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To wonder who's the bully - DS or other child? (long)

(21 Posts)
Solo2 Mon 10-Oct-11 11:01:23

Posting on here cos of high volume and want some opinions please. DS2 (10 yr old with Asperger's traits) has often been the victim of bullying. So I was incredibly suprised when a friend of mine phoned - very courageously I have to say - to tell me her son had been bullied for some time by DS2 and was now at the end of his tether.

Because we're friends, she felt able to call me directly, which I thought was brilliant of her. I listened to the details and she's really convinced that her son is telling the truth. She mentioned recent bullying (name calling) and also incidents last summer too.

I was very suprised, as DS2 hasn't the social sophistication to launch a long term bullying campaign against another child but may sometimes retaliate verbally if he's bullied himself. I asked DS2 if anything were going on with this other boy. He burst into tears and said he'd not wanted to tell me but the other boy had regularly been physically bullying HIM for some time. He cited some specific incidents.

I then told him that the other boy had a different take on things and actually felt aggressed by DS2 and did DS2 know what might have made the boy feel this? I cited the specific examples that my friend had given me. He was very suprised and denied every single thing and was astonished to think the other boy was saying he'd been bullied by DS2, as it was the other way round.

DS2 doesn't know how to lie, as his Asperger's means he is a stickler for the truth. However, he does get over sensitive to 'normal' jibing and jostling from other neurotypical children. So I wondered what had really gone on.

I then, separately, asked DS1 (DS2's NT twin) who'd been there all the times recently that the boy had accused DS2 of bullying him. DS1 'confessed' that yes, DS2 had been nastily attacked on several occasions by the OTHER boy - always unprovoked but that 'we don't always tell parents or teachers about stuff like this unless it gets too much'. On the recent occasion, DS1 had apparently stuck up for DS2 and got into conflict with the other boy himself. He'd told the teacher - but, as I'd expect at their school, the teacher just told off BOTH boys and told them to stop fussing (DS1 had been kicked by the other boy, whilst trying to protect DS2).

So I then mentioned that the other boy was really upset and had told his mum that DS2 had been bullying HIM for some time. DS1 was amazed and said it was completely the other way round and cited the same specific incidents of physical aggression the at the boy had done to DS2.

Friend and I have since talked twice. Naturally, each of us believes our own DC but we're both open to the other's views. We have both asked our DC to stay away from the other child and if anything further happens, that each child tells the teacher.

However, IF the other boy is lying completely, then he might invent some incident/s. Without witnesses, it's one boy's opinion vs the other's. Why would each of our DCs be absolutely of the opposite view than the other? I even tried to suggest to DS2 that something 'minor' might have occurred that upset the other boy - sort of giving DS2 the opportunity to confess to something - but DS2 has stuck to the same facts all along which absolutely contradict the other child's 'facts'.

What - if anything - more can I now do? Obviously I'm also concerned that this will slightly compromise my friendship with the other mum, as each of us believes the other person's son has aggressed her son. At least we're both communicating about it.

Any views of other's experiences on anything similar?

SenoritaViva Mon 10-Oct-11 11:09:17

This is very complicated, it sounds to me like it HAS gone on but the question mark is who has been the perpetrator and who has been the victim.

I am glad that you both as parents are not falling out about this. However, I think you (both) need to go to the school and involve them. Speak together and agree that you cannot agree who is the aggressor/victim but that you need the school to monitor this and get involved in repairing the friendship and talking to the boys about positive relationships etc.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 10-Oct-11 11:09:42

All you can do is take it where the problem should have lain in the first place - the school. Your friend did the wrong thing calling you, even if it was well-meant. If you're not on the spot, you can't possibly judge what is actually happening and the 'he said, she said' thing can ruin adult friendships as you're finding. Teachers and other staff at school are on the spot, can see what is happening at first hand, are not biased for or against and should have training in anti-bullying techniques. Place the problem in their court and follow it up that way.

lljkk Mon 10-Oct-11 11:10:04

I was very suprised, as DS2 hasn't the social sophistication to launch a long term bullying campaign

I think you misunderstand bullying; it's often just a terrible habit. Is there some reason that AS children can't form habits in their social interactions?

Since your DS1 is NT he can lie, right? Or have a very biased take on events; I don't know that he's an objective witness, anyway.

It wasn't clear to me how your DS2 was accused of bullying (just verbal? physical, what?).

What your DS1 takes as minor well-deserved pre-emptive snipes from the DS2 may come across as outrageous provocation to the other lad.

I think in the ideal world since both sets of parents want to sort this out and have a big bank of joint good will, you would sit down with the boys (but not the NT twin, just the main players) and get them to talk out what has happened, and even more importantly, how to proceed in future so that they can not annoy each other. They don't have to like each other, but they can agree to leave each other alone.

(Not sure how old?)

GooseyLoosey Mon 10-Oct-11 11:13:25

Agree with Cogito and Senorita. All of this is happening in school, therefore they need to be involved. I would be surprised if they did not already have some idea that there was a problem between the two boys.

