15
   

"Nice" bullies

 
 
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 07:38 pm
For the second time in Mo's elementary school career I had to meet with his teacher to discuss a kid who was being a bully towards Mo. In both cases I have been told that "s/he is such a nice kid I can't imagine that they would do such a thing".

We coach Mo on dealing with this kind of stuff. We want him to learn how to handle it. It isn't until it gets really bad that we get involved. This morning was really bad. REALLY bad. Meltdown, psychotic bad. BAD.

When I got Mo calmed down we talked about what was going on. It seems this kid, "Paul" was being mean to him. When the new seating assignment was made after Christmas break and Mo learned that he would be sitting next to Paul, Mo, trying to handle it on his own, went to the teacher and said he didn't want to sit next to Paul because Paul was mean to him and called him names. The teacher thought Mo should try to get along with him.

Today the teacher confirmed that Mo had asked to have his seat reassigned (immediately after it was assigned) because of Paul's meanness but that Paul was "such a nice boy" that she couldn't imagine that there was a real problem.

The last time was the same story. It was a girl though. She was unmerciful in teasing Mo about being in special education. Mo came home in tears every dat. But she "is such a nice girl" that the teacher didn't really believe Mo, even after we got involved. Then she didn't believe us.

I always tend to think of bullies as the oafish galoot who throws his weight around or the popular snot who thinks s/he's better than anyone else.

I know how to deal with an oafish galoot and a snot but how do you deal with the "nice" bully that nobody believes would ever say or do anything mean?
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Type: Question • Score: 15 • Views: 9,699 • Replies: 73

 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 07:49 pm
@boomerang,
Yikes.

The teacher just not listening re: it being a problem is very annoying.

We definitely had big problems in third grade with kids who knew how to hide their meanness, and adults had no idea. (I wrote about that a fair amount at the time -- Esse and co.)

But when I brought it up to the teacher, she was surprised but within the context of "sorry I missed it" not "that can't be right." She was definitely surprised that the kids involved were doing this stuff, but she believed us when we said they were.

These kids were definitely not at either extreme -- not oafish galoots or a popular snot. (A popular snot was involved peripherally, but the main problems were neither.)

The big problem with this is, there really is only so much the adults can do. The older the kids get, the more adept they are at hiding it and the more pushback the bullied kid gets if adults intervene.

Third grade was a rough year. I don't know if there's anything we DID exactly that translates to advice -- it passed, eventually. Sozlet's skin got thicker, she looked outward and away from the people who were causing problems, and it dissipated. Now things are really quite good (knock on wood). Esse is back to being a friend and not a tormentor. In fact, Esse was tormenting another mutual friend and sozlet stood up for that friend, who was eternally grateful -- I was pleased that she went ahead and waded back into that rather than running the other way. It seems to have ended well.

But I don't really have a roadmap from point a (problems) to point b (now).
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  4  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 08:59 pm
@boomerang,
Hi again, boomerang.

This is an awful situation for Mo (& you!) to be in. My commiserations. I know you much prefer not to interfere with Mo's school life too much, particularly the more "social" side of it.

But ....

Quote:
We coach Mo on dealing with this kind of stuff. We want him to learn how to handle it. It isn't until it gets really bad that we get involved. This morning was really bad. REALLY bad. Meltdown, psychotic bad. BAD.

When I got Mo calmed down we talked about what was going on. It seems this kid, "Paul" was being mean to him. When the new seating assignment was made after Christmas break and Mo learned that he would be sitting next to Paul, Mo, trying to handle it on his own, went to the teacher and said he didn't want to sit next to Paul because Paul was mean to him and called him names. The teacher thought Mo should try to get along with him.

Today the teacher confirmed that Mo had asked to have his seat reassigned (immediately after it was assigned) because of Paul's meanness but that Paul was "such a nice boy" that she couldn't imagine that there was a real problem.

Possibly this teacher has not been paying sufficient attention to classroom dynamics, or doesn't know how to deal with the situation, or is choosing not to see the obvious ... possibly because she can't find a workable solution?
I'll acknowledge that sometimes such situations can be very difficult to find workable solutions to & if this is the case, then she should be seeking assistance from the appropriate support staff within the school.

