ds is being bullied at school. How can we help him?

(27 Posts)
edam Sun 13-Jan-13 10:05:40

ds got all upset at bedtime and told me there was something he'd been bottling up. Apparently some of the other boys at school (Year 5) are being unkind to him - calling him names and making fun of him.

He says when they line up to go back inside after playtime, some of them won't stand next to him - they all rush to the queue and if one of them ends up next to ds, he'll go to the back of the line.

He's being called a wimp and a nerd and teased for having some friends who are girls. And the boy who sits next to him in maths is apparently mean and puts a ruler in between him and ds because he doesn’t want to have anything to do with ds. (This is a boy I’ve heard other parents complain about but I’ve never responded beyond a ‘hmm’ or ‘that’s terrible’ because I’ve never had any reason to criticise him.)

The group of people who are 'mean' in ds's words includes a boy who started at the school last term and ds was given the job of befriending - we've had this boy round to play frequently and they were friends until this term. ds has always been such a happy little boy, with loads of friends coming round to play. sad

I don't want him to stop answering questions and working hard. He isn't into football and is no good at ball games - which has never bothered him or anyone else before. Maybe we need to play some ball games with him at home...? While also obviously talking to his teacher. sad I'm also going to look up Kidscape but would be really grateful for any advice.

This is exactly what happened to ds in Year 5. He too is not into football or other ball games. And he had good friends that were girls.
Up until Y5 this was all fine, he was relatively popular, had friends, was accepted.
Then in Y5 it was suddenly no longer 'cool' to be friends with girls, it was 'gay' (that's what ds was told) to like drama and dance (which ds loved) and he was a 'loser' for not playing football or rugby.

Unfortunately, for ds, things did not improve in Y5 and Y6. He remained marginalised. I spoke with teachers, I tried to get ds to fit in. But realistically, I could not change him, he is who he is, and I could not make the other kids like him. It did not bother ds much though, after a while he realised he was not going to change who he was and what he liked just to fit in.
That is not to say Y5 adn Y6 were easy for him, they were not.
He had one or two pals but on the whole amused himself in break and lunch times sad

At secondary school everything changed. We sent him to a large, local, comp. His primary school classmates were scattered round the school with no more than 3 per secondary school class. Suddenly there were lots of boys who liked dance and drama. Suddenly it was fine to befriend girls (in fact a lot of the teachers sat them in rows of boy girl boy girl so it was inevitable)

He is now 13 and in Y9. He is his own person. He has a handful of good, loyal pals. He is liked by his classmates. He is not worried by what people think of him, he is true to himself. And with this comes a certain laid back confidence that I admire. He is not worried about 'fitting in' and instead is true to himself. Something that I never managed as a teen.

I am sorry, this has turned into an essay and perhaps is not what you want to read (I know you are looking for solutions of how to make things easier for your ds) I just wanted you to know that things WILL eventually change.

learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 10:23:30

Have a word with the teacher about the name calling. That's a lack of school discipline problem.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 10:24:02

Thank you Behindlock. That is very helpful - yes, I would like tips for right now but it is encouraging to hear that eventually things turned round for your ds. So even if we can't sort it out immediately, there is still hope. I'm so glad your ds is OK now.

There's a similar primary school/secondary set up here, as in ds's primary is next door to the secondary school he will attend, and you get two or three kids from ds's school per class in the secondary.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 10:25:03

And thanks learnandsay.

This is really hard, I have a lump in my throat even writing about it (so goodness knows how awful it is for ds).

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 11:00:26

bump - would be grateful for any other experiences or advice

flamingtoaster Sun 13-Jan-13 11:22:09

My DS was bullied several times during primary school - it is horrible when it happens. He was regularly called a "boff" and teased for being clever, but physical bullying happened too. On one occasion a Year 5 child had pushed DS's head down while bring up a knee and broke his glasses - the school didn;t take action because the child had "home problems". I told the school if it happened again I would be thinking of reporting it as assault - but it did not happen again. On another occasion when in Year 4 my DD (year 2) came round the corner of the playground to find DS flat on the ground being attacked by some other Year 4s. He shouted, "Help" and was horrified when DD vanished - but she returned with six of her girl friends and they saw the boys off! There were no more problems with that group. We just dealt with occasions as they arose - it did not seem to be systematic and if it had been and DS had got very upset I would have home educated for the rest of primary school. DS did play football and, at DH's suggestion, had learned to klck with both feet - this reduced the bullying since he was an asset to the team.

DS was very small for his age so we thought it would be a good idea if he learned judo to increase his confidence - and where of course they are taught you must not throw someone on concrete unless you are in great danger. At secondary school (selective) a much larger boy, known for bullying, attacked DS one day and (not intending to throw him, but as a warning) DS moved into the position where he could have thrown him - the boy immediately let go saying "Oh you've done Judo" and DS had no more problems with him.

