling it, and what was going on. They said that such a policy wouldn't be effective, and that they didn't want to make this kid feel like he was a bad person, and so they preferred to try and help him understand why he was hitting rather than stopping him/ telling him off/ using a firm tone, which they said was counterproductive. This seems very odd to me and I am devastated for DS who is losing confidence quickly and retreating into himself. I saw the other boy at a school picnic and saw him corner DS, start pushing him and laughing and taunting him in a systematic way until he cried, and then carried on laughing with his friends at DS.

AIBU in thinking the school should be taking a harder line? Any advice? I'm desperately worried.

lookingspiffy Mon 18-Aug-14 05:21:21

Hi OP. I'm a primary school teacher and YANBU at all. I don't think you're being precious and I don't think that this is an acceptable response from the school. Your poor DS.

If I were you, I would request a meeting with the principal (and preferably the class teacher too) and outline exactly what has happened, the effect it is having on your DS and the action you expect them to take.

Their comment about not wanting the other little boy to think he's a bad person is ridiculous IMO. The staff should be able to discipline a child without making the child feel like a bad person. He is 5 ffs. He needs to understand that hitting results in consequence and he needs to learn that now.

They have a responsibility to keep your child safe, I would be devastated if a child in my class was experiencing something like this especially when he is so little!

Good luck!

ILovePud Mon 18-Aug-14 07:16:31

How awful for you and your little boy. The teacher is failing in her duty to safeguard your son. It's silly to say that she doesn't want to make the other child feel like a bad person and so is avoiding telling him off. They can be making it clear how horrible and unacceptable his behaviour is without giving this five year old the message that he is unredeemable. It sounds like this behaviour is a long standing and frequently occurring problem, they should be putting in place measures to keep the other pupils safe, either close supervision of the 5 year old with or without periods of separation from the others when his aggression can't be managed safely. I'd suggest writing to the teacher and putting down the gist of what you have here, the frequency of the attacks, the effect on your son and your dissatisfaction with the current approach to managing it, then request a further meeting with the head and his teacher. I think putting it in writing this way might make it more difficult for them to sweep it under the carpet and also if your finding it hard to make your case in person writing it down may help. I'd also see if you can take someone supportive along to the meeting as it's hard to express yourself when emotions are running so high. I hope things get better soon of course you're not being precious to expect your son to be safe at school.

NutcrackerFairy Mon 18-Aug-14 08:36:04

I think I would take DS out of this class for the time being if the teacher cannot come up with a more effective strategy for dealing with this bullying.

He is only 3, the poor little mite.

Is there a headteacher you can speak to about this as it does not sound as if the teacher is up to much.

indigo18 Mon 18-Aug-14 08:38:59

Where do you live? (confused about terms)

indigo18 Mon 18-Aug-14 08:40:32

Sorry, read it again carefully! I see you moved abroad.

jacks365 Mon 18-Aug-14 08:43:37

Do you know if this method of dealing with issues is just the teacher or is it part of the school ethos. If the former raise your concerns with the principal if the latter move your son.

SixImpossible Mon 18-Aug-14 08:44:17

I just had to tell DS to handle it better/ tell him to stop etc

they preferred to try and help him understand why he was hitting rather than stopping him/ telling him off/ using a firm tone, which they said was counterproductive.

So they won't tell the hitter to stop, yet they expect the victim to do so? It is progressive to support the aggressor, not the victim? They expect the 3yo to stand up to a bigger child bullying him? To do their job for them? They are being utterly unreasonable.

wheresthelight Mon 18-Aug-14 08:54:29

I would be putting it in writing as a complaint to the principal or governing body of the school and setting them a strict timeline as to when you expect to have this resolved ie a week or you will be taking it further. Start investigating if there is a monitoring body similar to Ofsted and exploring how you complain via them and then start looking for a new preschool as this one is clearly shit!

Hope your little boy bounces back quickly!

