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Bullying and how schools deal with it

(14 Posts)
ProtectiveDad Sat 24-Sep-11 15:04:55

I sense the problem, often, in dealing with bullying is that schools are more and more reluctant to take what parents would consider is appropriate action once bullying is reported. Concern that proof is difficult to obtain (bullies are smart enough to know to do their worst away from the eyes of teachers) and modern 'liberal' thinking around punishment combine to invariably mean that schools take the easy option and wait for the 'bullied' to move schools rather than confront the issue head-on. It doesn't seem believable, for those of us schooled fifty years ago, that schools these days seem afraid to say 'stop and don't do it' when bullying is reported. The additional problem today seems to be a general reluctance to actually punish-a sense that bully and victim are both 'victims' and need to be considered equally. As I commented on an earlier thread my daughter was badly bullied some years ago at Wimbledon High School-and we ended up moving her to another school (where she blossomed-she is now at university). We could never understand why very little action was taken and ,when it was, how ineffectual it was-despite the School noting that it had (and has) a strict anti-bullying policy. We ran into the 'if we can't see it happening then we can't take action' argument-even though we made it clear that the bullying was out of sight of teachers and much of it was via email and 'cyber'. Then we were told that the way to deal with bullies -rather than just simply telling them to stop-is to get bully and victim in a room and 'talk' to them together-which of course simply reinforces the bully's feeling that they will not be punished (and they never were). Of course frequent visits to the school only create in the school's mind the impression that the problem is with your child-again reinforced by your child becoming reluctant to go to school and isolating themselves which the school then say is why she is being bullied......For us we found ourselves completely unsupported and adrift (and we were paying fees for our daughter's schooling as well!) in a vicious circle. So we gave up in the end and moved her to a different school-where she was, thankfully never bullied again. Were we just unlucky or are schools failing in how they actually deal with bullying (as opposed to what they say they will do)?

foolonthehill Sat 24-Sep-11 17:40:20

sad for you and daughter. But glad she has succeeded so well.

Not in high school mode yet, but I have been v impressed by the stance taken at the infant and junior schools here

.....action taken on both personal and group level, pro-active in that there is an active anti-bullying message and focus on "good interactions" and "bad interactions" frequent assemblies focussed on empathy and standing up for others as well as yourself. Teachers prepared to listen and individuals talked to and parents involved...

Not sure about what direct 'punishment' could or should be involved for bullies but the approach above seems to have created a good atmosphere and there are 'quiet place' for children who are finding mixing a challenge (like one of mine) and buddies who look out for games turning against others as well as teachers and assistants who will step in.

Hope that Wimbledon High has upped it's game now.

gumbles Sat 24-Sep-11 23:34:49

I have struggled for 2 years with my daughter's school staff with bullying issues She is now starting yr 9 I have had meetings with the Head who wants all incidents reported. Iam unhappy with lack of training by staff in the last year. The (gay male) year head (in Girls School) gave bullies no punishment at all but expect them to stand in a line with the victim(s) and all girls to agree to leave each other alone! I am seriously thinking of moving her out of the Girls School (Colston's in Bristol) although her Dad (not living with us) is adamant she must stay because of her "education" as results are the best around here. I can't believe the Head can't give me any written response to show up to date staff training on bullying issues or give any parent network help to improve things for all families and staff. My daughter's self esteem is so low she is frightened to make the move.

foolonthehill Sun 25-Sep-11 19:17:13

If you write a complaint the head has to respond in writing addressing the points you have made, if you share it with OFSTED they will also look at the school's record and policies......if they don't have any they soon will!

MrsZoidberg Sat 08-Oct-11 11:51:18

Sorry to comment on an older post but I so agree with you OP.

In my son's primary school he was bullied relentlessly. I complained and complained, to teacher and to head. In every Governor's meeting the Head stood there and stated that there were no cases of bullying reported that month. I knew of at least three other parents in the same year group who had complained. In this situation the Head didn't want his school to look bad in the eyes of Ofsted etc, i.e. he didn;t deal with it due to pride. We moved schools.