At secondary school DS found a group of really good friends - who are still friends although they are at university (now postgraduate) and still meet up as a group regularly in various locations so your DS will find good friends.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 11:27:18

Thanks flaming, glad your ds came through and your dd sounds fab.

Thing is until now ds has had loads of friends - he's always had two or three friends back to play every week, when we walk up to school we bump into other kids and they chatter together or run ahead playing. So it's a bit of a shock. I don't know what has changed...

flamingtoaster Sun 13-Jan-13 12:13:03

Strange as it sounds it may be that the arrival of that boy last term may be the root of the problem. I know your DS befriended him but if he saw that DS was popular and maybe seemed to have things lacking in his life he may have turned on him and set about turning other against him and behaving in a hurtful way (which probably would not have occurred to the group without his input).

Yes I was proud of DD that day - unfortunately having seen with happened to her brother her method of dealing with school was not to perform at all other than in brief flashes when she either forgot was was sufficiently bored! It was only when she went to University she felt confident enough to show her real ability so bullying just doesn't affect the child who is bullied unfortunately.

I forgot to say that we talked a lot with DS about how the behaviour against him was not his fault but was a result of people being led by others and not being mature enough to see how much they were hurting someone. Your DS will be fine as long as you can help him see that this problem is their problem, not a problem within him. I do hope he can be happier soon.

ninah Sun 13-Jan-13 12:22:08

No advice, but ds is also in Y5, in similar situation, so lots of empathy! Just before Xmas I found a number on his phone which he told me was childline and it all came out. Ds's bully is the class golden child, which hasn't helped. Ds said he didn't want to tell me because the bully would be even worse if he knew ds had complained sad
I wrote to school and had a letter back full of platitudes about their anti-bullying policy, which I am yet to have sight of. I looked around another school and am still debating whether to move ds, only he does seem a lot happier so far this term. I know they have talked about bullying in class, too. But the school does not have a good track record on dealing with bullying and two children have left recently over similar issues.
All we can do, I suppose, is encourage our sons to talk to us and hope the school is able to stamp it out. My ds is a very keen footballer, so don't think it's the ball games - it's fairly arbitrary I think. The only thing that stands out for us is being a single parent family in a wealthy, traditional village school. The bully, luckily, will be going to public school so there is an end to it. I don;t want ds to suffer for 18 months though and if he is unhappy this term I will hoik him straight out even though this means a nightmare commute, as dd is happy and settled where she is and I teach in yet another local school (where I would not send them if if was the last one on earth!).
Sorry, this was a bit rambling and not all that useful. It is such a shock to find out that your child is unhappy like this and you feel powerless to help. I was bullied horribly as a child too and for me the worst thing was that my parents knew but minimised it - I tell my ds I believe him and if he is unhappy I will move him and I think this has helped him a bit.

ninah Sun 13-Jan-13 12:27:33

actually now flaming has mentioned it a new boy joined our school recently too and is very much part of the bully's 'gang', that could well have precipitated things. Other children have also had spells of it, for being short, having glasses, you name it. In fact when they talked about it in class they were asked to put their hands up if they thought they had been bullied this year and most of the boys did, except golden boy!

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 13:18:51

Thank you. Very good points about reassuring children that this is not their fault.

Ninah, I hope things improve for your ds. Do ask the school what they are actually DOING about the bullying, don't let them get away with saying 'we've got a policy'! Might be worth looking at kidscape, which I'm visiting at the moment.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 13:35:37

If the school aren't aware of the problem (has your son told anyone in school?) they can't do anything to solve it and it isn't a school discipline problem. Lots of boys don't like telling teacher unfortunately.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 14:01:36

Mrz, I don't think ds has told school but dh will be talking to them on Monday. We are going to have a big chat about it later and work out how we can help ds.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 14:01:58

(dh takes ds to school most days, I can only do it on days off.)

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 14:05:37

You really need to let them know or they can't help I'm pleased your husband is raising the issue as soon as possible. Hope it's quickly resolved

ninah Sun 13-Jan-13 14:33:01

Thanks for the link! it does seem a bit better this term (or ds is becoming less sensitive about it) but yes I will keep an eye. Hope things work out for your ds, he sounds great - being friends with girls is a real positive, and will stand him in good stead in later life. My ds wanted to play netball and was told he couldn't because it was a girls' game, he persisted, with the support of the girls in the team, and is now one of their star players, and the only boy! I admire him for that, and for not following herd mentality.
I would absolutely hate to teach y5, it seems the crucible for all this kind of thing, boys and girls.