Perhaps both you and your friend could arrange meetings to discuss what your children have said. Not sure I would want a joint meeting as both sets of parents would end up holding back a little. Best to give the school full and accurate disclosure of where you have got to so far.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 10-Oct-11 11:14:57

I'd avoid the joint meeting idea as well. Whether you mean to or not, it's impossible to stay completely objective and dispassionate when it's your own child. Toes will get trodden on in a joint meeting or people won't want to open up. Put the problem with the school and follow it through...

sausagesandmarmelade Mon 10-Oct-11 11:17:12

I agree that it's up to the school to deal with this matter effectively. They need to have an anti bullying policy that works!

Both you and this other parent should perhaps arrange a meeting with the school to get to the bottom of what's happening and get the teachers perspective.

Bullying is vile and makes life a misery for the victim (who often suffers in silence, not wanting to be seen to be a 'snitch'

bruffin Mon 10-Oct-11 11:18:38

I have been through this, though thankfully have come out the other side. Friends son was very good at provoking other children including DS, but then shouting that he had been bullied if anyone retaliated.

sausagesandmarmelade Mon 10-Oct-11 11:26:33

My little nephew (similar age) went through something similar this year (for a while). He hadn't wanted to say anything to the teachers for fear of being called a snitch. It all came to a head when the boy injured him so severely that DN was covered in bruises.

The school handled it very well. Interviewed the entire class (with both boys absent) to find out what had happened. Wrote down all the incidences on a white board and also asked how and if DN had reacted to the bullying (he hadn't).

Both parents were involved and a policy put into place to monitor and deal with the situation. It worked...

But then, that was a very good school with a good anti bullying policy.

Best to get to the bottom of this...and you need to have a meeting and some proper dialogue with the school.

slavetofilofax Mon 10-Oct-11 11:27:35

Sounds to me like there is probably some fault on both sides.

I would get the school involved, and maybe someone there can conduct a meeting with both boys to get to the truth.

There is a chance they are both telling the truth, but they have different perceptions of the same event.

Whatever you do, I wouldn't just leave it. Both boys need to know that bullying is not acceptable, and fell like their feelins are being acknowledged.

worraliberty Mon 10-Oct-11 11:34:07

When you say he has "Asperger's traits" What exactly does that mean? Is that a professional opinion or is it yours?

Also, I hear time and again well meaning parents assuming children with AS can't possibly be bullies but that's absolutely not always he case.

As children grow older they change and they push the boundaries. My eldest DS (almost 20yrs) has a best friend with Aspergers and from the age of about 13 to 16yrs he was a horrible little git (his own words) and did become a bully...even taking other kid's stuff purely because he could.

Please don't ever assume that about any child, it's always far better to keep an open mind and try to stick to the facts of the situation...if you can get to them.

PomBearAtTheGatesOfDawn Mon 10-Oct-11 11:35:35

I don't think you can necessarily expect the boys (all three, your twins and the other boy) to "get over this" and end up as friends either. You can work with the school and the other mother, but just because she is your friend, it doesn't follow that your sons will be friends. Part of the whole situation could just be that they don't like each other and have been pushed together because of their mothers' friendship, when, left to themselves, they wouldn't interact at all.
It might turn out that all you can do is get them to leave each other alone.

slavetofilofax Mon 10-Oct-11 11:45:10

By the way, my ds has aspergers and is perfectly capable of telling lies.

He's not very good at it, but that doesn't stop him trying ocassionally!

I know AS presents in many different ways though.

GooseyLoosey Mon 10-Oct-11 11:54:09

Ds has some aspergers traits in so far as he does not really get the motivations of his peers. Ds is also very, very large for his age.

I have over the years seen ds take offence at many things that other children would just shrug off. I have also seen other children delight in this response and do it on purpose just to wind him up. Ds perceives this as bullying behaviour. By contrast, eventually ds will snap and push children away from them when they have been taunting him. They perceive this as bullying. In my heart, the other children are always at fault. However, in my head I recognise that ds's behaviour can be difficult for them to deal with and sometimes they do so in a way I perceive to be cruel.

Can't emphasise enough the need to involve the school and work out what is actually happening otherwise things will only get worse and one child at least will end up very unhappy.

Scholes34 Mon 10-Oct-11 12:33:59

Hopefully, both boys will understand that parents and the school are aware of their behaviour and are watching them, and that whoever is behaving as they shouldn't will start to reign that behaviour in.

It's very difficult to be objective when it's your own children. One mum at our school is very good at taking everything her DCs say at face value hmm. It's important to try to teach your children how to stand up for themselves/not to take unnecessary offence at things other children say or do and to avoid troublesome situations, especially as your DCs will be starting at secondary school soon, where you don't get to know other parents and children as well as at primary school.

forrestgump Mon 10-Oct-11 12:39:10

I agree you need to speak with the school, maybe book the appointment together with the class teacher, as you obviously respect each other, and want that to remain, but ask for separate meetings, so you can put your opinions across without offending the other parent. Must admit what ever the outcome I have admiration for both of you as mums xx

Solo2 Mon 10-Oct-11 12:59:08

Thanks everyone. I'm open to both boys being part of something going on. I wanted to involve the school. Friend didn't, although her sons was bullied by another boy last year (not DS) and the school helped resolve that. She feels that the boys are old enough now to sort it out themselves (aged 10). However, I'm also uncertain whether the school would help much. DS1 was bullied last year and ended up getting detention for being the victim to bullying, along with the bully! The school often will blame both children involved in any incident/s.

