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Bullied ds turning on the bully

(27 Posts)
Knitjob Wed 21-Feb-18 13:58:43

Long backstory, sorry.

Ds is 11, final year of primary. He's a kid with a strong sense of justice and fairness and will always challenge anything he thinks is not fair, not just for himself but for others. This is a good thing, but has its downsides too, he can never let anything go until he's said his piece.

Last year a kid joined their class from a neighbouring school. It was widely known that he was moving because his old school couldn't manage his behaviour. The class were told in advance that he was coming and why. A group of kids were picked out and asked to look out for him and told that their good influence would help him. (I have no comment on whether this was right or appropriate, it's just what happened)

So ds made it his mission to befriend the boy and show him a good example. This all came to a sticky end when he stole sweets from shops and caused so much disruption in a local cafe and youth centre that they were all banned. Ds then decided that he did not want to spend time with him any more and stopped going out to play.

Since then the boy has made ds' life miserable in and out of school. The list of bullying behaviour is long and not really that important now. The school have been involved but not very useful.

Recently, I'm not sure what has changed, but ds has decided that he is not going to hide away from this kid or let him behave badly any more. He has this idea that if he does enough bad things he will have to leave our school too and all will be fine again.

So ds has started challenging every thing this kid does, every time he is mean to someone, every time he does something unfair. Whether it directly affects ds or not.

For example, the boy kicked someone on purpose in a football match. Ds saw, got the game stopped, got the incident investigated by the teacher who was refereeing, the boy lost his temper, the game got abandoned and everyone had to go inside. Other people had seen it too but no-one else would say anything. Ds was technically in the right but look at the consequences, no-one got to play football.

Some other incident in the classroom ds called the boy a hypocrite. The boy threw a chair at him and the whole class got evacuated while the boy remained in the classroom throwing furniture around. I spoke to the teacher and she confirmed that ds had used the word correctly and the boy was being a hypocrite. But again look what happened as a consequence of ds feeling the need to prove himself right and the other person wrong.

The boy punched another child this week, nothing at all to do with ds, but he got stuck in, separated them and took the other boy to the office for medical help and made sure everyone knew who had done it.

I can't help feeling that ds is almost taking some sort of pleasure in the boy's bad behaviour and seeing him get in trouble. This is the part I don't know what to do about. I can understand why, after months of bullying, you want to see your tormentor get his comeuppance, but there is something about ds' attitude to it I just don't like. He used to come home and be a bit reluctant to tell me things that had happened, now he can't wait to get home and tell me the latest thing. I feel almost like he is provoking him so he will be bad and have to leave. And again, I can half understand him feeling like that. But it's not right, is it?

I have tried to suggest he just keeps his head down and doesn't get involved, but one of the things that upsets him the most is how he feels his friends don't stand up for him when he is being bullied, so he is going to stand up for others when he sees it happening to them.

I tried to build him up for so long, help him see that it was not his fault for being bullied, praised him for being brave enough to say he didn't want to be friends when almost everyone else in the class is still scared of him and trying desperately to stay in his gang. I tried to help him not feel embarrassed about it, and if he was feeling upset or sad he should just say why, not feel he had to make excuses or try to hide it in some way.

Now I just have this nagging feeling that it's all gone a bit too far the other way but I'm not sure what to say now.

I want to say "please just keep your head down and your mouth shut from now till June. Don't provoke the boy or draw attention to yourself". But that seems really defeatist compared to all the positive stuff I was trying to say to him before.

Why is parenting so hard?

Heratnumber7 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:02:26

I'd say good on your DS. The world needs more people like him.
You should be helping him become a lawyer.

LoveB Wed 21-Feb-18 14:08:15

Hmm tricky. Why don't you just talk to your DS and explain exactly what you've just told us, that although you understand, you don't want it to go too far the other way and you don't want him to get enjoyment out of it.

Hiddeninplainsight Wed 21-Feb-18 15:21:04

It sounds a very difficult situation. I think that perhaps trying to develop some compassion for this other boy would be useful. There is lots in your DS which is valuable, but righteousness has to mix with compassion. This other boy is clearly struggling with many emotional and behavioural issues. It is impossible to know what that boy has experienced, but it is clear he isn’t happy. I think your DS sounds like he needs a reason, and maybe that would help him manage things differently. Combine a sense of justice with compassion and you have a winning combination I think. From the sounds of things, you have that.

Knitjob Wed 21-Feb-18 17:41:13

Well I tried to have a bit of a chat to him after school today and he ended up in floods of tears.

He admitted that he desperately wants this boy to be away from him and his class and part of his strategy is to make sure the teachers know about every single thing that happens. We've had a chat about how the boy leaving the school is out of our control and he should calm down a bit with the reporting.

We have talked before about showing compassion but you know, the other boy's home situation is not really our concern. And I honestly think my son's compassion for this particular person is all used up after months and months of bullying.

I asked him if he had made up any stories that were not true to get the boy in more trouble but he's adamant that has not happened.

What a big mess.

