Is this bullying? And what should I do?

(17 Posts)
Doxxie Thu 12-Sep-13 13:54:41

DD is a few weeks past her 6th birthday and the youngest in her yr 2 class. She's usually a very happy, easy going child but since school has started back she has wet the bed, had tantrums over getting dressed for school, complained of constant illnesses - headaches, temperatures, sore tummy etc at home and school. She's asking me to home school her or move her. Clearly she's really unhappy. I'm really worried about her. She's had similar episodes throughout her time at school and generally seems to be subdued and lacking in confidence with others at school. She's generally a very happy child, very amenable and easy going, always makes new 'friends' wherever we go even if it's just to the park. When she's joined new activities/classes she's quickly integrated and made good friends so I don't think she is lacking in social skills.

When she first started school (and in pre-school) she was physically bullied for quite a long time by 3 children in the class. That stopped in reception with the help of the school but she seems (from my perception) to have retained a status as class 'victim' which results in most of the other children rejecting her and low level nastiness. E.g.refusing to allow her to join in at playtime and refusing to allow her to join groups for class work etc plus some nastier things like wiping nose on her hair, telling her to hide school equipment, batting her head ('where the bruises don't show' - her words). The other children in the class (bar two) blank her when she goes up to them at school. She just seems to be isolated. I spent much of last year having playdates and one to one children are very happy to be with her and play very nicely but she doesn't get invited back or to parties very much.

Im seeing the teacher tomorrow but I don't know how to present all of this. The problem is that the individual events are small and so I seem petty if I give examples of being excluded but the whole picture is making her very unhappy. When I've been in the past (save for the initial physical violence) they seem to be very focused on explaining away the examples I give and I don't know how to avoid that.

Sorry its so long and thanks if anyone got this far!

Labro Thu 12-Sep-13 15:35:32

When you see the teacher tomorrow, write down your points before hand and focus on the way the other children treat her and make her feel. Ask the teacher to do some circle sessions or whatever they do on kindness and feelings. Ask the teacher if shes got a couple of girls or boys who are a bit more confident who wouldn't mind forming a 'circle of friends' .I'm sure there is a lot they can do especially at this age x

Periwinkle007 Thu 12-Sep-13 16:06:45

oh gosh yes you need to speak to them. You need to document as many of the instances as possible so that they can see the overall impact, not just one or two 'silly' or 'minor' events as they might see it if presented on its own (although some sound much more than that).

the poor girl must be so upset, no wonder she doesn't want to go in. The school will be able to do something about it but must somehow really not be aware of it all (although I am surprised because I think normally if a child is excluded either voluntarily by themselves or cast out by others staff normally notice and try to deal with it. it is possible that with separate lunch/playtime staff it might get missed more easily).

please write down as much as you can - doesn't need to be full details but all the instances you can think of in a fairly concise easy to read list so that they can see the cumulative effect. and reassure your daughter that it WILL be sorted out.

If you feel the teacher is dismissive (unlikely but possible) then you need to go to the office and ask to see whoever is responsible for 'inclusion'. This is often the same person who is SENCO but not always and they may not have the same title but there will be someone responsible for it and you want to see them to report the problem and ask how it can be handled. I suspect when they see it all written down they will be shocked that it has been going on and will go out of their way to help reassure her and speak to all the other children about being friends, how to treat people, how to respect others etc.

MerryMarigold Thu 12-Sep-13 16:12:54

I would start (as you have here) with how it is affecting her. That must be taken seriously. Then go into lists of what has happened in past, and what you think is happening now.

It is bullying. The thing that gets me is when more than 1 child joins in with something. That's when it really crosses the line, even if it is just taking the mick out of someone's scarf or whatever. If 2 or more are doing it, it's really unacceptable.

I am not sure what can be done to be honest. My ds1 was in a very similar position but luckily classes were shifted around in Y2 (it's a 3 form entry) and he was moved from all the kids who used to pick on him. His class now is LOVELY, he found a good friend (which he never had in YR and Y1) and he is so much more laidback as a result. I felt a bit bad that I didn't move him in Y1 (the head did offer) as I just prolonged his agony for another year but anyway, he is better now.

I would seriously think about moving her from this school for a fresh start.