In secondary school, DS had a great first year. At the start of year 8 a new boy (lets call him L) started and made my son's life hell. But not just my son, L was happy to stab anybody with a pencil, throw chairs at anybody, damage classroom stuff etc. As he found his feet in the new school he then became selective and picked mostly on my son. It came to a head when he brought in cigarettes and a lighter and was messing around with it at break, trying to set stuff alight. DS told me on the way home so I emailed the year head. L accused DS of telling on him - the yearhead told me that he had had several reports so DS was not the only one. L really hurt DS the next day. School did little, a lunchtime exclusion. DS became ill at this time. This was two years ago and DS is still ill. He is now home edded and thriving, he is still ill but the symptoms are manageable. Everytime L picked on someone he would then scream at them - "You can't touch me I have (insert SN here)" The Sn would be dyspraxia, adhd, asd etc. From other comments we believe he was expelled from his previous school. In this case the school did nothing apparently due to inability to punish him due to his conditions - i.e. they were too cowardly to do anything.

So ProtectiveDad, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Schools are too reluctant to deal with the bullies and would prefer the victims to leave. This, I believe, is down to the namby-pamby bleeding hearts brigade. Pupils do not have respect for teachers and until teachers can use real discipline pupils will never gain this respect. If pupils do not learn respect at this age, what hope do they have in later life.

Rant over grin

toptramp Sun 16-Oct-11 19:51:33

I was cyber bullied as a teacher by students and management tried to gag me. Schools definately have the ostrich attitude towards this issue. It's horrendous what goes on and schools need to wise up.

ProtectiveDad Sun 09-Sep-12 11:38:38

I haven't been back to the topic of bullying in a while. But I wanted to remind everyone that National Anti-Bullying Week is this November-and it looks as if it is being extended to a month. There is a very good link (below) to what is offered-including roadshows and workshops. I have been in touch with the Headmistress at Wimbledon High School hoping to encourage her to look into what can be done during the Week-as readers of my previous posts will know that Wimbledon High was not very good in dealing with bullying (specfically of my daughter) a few years ago. I would encourage all of you worried about bullying to contact your child's school to make sure the school is aware of the current resources available.

ProtectiveDad Sun 16-Sep-12 11:12:19

Unfortunately my entry onto Heather Hanbury's blog at Wimbledon High pointing out what was on offer this November has been censored-so can I encourage all parents out there at the High School to raise awareness with Heather? My concern is that wonderfully written policies on anti-bullying (as the High School has) mean very little-what is important is the action that follows from bullying taking place. And that is where so many schools fall down-as can be seen from the various references on this site to the difficulties encountered by parents and children when seeking help from their school. We suffered particularly at Wimbledon High which is why I am so keen that the school now focusses not only on what they say they will do-but actually on taking appropriate and firm action when needed. If I was looking around again for a school for my daughter I know I would now ask not what the school's policies and views were on bullying but how many girls had been punished, suspended or excluded/expelled for bullying in the last few years. To be told none suggests words but no action-exactly my concern (because no school is exempt from having children bully each other).

meddie Sun 23-Sep-12 23:07:46

My daughters school had a policy of zero tolerance to bullying. It wasn't worth the paper it was written on. my DD was bullied relentlessly for nearly 2 years. I told her to walk away and go report it to a teacher, tried to teach her how not to get wound up by the verbal bullying etc. One day when she was crying about the bullying I again told her to report it to a teacher and not to react, at which point she told me that the teachers told her to "go away and stop telling tales".
I just lost it and told my DD to punch the bully until they cried. That very afternoon I got called into the school as apparently she had took me at my word and when she was in the changing room, a few children had started calling her names and she took out 6 kids. One who unfortunately was just passing by to pick up his gym kit.
The school were indignant. I told them I would defend her to the hilt as they had failed to do so and that if she was attacked again that she was to defend herself if needed.
Totally the wrong way to handle things, but from that day on her confidence soared and the bullying stopped.
Just as shame it had to get to that point.

Losingitall Sun 23-Sep-12 23:14:55

My eldest DC was bullied for 2 yrs in primary. Schools response was to refer him to an Ed psych!