Oblomov18 Wed 21-Feb-18 18:06:12

I agree with pp. tell ds what you have said here. That it's swung a bit too far the other way and that makes you uncomfortable.
Just telling him should be sufficient.

RainbowGlitterFairy Wed 21-Feb-18 18:06:39

Could you maybe talk to the school and DS and see if there is a way he can make sure the teachers are aware of what is going on without directly challenging the boy every time. ie. could he have a specific member of staff he can go and talk to who will keep a record? That way he doesn't need to feel the boy is getting away with anything but also isn't putting himself in any danger or making situations worse.

FissionChips Wed 21-Feb-18 18:09:49

Well, if the kid wasn’t such a nasty shit then there would be nothing for your DS to point out.
You’re DS sounds great.

FissionChips Wed 21-Feb-18 18:10:03

Your*

Hiddeninplainsight Wed 21-Feb-18 18:24:45

Hmmm. I guess we will just have to disagree. It may not be your concern as to what his home life is, and your son is clearly right that if you get rid of the difficult kid, things can be nice again. But it doesn’t really address the issue of those children who have problems. Maybe, at 10 or 11, this kid is just a failure at life and will stay troubled and that is it. Maybe he was born bad. Maybe he has had such a crap existence he just can’t deal with it, or maybe he has mental health or learning difficulties. Whatever it is, personally I think there should always be space for compassion. It is understandable that your son finds it hard. I would say that is where a parent comes in. That isn’t to excuse or accept bad behaviour, just to understand that for some people, for some reason, it is harder. Life can be shit and sometimes people react badly. I look at some of the things people have to live through and live with and I don’t know how I would react in those situations. It is too easy to judge and dismiss. And I am not remotely minimising the suffering your son has experienced. I think the way he has found a strength is a really positive thing. It is just what he does with it and why.

Itsbecauseimaleo Wed 21-Feb-18 18:29:05

I think what your ds is doing is great. There may be some consequences now but it'll be worth it once the school removes the awful bully. Not to sound judgey but I think it's sad you want to discourage your sons behaviour when he's doing the right thing. Standing up for others is important

fluffedupferretonsteroids Wed 21-Feb-18 18:45:02

I got bullied all through my years at school and i was always told by teachers that the bullys may have issues and thats why they are acting this way and i basically have to deal with it. I think what your boy is doing is lovely sticking up for his friends and himself. Its not a childs problem why someone may be bullying.

Knitjob Wed 21-Feb-18 20:00:24

I think maybe the idea of him storing up the behaviour and reporting it all at once to someone might be the best thing. I will say something along the lines of not wanting to give the boy attention, which is all that happens when he is challenged publicly. Then he gets the opportunity to kick off in front of everyone and gets lots of attention from teachers and staff. If ds just ignores the comments then the boy gets less attention. But he can still make teachers aware quietly later if he feels he has to. And maybe some of the less bad stuff will be forgotten as the day goes on.

I have to say something though about compassion. We are talking here about an11yr old who has had his life disrupted nearly every day for the past year. His school life is disrupted several times a week. Playtimes are difficult. He comes home for lunch every day so he doesn’t have to be in the playground. He doesn’t want to go out after school any more. Even I am struggling to show compassion now and I’m an adult.

We have talked so much in our family about being kind to everyone, how everyone’s circmstances are different, we know the boy’s family, we know the kind of life he has. We have talked about how unhappy the boy must be, how he doesn’t have parents who help him with homework and school projects, how he doesn’t get lovely opportunities like music lessons and drama club. My lad has shown so much patience and kindness and understanding. He has put up with so much.

I will however remind him again of the importance of being kind and not going out of your way to provoke others or get them into trouble unnecessarily, and not to take pleasure in another’s downfall.

Hiddeninplainsight Wed 21-Feb-18 20:29:37

I think that sounds like an excellent approach knitjob. And please don’t think I am in anyway judging your DS negativity. I think his behaviour is totally understandable. I do think he sounds like a bright and thoughtful little boy. I also think that he is too young to be able to imagine the broader picture, but I do think that an adult to help with that would help him. It is hard to understand why little kids can be so horrible. Clearly a lot of adults struggle (and I am not referring to you). I guess if I was in the same situation it would be harder to be try and remind my child about understanding because clearly no one wants to see their child bullied and having to deal with that. So I also know it is easy for me to have compassion. But I honestly think it is important for kids to be reminded that no child is just bad or nasty, and that it is often the crap that child that has experienced that makes them like that. It doesn’t mean you should accept their behaviour. It doesn’t mean you accept bullying. But it does mean you can understand that behaviour is complicated.

Coloursthatweremyjoy Wed 21-Feb-18 20:46:13

What stood out for me is your son saying that nobody stood up fkr him so he will stand up for others. Thats beyond admirable.

What do school say? I might be tempted to ask them how they expected it not to swing the other way given what your son has been through. Everyone has limits.

On one hand provoking someone isn't nice but on the other children with needs, whatever those are don't get them met by things being barely managed and brushed under the carpet. Your son could be a gift to this boy really.

