How Can I Help My Child Without Intervention?

Updated on March 19, 2013
J.T. asks from Alexander, AR
24 answers

My son is depressed and it's breaking my heart. My son is being bullied and harassed at school and now at home over the internet and text messaging world. It started months ago with a girl that is well known for being mean and hurtful to everybody. She caught wind that we are moving at the end of the school year, and she has been relentless with her bullying. She was mad hateful to him and said some really awful, mean things. She openly makes fun of him. She lies on him. She tries to exclude him from their group of friends, and then tries to bully the ones who are his friends. He has pretty much been deserted. It hurt my son very deeply. He would come home and be very sad bc the tables and friends he once sat at/with were suddenly not allowing him around. It was almost as if they are punishing him because he is moving.
I told him to leave her alone and stay away from the people who troubled him most. He pulled back. They followed and stepped up the harassing. He pulled back more and was getting to the point where he would avoid going around anybody at all. At of sheer desperation and love for our son, I contacted the girls mother. I thought that if I explained my intentions and to let her know that her daughter was doing this to our son (we go to the same church), she would help quell mean attitude. It backfired. Her mother was hurtful enough by the way she worded her responses to me that she implied that my son was gay. It really rocked me to the core because my son is a little kid. He is a little kid, smart, very good looking and up until a few months ago, very popular.
One of the assistants that help out at our son's school has a son that is his age. The boys have played off and on sports growing up so there has always been a little bit of jealous and competition with this woman. When she caught wind of the issues, (the girl's mom told her) with the girl, she put in her two cents. She immediatley began bashing my son to his educators and gossiping about him to other parents. She began picking at him at school. So much so that I finally had to call the school and have them intervene because she was being utterly ridiculous toward him. I asked that she not have any contact with our child, and the week before Spring Break, she broke the rule.
I had a crazy week going back and forth with the district over this "aide" and her mouth. They really didn't help much and even though they got the interaction on camera. So now we are at Spring Break week and a boy (who desperately wants to fit in with this "in" crowd) starts saying really mean stuff last night online to our son. Our son got off immediately but then the text began. I couldn't believe some of the awful, mean, terrible stuff that was said. Our son said some ugly stuff right back, but I certainly can't blame him for trying to defend himself. It was the same old song and dance. A parot of stuff that the girl from the previous incident had been saying.
My husband and I had a long heart to heart last night. We are so tired of telling him that he is wrong, and to turn the other cheek. He is getting bulldogged by this group of kids and the kids that want to be in this click. I am very worried about him. He is having a tough enough time being shunned and treated badly by people he once considered his close friends. My husband thinks he should just go ahead and get physical with this boy b/c he thinks that 's what boys *should* do. I am at a loss because I don't want this at all. We have raised a good boy but this is a very troubling time. I went against my husband this morning and spoke to the boy's father and attempted to speak to the mother. The boy's father expressed that he is going through some very difficult issues and the mom is not willing to address behaviorial problems. I told both of them that I was very sorry for my son's role in the arguement and that I did not want him speaking ugly to anyone.
My husband says that I should butt out and mind my business. I am certain that things will probably go South next week. I hate this for our son but I am at a loss on what else to do. Please help as I am an absolute wreck.

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So What Happened?

My husband thinks I'm too involved as I have always tried to mediate. He thinks that despite my heart being in the right place, I am making it worse. But how can I just sit on my hands and do nothing? Especially when you see his little eyes filled with big wet tears...Oh it makes me hurt just thinking about all of the problems he has had to endure. I told my husband that to let him fight would prove THEM all right. It would make him look like a troubled kid with behavioral issues and bad parents who don't know how to act. This is the EXACT picture these people want. I just don't understand why they are being so relentless. I just wanted his last few months to be peaceful and quiet.
I don't think I am going to get anywhere with the mom of the boy. She has yet to return my phone call. I am all about letting the boys talk it out-in fact that is what I recommended they do. But, you can't lead a horse to water....

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V.V.

answers from Louisville on

Please, please intervene. With the school & the other parents. I just helped the parents of a 13-year-old through the organ donation of their kid. He was bullied to death ...

Make some of these little a-holes accountable for what they do - go to the school & police.

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C..

answers from Columbia on

Every bullying expert will tell you that "turning the other cheek" is NOT the way to handle bullying.

You don't indicate how old he is, but you say "little kid" but then he is online and has text.......

First- get him a new #. Goes ONLY to his ACTUAL friends or just mom or dad.

