to wonder if mediation works for bullying?(20 Posts)
DS came home with his eye hurting on Friday after a boy threw woodchip at him. I knew this boy and DS didn't get on but now DS has told us he has basically been terrorising DS and his friend for months, and getting the other boys to gang up on him.
I've read the school's bullying policy and it says that except in serious cases, they have a process which basically amounts to mediation: the victim (their words), "Instigator(s)", colluders (children who failed to intervene) and possibly some friends of the victim are brought together and the victim is asked to say how the behaviour of the bully makes them feel. The group of DC are asked to suggest ways they might help.
It also says that the victims story will be shared and explained to other DC so they can be aware of the victim's distress.
DS would hate having to explain how he feels about what's been going on in front of his peers, and for others to know about it.
It's taken him months to fully tell us what's going on and we have a pretty good relationship when it comes to being open about stuff (I thought so anyway). I don't know how DS will feel about it suddenly being talked about by lots of people in what sounds like a very public way.
Should I be pushing for this to go directly to the head?
My instant reaction is that it'll be humiliating for him - but maybe it gets results?
Does anyone have any experience of this?
(Posting here for traffic. I do have another thread on this but I'm hoping the meeting might be this afternoon).
I think you should talk to the school. I very much doubt they will force this process without your son's consent.
I've asked for an appointment, I am going to express concerns about DS being railroaded into this.
Have you heard of anything like this before?
No I hav'nt and I can see it actually being a humiliating experience if your child is an introvert.
He's not an introvert but he's worried about other people knowing.
He also sees to have coped by trying hard not to think about it. For example he tells me the bully beat up his best friend, and got the rest of the gang to stop DS getting to him to try to stop it. DS says he and his friend just don't talk about it, they find it too upsetting.
He then couldn't sleep after telling me that,
I dunno. Maybe it is a good thing to teach them to speak about it. His dad bottles stuff up and it makes things more difficult! Maybe encouraging them to talk about it is a positive step, but it seems to me it would need to be done very well because it could well make things worse.
From what you say it sounds like this is a "serious case" so it sounds like this talking process wouldn't be what the guidelines recommend anyway? Your poor DS.
Well, I was bullied at secondary school and my school was rubbish at dealing with bullying. Eventually they did this kind of thing for me where they got the bullies and me together - it was excruciating and the bullies - whilst they acted reasonably and in a grown up way in the meeting in front of the teachers - were actually worse afterwards. I felt it made things worse rather than better. The bullies essentially had no consequences to what they had done and were not challenged by the teachers when doing it.
I'd be asking some very hard questions of the head about what is going to be achieved by this 'mediation' and how it is going to to be done in a way that protects your DS from further bullying afterwards and/or prevents him from feeling worse at the time. The school does not want to be - even in a well meaning way - making things worse for your DS.
The thing that really concerns me about what you've written is you say 'It also says that the victims story will be shared and explained to other DC so they can be aware of the victim's distress' - well for my bullies it was my 'distress' that they enjoyed. That was the whole point of the bullying. I think assuming that the bullies don't already know about the distress the 'victim' feels is a bit naive.
Fortunately, for me, I found a different group of friends soon after this, and I found ignoring the bullies worked best (and pretending that their jibes and actions didn't bother me - I used to just walk away & take myself out of their reach wherever possible).
I think you are right to be wary of this 'mediation' - you should definitely trust your gut instincts about what is best for your DS. Good luck.
Have a chat with Kidscape they are excellent. If you google them they have a website & helpline.
Personally I don't like the idea of 'restorative justice' for bullying especially with primary age children. But talk through your specific case with the them. I found the helpline very useful when my son went through this with a child in his class. IME the school want it all to go away and try to fob you off and they don't like it registered as bullying (for Ofsted reasons I think).
Cross posted with inneedofacupofteades
If the bullys parents were also in the meeting so they had full knowledge of things and your ds is happy to attend then I would go for it.