I'm open to the possibility that DS2 has at least done something to the other boy but hasn't realised it's hurtful. All the other boy's accused him of, BTW, is verbal bullying but DS2 and DS1 say the other boy has physically hurt DS2 - eg, pulled his ear, poked his stomach, twisted his arm, kicked etc. The words DS2 is supposed to have used against the boy are not ones I'd expect him to use in any context of 'getting' at someone. Friend however is also adamant that her son is never ever physically violent, as he does a martial art and would always be afraid of ever doing anything physical to anyone else, as he 'knows he could really hurt someone'.

I think the current 'context', where a lot of it's happening, has excerbated whatever is going on. They're in the same 'bottom of the heap' football team with a teacher who doesn't work at the school at all and is only drafted in twice a week to do the 'duds' sports. That teacher doesn't at all know the children (has only recently started at the school). DS2 HATES football. The other boy has ended up in a group without any of his own friends but DS2 has some of his friends and his twin in the same group.

One theory I have is that the other boy is feeling isolated and alone for those 2 long afternoons a week, also hates football and is 'projecting' his feelings onto DS2 - who he has disliked for a long time. The very kind mum always invited both my twins to play dates/parties yrs ago, even though only DS1 was friends with her son and I think the boy became resentful of that.

On balance, I'd like to at least try to get the school to help out but as none of the teachers is there when it all seems to be happening, only the outside sports coach, I'm not sure how it can be monitored. I've also thought of asking another mum friend to ask her son (in same sports team) to report on what he's seen. This boy (DS2's best friend) has full blown Asperger's (high functioning/ gifted genius child), is v good at reporting facts and v logical. BTW, DS2 has been assessed 4 times for Asperger's and has all the characteristics but just falls below the diagnostic level.

The boys will be having football today and I'll ask both twin what went on. Depending on how it goes over the week, I'll maybe involve the school. When I suggested this to my friend, she said "you can if you want to" but then said she didn't really want to do this. So I feel a bit like I'm betraying her if I do - but I think I'd probably tell her anyway that I'd be going to do this, if I did.

worraliberty Mon 10-Oct-11 13:05:54

I'm open to the possibility that DS2 has at least done something to the other boy but hasn't realised it's hurtful.

Do you not think you can open yourself up a bit further and think it's a possibility that your son decided (like a hell of a lot of other kids) may have decided to do something that he knows is hurtful because he's fed up of the boy?

I'm sorry but your mind doesn't really seem too open on this one. I hope you get to the bottom of it soon but in order to do so you probably need to take the line of thought that no-one's perfect and that will include your child.

Your biggest responsibility is to your sons and I think talking to the school would be a good thing, regardless of what your friend has decided.

They can monitor the situation and perhaps give you and your sons some advice about coping in certain situations, so that none of the boys involved feels bullied or behaves in a bullying way to the other.

What does your friend think about the football team situation, and has she said why she doesn't want to make the school aware of the bullying allegations?

Solo2 Mon 10-Oct-11 13:28:21

Worraliberty, like all parents, I am fiercely protective of my own children but rationally, I do think situations like this must suggest that BOTH children have a part to play. I'm just unable yet to see exactly what that may have been in each case. friend thinks that what's happening in football has longer standing history and that it's more about DS2 verbally bullying her son than the current context.

It's possible that my friend doesn't want to involve the school if she feels friendly towards me and truly believes that DS2 is the aggressor and therefore may get into troucble with the school. It's also possible that she isn't so sure her son has the full story and is afraid of the school getting involved and finding that what DS2 says about him is true. I don't really know.

I do think it might now make some difference that both children are aware the mums have talked. I hope so anyway and will be interested to see what happened today at football....Oh, another factor is that a friend of DS2 - according to both my twins - has actually been the one verbally aggressing the other boy! That further complicates things like, IF that's the case, why has the boy accused DS2 and not this other child? If this other child continues to aggress the boy, will the boy continue to blame DS2?

Anyway, if only we had a spycamera fixed to each child smile, then we'd know! Can only see how it pans out and then perhaps involve the school.

I think if there's now another boy being accused of bullying, it's time to call the school right now, it's all getting far too complicated and a bit chinese whispers.

The school have to know if four of its pupils are accusing each other of bullying either themselves or somebody else.

I think you've done what you can to find out the truth from your own boys and your friend.

But the school can talk to everyone, boys, parents, teachers etc, and stand a much better chance of getting to the bottom of it all.

Which can only be good for all of you.

I wouldn't put off contacting them any longer.

Spy camera's are a good back up plan though smile

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