"So-called friend"

(85 Posts)
SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 11:59:15

DD2 is 12, in year 8.

There is a girl in her class who she was good friends with from year 3. They would sometimes fall out, then make up friends, as people do.

However, particularly since they have been in the senior school, things have become quite unpleasant between them.

The girl (X) began to ignore DD, for no apparent reason, for weeks at a time. While this was happening, she would also encourage others in the friendship group to ignore DD.

After a while, she would decide to be friends. She would give her reasons for the falling out to be things like "I'm sorry, I was in a bad mood, and I took it out on you." or "I called you in the corridor, but you didn't answer, so I thought you were ignoring me" (DD had not heard her call.) At first DD was happy to make friends with her, but she soon got tired of the cycle, and stopped wanting to be friends with her. Then X would involve all their other friends and DD would feel very pressurised into making up, only to be subject to the same silent treatment a few weeks later.

As DD became more resolute in not wanting to make up friends again, X started to involve the rest of the class in pressurising DD to be friends with her. At least once, she had the form teacher involved in "peacemaking". (The next time it happened, I emailed the teacher to ask her, politely, to stay out of it, on DD's request.)

X makes things very difficult for DD, when she is ignoring her. She will say nasty things about her to other friends. If DD is chatting to someone, X will call them away, to speak to them "urgently".

It seems like, not content to ostrasize DD herself, she wants to encourage the rest of the girls to do so.

Recently, she has really ramped up the situation, trying to get DD in to trouble. In one practical lesson, DD and her partner were next to X and her partner. They were a bit rowdy, and X told the teacher, who (rightly) told them off. But a couple of days later, X told the teacher that it had happened again, which was untrue. (DD had to go to the teacher to explain - luckily she was believed.)

So.

A couple of days ago, X's mother rang me to say that X had come out of school in tears, because DD had spread a rumour about her. I questioned DD, and she told me that she and three other girls had been joking between the four of them, that one of the four had had sex with X (a silly schoolgirl joke, although, I agree not fair to joke about X who wasn't there - I have spoken to DD about this).

Somehow, the joke spread beyond the four of them. DD did not spread it, and I think possibly it was overheard by someone else, who spread it as a rumour. The rumour was spread over the course of the afternoon, but no one spoke about it at all the following day. So, X had a very unpleasant afternoon.

DD sent a text to X apologising profusely about her part in the situation. X replied to the text demanding that DD go round to tell everyone she had spread the rumour to that it was not true. In fact, DD had not spread the rumour, so had no one to tell. And in any case, as DD pointed out, that would only dredge it up again, and be worse for X.

X has blamed only DD and does not apportion any blame to the other girls in the four. Further, she has told others (including one of the group of four "jokers") that DD's apology is not a proper apology.

So it seems to me that she is now using this as just one further thing to get at DD.

X's mother does not believe DD's version of events, even though X was not there at the time, and therefore could not have known how the rumour started. She was very upset and apalled at the nature of the joking. (Perhaps that was coloured by the fact that it had caused the horrible rumour though, rather than actually being offended by it, though, because I thought the joke quite tame, although not really amusing.)

So, my concern is this. That X will continue to try to ostracize DD from her friends, and make her school life very difficult. DD is low down the social pecking order in the class, anyway, and can't afford to lose friends, as she would find it hard to make new ones.

Should I speak to the school, or is it all too nebulous?

Sonnet Wed 02-Oct-13 19:42:36

Ixqic has it perfectly correcting. Do as she suggests

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 02-Oct-13 19:58:18

Yeah, I would most probably email or ask for a call from the form teacher to talk over this whole thing - primary schools friendships which peter out at secondary can be difficult, and I think you're right that school need to be aware of the tensions here.

You also might get to hear what they see/think about it all, as well, which can be reassuring.

Johnny5needsinput Wed 02-Oct-13 20:04:09

I think the other girl is not blameless but neither is your dd.

I know how I would feel if a rumour that my dd was having sex with another girl in her class was going round.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 02-Oct-13 22:36:22

As the op describes it, her daughter didn't actually make the comment. Neither did she repeat it. The silly conversation centred more on a girl present in the group. If this is what happened, I don't see that op's daughter has done anything unpleasant and has unfortunately been dragged in since she was present at the time and is a convenient person to blame. If her report is accurate, I think she might well be the victim.

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 22:43:43

Obviously, I wasn't there, slipshod, but those are the details DD has presented to me.

Incidentally, AFAIK, none of the other parents have been contacted, and none of the other girls have been asked to apologise. DD apologised off her own bat, as she was truly sorry for the upset she had inadvertently caused.

alpinemeadow Thu 03-Oct-13 07:18:33

Have you spoken to the school before about the dd/x issue - i just ask because it sounds as though it is ongoing and very difficult - and not really the sort of thing your dd can hamdle on her own - ostracisation, x encouraging other girls not to talk to her.
I do think school may need to intervene on that, as it must make your dd uterly miserable.

