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Defensive Denial - 7 year old being bullied

Defensive Denial - 7 year old being bullied           reply
06/10/2010 23:49 - Bullying (Locality: Dublin South)
There are some really nasty pieces of work in my child´s class. He can be prone to a bit of fantasy and that is why I have waited before bringing this issue to the teacher, as I wanted to sift through and get to the facts. When meeting with the principal, I received the "boys will be boys" defense. She acted as if she was angry about having to investigate something she has already made up her mind is not happening. My child´s being bullied according to the school´s behaviour policy. Does this policy apply to only girls? This is the second letter I´ve written and hand delivered in 2 years regarding this issue. My child is beginning to show signs of it happening, I´ve sent photos, names and what they are doing, and I´ve spoken to teachers and the principal. I´m not waiting until he´s convinced he is worthless. I have been civil and fair until this point, but I´m shocked at the protection of the other children and the lack of it with mine. First I´m told he is carefully watched (he was hurt in Jr. Infants by one of the boys and needed medical attention) and they have seen nothing; the next they can´t watch all the kids all the time. I´ve heard from some of my child´s classmates that these boys do it to them and a few of the parents have also mentioned it, yet they do not come forward. I´m tired of the convenient excuses from the principal, the implication that I´m over-protective, and being called a liar.

She´s calling the boys in question in individually to discuss with them, but does she really think they are going to admit to doing it? Isn´t the reason bullying is so successful is because it is hidden? Is this why we have such a rampant bulying problem? Why is the "boys will be boys" defense used to excuse this problem?

He´s having trouble in some subjects that he did very well in over summer with me. His last report was very positive. He´s been called "gifted" by the school when I wasn´t pushing this issue, but they now have him in a reading support group. This is a child who learned over 200 words of vocabulary (with me) in 2.5 weeks; reading and writing. I´m beginning to wonder if they are trying to get us to leave.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

re... : Defensive Denial - 7 year old being bullied           reply
17/02/2011 23:57 - Bullying
Glad to receive some clarification. I hadn´t noticed that your original post was last October, as the two immediately following yours were much more recent. My tone was not argumentative, rather one that was that of devil´s advocate, if you like. It is important to consider both sides.
I have studied the topic of ´bullying´ in depth, so I have a strong understanding of the subject both in society and in educational settings. I have encountered situations involving two children, for example, where the parents of both children firmly believed that their child was the one being bullied by the other. It does happen, whether we like it or not, that many parents refuse to consider or accept, that their child could be the bully (victim yes but bully is another story).

Your recent description of the questioning of the other children, as opposed to the questioning of your child, is very different to your earlier description. It is much more informative. Clearly, the principal took a lot of time over the matter but if the other children had their parents with them, then the same should have been the case for your child. Having said that, I gather you had a number of conversations with this principal, whereas, this ´bullying´ may well have been news to these other parents, who needed to be called in. Are you saying that the principal never ever spoke to your child, at any time, in your presence, either then or on another occasion?
Whatever the case, I did sense your frustration and negativity in your initial post and did believe, from what I could see, that that was not a good basis for going forward. Trust and respect between home and school are vital and it´s a two way street. I believe this is very important for a positive outcome for all involved. I hope things will continue to improve for your little one.

re : Defensive Denial - 7 year old being bullied           reply
13/02/2011 01:11 - Bullying
I´m not aware of all the facts here. There are some elements of your post that beg some questions though. You seem concerned about the fact that the principal is not doing anything/enough about the alleged bullying yet you say she has questioned children individually. You feel this is inappropriate as the children are unlikely to admit. I can assure you they are far less likely to admit or give any real information in a group setting, where they could be seen as telling tales on other.
You say you were working with your child during the summer holidays, when he was probably 6 years old and that he was doing very well? Why did you feel you needed to work during the summer with a 6 year old who was doing well. Surely he needed a break? Now you feel that he is not doing so well in school where you have mentioned a support group in reading. Maybe I´m being devil´s advocate here but you seem very negative towards the school. Perhaps it is time to move on.

re... : Defensive Denial - 7 year old being bullied           reply
17/02/2011 05:35 - Bullying
This is a subject I haven´t discussed for months, as life has moved on. However, some of your questions, although probably not intentionally argumentative, are in the same vein of questions we were continually being blasted with by his principal. It is this reason, that I am responding in hope that others will be more willing to follow their parental "intuition" and act accordingly.

First, it is was the constant denial, inconsistencies and out-right lies from the principal that really raised flags, so to speak. Before, we questioned ourselves and whether or not our child was telling the truth. We questioned our home-life. We questioned each other. We questioned our interpretation of physical and emotional evidence. We didn´t do more, for fear that parental paranoia could hurt someone else´s child, or that we were being too protective. The school always had an excuse or a convenient out for everything. But after awhile some of the excuses were just laughably bad.