Doxxie Thu 12-Sep-13 21:17:06

thank you all for taking the time to read. It's very helpful.
I think the reason it's not that noticeable is because she tends to just get on with things and has learnt not to try joining in to limit the rejection.

The difficulty is that most of the incidents look so petty in isolation and all children are going to have some issues with friendships etc. It's the cumulative effect on her that is difficult to get across. The kind of things on the list would be like this from today - DD says her english group (c10) were given instructions and then the teacher told them to get into 2s and 3s and do the task whilst she went to the next group. DD says she went round everyone and they all said she wasn't their friend so she couldn't join in. One pair eventually said she could watch them but only if she hid the teacher's pens first. On its own that's something that I hope the teacher would sort out without me needing to go in but when it's constant the overall impact on her is significant.

I've contacted other schools to see tentatively whether a move might be possible but I worry that if there if it continues elsewhere it will be worse...

Alfieandzoesmum Thu 12-Sep-13 22:15:12

Having been through this over a few years I just wanted to reassure you that sometimes it does get better. My son is dyspraxic and was terribly bullied in pre-school, reception and half of year one. I was so upset and anxious that it made me ill. I kept complaining to the school but really nothing was being done until I started to keep a diary to show them all the little regular instances and what impact they were having on my son. It really worked and they made a big effort to monitor the situation. Now he is happy to go to school - he is not the most popular boy but he is accepted in the class and no longer has bullying issues. Sometimes he plays alone but through choice. It's horrid for you but hopefully things will change

Rockinhippy Thu 12-Sep-13 23:09:27

This is bullying, but at this age schools can IME prefer to play it down as they are so young, but the impact on the DC being bullied is no less than when they are older & again from my experience with my own DD the softy softy approach & allowing it to be played down doesn't help long term -

amongst that group there will very likely be a ring leader who is orchestrating the whole class to exclude your DD - IME they really do start this young & younger & if not dealt with correctly & firmly enough now it will only escalate as the years go on.

Find out who the ring leader is, your DD will know, this will be the DC that the others all want to please & may even fear, they may not be the ones actually doing the hitting etc, but they will be the ones manipulating the others to do so.

My own DD had problems all through school with one girl ring leading, it started in reception, though my DD was always very popular with the other DCs but as the years went on they all became more & more afraid of the RL so that by year 3/4 it was full on bullying & exclusion of my DD - it affected her in much the same way you describe, though with pockets of things being okay for DD in between IYSWIM - took til year 5 before the school finally became more heavy handed with this girl, but by then she had such a hold over the others it was hard to break -

I allowed my DD Facebook & she kept in touch with her classmates via that on an evening/weekends - it was full of messages of support for her from some of the kids, basically owning up to " well you know what X is like, I'm not as brave as you" I hate what X does to you, they way X treats you etc etc etc - but in school they mostly kept their distance.

The only thing my DD did wrong was be strong enough to say no, & refuse to be manipulated by X - she realised after an incident in year 2 that X lied to you about others to get you to do her will & liked to control & hurt others, from there onwards DD wouldn't go along with it, from their own wards it got worse, affecting my DDs health badly

Thankfully X was taken out of school by her family, as they didn't like the fact that the school were no longer accepting it as high jinx & coming down harder on her.

In short don't be embarrassed, trust your instinct, gather the info, keep diaries, don't be afraid to call it what it is - bullying, but don't use that phrase directly with the school - refer to it as " bullying behaviours" (see links) - & ask what the school are doing to get to the bottom of it, stamp it out & support your DD in the mean time.

& Remind them of their legal " duty of care" to your DD, if your DD is suffering as much as you say, then they are failing in that & they need to step up to the mark & sort it out, because if not, it will only get worse.

Don't make the mistake That I made by accepting that they are so young that its not really what it seems to be - it is & your DD suffers as a result

These links will help you with understanding it & using the correct language when approaching the school will help you get a better response...