Give the seriousness of Mo's reaction to "Paul's" bullying this morning, I think you may end up having little choice but to take your concerns "higher up" in the school hierarchy if things don't get better. Perhaps a visit to the school's welfare officer first, if they have one.

I would discuss what occurred today (& before) with the teacher & let her know that, should there be a recurrence, you'll have little alternative but to take your concerns to the school administration. The school is not meeting its responsibility in providing a safe environment for all its students. It's as simple as that.

I'm wondering: do you suspect that this teacher might feel that Mo is "overacting" to Paul? That maybe he is being "over-sensitive"? (Just trying to figure out why she is not taking Mo's concerns much more seriously.)

And do you know whether "Paul" has received any counseling, or has been disciplined, for his aggression toward Mo ... & possibly others in the past? It sounds like that might be appropriate.

Incidentally, does this school have a policy on bullying? I'd imagine they would. You might ask for a copy of it to see what sorts of measures teachers are required to take if bullying does occur in their classrooms.

Sadly, all too often there isn't nearly enough support for classroom teachers, but your concern, of course, has to be Mo's welfare.

I'm sorry to hear that Mo is so upset. How is he now?

0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 09:01 pm
@boomerang,
Listening..

I just finished the Columbine book.
A lot in that book to pay attention to. I highly doubt any kind of puff on all that.
Questions, sure.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  4  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 09:24 pm
@boomerang,
Regardless if the teacher feels that Paul is such a nice kid, he's teasing Mo and you're not willing to let it interfere in Mo's classroom activities and studies.

I would tell the teacher that the close proximity to Paul creates anxiety for Mo and it affects his learning and his behavior. You realize that she feels that Paul is such a nice kid, but she obviously has not observed his demeanor towards Mo otherwise she couldn't possibly have come to such a conclusion.

Regardless, you should urge her to change the seating assignment which is a real trivial situation in comparison to having a kid with anxiety in her class. Alone for that reason she should have agreed to it immediately. I would put this in an email to her, it's always better to have it in writing as it makes it more official. If she doesn't comply you always can forward the
email to the principal and go from there.

I have had elementary teachers tell me too that my daughter is over reacting and things were not as dramatic as Jane pointed it out and bla bla bla.
I always told them that this might be true, but if my child comes home in tears and is distraught over problems at school, I will make certain things got changed. In our case it was a bigger boy who bullied another boy and Jane intervened and told the teachers. After that Jane became the target of the bully. I even went so far and talked to the bully when I had lunch duty at school. I told him a few things........oh well, I am not proud of that part, but he certainly left Jane alone from that point on.
dlowan
 
  6  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 10:14 pm
@CalamityJane,
Also, pragmtically, whatever the bullyness or the niceness, Mo will not be able to learn if seated next to this other kid. he'll be dysregulated big time.

It will also cause the teacher grief dealing with the fall-out.

Maybe adding a simple equation like that will appeal to his/her self-interest?
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 10:27 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
"s/he is such a nice kid I can't imagine that they would do such a thing".

Of course, that could be interpreted as a buck-passing statement, too.
In other words, "I know nothing".
(like Manuel, in Fawlty Towers. Wink )
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  -4  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 10:44 pm
Must be an unusually bright kid....such skills in manipulation usually come later in life.
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 11:12 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
Also, pragmtically, whatever the bullyness or the niceness,
Mo will not be able to learn if seated next to this other kid. he'll be dysregulated big time.

It will also cause the teacher grief dealing with the fall-out.

Maybe adding a simple equation like that will appeal to his/her self-interest?
That 's a good thawt.

U might also have Mo wear a wire,
but PLEASE, test it first, under field conditions. Some of those tapes r hopelessly inaudible.
U hear an isolated word here n there,
but it fails to present a coherent, intelligible whole.





David
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  4  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 11:14 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:
Must be an unusually bright kid....such skills in manipulation usually come later in life.
U don't have much respect for the intelligence of kids. Naive.





David
hawkeye10
 
  -3  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 11:23 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
OmSigDAVID wrote:

hawkeye10 wrote:
Must be an unusually bright kid....such skills in manipulation usually come later in life.
U don't have much respect for the intelligence of kids. Naive.





