My little sister was recently bullied by another girl at school. My parents requested that she be placed in a different class this year because the same girl bullied her last year, but she started picking on my sister during recess. The bully excludes her and intimidates her. My sister is afraid that she will get in trouble if she “tells”. I’m really concerned. What should I do?
- Patrick from Bristol, Rhode Island
Thanks so much for writing in, Patrick. This is such a sensitive topic. Your little sister does not deserve to be treated like this by anyone. No child deserves to be bullied, verbally or physically. But the sad truth is, there are bullies at nearly every school. And mean girls? They are often the toughest because their style of bullying hurts even without words.
The worst is when one mean girl excludes another and convinces her friends to do it too. “Exclusion” bullying is commonly used by girls. It’s more subtle and not as easy for an authority figure to detect. There are no scrapes or bruises to show proof of their hurtful behavior, so the bully thinks she can get away with it. Unfortunately, this bully chose to intimidate your little sister outside the classroom, making recess feel more like a prison than a playground.
What I struggle with as a parent? Where to draw the line between letting a child work things out independently or stepping in and taking care of the problem for them. You don’t want to be an overbearing parent or authority figure, nor do you want to let a child get hurt over and over again. In this case, I would step in and talk to your parents despite your sister’s fear of being a tattle-tale.
It sounds like your parents did the right thing last year by requesting that your sister be placed in a different class. But because this bully has taken her “game” to an entirely new level, it’s time to turn it up a notch. I would definitely talk to your parents about contacting her teacher as soon as possible.
Tips to help kids deal with bullies:
- It’s OK to tell. Tell your mom or dad about the bullying behavior. You will not be a “tattle” if you tell an adult about the situation. It can become very dangerous if the bullying continues and deserves to be brought to the attention of adult authority figures.
- Silent treatment. Give a bully the silent treatment. By ignoring a bully, you don’t feed into their destructive behavior.
- Call upon friends. Surround yourself with friends and occupy your time playing with them. After a while, a bully may lose interest because he/she can’t approach you alone.
- Kill them with kindness. Don’t be rude or uncivil to the person bullying you. This can only aggravate the situation even more and invite a physical conflict.
- Read. Read books and articles about bullying. Stay informed. Stay educated. Stay strong.
- Be yourself. Don’t let someone make you feel bad about yourself. Surround yourself with people who pull you up and make you feel good about yourself rather than bullies who put you down.
Jackie is a local writer and pr professional who blogs about her take on motherhood at www.ventingsessions.com and writes about it in her book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker.