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BULLYING, A MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE

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Last week we wrote about the need to know your child’s friends and the benefits thereof.

A concerned  reader wrote in and below is her response to that article and her experience with bullying, which seems to be rife in school, all the way from pre-school to high school.

A worried mother writes:

Wow! What a relevant article this is for me and I believe for many parents. It is indeed painful to be a mother of a young child who is getting bullied and picked on.

It’s even sadder when this happens in a pre- school when young personalities are still being formed. My son is at a pre-school across town. Due to work commitments and after hours traffic I am contained to only dropping him off at school so he travels back in the school combi in the afternoon.

He reports on a daily basis that some boy was kicking him or beating and also telling him to shut up. I am very sensitive to bad language, let alone to bullying. I have been struggling with similar stories of other children in his class pinching him. He reports everything and I am very worried that he is suffering many things.

I have gone to his school to talk to his teacher twice, yet the reports continue. I don’t want him to learn bad language from the combi driver either, yet each day he tells me uncle says this and uncle says that. I try to teach him that it is rude to say certain things and that he should tell his teacher about getting kicked or pinched, but he is only three and a half and not quite confident in language. I am so sad. I’m tempted to take your article to the owners of the school to bring their attention to bullying and how it affects a child’s development, trust,self image and confidence.I am paying to get my only son damaged!
Sent by Mascom from my BlackBerry® smartphone

PRACTICAL WAYS TO ASSIT A BULLIED CHILD

First of all let me begin by congratulating you for raising a three-year -old who opens up to his mother about what goes on in his school. Many parents long for this kind of relationship with their children, but either they don’t have the time to listen or the children for some reason or the other aren’t talking to them until it’s too late, when the child has been seriously hurt or even  molested.

As much as we would want to patronise children by assuming that talking with them won’t yield much of a solution because they are children, you would be surprised how much difference a serious talk on strategies to deal with bullies with your three- year- old would yield, if you make it simple and bring it down to his level of course!

Like the way I used the story of Jesus and his two friends, John, who was a good friend and Judas, a bad friend who sent soldiers to arrest Jesus as a lesson to demonstrate that in life, we are all going to have bad and good friends. He understood it very well and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard him telling his aunt about how he might have to be careful with one of his friends who might be like Judas, Jesus’ bad friend!

I must admit that the first time I had had to assist my son to deal with bullying, I was tempted to tell the pre-schooler to fight back! After all the boy who bullied him the most was shorter, and I have always believed that one needs to stand up for themselves.

But experts have come to agree that it is important to advise kids not to respond to bullying by fighting or bullying back as this can easily escalate into violence, trouble, and even injury.  Instead, it’s advisable to teach the child to walk away from the situation, hang out with others, and tell an adult every single time it happens.

It is also extremely important to reassure your child of your love at home and help him nurture other friendships where he is loved and treated well as this will build his self-confidence and protect his self-esteem, despite the bullying.

In your case I would say find time immediately to go back to the school and register your grievances with the school principal if you haven’t done that already. From my experience, just like in your case the bullying continued even after I had notified the class teacher, so I would advise that you seek the principal’s audience too and make sure the issue is discussed at that level, with the class teacher in attendance. Sometimes what happens is that the class teacher would be reluctant to take the matter to another level because of the fear of how it would reflect on his/her competency as a teacher, hence the need to involve the principal right away.

In my case, my son and the boy who was bullying him were immediately put in different classes, (after talking firmly with the principal of course) easing the situation right away. The teacher who allowed this sort of thing to happen in her class resigned soon after. The other boy’s parents were also called in and warned about their child’s behaviour.

When he continued to bully others, the school put him through an intervention programme and when he still continued, the boy was suspended and his parents notified that if they didn’t make a plan to solve the problem he was going to be expelled to save the reputation of the school.

And thats when he changed because since then, I haven’t heard any more stories about that boy stuffing mattresses into other kids noses, beating them or stabbing them in the face with a fork( the offence that got him threatened with expulsion) If all fails and I suspect it won’t because no school would want to be known for bullying, but if it does, then I am afraid you will have no choice but to remove your child and put him in a more secure place, because like you say, it does not make sense to pay to get your only son damaged.