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Preteens

Bullying in whatsapp group

7 replies

Catbell82 · 03/02/2022 09:03

I recently gave my 11 yr old son my old phone and allowed him to get whatsapp. Occasionally I read his messages (my husband says this is wrong but I feel it's an unfortunate necessity). A whatsapp group has been set up with a few kids from his class and some of the messages I've been reading sound like bullying to me. My son often seems to be an easy target to some of these kids (even before he got a phone). It's never been really bad things but lots of little snide comments and put-downs. Some of the things I've read in the whatsapp group are probably the kids thinking they're being funny but a lot of it is aimed at my son. One of his friends yesterday said 'stop being mean to S' and another boy (who is supposed to be his friend) said 'but it's funny'. A girl yesterday called him a 'f*ing twat'. When another boy asked why she said that, a different boy said 'I'm trying to have a conversation, why is S getting involved'.
I really don't know how to handle this but I feel very angry. My son never acts like he's upset but I find it hard to believe none of this affects him. I would like to talk to him about it but don't know how to without telling him that I read his messages?
I'm also wondering whether it's worth talking to the school. I've heard of a couple of schools in our area that have banned class whatsapp groups although I have no idea how they police it.
I want to convince him to leave that group and only use whatsapp to talk to his actual friends but he's so desperate to feel included that I know he won't do it. I wish I would help him be confident enough to stop trying to be friends with some of these kids.
Sorry this was a long one but any advice appreciated!

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Coffeekam · 03/02/2022 09:07

I feel you’re pain. I have a 10 year old son and he doesn’t have a phone yet but is also an easy target from his “friends”. I have been putting off the phone situation for this reason. He had a watch I can contact him on.

I make it absolutely clear that I have full access to his messages on his watch. There js serious safeguarding issues if you don’t monitor his phone usage. So I wouldn’t worry about that. He’s 11 he doesn’t have a right to privacy yet with his phone or internet usage and I would be making that clear and calling out anything that concerns me.

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Catbell82 · 03/02/2022 09:28

You're right - I should never have allowed him to think that I wouldn't check his phone. I'm going to have to set that one straight

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Liveforyourself · 03/02/2022 09:37

This is a very tricky one op . I completely understand your perspective. Is there a way you can talk to your son about what's just friendly banter and what's bullying? You can include some examples from your own life and tell him how you felt and go on from there . As a child he needs to feel accepted but personally I feel of you let people walk over you they will continue to trample you. may be talk to him about reporting it to the teacher to begin with. That should send the message to the person constantly belittling him. What's app legal age is 14 or 16 ,I am not sure but school normally can't really do anything apart from sending a newsletter.(your school could be different) I am happy to hear that someone actually stuck up for him that shows that he has some good friends. Can you continue to foster those relationship s without letting him know, like arranging play dates and outings?

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Undecided1985 · 03/02/2022 09:49

Oh Gosh this is why i have held out against a phone for so long the fear of bullying being present morning noon and night - not the best solution tbf! now DS is yr6

I would remove Whatsapp - just say its for 13 year olds and he cant have it -

Teach him that he is of value and .that he shouldn't accept being spoken to like that if people do this they are not friends

My son sounds similar to yours a kind boy always looking to be a friend almost too much to the point he "doesn't mind" being the butt of jokes etc so completely get where you are coming from

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Undecided1985 · 03/02/2022 09:57

Just to say totally also get the desire to move your DS on from certain friends - but its so hard for them because they are in school with these children in my children's school they are kept on the same class from yr1 to yr6 and tbh being with the same kids for 6 yrs creates an unhealthy dynamic imo where its easier said than done to find new friends because you have very few options or choice

but if your DS can focus a bit more on the boy who stood up for him that could help

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Catbell82 · 03/02/2022 10:29

Thank you for all the advice. We will talk to him about not allowing people to talk to him like this. I don't feel I can just remove whatsapp now - that will result in lots of tears. But I am going to tell him that I will be monitoring it and he is only to use it to talk to friends and not be involved in these class groups.

Unfortunately focusing on the friendship with the boy who stood up for him isn't really an option. This boy is best friends with one of the boys who is unkind to my son...

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NoSquirrels · 03/02/2022 10:33

My 11 year old isn’t allowed WhatsApp for the very reason you’re talking about here. It’s a maturity issue and learning to communicate in group chats is a skill most preteens don’t have and need to develop, hence year 6/7 WhatsApp groups tend to be a nightmare. Just had the discussion about it with my older teen, actually, and they agreed that WhatsApp was awful in year 7 - we allowed it for high school but primary was a big no.

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