Second, we tried very hard to be understanding of the fact that these are children, but all it got us was a child who exhibited extreme signs of distress. I´m not a paranoid person, not by a long-shot, but when one of his teachers (who no longer teaches there) noticed he was not the same child he was in her class and said that it was very possible they would try to get rid of him/us, plus his pre-school teacher saying the same thing...two unsolicited conversations with non-biased people...PLUS his gp beginning to strongly suspect that some of his medical problems were stress-related ... well, it was time to do something.

Third, we worked with him over the summer, per the schools advice to ALL the parents at their school. He read, wrote, etc. very well and his reports had always been very good. Over summer, he was encouraged to read his favourite mags and books, write grocery lists, etc. This was not continued full-on education.

Fourth, the archaic information regarding bullying/being bullied used by the "authorities" at his school was the last straw. I was in contact with someone who has studied bullying in Ireland for decades and is considered the expert here on childhood bullying patterns and EVERYTHING his school reps believed to be true is myth, not fact. Perhaps they know that and just thought we were too thick to know any better? I don´t know and I really don´t care, at this point. But know this: this expert said it is the consistent denial of school personnel that has made bullying of children in Ireland an epidemic and the violence and suicide rate of our kids has increased as a result. THAT is a fact, not a convenient myth.

Yes, the children were called in individually, but each had their parents with them or had been alerted to it days before. When someone tells me, "I´ll investigate, but I won´t find anything," I question their investigative-methods. Our child was spoken to alone and without warning. He was told he was lying. That if he kept doing these things, no one would like him. They found other ways of punishing him, but I won´t get into that now. I´ll let your imagination fill in the blanks.

After we removed him, we were approached by a few parents in his class and they all had their own stories, but nothing has changed. This wonderful school, the best in the area from what we were told, failed our son academically and socially; and I spend my every waking hour teaching myself how to teach him what he didn´t learn while all this was going on and the class size continued to grow to a well-above-average level. We are very lucky that he is quick and motivated, and that I am able to live off 3 hours of sleep a night and a constant focus on his education for months. We also found out more things that I won´t go into here.

I never imagined that we´d be were we are now and I don´t recommend it, especially if you do it without anything in place prior to the decision we made. We don´t make a big deal of all of this around him, as we never have. I´m a firm believer that kids look to their parents on how to react to things and so does his dad. And to be honest I don´t really care what was happening, all I know is that our child is slowly coming around to where he was a few years ago.

To finish, you wrote that I´m obviously negative about the school. Boy, is that an understatement! At the time I wrote the original post, I didn´t know what to believe and was exhausted from everything. I don´t accuse anyone of anything lightly, and I have never spoken/written in depth about this experience until now. You also wrote that perhaps it was time to move on. Well, that is the same "hint" the principal gave us when we asked her to find out what was going on. I guess I was looking for a bit of hope that all this isn´t normal nowadays. I still am.

re... : Defensive Denial - 7 year old being bullied           reply
17/02/2011 06:29 - Bullying
I´m sorry to hear anyone, child or otherwise, is going through this. If you are up for some friendly advice, here is a bit: Listen to your child and your gut instinct. Listen to what he/she doesn´t say, as well. But whatever you do, please don´t let it continue, if it is happening to a degree that´s not "normal play". And while you are at it, help me find the correct definition of "normal play", because there are so many definitions out there!

I agree that not standing up for yourself is a bad example, but in our case safety was more important than the lesson learned. Remember, how you handle this is almost as important as getting it to stop. One thing I noticed about adults who were bullied as children, was that they resented their parents more than the bully(ies) for not doing anything or seeing that it was happening. I´m convinced that kids aren´t the real problem, it is the politics surrounding the parents and school personnel that is. A lot of things became so clear after we removed our child.

You are probably questioning everything. That is normal, but be careful not to read too much into everything. I know that sounds a bit odd, but if you follow your instincts and don´t allow yourself to jump on the "bullied bandwagon", you will be doing yourself and your child a favour. It is no picnic homeschooling, especially if it is a sudden decision. Visit Home Education (, for info on what is available for support in Ireland and the legalities involved.

Visit the the Anti-Bullying Centre at Trinity College website @ (, if you want fact, not fiction, about bullying in ROI.

I wish you well and a happy-ending.

re : Defensive Denial - 7 year old being bullied           reply
13/02/2011 00:31 - Bullying
Hi, I have only just registered and felt for you that no one had responded to your post, and I do hope that you have moved forward with your situation with the school and that your boy´s self esteem and confidence is strong at this point. My own story which I will post seperately resonates strongly with yours. Is there a possibility in some instances that parents and school authorities are unwilling to take on the families of aggressive children, that denial often means the real problem, us the parents who are drawing their attention to the ugly underbelly of their schools, where the law of the stronger or the pack prevails, that we the whistleblowers will just be quiet and go away and not sully their perfect records? I in my exasperation in a recent meeting said I would consider homeschooling if my son could not be protected from what has now become slipper surruptious warfare in the cloakroom. The principal who is my sons teacher seemed delighted and would supply shared reading books and all other needed support! I asked her what that message would that give my son, that he wasnt good enough for the school or what? Anyway I feel we must still stand up for our children and all the others for whom the bullying is just accepted as how it is... no child deserves to be left to suffer.

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