But i also agree with other posters that jokes about a dc having sex with another dc are a serious thing - some girls (like your dd) might not mind, and find it funny, but others would not just mind but be really really upset. Even at the joke stage. The thing is, from your dd's account she wasn't the one who made the joke - but if x is friends with the other three it's not really surprising that she isn't trying to blame them, that's human nature.

I'm sorry your dd's having these difficulties - i really would be inclined to ask school to help with the x issue. This sounds like something that won't necessarily just sort itself out without adult intervention, and must have made your dd really unhappy at times (sorry, repeating myself here!)

SanityClause Thu 03-Oct-13 09:16:38

I have never really spoken to the school about the issue before, although I did once send an email (April 2013) to the form tutor who had tried to help to reconcile the girls in the past. I do still have that email on my system, so I can show that it didn't all just start recently.

X's mother is a nice person, and has always said she is really happy for DD and X to be friends, and what a lovely friend DD is to X. More recently, I have just kept my mouth shut, as I hoped that with our support, DD would be able to get to a position where X was just one of her group of friends, rather than being a "best" friend, and so X wouldn't have such a hold on her.

Looking back, that was probably naive - X was never going to let that happen, as then she would have to find someone else to take her emotions out on.

Also, the whole situation has grown up so slowly. They were very good friends in junior school. It is only really the second half of year 6 and then year 7 and the start of year 8 that the real nastiness has happened. And of course, it seems like just an extension of the junior school days, where they would fall out every now and then.

Looking back, I can see how it progressed.

In year 6, X's mother was very unwell and needed an operation. Also, her grandmother, who lives close by to them was also unwell. So, X was going through a very difficult time, and she took that out on DD. Now, at the time, DD and I spoke about it, and she decided to cut her some slack, considering what a rubbish time she was having.

But I think the habit of taking out her emotions on my DD started then.

DD does have other really close friends; she is not entirely on her own if X excludes her. But she doesn't really involve them in the X situation, as the girls all just think it is X and DD falling out - they don't see it as something X is doing to DD.

keepsmiling12345 Thu 03-Oct-13 14:14:35

I did not say your DD was a bully. Please don't accuse me of things I haven't done. I voiced my opinion that you appeared to be seeing your DD's behaviour as a lot less serious than X's and I was suggesting you approach the head about the dysfunctional relationship rather than who did what to whom.

Shootingatpigeons Thu 03-Oct-13 16:11:28

This sounds like a typical case of an alpha girl manipulating the group norms to put herself at the centre of things and build up her self esteem, and using the fact that she has some influence over someone to unite others in excluding her. DD had a very similar experience with her childhood friend, and neighbour. Very quickly in Year 7 she spotted the chance to build herself up at my DDs expense making her the butt of cool crowd jokes. She would constantly play on their friendship to keep her close and available to be the butt of her jibes and nastiness "We are so close, we have a love hate relationship" As DD said she knows how to press all my buttons. The rest of the cool crowd would all confide in DD individually (they were all troubled underneath) but they all knew it was not cool to be seen to be friendly. It felt as though having raised DD to care, have respect for others and have empathy made her a target.

Your DD needs to accept they will not be her true friends, this incident must have shown her that trying to be in with them and join in jokes will just get manipulated against her, and she will continue to be a target. She needs to focus on her other friends, ones that will be genuinely supportive.

The school may have some other constructive suggestions but these girls are very clever about keeping the exclusion and bullying under the radar. DDs school were concerned that making it into an issue with her X and her friends would make DD even more of a target and focused on building up her confidence and encouraging her to stay away from the group.

I had the same situation with the mother who that DD managed to dupe into believing that my DD and her were still the best of friends, so would try to share lifts to parties, sports events etc. The games her DD played were pretty obvious to me in the car but I know she was manipulated by all three of her DDs. In fact the only member of the family who has ever acknowledged what went on was the eldest DD who was herself at the bottom of the sisterly power struggle.

Year 9 is the worst for this sort of behaviour, after that they all grow up and start to have less need to be part of a group, and so become less susceptible to this sort of manipulation.

I am sorry this sort of behaviour may be ubiquitous in groups of girls but it is exclusion and bullying, and girls raised with the right values don't do it. I reassured my DD that she would not have to experience a situation like this ever again, unless she ended up in a woman's prison.....

alpinemeadow Thu 03-Oct-13 16:34:46

That really does sound awful sc, and basically impossible for your dd to handle alone - I would speak to the school and ask them to sort it out. You were probably right not to speak to x's mother by the way - see another thread at the moment, about why talking to parents about such things is generally not recommended!

As shootingatpigeons says, dd staying away from x may be the answer - at least for the moment - does she have friends who don't really know x? Does your dd have all lessons with x, or are they split into different groups sometimes so that she is not with her 100% of the time? Is it quite a large year group?

