One Mad Mama

23 May 2009
This year, Tristen had his first really bad experience with bullying. And when I say bad, I mean bad. Things escalated towards the end of the year that I called the police. It had just gotten out of control. I never imagined that kids would be so physically abusive.

We'd dealt with name calling and gossip and the usual tween stuff. But one child stepped things up a notch and that's when this mama got mad. Tristen came home bruised, bloodied, dirty, and his clothes all torn up. I seriously thought I should start sending him to school in Maxpedition tactical gear rather than his normal clothes and book bag, as each day he seemed to be entering a war zone.

As a parent, I didn't know what to do. Every time I've had to deal with bullying issues with the school, my concerns were dismissed. They seemed to have a very "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" attitude. This dumbfounded me, as they proclaim themselves as being zero tolerance when it comes to bullies.

Unfortunately, most of the activity was happening on the bus and on the walk home from the bus stop. The bus is considered school property, but the bus driver did not try to enforce any order what so ever. I don't know how you can drive around with 30 kids behaving completely inappropriately, but this guy did. He finally did threaten to throw the bully off the bus when he managed to wedge Tristen and another child under a seat and start jumping up and down on them like trampolines. Tristen ended up kicking the bus driver under the seat to get his attention. He was bruised for more than a week after that incident and I was assured by the powers that be that they would take care of it, but empty threats were the only result.

When he came home in just awful shape, I'd had enough of dealing with the school. Since it happened in the street, they seemed to not want to get involved. So, I called the police and filed a report. I told them I would not press charges, as long as this never happened again. They went and talked with the boy and his family. I was advised not to go attempt conversation with the family, the police officer said that wasn't a safe idea. Anyway, then next morning I get a completely panicked call from Tristen at school. He was so worked up I could barely understand him,. Seems the kid had told him calling the police was a big mistake and he would make him pay for it when they got off the bus. I dashed to the school and talked to the principal. She is a tiny little woman, but when she called the boy into the office to talk with him, she even scared me! She talked with both boys and urged me to let her know if anything at all happened again.

That afternoon, my pal Lynette and I waited at the bus stop with our cameras, with additional friends around the school with cell phones. I did not trust this kid and was worried about my son's safety. Thankfully, the bully had apparently been sent home from school that day. Other than a bunch of "trash talk", Tristen didn't have any trouble with him again. I just dread next school year; kids should not feel like they are going off to war when they are supposed to be learning.

Bullying is a situation it's tough to know how to handle. We've taught Tristen never to fight, but it's hard to know if that's the right thing when he ends up in the street, curled up in a ball, taking a beating. I have learned a lot from this experience though.
  • Kids are very reluctant to tell you they are being bullied. IO had noticed Tristen was not as excited as usual about school, but when I tried to talk to him he clammed up. He later told me that getting me involved made him think he wasn't able to handle it himself, plus he feared retaliation if I contacted the school.
  • For some reason, kids think bullying is normal behavior, just part of life. We've had to talk about how everyone deserves respect and being hurt, whether verbally or physically, is not something one has to tolerate.
  • My first reaction was telling him to ignore the problem and it would stop. This was probably not the best advice. He did much better when he stood tall and said "No! You will not treat me this way!" I think bullies pick on ones they see as weak. By talking back to them, he found some confidence and they learned he wasn't such a pushover.
  • Ultimately getting the school involved was the best move. I wish they had paid more attention months ago. After I spoke to the principal it seems they broke up a whole gang that were bullying literally dozens of kids.
  • But most importantly, talk to your kids, really talk to them, and do it often. Then listen to what they are telling you. If something isn't quite right, get to the bottom of it. We can't help if we don't know there is a problem.

Do any of y'all have experience with bullies? I'd love to hear about it and how you handled it.


Kathy said...

You handled a tough situation very well.
Bullying is very hard to deal with. How do you tell your kid to stand up without fighting, but not lay the blame on the victim. Why can't they deal with the bully...why does a kid act that way? There is a reason other than that he's a bad seed. Schools are supposed to teach kids how to behave... to be responsible for their actions... not to bully or to sit by while others are bullied.
I hope Tristan doesn't have to deal with next year, but if he does, he has a strong support system.

Crazee Juls said...

This is the one of the hardest things to deal with, when it comes to parenting. I think you handled it well. I have learned that sometimes when *I* get involved it just makes it worse--but that's what we're supposed to do as moms. I have taught my kids to "sound tough" when necesssary, but otherwise... I have no idea either.... It's so hard when you try to teach your kids to be nice, even when others are not being nice... because I really want to tell them, just punch them!

tawndam said...

talk to a lawyer... the school is technically responsible from the moment your child leaves your property until their return to your property... If they refuse to take action to protect the students we are forced to put in their care, sue them. (Usually, just showing your readiness to do this to the school board is enough to get action, but be prepared to follow thru... Remember, your son is not the only child in danger, and if noone fights for them, it will only get worse...)

Tulsi said...

Hi. I saw you on Blogstalker's site. I don't know how it is there, but in Utah, the school is responsible for your child from the minute they hit the school grounds - until they arrive home. An elementary school principal told me that. Not just while on or in school property. My son had a couple of being bullied incidents. We told him to do what he needed to to get it stopped. And to make it count since the would get mad first and ask questions later. I told the principal I told my son that just so they would know. It was really stupid to pick on my son since my husband is Law Enforcement. My youngest daughter had a couple of incidents, too. One elementary school principals told me that they just kind of let the bullies slide because they call and call the parents and they don't care. Hope things get better.

lynette355 said...

Nessa you did right and I am glad. I also hope that this issue does not happen anymore. Actually I hope the family manages to get help so the kids who are doing this can learn better to handle their problems.