Second - get him OFF social media. Or take screen shots and email them to parents / teachers etc. Depends on his age if going to the parents is the best way to handle it....likely the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

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R.K.

answers from Appleton on

I looked at your previous posts and it seems as though your son is 13 or 14, this is not a little boy, he is a teen.

There are several things you can do:
1) file a police report
2) file a complaint with the school, the administration office and the school board
3) sign him up for Martial Arts training. Not so he learns to fight back but he will develop the confidence to stand up to them.

I hate to say it because schools have gone so far but sometimes decking the offending kid is the best option. My son was in 3rd grade, a new kid at school. His best friend our neighbor kid was on a field trip so he was eating lunch alone. First one kid started picking on him, then 2 then 3. Every time he started to get up to talk to the lunchroom supervisor the kids said -- hey I'm just kidding so he sat down and let it go. By the time they got to the playground there were 5 kids harrassing him and one kid tried choking him. My son broke the choke hold and decked him. They all got hauled into the office and had a 3 day in school suspension. But.... the result was ALL the kids got the message --- Don't pick on the new kid -- he punches and punches hard.

As I said I hate violence but sometimes it is the only thing that sends a clear message.

Personally, I would sign him up for Tae Kwon Do.

9 moms found this helpful

J.S.

answers from Hartford on

He's only 13? Then you HAVE TO step in and get the school involved. This shouldn't be happening. The school ought to have a zero tolerance anti-bullying program. Meeting bullying with violence is not the answer.

The approach your husband wants to take by ignoring the problem and hoping your son can cope on his own ISN'T WORKING. Instead you have a young boy that's depressed and a situation that's getting worse.

I would go online and set up parental controls for his texting so that he can only text approved people ie. family and 911. I would not allow internet access on his phone.

I would set up serious parental controls on the computer at home and delete his Facebook and whatever other social networks he's on. Scour as much of his online presence as possible. Especially Twitter and whatever else. The other kids can say whatever they want at that point, but he doesn't need to see it.

YOU take screen shots. Hit "print screen" on your computer and then paste it into paint shop and save to photos. There's your proof for filing a police complaint. It's THAT SERIOUS. You don't work with the parents any longer. You complain to the school and the police. It doesn't matter that the boy/bully is going through some difficult issues. Most bullies are, actually.

If you don't get the results you need then you request a transfer to another school on the school's tab. There's paperwork for this sort of thing.

7 moms found this helpful
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S.B.

answers from Dallas on

I looked at your previous questions to figure out the age of your son. If I read correctly he is 13 (possibly 14), then your husband is right. Time to butt out mama. Having worked as a middle school teacher, I can tell you that your interference is going to make it worse for him. You are giving the bullies more ammo.

I have seen this a million times. A nice kid, for whatever reason, becomes the target. I imagine it's heartbreaking for your whole family. I understand that you are trying to make things better, but what you are doing is not working.

Kids who act like this, for the most part, do it because they can. From my observation, they seem to fall into two categories - master manipulators with parents who think they can do no wrong OR tragic circumstances and needing an outlet for their frustrations. It sounds like you have discovered one of each scenario. Nothing you do on your end will fix it or them.

It's time to give your son the tools he needs. First, get off social media. Close down the account completely. If you choose to open a new account for family and REAL friends, do so under a pseudonym with no pictures. Change his phone number. Again, only give it to family and tried and true friends. If the bullies loose their main source of harassment, they will get bored. He also needs to learn the fine line of balancing between standing up for himself and not engaging them. This is tricky. Face to face, yes argue it out. Texting, online...ignore. It's only adding fuel to the fire.

I am not a proponent of just "getting physical" over something because "boys will be boys". Now if something is started and you have to defend yourself, by all mean defend away. If you feel threatened or in danger, absolutely defend yourself. But if you choose to give your son the advice to beat this kid up, he will have to suffer the consequences of that choice. Those consequences could be a huge variety of things. Maybe it ends the bullying. Maybe your son gets hit butt kicked. Maybe he gets suspended. Maybe someone seriously gets injured. Maybe he gets arrested or ticketed for fighting on campus. Just some food for thought.

Stop mediating momma. Your intentions are good. If you are constantly stepping in and playing mediator, he will NEVER be able to stand on his own. This is a battle he must fight alone. You are trying to fight for him, which is making the target on his back bigger. It's all about roots and wings. You have given him good roots, now he needs to fly on his own. I know it's hard. It's heartbreaking. But parenting is never easy.

6 moms found this helpful

C.V.

answers from Columbia on

My opinion? Your son has turned the other cheek long enough. That advice only works in situations where, after turning both cheeks, the assailant realizes they aren't going to get a reaction and backs off.

But this jerk isn't backing off.