KnackeredMuchly Mon 18-Aug-14 09:03:48

It seems like she thinks he is this way with everyone so your son should handle it. But in trurh, your son is being bullied and victimised and singled out.

It is a soul destroying experience.

Insist on change.

Littleturkish Mon 18-Aug-14 09:06:51

I think part of the problem is the age gap! This other big clearly needs more direction and challenge rather than free play.

Is there alternative provision you could switch to?

As a victim of bullying while I was at school, starting from nursery right up until the day I left at 16. I found the teachers just didn't know how to handle it and it was all too much effort enforcing ant-bullying policies. So I was left to stand up to these older and bigger bullies. But then I was the one punished for trouble causing and placed in isolation or detention. It destroyed my confidence and my education as I would skip school to avoid the misery. My mother did nothing and saw me as weak. I resented everyone and it made me a very angry child.

Don't stop pursuing this issue because your child has a right to an education in a safe environment. Bullying has profound effects on victims. Make a formal complaint and stop it before this bullying continues into the future years. And if they still fail to do anything, move your ds to another school. You'll be sick with worry every day otherwise.

TwinkleDust Mon 18-Aug-14 09:11:43

If this is part of the schools fundamental ethos then it isn't going to change in a hurry. I'd remove my child from such a harmful environment pronto and look for alternatives.

Dontgotosleep Mon 18-Aug-14 09:24:43

How on earth are you being unreasonable. Indeed you're not.
The school and teacher have or are supposed to have a duty of care to each child and to allow bullying to go on is a very serious safe guarding issue.
If teachers do not care about the safety happiness wellbeing of children then they shouldn't be in teaching.
Take your son out. As you know bullying is very very serious. It escalates destroys confidence and development. Your boy deserves better much better. No child should be scared going to school.
Love and support. x

SixImpossible Mon 18-Aug-14 09:45:35

IIRC this method of 'dealing' with bullies was tried in the UK as well. About the same time as look-say replaced phonics as a method of teaching reading. Both were considered progressive. Neither worked.

HeySoulSister Mon 18-Aug-14 09:50:53

To me it sounds like the 'bully' has SN and they are at a loss with how to deal with it. Might explain why they seem to be working with him

Wrong tho, your ds shouldn't be left to deal with this whilst this other kid is taught to deal with his aggression!

BookABooSue Mon 18-Aug-14 10:00:33

YANBU. The school aren't handling it at all!

As PP have said, send a letter outlining your concerns and ask for a meeting with a principal teacher. Take notes with you to help you remember what points you want to raise. I'd be asking what strategies they are going to put in place to safeguard your ds. Make it clear that it's impacting on his personality and give them a deadline for implementing changes to support your ds.

Since there is an age gap you could suggest they have different led activities for the different age groups; you could ask for ds to be partnered with one of the other older dcs (a bit like a mentoring scheme). Another option is just to demand that the bully is kept separate from ds - so the teacher ensures they are placed in different groups; they aren't placed beside each other in line, etc.

Having had a similar issue with ds, we found the best approach was actually not to focus on the bully iyswim. Otherwise the teacher would try to divert the discussion round to the bully not being bad, etc. We just made it clear they were conversations the school had to have with the parents of the bully. We needed a solution that protected ds and allowed him to feel safe and secure.

Nanny0gg Mon 18-Aug-14 10:12:20

Take him out.

You will always have a fundamental difference of opinion over discipline. It won't end well and your child is (understandably) suffering.

deliverdaniel Mon 18-Aug-14 15:35:16

thank you so much everyone. Great to know that I am not going mad.

I have written to the principal and awaiting a response. I'm still unclear as to whether it was that one teacher or a philosophy of the school as a whole. I am reluctant to move him if i can possibly help it as it will be the second school move in just a few weeks, which feels very disruptive for him, and we (and he) really like everything else about the school and it has an excellent reputation in the community, with everyone saying their kids really flourished there etc, and there aren't many other options.