My youngest is at the same primary. One boy will call him x has been a bully since reception- now in yr 6!

Police called in twice as he threatened 2 pupils with a weapon.

My youngest is hot headed but will stand up for himself.
Last year the school created a self help group for the boys in the class "how to not react to x's aggressive behaviour"

Anyway it seems my DS has had enough of X.
X punched him in the stomach at playtime last week so my DS punched him in the face.

I got a text from school. For my DS to avoid X or there would be consequences.

Well tough! They've had 7 yrs to sort X out and if my son has to protect himself then do be it.

AllyStarxox10 Wed 06-Nov-13 18:17:58

Hi I'm a kid who was bullied and I kept quiet until I burst out crying in the car.I told my mum and she talked to the teacher and I was happy again.

A bit of advice. If the kid says don't tell the teacher then do the exact opposite!

Manchesterhistorygirl Thu 07-Nov-13 09:48:39

Ds1 is being bullied and we went to look around another school, we're waiting for places, the heads response was that it would be classed as an unauthorised absence and a fine possibly issued. There have been issues with him being bullied for getting on two years and the school are refusing to deal appropriately or effectively with it.

The last week before half term ds was pushed over and jumped on so much his uniform was soaked through. My poor boy had to change into his pe kit and no communication given to me about why or how this had happened.

The schools answer is for ds to come inside with other child at lunch and breaks to stay out of the way of the others. hmm the class teacher did say she will not be making examples of the bullies and isolating them for their behaviour.

Later that same week, ds was again pushed over and jumped on and had "X must die" chanted as he was being jumped on. Ds reported this to lunch time assistant, and told dh on the way home. So I called school immediately. They followed up with "midday assistant and child involved can't remember, so benefit of doubt that it didn't happen."

There have been several instances of name calling and other low level physical violence in the past and nothing is or has been done about it.

I am desperate for a place to come up somewhere else and strongly considering home ed until one does. I have lost all faith in the school and their abilities.

68baby Wed 13-Nov-13 10:06:44

My 13 yr old son has been bullied at school. He was being repeatedly hit hard by a kid he sat next to in one lesson. He's reported it. Action has been taken. Now he's the victim of gossip and pervasive intimidation about being "a dobber". He feels "isolated" and "depressed".

He & I both know reporting the bullying was the right thing to do. It accords with our values and with all the policy, PSHE lessons, assemblies that the school provides.

Just one problem; in practice reporting bullying has made my child's life worse. The perpetrator is not directly bullying now; instead he has put about a false story of what occurred, minimised his actions and is making out that my son is physically weak and not "cool".

The bullying was happening in one lesson on one day. Now my son feels the he cannot move around the school and see his friends. He thinks he will just have to go to the library at break. He has been advised by us to talk to his friends so that they know what really happened, to make plans for break time and to keep his head up.

Why are the repercussions of reporting bullying not dealt with more overtly? My son needed to know what to expect and have some strategies in place to deal with eventualities. I feel stupid for accepting reassurances that it was unlikely to go further.

All the advice is about reporting, but equipping kids to deal with what happens next is key. Obviously my son now feels that he cannot be seen to be talking to staff. I have been advised by a member of the senior leadership team to tell him to "pretend he has a thick skin". Actually, that might be good advice in an imperfect world, but why was it not given when the incident was reported?

Now my son is the victim of indirect, social bullying which is much harder to deal with. I feel that I have not supported him as well as I might have and I'm at risk of annoying the school by insisting that deal with something that, after the event, I am informed was "inevitable". Yet another example of how being a parent is the hardest job in the world!

jonicomelately Wed 13-Nov-13 10:32:30

I agree about the repurcussions point that's been made. My ds was bullied and when I eventually asked the school to deal with it they were great. However, the abuse ds and I got from the mothers of the bullies was awful. He didn't get invited to a single party for the remainder of that acadmic year (a period of ten months) because one of the mothers thinks she is an alpha mother.
It was a good thing in the long run though because ds made a new set of friends and he's moved on to another school now.

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