David

Given your insanely high intelligence level your understanding of average folk is likely skewed. We all tend to think that others are like us, even when they clearly are not. Read up on the subject before passing judgment on my understanding of kids.
OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Wed 25 Jan, 2012 01:13 am
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:
Must be an unusually bright kid....such skills in manipulation usually come later in life.
OmSigDAVID wrote:
U don't have much respect for the intelligence of kids. Naive.





David
hawkeye10 wrote:
Given your insanely high intelligence level your understanding of average folk is likely skewed. We all tend to think that others are like us, even when they clearly are not. Read up on the subject before passing judgment on my understanding of kids.
I have 2 answers (without reading up on it):

1. I remember being a kid (and I feel like I remain the same thing, on the inside).
I remember the kids by whom I was surrounded in youth
and I remember conversations that we had.


2. I have not found kids with whom I have dealt in recent years
to be stupid, beyond ordinary adult stupidity;
i.e., it is ofen possible to have an ordinary conversation,
without talking down to them. (I dislike talking down
to anyone, and I seldom do it.)

This is not to deny that some people r born with relatively lower
levels of intelligence and that thay live out their lives that way at all ages.





David
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jan, 2012 06:19 am
@dlowan,
Very good point.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  3  
Reply Wed 25 Jan, 2012 06:33 am
I'd talk to the kid's parents. I'm pretty old fashioned when it comes to this stuff. I made two calls to the parents of two different kids. I was friendly with one, didn't know the other from Adam. Both calls were successful. They both began with the statement, "We have a problem..." both situations were resolved. There was a third situation that involved a nasty triangle. There was no need to talk with the parents of one of the girls because she was a product of her upbringing and the parents were part of the problem.

I know this is a situation that is taking place at school but the kid has someone at home who you could be talking to.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jan, 2012 07:33 am
By the way, re: the title and more generally about bullies, a lot of research points to the idea that there isn't really a person who is a bully, as a nice clear defined thing. Most people are "nice" -- in the sense of not being a bully all the time -- but they then are mean once in a while for whatever combination of reasons.

With Esse, for example, third grade was by far her worst year -- we knew her before and afterwards and while she has a certain Machiavellian streak, that was just off the charts for her. It was also when her dad, who has a chronic but usually manageable disease, changed doctors and treatments and for a period was doing very badly, to the point where it looked like he might die. Her grandma also did die that year.

Her dad adjusted to the new treatment and is doing much, much better, to the point where you wouldn't know he had a disease.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  6  
Reply Wed 25 Jan, 2012 07:42 am
It feels an awful lot like buck-passing to me. Does this teacher not realize that most folks aren't evil 24/7, that life is not a cartoon? Does the teacher not realize that some behaviors could be missed?

I assume that Mo does not have a reputation for crying wolf in such matters. And, even if he does, so what? If he's uncomfortable, he's not going to learn as well or as efficiently as he would if he was.

It's possible that this teacher has no other place to put Paul. But, really, that's a lame-ass excuse. The teacher needs to find a way. Mo did what he was supposed to - he asked for a new seat assignment immediately. The teacher ignored that request. I am thinking it's time to give the teacher one more chance, and then escalate if there is no satisfaction.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jan, 2012 07:52 am
@jespah,
I'm listening, but I don't have any advice at this point.

I'm bothered that the teacher was so dismissive, as if Mo's perceptions and experience were unimportant (at least until you got involved, Boomer).
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Wed 25 Jan, 2012 08:00 am
@DrewDad,
Sounds as though they are STILL dismissive even after Boomer spoke to them!
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Wed 25 Jan, 2012 08:05 am
@dlowan,
But I know Boomer well enough that I'm certain that will not last for long....
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  3  
Reply Wed 25 Jan, 2012 08:34 am

It sounds like this teacher is negligently dismissing Mo's legal right
to get an education. A student needs reasonable peace & stability
to be able to focus his attention upon the academic subject matter.

If the teacher fails to quell harassment which subverts Mo's ability
to learn, then she is in default of her professional responsibility
and legal action shud be considered.

(While u r at it, see if u can get a judicial mandate for fonetic spelling.)





David
0 Replies
 
 

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