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To think the headteacher is wrong

(135 Posts)
LizardVisard Wed 17-Jul-13 13:30:42

Long time lurker... DD1 is 12, in year 7 and is quiet, hard-working and has a tight group of friends, mostly girls. She was recently hauled into the headteacher's office, along with two boys, about bullying a boy in her class. The boy in question has no SEN but she says his parents recently divorced and no-one really likes him. She swears she hasn't said anything mean to him, no verbal or physical bullying at all, and the headteacher confirmed the boy hadn't accused her of that (though he did accuse the others) - but he is lonely and wants to be friends with her. She's told me (through her tears) that he stares at her in lessons and she finds him "creepy" and quite intimidating. The headteacher has told her she has to make an effort to include him at breaktimes. She is torn between wanting to do as the teacher has said, and really not liking the boy. She spends her lunchtimes with her girly friends who categorically don't want to have this boy join them. AIBU to think WTAF? Surely at 12 children can make their own decisions about who to be friends with?

SoupDragon Wed 17-Jul-13 13:33:05

The head teacher is wrong.

Ordinarily, yes, children should be encouraged to include "left out" children at breaks. However, this boy makes your DD feel uncomfortable.

I would be emailing the head teacher to a) double check the situation and assuming all is 100% as your DD says b) say it's not going to happen.

YouTheCat Wed 17-Jul-13 13:33:57

The head teacher has no right whatsoever to force your dd into this friendship. Your dd has done nothing wrong.

They should be working on getting the boy help with social situations or including in some clubs that he has an interest in.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 17-Jul-13 13:35:17

I don't think there's anything wrong with a 12 year old being expected to make the effort to be nice to another child.

HairyGrotter Wed 17-Jul-13 13:35:46

I cannot stand this whole 'be friends with xxx' stuff. Your DD is an individual with her own mind, she can make friends with whom she wishes and can also not be friends with whom she wishes!

I'd personally be chatting with the head, if your DD finds being around him uncomfortable then she should not be 'forced' to put that gut feeling to one side for the sake of school!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 17-Jul-13 13:36:23

I think forcing them to befriend him when they obviously don't want to is a very bad idea, and won't work out for him at all.

I do think, though, that when children don't like another child, and when they spend time speaking to their friends about him (especially if those friends are bullies) there's a sense in which innocent behaviour gets vamped up and made to sound 'urg creepy' when it really isn't, because it's kind of a conversational currency.

I don't know if that makes sense, but I remember doing it, and I've heard girls doing it in groups too. So if the boy no-one likes looks over at you, when you're picking him apart in conversation with your friends who you know don't like him, it ends up being 'OMG did you see him totally staring at me, he's so weird, I think he's a murderer or something, he's such a perv' etc.

I'm not saying your dd does this, but I'm not saying she'd be an unusual child if she did, either. That's how The Kid No-One Likes gets talked about, sadly.

What would concern me is that a) her friends are bullies - how long will she be safe for, if she doesn't join in yet? and b) this child is genuinely lonely and unhappy, and the only reason given for his unpopularity is that his parents have just divorced.

I wouldn't be telling her she must start being his BFF, but I would be encouraging her to reflect on her friends' attitudes, and her own, too.

Ifcatshadthumbs Wed 17-Jul-13 13:37:49

The head teacher needs to be helping this child build a friendship group but not by forcing the responsibility on your daughter. Tell the head teacher that his methods are lazy and unfair to both this poor boy and your daughter.

Ifcatshadthumbs Wed 17-Jul-13 13:39:18

Good points theoriginalsteamingnit.

LizardVisard Wed 17-Jul-13 13:40:21

She only told me about it this morning and it happened on Monday which explains her crying and being irritable for the past two days. She's basically terrified of all authority figures so it's obviously caused her a lot of upset. She's been scared to tell me because she was brought in with the two boys who'd been bullying and didn't want me to think she'd been bullying too (she's really mild-mannered and I can't picture that at all).

The bullying boys aren't her friends and she doesn't really know them, they're in different streams/classes (she's in the same one as the bullied boy though). The bullied boy sounds quite immature: he plays with toy cars at break and makes animal noises in class whereas my daughter and her friend are into pop music and popstars.

I think I'm going to have to call the headteacher.

SoupDragon Wed 17-Jul-13 13:41:02

I don't think there's anything wrong with a 12 year old being expected to make the effort to be nice to another child.

There is a vast difference between being "nice" and being forced to socialise with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable.

MalcolmTuckersMum Wed 17-Jul-13 13:41:34

Exactly what Ifcats said. It is lazy and unfair in equal measures. How can anyone be forced into any level of friendship if they don't feel comfortable with it? If you told an adult to do that you'd get invited, rightly, to fuck right off. Why is it then ok to do this to a child? It isn't.

redcaryellowcar Wed 17-Jul-13 13:44:42

Someone who ran a nursery we went to see explained something about sharing by using a similar situation for an adult, I think this approach may work here, if you had a work colleague who represented the bullied boy how would you handle it, I suspect that you would (if you found him creepy) give him a wide berth whilst equally not wishing him to be bullied? I am astounded that the ht has said this to your dd, but having worked with a total nutcase of a ht I am not surprised, I think some of them believe they rule the world!