auntevil Sun 13-Jan-13 16:11:54

In fairness I think that most schools are pretty useless in this low level (as in constant niggling occasional physical) bullying.
From experience of 2 of my 3 DS, they have both had this. They have both told supervisors, teachers etc. But each term and each year it goes on and on.
The school do the class talks, the writing up incidents and low level sanctions (as in reality, the action is low level) - but it just doesn't stop.
I have heard that secondary school can often change everything - bring it on I say.
My brother also had this at secondary school as well though, but RL treats him far better.
It is sad that unfortunately school life is a hard lesson and most definitely not the best years of their life.
I comfort myself in the fact that my DS have each other to play with and enjoy their company at home - all nights, weekends and holidays. It is predominantly lunchtime and break incidents happen and class time nothing much.

pointythings Sun 13-Jan-13 17:28:48

This happened to DD1 in Yr6 - a small group of really quite nasty kids messing about in those lessons where they weren't in sets. We're talking pulling chairs away, throwing open pencil cases on floor, poking in back with pencils, throwing things - it was really unpleasant. We asked DD to keep a log of events, and also had her ask her form tutor to sit her elsewhere in the room. The move worked, and in the end various moves resulted in the bullies all sitting right at the front where they couldn't do anything. It took a while to get there, though.

DD1 is in Yr7 now, in a big comprehensive school where classes are broadly grouped by ability and she is in with as nice a lot of kids as I could wish for. Sometimes the move to secondary is what sorts things.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 18:02:51

Thanks. Talking about the move to secondary is long-term, though, ds is only in Year 5. <fingers crossed> his teacher is sympathetic and actually DOES something to help.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 18:03:44

sorry, meant to say glad things have improved for your kids, aunt and pointy.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 21:27:10

Had a big chat with ds and dh, so got a much clearer picture. The ringleader seems to be one lad that ds has to sit next to in maths - we actually had to go into school and suggest they sit separately last year (I'd forgotten all about it as it was resolved.). We've said dh will go into school and talk to ds's teachers (main teacher and maths teacher) and explain all this, and also sat down and read the Kidscape page on bullying for primary age children and the school's own anti-bullying policy. He said it has helped and he feels happier - here's hoping the school do actually take some action. ds mentioned some bullying of two other children - teasing and namecalling - that upsets him as well (one is his best friend) so will mention that too.

pointythings Sun 13-Jan-13 21:56:31

I really hope the school takes this on board, edam. I think it's one of the tests of a good school. It can be very difficult to spot low-level nastiness in class - the bullies who do this are very, very cunning, and teachers do rely on people reporting it. Since your DS has history with this boy I would hope that the seating arrangements get changed PDQ - but I am a bit hmm at the teacher allowing them to be seated next to each other again. Given the history, a child like the bully should really be on the teacher's radar from day 1.

FriendlyLadybird Sun 13-Jan-13 22:09:20

Y5 seems to be a bit of a crunch point. My DS was bullied at that stage, almost certainly because he was popular -- the lead bully (then in Y6) resented the fact that my DS was friendly with his (the bully's) 'best' friend.

It actually started at the end of Y4. My husband and I , on two separate occasions, went to see the previous Head who was USELESS, and bleated on a lot about the fact that this boy wasn't very good at making friends. Well, you don't say. I said that I would have been sympathetic ... right up to the point when he told my DS that he was going to get a knife from the kitchen and stab him.

Anyway, beginning of Y5 there was a new Head. There was a bit of a crisis and I went in to see her, round about the same time that the bully's father was behaving threateningly to my DH. BUT, the Head and all the teachers got together and sorted it. I don't know how. But it was done.

Speak to the teacher. Speak to the Head. Don't let anyone fob you off. Good luck.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 22:47:18

Thank you, everyone.

Friendly, I'm glad your situation was eventually sorted. I had no idea he was sat next to this boy again - ds didn't breathe a word. His maths teacher is different this year to last so presumably didn't know.

I have heard from another parent that this boy is a bit of a pain. My friend's son got suspicious of this boy's boasting and tested him by talking about a new Wii or X-box game the bullying boy claimed to have. Bullying boy fell into the trap and started talking about stuff my friend's boy had made up. So presumably he's desperate to impress for some reason, goodness knows why. But anyway, that's his problem, it shouldn't be ds's.

edam Wed 16-Jan-13 22:57:00

Update: dh and ds went into school this morning to talk to ds's teacher. She's been great - really supportive, reassuring, and keen to act. Before hometime today the two teachers gave the whole year group a talk about bullying, and they are going to move the boy who sits next to ds in one lesson and is horrible to him. <fingers crossed> it works - but I'm glad school has taken it seriously and glad ds feels everyone has listened to him.

mummatotwo Wed 16-Jan-13 23:30:40

Edam - im sort of going through the early stages and am going into school tom to suggest DS gets moved from a boy in his class who is picking on him, name calling etc... keep us informed of how its going

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