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(12 Posts)
nostress Thu 03-Oct-13 15:04:43

DS is in Y6 and is never in trouble for bullying (occasionally in trouble for chatting as opposed to working!). Found a note in DS's homework diary stating he had said "[best friend's name] weighs twice as much as a person". Along with that was a red triangle warning stamp. No further explanation. So I asked DS and he explained that [best friend] had told him he weighed 40kg DS was shocked about this as he only weighs 25kg (he only knows this because he is on meds that are weight dependent) so he said "that means you weigh one and a half times as much a person [meaning himself obviously]". This was an exclamation not any sort of bullying and it is factually correct. However, the teacher (RS teacher not his actual teacher) was walking behind their desk and got really cross with him and was not interested in his explanation. DS is upset as 1) he wasn't being nasty 2)[best friend] was not bothered and was also discussing the differences in a similar manner 3) the teacher exaggerated the quote 4) One more warning and he will have a detention and he has never had one.

So I filled up the rest of the week's space with a note saying yes punish if malicious but the phrase was totally put out of context. And the explanation he gave is perfectly reasonable this was NOT chanting or picking on in the playground.

Also DS's aunty died recently of anorexia so he is acutely aware of eating disorders and I am sure he would not say anything to upset people about their weight. And if anything he thinks he is too skinny and likes people with a bit of meat on their bones so if anything he was probably highlighting his own skinniness.

I'm irritated by the teacher's unwillingness to listen to the explanation and now the comment is in his HW diary for all his other teachers to think he is a bit of a bully.

EmeraldJeanie Thu 03-Oct-13 16:09:18

I think your response fine.
Usually I support teachers totally with my children's occasional not great behaviour but would also say if I had concerns. [Got tearful child at moment who certainly deserved trouble he is in at school today- ho hum].

cansu Thu 03-Oct-13 18:25:18

Oh dear what a terrible thing to happen! Your ds made an unpleasant remark and teacher warned him not to do so again. Lets imagine that his friend didnt like the comment so much and was actually quite hurt but felt embarrassed about it. Perhaps this child has been the subject of other jokey but unkind comments and the teacher is trying to protect this child? Perhaps you just over reacted and would have been better to say to your ds, 'well it wasnt a nice thing to say, you need to think about what you say and whether it might hurt someone's feelings'.

soontobeslendergirl Thu 03-Oct-13 18:35:50

Surely 40kg is only about 6 and bit stone anyway so his friend is hardly a heavyweight as I guess he is about 10 or 11? Sounds like the teacher was passing on her own judgement/issues rather than an actual problem. My not long turned 12 year old weighs over 9 stone but he is nearly 5' 7 so that's pretty spot on for him as he has a broad build.

Your note sounds fine.

clam Thu 03-Oct-13 18:37:08

Don't think your note was necessary. Let it go.
He's Year 6. Far, FAR worse things will happen at secondary. Get used to it.

tiggytape Thu 03-Oct-13 22:12:33

Well the fact that he's chatting in class time probably merits a telling off anyway but I do think the teacher is right to be vigilant about such things and not allow someone to talk their way out of it by saying it was a totally innocent remark.

A common defence of bullying via unkind comments is that either the comment is true or that it is said as a joke. Neither of those things makes it O.K.

I am not saying your DS is a bully just that you cannot expect teachers to ignore something that seems personal and unkind or allow a child to explain away a rude remark because (even if they didn't intend to be rude) because this is how real bullies get away with it.

At best it was a silly, ill advised thing to say (to comment on someone's weight in a way that would appear negative to anyone who heard it). At worst it was an unkind comment that his best friend chose to pretend he was fine with because he was probably embarrassed and didn't know how to react.

Either way the consequences aren't so awful and it is a lesson learnt that there are things you should not say to people even if they are true and even if your intentions are not unkind because they can be hurtful.

cory Thu 03-Oct-13 22:58:06

Does he usually use "a person" instead of the first person pronoun? To me, from a child his age, this probably would sound like "a normal person", which would be offensive.

nostress Fri 04-Oct-13 07:20:37

Thanks all- wise words! But it wasn't the case that he just said it randomly. His friend told him and he made the comparison. As you say his friend's weight is not an issue.

He definitely did not use "normal" as the teacher comment did not include that word and neither did my son when he told me about it.

tiggytape Fri 04-Oct-13 07:34:09

I would say the term "a person" implies "a normal person"

Just like if he'd said to someone of very short stature: "Wow you're half the height of a person"
.....that is offensive because it implies either the other child isn't a person or at least isn't a normal person.

Either way comments, factual or otherwise about height and weight and appearance are something the school will rightly clamp down on and it is good to learn at some stage to keep those thoughts to yourself.

clam Fri 04-Oct-13 18:16:11

But "a person" isn't a common phrase in that context, so something doesn't add up.

desertgirl Fri 04-Oct-13 18:36:18

wouldn't the "a person" just mean something like 'wow, I'm half/twice the size of a person' - ie, there is a person who is twice/half as big as me (as opposed to finding a cat, dog, etc of that size)? so much depends on tone etc - probably best just to tell him that it's best to avoid personal remarks (as he is growing up in the UK. There are other places where they seem to be entirely par for the course) as even if not intended with ill will they can be misconstrued (as may have happened here).

clam Fri 04-Oct-13 18:39:32

Still doesn't work for me. "I'm half the size of an elephant," yes. "I'm twice the weight of a goat," yes. "Twice the size of a person?" No.

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