LizardVisard Wed 17-Jul-13 13:44:46

She sits next to the bullied boy in Maths because the teacher has sat them alphabetically and says she's friendly to him but she really doesn't like him or want to be friends outside of Maths. I'm guessing the boy's parents have made a complaint and the headteacher's asked him who he does like, and he's said DD1.

I do think it's sad for him not to have friends but DD1 really doesn't want to be his friend.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 17-Jul-13 13:45:36

I would say to the headteacher: 'I've spoken to dd about this, and whilst she's going to try to distance herself from any bullying behaviour, and she does feel sorry for the boy, she doesn't feel they have a lot in common and I'm not sure how well it's going to work out if she tries to force a friendship'.

Bearing in mind that might not be quite what the head asked anyway, but if she was upset and overwrought at being called in (as I know most would be) she may have heard it as a more black-and-white thing than it was.

I would say to dd: 'I know you don't particularly want to be this boy's best friend, but do be aware of how other people are treating him, and maybe if you think it's appropriate and you can, try to say something supportive sometimes, cause with his parents separating and the bullying, it does sound like he's having a crap time at the moment, and I'm sure he doesn't mean to freak you out if he looks at you. Also, are you sure you want to hang around with X and Y - if they're bullying people, that must be a bit uncomfortable, surely?'

And then I would think 'three days to the end of term' (assuming it is for you?) and reflect that in September they'll have had a healthy break from one another and hopefully year 8 will be different.

WorraLiberty Wed 17-Jul-13 13:47:32

The Head's out of order but you do need to speak to him/her to find out exactly what was said.

I'm puzzled as to why your DD, out of all the kids in the school, was called in over a matter she had nothing to do with? confused

LizardVisard Wed 17-Jul-13 13:49:31

Worra apparently the boy told the headteacher that he likes her (because she's nice to him when she has to sit next to him).

I'm going to try to speak to the headteacher at pick up time.

YouTheCat Wed 17-Jul-13 13:52:28

The was a boy a bit like that in dd's senior school. Dd was never asked to be his friend though she did stand up for him once when he was being picked on. He used to do the staring thing as well which unnerved dd a bit really.

They are 18 now. He has grown up a lot and they are good friends. So I can see what Clouds is saying, though I don't think your dd should have to feel she must include the lad, just be a bit aware that he's probably having a hell of a time in school and have a bit of compassion towards him.

chicaguapa Wed 17-Jul-13 13:53:03

Surely at 12 children can make their own decisions about who to be friends with?

Just from your OP it sounds like your DD's friends are deciding who she can be friends with.

I would personally be prouder of a DD who recognised that this boy in question isn't liked by anyone, is lonely and that his parents have just divorced and maybe felt an ounce of sympathy for him. As a parent I would also encourage this attitude, rather than say it's ok for her to also exclude him in the same way as the rest of her classmates.

It just takes one person to stand up to this kind of exclusivity and bullying attitude, but it does sound like it's not going to be your DD. Maybe the HT thinks she has it in her which is why she was singled out and asked to befriend him?

OxfordBags Wed 17-Jul-13 13:53:43

It's hardly good training for life for a young woman, is it? Even though male X creeps you out and you don't want anything to do with him, you should be nice to him and socialise with him, regardless. It's the opposite of teaching 'Stranger Danger'!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 17-Jul-13 13:58:44

Oxford but shouldn't a child be encouraged to think about why somebody 'creeps them out' - obviously not as in 'well dd, why do you think the man in the mac behind the tree made you feel a bit worried, why not tackle that by having a nice chat to him' - but, well - why do you feel such an aversion to a boy of 12? We can't be saying he's bullied because he's just odd and unlikeable, surely?

Of course they can't be best buddies if she doesn't click with him, and that's fine - but I would still be challenging the 'urgh, he's just creepy and I don't like him, and nobody else does either' idea.

And just to say again - the thing that leaps out at me here is that dd is hanging around with bullies: she knows they're bullies, you know they are, the school knows they are. I know it's never that clearcut at school, and no 12 year old is likely to surround herself only with the morally impeccable, but I'd still want to talk to her about that.

ImperialBlether Wed 17-Jul-13 14:18:47

I'd say to the head teacher, "Do you want to come pot holing with me on Saturday?"

When he refuses, say, "Oh so it's OK for you to choose your friends and what you do in your spare time but my daughter doesn't have that choice?"

YouTheCat Wed 17-Jul-13 14:20:00

But Imperial, what if he said 'yes'? grin

ImperialBlether Wed 17-Jul-13 14:22:18

I'd put my head torch on as I asked the question, so the answer would probably be "Yes", YouTheCat.

ImperialBlether Wed 17-Jul-13 14:23:15

But OP, I would phone the headteacher. I feel sorry for the boy, but they need to deal with a way of him making friends and it sounds like he'd have more luck with boys than girls at the moment.

3littlefrogs Wed 17-Jul-13 14:24:54

Don't speak to the HT at pick up unless you can do it in private. If you can't, make an appointment.

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