These are the government guidelines on it..., so will be what the school will work by, using these as a guide how to express your concerns, with out & out bullying accusations (even though you know that's exactly what it is) & what they should be doing to support your DD...

bullying Definition

understanding the roles & language to use

childline, good advice on supporting your DD

You can do a lot to help your DD, talk to her & listen well, try to find out if there's a root cause - what sort of things do they pick on her for, what do they say etc etc

In my DDs there seemed to be a lot of jealousy from the ringleader towards my DD, she envied her even for being ill & having accidents - DD according to her lied & did this for attention - X was a compulsive liar & did lie for attention - the old adage people hate most in others what they hate about themselves IME starts young -

she also didn't like DD because DD was clever, as was X, but DD was competition, she didn't like DD because she was liked for who she was, without lying or pretending, but most of all she didn't like DD, because DD wouldn't be told what to do by her, especially if it meant picking or hurting others

There could be all kinds of reasons, listen, watch & learn, that will prepare you best to support your DD & protect her self esteem & help her feel empowered, let her know the things they pick on her for are what makes her special & that they are either weak & afraid of the ring leader & Your DD is stronger than them, or that they are jealous of your DDs specialness

Then back it up with out of school clubs, making new friends outside of school that she sees weekly will again boost your DDs confidence.

All the advice above about circle etc time is good, also ask about buddy schemes - these are schemes where the school has a group of kids chosen to befriend the lonely ones at playtime & help them feel valued & help pair up other lonely DCs - my DD actually became a buddy & helped others, this helped her massively

Good luck

Rockinhippy Fri 13-Sep-13 00:39:05

BTW it is known as " Social Bullying"

Canthisonebeused Fri 13-Sep-13 10:54:23

That post is grader rockin and the links are very helpful.

I posted about similar yesterday OP. I talked to my dds teacher and I expressed that my concern is that last year, things were delt with interns of friendship problems and the actual mean behaviour has not particularly been addressed with adequately. This maybe sounds similar, as when little things are reported by dd to one dinner lady then a TA then a classroom teacher the bigger picture gets missed and some minor complaints of what may appear to be FALLINGS out or someone on with no one to play with may not at that time appear to need much intervention. But the bigger picture is this is bullying and your dd is being deliberately excluded so this is bullying.

You need to talk to the teacher and explain to your dd that she needs to tell her teacher, the same teacher ever time something which is clearly mean happens. That way one person is having this reported to them and can keep an idea of the bigger picture. If dd also comes home to tell you just make a note of it. This is what I'm intending to do so then I can have a good record of what's happening.

It's such a horrible thing, my dd like yours is such a friendly outgoing girl and makes friends so easily is social situations, but I'm just sad she seems to be accepting of this vile treatment as part of her school experience. Feel free to pm me and we can maybe support one another as the year goes on. X

MerryMarigold Fri 13-Sep-13 10:54:55

Don't be afraid of moving her if things don't improve significantly. If she has no problems outside, then it is likely to be a combination of habit/ particular dynamics of these children. My ds was fine with a different group of children. I agree with rockinhippy, there is usually 1 or a couple of ringleaders who tend to be a bit 'alpha' and then others are manipulated by them. What made me sad was that was ds so wanted to be like these kids and hero worshipped them, but they were the very same ones taunting him.

At the beginning of Y2, before he had made friends in his new class, I actually witnessed him being pushed into a fence by 2 boys, and they also started on another child he used to play with. This other child's parents came in quick, so between both of us, I think the school eventually listened, but it took some convincing. At this age, they do like to play it down in school, but some kids can be really nasty and I don't think enough is done to protect the kids who are picked on.

The incident of the groups and the pen is shock. That is very clear bullying and also the detail makes it clear it is not made up. I don't think that's a small incident at all. Those kinds of things never happen 'just once' in isolation and anyone with half a brain would know that.

You need to fight for her, OP, and sounds like you are. I would personally give it till Christmas for a massive change and if not, do take her away from this.

MerryMarigold Fri 13-Sep-13 10:58:44

Bullying is also trying to control someone else (the pen incident).

Doxxie Fri 13-Sep-13 13:31:31

Just a quick post as I'm at work. Thank you all so much for the support and the huge amount of help you've given. It's really given me confidence to see it as bullying and to be firm in the way I approach it.

I'm seeing the teacher this afternoon and plan to start with the bigger picture by explaining the impact it's having on her and the behaviour/isolation I've noticed outside of school. Only then will I give examples of what she's reported at school (e.g. the pen) but firmly put it in the context that from everything I've observed this is a pattern of behaviour and not an isolated classroom squabble. When I raised a couple of incidents last year I think they were very much treated as isolated events and they were explained away e.g. the boy who was wiping his nose on her was being 'absent minded' and sat next to DD so used her hair/jumper when he 'wasn't thinking'.