Does anyone have any suggestions/ experience/e knowledge about what would be a good way of dealing with a bully/ bullying in general at this age, so I can have a comparison when talking to the principal of systems that have worked well?

Thanks so much. hugely appreciated.

sezamcgregor Mon 18-Aug-14 15:42:39

Just to say that my son has been in a similar situation this year at school. A boy in the year above him has been bullying him at school and at out of school clubs. At first I thought it was just his age, told him to be more assertive etc - then I saw it happening and realised how vulnerable my DS (6) is.

Luckily, the boy is moving schools and DS was visibly relieved when I told him. I just feel sad and like I've failed him as a parent by letting it go on for so long.

I was able to tell out of school clubs that this child is bullying DS and to keep them apart and to keep an eye out. Hopefully, as they are moving away to the next town, we won't ever have to see him again.

I know that if DS were to be bullied in the future, that I would be a lot more assertive. Speak to school, make them tell you what they are going to do to stop the behaviour. If you are not satisfied, remove your DS before this gets worse. I've got a long way to go to heal my son's self-esteem

sezamcgregor Mon 18-Aug-14 15:44:52

They need to work with the child who is bullying so that he knows his behaviour is UNACCEPTABLE and that there are consequences.

If school are not "seeing" the behaviour happen - then where are they?

They could change your DS's group and keep a closer eye on him etc

BookABooSue Mon 18-Aug-14 15:45:49

Our school/nursery used a few techniques (with differing levels of success it's fair to say): the bully was kept separate from the DC they were bullying ie coat hooks at opposite ends of cloakroom; in different groups for any group work/activities; placed in different playgrounds at playtime.

They also tried having more structured play rather than free play as they identified free play as being the time when bullying was most likely to occur. In reality it meant that rather than having the DCs running about with little to no supervision, a nursery teacher led them in outside games.

If bullying happened during outside activities then the bully was taken into the classroom for quiet/contemplative time or a talk from the principal teacher (depending on the age of the DCs).

Nanny0gg Mon 18-Aug-14 16:40:36

Does anyone have any suggestions/ experience/e knowledge about what would be a good way of dealing with a bully/ bullying in general at this age, so I can have a comparison when talking to the principal of systems that have worked well?

If you have to give techniques to a professional about how to run his school and deal with these kinds of problems, then I'm sorry, I really feel your son is in the wrong place.

rumbleinthrjungle Mon 18-Aug-14 17:56:43

Wrong school. Take him out and find somewhere a better fit for him.

I understand you're worried about disruption for him but as a nursery/reception teacher it's going to do ds probably a lot less harm to take him out, tell him this was not ok to happen to him, and find a different school you can trust than it will for him to have to live through multiple daily experiences like this. As previous posters have said, this is not going to be a quick or easy fix if you can get the school to change their attitude at all. Prioritising other children's safety emotionally and physically clearly isn't important to them.

Particularly talk to the new school about how to help him settle in, and how to get his confidence back/help him start making friends. A good one will be keen to do this for him.

deliverdaniel Mon 18-Aug-14 18:04:52

Hi, thanks everyone. The other problem with leaving the school is that we have already paid for a year in advance at this school (standard round here) and won't get our money back if we leave. I know this is not the priority and if we have to take him out, we will, but it would mean that we would not be able to afford to pay for him to go anywhere else, which has pretty serious consequences for my work. So it's not something we could do lightly at all. I would much prefer to get it sorted out. It is possible that this is just one teacher, and he will be changing classes in September, so the overall school policy might be different. I just have to talk to the principal and find out. I really liked her when I met her before, so I"m hopeful she will take this seriously, but we'll have to see.

Wanting to get some ideas for good ways to handle this isn't so much to tell them to the school, but more so that I can know for myself what 'best practice' should look like in this area, so I can tell whether they are doing the 'right' things. At the moment I can only go on instinct and guess work and don't have any experience at all in this area as to what has been proven to work. Thanks everyone.

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