I think your son should punch this other boy right in the dang nose. Knock him on his butt right in front of the same clique he's trying to impress.

Bullies are only bullies to people who don't stand up for themselves. They choose weak targets who make them look tough. Once the victim fights back, they stop. ESPECIALLY if they no longer look tough.

Best of luck.

ETA: And I agree with your husband that you are too involved. Stop calling parents. It will only piss off their kids. Tell your son to fight his own battles, but remind him that there will be consequences. Let him know that you and his father will support him if it comes down to him defending himself. Encourage your son to do the right thing (not respond to the texts, block them on Facebook).

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R.M.

answers from San Francisco on

I agree with everything CoMoMom said. And I want to reiterate that it's strange that you call him very young but then everything else you write sounds like it's middle or high school.

First of all, you should never contact other kids' parents about this kind of stuff. Bully kids don't usually come from reasonable parents. In the future, contact the school in cases of bullying. Take your kid off the social media, and tell the school they need to solve the problem. A good school won't allow bullying.

Tell your son if he doesn't like what people are texting him or writing on Facebook, to get off it or stop reading it. If he doesn't engage, they can't bother him that way.

When are you moving? If it's before school ends, why not just take him out now, and homeschool him for the rest of the year?

If he might be gay, I hope you are moving to an enlightened town. If he is, you need to teach him to stand up for himself. One gay teen I knew, when teased about being gay responded, "Yeah, and you're straight. So what." And they shut up.

Role model responses with your son to help him stand up for himself. And don't ever call other kids' parents again.

4 moms found this helpful

L.M.

answers from Dover on

These kids are harassing your son. Go to the teachers and principal now. Here in our area and some neighboring states there have been a number of bullying incidents that have just snowballed out of control and resulted in suicide in kids as young at 9 & 10 years old. I personally know a boy in 5th grade who intervened at school to stop a suicide attempt (yes...5th grade!).

Typically I agree with your husband but doing nothing hasn't work, speaking to the parents hasn't worked. You both should speak to school authorities. Does your school have a resource officer? If so, go to the RO and address the issue. If not, go to the local police station and at the very least get this on record. If it does escalate to being physical, at least it will be well documented that your son has walked away many times and it has failed (it will be his back up for "self defense" if necessary). Demand that something is done. The kids don't have to be friends but they don't have the right to harass!

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K.P.

answers from Miami on

Everything CoCo mom said and...

Your husband is somewhat right. Turning the other cheek will only open him up further for bullying b/c he is perceived as being weak. He should NEVER start a fight, but he shouldn't sit there and take it either.

Call the principal and make an appointment. Tell him/her EVERYTHING. Print things off of Facbook/Twitter/Cell Phone whatever. The district has a policy b/c they all have to have one. Make sure that this stops immediately.

Tell your son that if someone makes him feel threatened or unsafe, it is OK to defend himself. Worst case scenario, he's suspended for a couple of days for fighting.

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A.G.

answers from Houston on

Situations this bad don't die down. Your husband needs to understand this. Look up some websites on bullying and read them together so you can be educated and your husband will be enlightened.

Document everything. Keep records of everything.

Your son needs an advocate at school. Find one fast. Someone in the district or another counselor at school Anyone.

Does he have a youth group leader or youth pastor?

Address the principal, counselor, vice principle, cafeteria monitors, teachers, coaches, anyone in charge of your son while he's at school. Have your son's pastor/priest/youth group leader present if it will help give your side an even shot. Maybe even invite someone like the PTO president Show them the texts and messages online. Call a meeting with everyone above present. Ask them how your son is expected to handle this, ask them how you are expected to handle this, ask them what concrete things are they going to do to handle this.

Keep him off the computer and ifyou have to, take away his phone. Keep him home as much as possible for the time being.

So so sorrya bout this. I deal with alot of kids being bullied and it really is heartbreaking.

4 moms found this helpful

T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

First of all, he shouldn't be on social media, this is no place for little kids, so disable whatever sites he's currently using. They can't harass him online if he's not online. It's bad enough with teenagers there's no reason to allow a child to go there.
The rest of it sounds awful and complicated, with a lot of gossip, here say and he said, she said kind of stuff. I would NOT deal with the parents directly, that never goes well. What happens at school should be dealt with at school. Did you actually hear this aide talking like that? Or is that what your son is telling you? You can't very well get too upset over second or third hand news, especially out of the mouths of children. Request a meeting with his teacher and/or school counselor to voice your concerns. Find out what the district policies are re bullying. We have had kids suspended and even expelled (at the high school level) over this kind of thing. At the elementary level the counselor and principal get involved, and work with ALL of the students involved.