SanityClause Thu 03-Oct-13 19:40:05

DD can't just "stay away" from from X, as when she is chatting to other friends, X will come and either call the friend away, physically pull them away, or stand in between them, with her back to DD.

Anyway, I went to see the HOY. I spoke to her, first, then DD came in and she listened to her. She asked DD what she wanted to happen. She said she just wanted to be able to get along with her life without X causing trouble with her friends. She didn't want to be friends with X again, but she wanted them to be civil to each other.

So, the HOY will speak to both of them together tomorrow to hopefully get X to agree to that. Obviously X will also have a chance to put her POV across.

And at least now it's on record at the school.

alpinemeadow Thu 03-Oct-13 20:14:11

Yes, that's why I was wondering if your dd had any friends who don't know x at all so that dd could hang around with them at the moment - or would x still do the pulling them away/standing in between thing with them as well? Also why I was wondering if dd had any lessons or activities away from x?

Well done for going to see the HoY! and it does sound as though she is going to take action - that does sound encouraging. Hope it goes well tomorrow for your dd!

Slipshodsibyl Thu 03-Oct-13 21:36:55

This kind of manipulation, as shooting points out, is really, really hard for teachers to spot as it is silent and involves others being too worried about being the next girl to be targeted. It is horrid for the victim, so I think you have done the right thing in going to school. I hope things get better for her now, but it is a difficult kind of bullying to deal with.

Viviennemary Thu 03-Oct-13 21:50:20

This other girl does sound as if she likes to be in control of things. But your DD should not have got involved with this rumour spreading. However, all this falling out is quite usual amongst girls of that age but that probably doesn't help you now.

I think it was quite a serious thing that your DD got involved with and was beyond a silly joke. But it's done now and hopefully your DD will have learned not to do anything like that again. Maybe it would be better to approach the school now and get their suggestions on how to deal with it. Because if the problem doesn't go away it will have to be dealt with eventually.

SanityClause Thu 03-Oct-13 21:52:28

Absolutely, slipshod. When you say all the things that happen, they just sound so petty. Particularly as X is, on the face of it, a nice girl. She's just not very nice to my DD!

Viviennemary Thu 03-Oct-13 21:53:28

Sorry didn't read thread. blush Hope things are sorted out soon.

SanityClause Thu 03-Oct-13 21:53:46

I have been to the school, Vivienne. See my update, above.

SanityClause Thu 03-Oct-13 21:54:14

Sorry, x post. smile

Slipshodsibyl Thu 03-Oct-13 22:14:46

teenadvice.about.com/od/violencebullying/a/girlbullies.htm

Here is a link to an article about this kind of thing. There are also a number if books: 'Queen bees and wannabees'is one (but quite American) and there is a more recent good one it I cannot remember the author - Kate Figes maybe?

I am a bit surprised that so many posters felt your daughter might be at fault when this girl-specific 'exclusion' bullying is so very common and has been publicised quite a bit recently with several suicides of young girls.

As the article suggests, the very invisible nature of the bullying means that adults minimise it, ignore the misery it causes and its effects and even believe this is a normal kind of social hierarchy which has to be lived with by simply avoiding the group of bullies.

Your daughter sounds kind and mature.

SanityClause Thu 03-Oct-13 22:39:33

Thanks for that link, slipshod.

I know the sex joke thing with my DD sounds really bad, but she was absolutely shocked by the fallout. I saw the text she sent apologising, and when I asked her how she would feel if her place and X's were reversed, as far as the initial joking was concerned, she was really stricken.

Apparently one of the other girls involved texted X just after school on the day it happened, and X told her she was fine about it, and it was all over, and not to worry. And then made a big fuss to her mother about my DD. Hmmmmm!

Driz Fri 04-Oct-13 03:23:10

I would seriously be questioning just what else your daughter has done to this girl. While the girl is being petty and irritating (she sounds so like. Uh. 12) your daughter is engaging in quite nasty bullying behaviour

BadgerB Fri 04-Oct-13 06:39:40

Driz - have you READ this thread? I can't believe your take on it!

SanityClause Fri 04-Oct-13 06:48:34

Well, Driz, I'm sure if it is my DD that is the bully, the school will find out soon enough.

I was perfectly straight with the HOY about the joking and how the rumour spread. She seemed to have no difficulty in accepting that it was a stupid joke that got out of hand.

As for your comment about "petty and irritating", well, if one of your friends stopped speaking to you, for no reason, for weeks at a time, you'd just make up with them again after, time after time, would you? Or perhaps you would have tried to break off the friendship by now?

SanityClause Fri 04-Oct-13 06:55:29

Oh, and thank you to everyone who has replied, even if I haven't answered you directly. Your comments have been very useful.

flowers

Driz Fri 04-Oct-13 12:58:13

It is what 12 year old girls do, they can be vile. Although you do only have your daughter's word about what is going on, how do you know your DD isn't being more spiteful? After all, making jokes about the girl and spreading rumours is abhorrent.

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