Victims of crime have the opportunity in some circumstances to face the criminals and apparently feel more in control of the aftermath.
The bully knows he's in distress, that's what he wants. It's not like it's a group of DC leaving another one out and not realising how much it hurts them. This boy is targeting DS and his best friend and trying to cause distress.
He's been trying to ignore / avoid him. I now know why DS has seemingly gone off football at playtime (which he previously loved) - this boy is always playing and bullies him on the pitch too.
But he seeks them out apparently.
Trumpette thanks for the Kidscape recommendation I'll look them up.
Sounds intimidating to me!
Thanks for the advice everyone, I feel confident about challenging the process. Hopefully we'll just skip it and the boy and his parents will be called to speak to the head.
Gotta go now, no word on whether we actually have the meeting today yet, fingers crossed! I'll update later.
aforest - do try and make this point forceably in the meeting (that the bullies know they are causing distress - that this is one of the things bullies often enjoy about bullying).
Whilst what mybeard says is true this is usually in the context where the criminals have also been charged, convicted and punished by other means (i.e. prison, fines etc). Talking alone just lets the bullies get off without any punishment and so is unlikely to result in a change in behaviour. Also, the victims of crime usually don't have to see the criminals on a daily basis - as is the case in a school setting. Ask the head if mediation is recommended, how are they going to prevent the bullies bullying your DS about the mediation meetings outside of those meetings? Is there going to be extra supervision / monitoring at play times?
I had the meeting today, it went well. DS's teacher is lovely and took it very seriously. Most of the meeting was the teacher listening to DS, asking him questions and reassuring him he was doing the right thing by talking about it. Because she made him feel comfortable, DS was able to clearly explain to her how persistent and serious it has been.
I forgot all about this thread and my concerns the policy while I was in the meeting! Doh! This is why I should always write lists.
We didn't really speak about what would happen next, other than she was going to talk to the boy's teacher as a first step, but she said she'd keep in contact, and she gave me her email today, so I think I might write and ask what the next steps are.
Even if they suggest mediation, your DS does not have to take part in it. They can't force him to do it.
I agree with earlier posters, if this is a case where the bullies are intentionally causing distress they are going to really get off on hearing how your DS and his friend were feeling while they were being terrorized. It will encourage them to do it again because they will know exactly how upsetting it is to people.
I wouldn't be too keen on their parents being around during any discussions with your DS either. Quite often bullies don't fall far from the parental tree, the parents can be even worse than the children. In fact they may be the reason the children are the way they are. If the school feels strongly about parental involvement they can handle that on their own without you or your DS being present.
I'm a teacher and personally I don't agree with this approach. It's often only one step removed from "now off you go, run along and play nicely" or 'no blame'. I think it's important that bullies get help and understand how hurtful it is but they also need to know it's wrong. I don't believe victims should have to relive it all in front of the bully. A teacher should talk to your son, come up with a plan and then deal with the bully themselves.
My view doesn't seem to be the one schools opt for though...
The school have obviously had a chat with the boy. No idea what was said, we haven't been involved.
Then a teacher had a very brief chat with the bully and DS both there. DS wasn't very forthcoming about what was said but I asked him was it easy or difficult and he said it was easy and seemed happy enough. Apparently both boys know that DS will be asked if there has been any unkindness after every playtime, and if there has the other boy will lose out on his playtime.
It doesn't sound like it was mediation as outlined in the policy. More a brief chat to confirm that any repeat behaviour would result in sanctions. I've no idea if the boy has been punished in any way or not.
DS played football today for the first time in ages, which is great. The bully left him alone.
I forgot to say before, the teacher said they didn't have to tell the bully that DS had complained about him if he wanted to keep it secret, but he said he was fine with him knowing.
So far, so good ... let's see how it goes.
That does sound like progress. I would guess the bully will back off now he knows the teacher is on to him and will be following up. That is good.
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