Then I'll keep a diary of all the things that she reports happening (however small) and the 'symptoms' she's showing.

I am worried about whether a pattern of behaviour like this can ever really change once it's entrenched so I've also been looking at moving. Sadly many of the local schools are full, the only close one with spaces is large with a very high turnover of children and has terrible OFSTED. The only other option is a local private school which has an excellent reputation for pastoral care, much smaller classes and has a space. We think we can stretch to it as I've just had a promotion and upped my hours but it would be a huge commitment and a big change for us so moving is possible but not straightforward.

That wasn't so quick after all! Thanks for giving me the confidence to sort this out.

Doxxie Fri 13-Sep-13 13:32:38

oh and her school is one form entry so sadly no possibility of mixing up the classes

Dreamingofcakeallnight Fri 13-Sep-13 13:38:58

Doxxie, this is really sad. I hope the school step up and get ontop of this - take it as high as you feel you need to. But after reading your last post I'd be tempted to move her if you can afford it (not that you should have to). Childhood should be a happy time.

Best of luck for your discussion today.

Doxxie Sat 14-Sep-13 09:41:20

Just a quick update. The teacher was really helpful and seems very effective. I explained what I'd seen and said that everything DD reported seemed to me to fit my observation that there was a pattern of social isolation. The teacher immediately said she agreed and that DD is being socially isolated. Says there is a large group who essentially blank her or treat her in a negative way and that DD seems to expect this now. She works well when put one to one with a number of the girls in her ability group (there are some nice children in this group who do play well when they come here so potential support) but they tend to play with each other rather than her through choice.

Suggested lots of possible ways of tackling it. At the moment we're going with (1) DD reporting everything directly to her (2) a buddy scheme with girls from higher up the school mentoring her and a small group of the potentially supportive girls. (3) taking a small group out with a TA to build confidence and self-esteem. She's also going to work on inclusion in circle time but in a general way. She did say that she could do a specific circle time on DD (when she was out of the room) and tell the class how she had seen what was going on and wanted it to stop but I am more concerned about that backfiring. Does that all sound like the right thing to do?

I feel a huge sense of relief because she seems so onside and last year any worry I mentioned was minimised. She agreed with me so quickly I even wondered whether she had read this thread! (Which is fine as I've name changed and said exactly what I would say to her or any parent who asked - waves to potentially reading teacher!)

I'm still not convinced it'll be possible to change such entrenched behaviour though so we are going to continue to investigate the change school option at the same time, though I would much rather she were happy at the school she is already at.

Thanks for all of your help and for giving me the confidence to deal with it in this way

Primrose123 Sat 14-Sep-13 10:16:30

Hi Doxxie, I hope you get this sorted. We went through something similar with our DD. In the end we decided to move her to a different school at the end of year 6, and she been fine since.

Rockinhippy, it sounds like your DD and mine had almost identical experiences. sad

This:

My own DD had problems all through school with one girl ring leading, it started in reception, though my DD was always very popular with the other DCs but as the years went on they all became more & more afraid of the RL so that by year 3/4 it was full on bullying & exclusion of my DD - it affected her in much the same way you describe, though with pockets of things being okay for DD in between IYSWIM - took til year 5 before the school finally became more heavy handed with this girl, but by then she had such a hold over the others it was hard to break -

And this:

The only thing my DD did wrong was be strong enough to say no, & refuse to be manipulated by X - she realised after an incident in year 2 that X lied to you about others to get you to do her will & liked to control & hurt others, from there onwards DD wouldn't go along with it, from their own wards it got worse, affecting my DDs health badly

And this:

she also didn't like DD because DD was clever, as was X, but DD was competition, she didn't like DD because she was liked for who she was, without lying or pretending, but most of all she didn't like DD, because DD wouldn't be told what to do by her, especially if it meant picking or hurting others

I could have written those three paragraphs myself!

Doxxie, I like the idea about getting older girls to help. I wonder if the teacher could ask the older girls to look for your DD at playtime, and ask her to play with them. It might give her a bit more 'street cred' with her own classmates. That's not really the right word, but I can't think of anything else.

MerryMarigold Sat 14-Sep-13 11:18:45

So brilliant teacher is on board and had noticed herself so you are not having to battle it. Those ideas all seem really good. Fingers crossed for you...

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