Maybe he just needs to feel proactive, like a superhero, defending others. A game plan makes you feel strong after all.

Arapaima Wed 21-Feb-18 21:05:49

Totally get what you mean about running out of compassion OP. At my DC’s school there is a lot of emphasis on compassion for the bully... but we need to remember the victims too.

The thing that would worry me is that your DS will make himself unpopular with his friends, eg when the football match was cancelled. They’ll get a bit fed up if that kind of thing keeps happening. You could try pointing that out to DS?

admission Wed 21-Feb-18 21:06:27

There is another side to this situation. The school will be doing everything they can to keep this other pupil in the school till the end of year 6. They will be desperate to not have to permanently exclude him, especially as he obviously came to the school under some kind of managed move.
OP if your son continues to point out all the negative behaviours of this child then it is only a matter of time before the other child reacts and ends up doing something to your son. That is not something that anybody wants to happen but it is something that is likely to happen. If your son also reacts then there will be consequences and the school could be faced with having to punish both your son and the other pupil, no matter the circmstances.
To me it is therefore vital that your son understands his current course of action will not get the other pupil removed from the school and could in the wrong circumstances end up with him being punished. He needs to moderate his behaviour to the other child and frankly just do not get involved in anything to do with this child.
I think the school were unwise in the way that this pupil was bought into the school. Their action in getting a group of pupils to look out for him was to my mind flawed as he arrived at the school as someone who was a known troublemaker to all the class. It would have been better to introduce him into the school without telling everybody he was a naughty boy and to at least try to give the kid a new start.

BarbarianMum Fri 23-Feb-18 15:55:29

<<I can't help feeling that ds is almost taking some sort of pleasure in the boy's bad behaviour and seeing him get in trouble. >>

I can totally see where your ds is coming from BUT I think that drawing attention to every last thing this child does wrong and constantly reporting him is a form of goading and could verge on bullying itself. How sure is he that he's getting the whole picture with each and every incident? Do you think he's being entirely impartial or has he already allocated blame?

We've just had a similar situation in ds2's class this year. The child in question was less extreme than the one you are describing but came to the school a year ago as a managed move and did have some behavioural problems. Now he has basically been bullied out of the school by a couple of girls who made it their mission to follow him everywhere and give their (rather partial) account of everything he said/did that they felt was wrong. When he wasn't doing enough bad stuff, they made a bit up, just to help things along, then he'd explode at being unfairly accused and be punished for that - and on and on. In the end his parents removed him.

We've been involved because ds2 was one of the boys who'd befriended him. It's been a very nasty business.

Knitjob Fri 23-Feb-18 18:42:15

Barbarianmum that's exactly my worry. We've had a good chat about it again and I have told his teacher I'm worried too. So he will keep an eye on them both and can filter out some of the stories hopefully.

5plusMeAndHim Fri 23-Feb-18 19:02:17

how would any of us feel at work if a colleague trumpeted our every mistake and infringement?

BarbarianMum Fri 23-Feb-18 22:37:42

I think you've done the right thing OP. Your ds is trying to solve the problem the only way he knows how, but better to have some adult oversight to ensure things don't get out if hand.

irvineoneohone Sat 24-Feb-18 06:58:20

I think genuine urge to help others and stand up for them, and just trying to get the boy in trouble with everything he does wrong makes a big difference. Teachers and other children maybe able to see through it, and he may end up being a trouble maker if he carry on doing what he is doing.

PeteAndManu Sat 24-Feb-18 17:37:25

I think the school are handling this badly especially as they are aware the child has issues. Your DS pointing things out are trigger events that are escalating the behaviour and causing disruption to the whole class. I don’t blame your son for this at all he is an 11yo with a sense of fairness. However the school should be assessing the incidents and trigger points so behaviour doesn’t escalate and result in all the attention being focused on this one child. If they intervene at the right point the child can choose to go down a different path. The school should be stepping in straight away and not relying on a fellow pupil to police the situation. It is not fair on any of the children involved your son, his classmates or the child.

User14567891 Sat 24-Feb-18 21:13:57

how would any of us feel at work if a colleague trumpeted our every mistake and infringement?

This particular colleague would long ago have been fired for gross misconduct as employers generally frown on employees who punch and throw chairs at others.

OP - have School raised any concerns about your son’s behaviour? I can’t see how standing up for himself and others after months of being bullied is a bad thing? It’s not like he’s making up things to get the other child in trouble. He’s just informing a teacher off his bad behaviour. Which is what schools always tell kids to do. He’s not responsible for everyone missing out on football etc. The other child’s behaviour is. It sounds like he’s had a hard time. I’d go very easy on him.

5plusMeAndHim Sun 25-Feb-18 10:31:05

This particular colleague would long ago have been fired for gross misconduct as employers generally frown on employees who punch and throw chairs at others
You can't argue with stupid!!!

The OP's son is watching the boy like a hawk so he can run to the teacher telling tales.Not only is this a form of bullying, it is going to make your DS himself unpopular .Maybe we are beginning to see why this boy dislikes your DS so much .Nobody likes a telltale!

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