Tuesday 25 September 2012

Is this really how to stand up to the bullies ?


Sophie started at secondary school a few weeks ago. One of the things that she was worried about before the new term started was suddenly finding herself in the same school as the older kids who always pick on her in the park. It's usually name-calling, bitchy comments and idle threats so I figured she'd be OK, especially with the staff there to keep an eye on things.

Last night, she told me that one girl (one of the ones from the park) keeps barging into her when she's lining up with her class. She also pushed her over in the toilets so she smacked her head on the sink and pushed her off a bench in the playground. I told her to go and see the CPE - which is the person who oversees all the discipline issues and problems with the pupils. As I was on my way to work, one of her friends bumped into me and said that she'd seen Sophie getting hit on the arm and having her hair pulled by this same girl yesterday.

I decided it was time to intervene, phoned up the school and outlined what had been going on. I said that I didn't know her full name but gave her first name, her year (she's about 14 so a good few years older than Sophie) and her sister's name and before I'd even got past her first name, the CPE said he knew who I was talking about - so I take this to mean he's had dealings with her in the past. He said he'd call in the friends who were with Sophie and saw what had been going on, then deal with it. I said that I'm a teacher, I know there's no magic wand to wave and make it all suddenly get better but I felt that limits had been crossed and something needed to be done.

This afternoon, I got a phone call to say that both Sophie and the other girl had been called in separately and their stories didn't match. The other girl said that Sophie had been calling her names in English which was why she was picking on her. Both of them have been told that the next time either of them complains about the other one, they will both be given a two-day exclusion from school.

Sophie, who's never been in trouble in her life, came home and burst into tears, terrified that the other girl will now make up something about her and she'll get a two-day suspension. I know I'm Sophie's mum so I'm biased but I honestly don't think she's the type to start name-calling, especially as she was supposedly throwing insults in English and I don't think she really knows any. (She's bilingual but I've never taught her any insults apart from poo-bum and smelly socks !) Putting on my teacher-head, I can't believe any 11 year-old is likely to take on a 14-year-old and, although I wouldn't condone verbal abuse, would say it's not as serious as physical violence.

I've told Sophie to look on the bright side - as long as she keeps out of the other girl's way, it should all stop now hopefully and she couldn't have carried on getting shoved and hit on a daily basis anyway. It did leave me shaking my head at the way it was dealt with though. As a teacher, I spend a lot of time telling kids to stand up to bullies and tell a teacher so it can be stopped. I hope most of them get a bit more support than Sophie did.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :


  1. That does not sound the right approach to me. I hope that Sophie has no more problems :( Big school is hard enough

  2. I think that in this case the school has really let her down - it's time to go in and ask exactly what they think they were doing (but in a much more sensible fashion and only using that tone of voice when you get furious!).

    In the meantime sophie needs to learn some attitude and some avoidance tactics. This girl obviously picks on lots of kids, but why is she pointing sophie out? Does sophie feel less confident because she is bilingual (sorry I dont have time to read more of your blog tonight, but really wanted to help). I have a viewpoint of bullying whereby the bully needs help/discipline to address their issues, but the bullied also needs to get stronger and more confident, as children who are sure of themselves are less likely to have this happen.

    For my son it was after school clubs that helped - doing things that raised his confidence. I'd need to know more about sophie to know what would work for her (maybe one of those martial arts where with a flip of the finger your oponent is on the floor and it looks like you didn't do anything LOL?). But there will be something. Maybe even just role playing through the conversations and giving her ideas on what she could say to stop a conversation with the bully and walk away?

    I've written up loads about bullying on my site. It might be a less traditional view, but it really works. As you are a teacher I could point you in the direction of some theoretical books based upon the same theories if you want - just let me know.

    oops nearly forgot to point you to the right place - http://mummywhispererblog.com/school/bullying-2/

    1. Thanks very much for your feedback xx - I feel like Worzel Gummidge, trying to get my mum-head and teacher-head on simultaneously tonight. Totally agree with you re Sophie needing some attitude. You'd be amazed at the number of racist comments she gets about being English, so that could be one thing. She was gutted to end up in a class where she knows nobody so ends up being on her own in the playground until all her mates (who are all together in a different class) come out to join her. She's at that early-teen stage where she's feeling ugly and self-conscious (body changing etc) which could be another issue. I'll go and have a look at your link and will work on boosting her confidence a bit too - great idea :)

  3. Oh this story makes me really sad. I was bullied at School. Nothing major, just some name calling and a bit of shoving, a bit like what you're describing here. I never did anything at the time, I just laughed it off but ended up really shy and nervous of meeting new people. I often now wish I'd shouted out about it and got something done about it, but if this is how the School have reacted it's no wonder kids don't want to. I really hope, for Sophie, that things do get better - making friends and becoming a teenager is hard work on its own (and really those kids should be jealous of Sophie being bilingual, but that's easy for us to say).

  4. I do not think the school is doing enough, personally I would be knocking on the girl's parents door and having words with both her and her parents. It makes my blood boil to think a school treats this so lightly.

  5. Poor Sophie, how very upsetting. The school's attitude is abysmal, are there any witnesses that could come to Sophie's defence? Kids often pick on those who are different, in Sophie's case, she is half-English. Hope the school will be more helpful, can you talk to that girl's parents? Hugs to you both

  6. Awful for Sophie, decades later I'm sure I still bear the scars of name calling/shoving. We were always moving so I was always the "outsider". It's probably the same old story of the other girls not feeling good about themselves and one or two leading the others astray. I don't know how easy it is for a child to adopt adult strategies but if I knew then what I know now.... I'd be calling myself "Le Roast Boef" as a badge of honour with a big smile and getting my closest friends to call me it too so everyone knows it is a term of endearment. If you pick up and use what they throw at you, they will get bored with it. Lots of love and kind wishes in Sophie's direction xxx

  7. what a shame for sophie - and i dont think it has been handled very well by the school!

  8. Really interesting reading all your comments and realising just how many people have been through it :(

  9. No i agree i don't think its been dealt with right at all, no wonder she was so upset, i hope things get better for her


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...