3 moms found this helpful

X.O.

answers from Chicago on

School anti-bullying policies usually also extend to digital bullying, which is where so many of the cowardly bullies think they can get away with it.

Go to the school again about it. They MUST take actions to protect your son.

If they don't act, I'd consider switching schools, even if that means that you pay for a private school instead of using the district's schools.

ETA: I did my high school student teaching at a prominent private college prep school, back in 2005, and they were already having problems with online bullying then. The school had a zero tolerance policy. 3 students were expelled in the 2 quarters that I was teaching at that school. A good school protects their students.

ETA2: Butting out is NOT the answer when it comes to persistent bullying. Your son is already at an increased risk for suicide, since this bullying has led him to depression. That is very serious. Now is not the time to step back, but rather to step it up even more. The principal should give you an immediate meeting to discuss this problem.

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T.V.

answers from San Francisco on

bullying (at any age) needs to be immediately addressed. If your husband and the mother of the other child have their heads in the sand, that's on them. Speak to the principal, school counselors and the teacher involved. Maybe the school need some re-education concerning the subject of bullying.

Save your child and yourself....this should not be happening.

Please keep us posted.

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*.*.

answers from New London on

My first thought is that I am glad your son will have a new start in the Fall.

There should be a zero tolerance rule for bullying ! Make an appt w/ the principal ASAP. If he shuns this, go the the Administration building and talk to the superintendant! Years ago, kids could handle this on their own--With the degree of social media...He is being bullied in school and when he is out of school ! Not acceptable...

Social media has become A DISGRACE !!! I have seen it in my area, too !

I was bullied very badly as a child, but, I did not tell anybody how bad it got. Looking back, an adult should have been there to at least talk to me and tell me that I was still an ok person !

Some questions: Did you call the principal? Is the school social worker
involved? There should be a no tolerance when it comes to bullying !

No child should be bullying another child. The Mom does NOT want to address his behavior? ARE YOU KIDDING? This is all the more reason for you to go to the school staff. Inform the teacher, principal and social worker. If they do not help you out, can you home school him April, May and June?

He should not have to be exposed to this. He is supposed to be learning.
I would be a wreck, too ! This is not acceptable in any way shape or form.
Are you moving OUT of this school district? This way your son won't have to constantly defend himself !

The responses after mine are great ! Keep records and document everything !

If this parent has her head in the sand...That's all the more reason to get involved. Her kid is her responsibility!

Karate would be great ! If he would want to take lessons ! Karate teaches respect for others, self-respect...and so much more !

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J.R.

answers from Chicago on

Do not ignore this situation! You are right for getting involved! I would start by taking away the phone, disconnecting the number so he can not see/read the texts. Then disable whatever site it is that he goes on and sees the messages. It is hard enough doing the right thing, etc, as a teen, no body needs the extra problems of bullying. If the school is not doing enough in your eyes, then call the superintendent's office, get them involved. You can always go to the police station and ask them what is your best line of defense as well. As for your son, I would get a professional, (counsel, therapist) involved as a sounding board for him.
We as parents are the only people that can truly be our children's advocates. Good luck to you and your family!

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

If your child is being cyberbullied, you should talk to your son and meet with the guidance office, IMO. Your husband needs to see that cyberbullying is a big deal and that kids have committed suicide over it. It sounds to me like the school should get involved and do some mediation between the students. You should talk to them about their bullying policies and tell them your son is a target and talking to the other parents has not worked.

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I agree with your hubby that you are making things worse and you need to butt out. Be there for your son, but understand that you can't control this situation and the parents of the other students just plain don't care.

I would keep your son off the internet and texting, even if you have to confiscate his phone every day when he gets home. One thing he should understand is that his reactions are why it continues. If he doesn't react, it takes all the fun out of it, and they will get bored and move on.

If, however, they don't get bored and move on, then I also agree with hubby that if no one else will help, your son needs to kick someone's [email protected]@. He'll only have to do it once and then all of those mean kids will probably want to be his friend. At that point, he should tell them that if they ever even LOOK at him again, he'll kick their [email protected]@ as well.

So, I would ignore for 2 weeks and if it continues, give your son permission to kick [email protected]@ and take names later!

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J.Y.

answers from Chicago on

I know two kids, 14 and 15, who committed suicide in the past year due to bullying. Kids can't be left to handle it on their own. You need to go to the school principal or superintendent. You should alert the police. Your son needs to know that you will defend and help him. Bullying can destroy self esteem. It causes kids to feel isolated and alone. Your son doesn't have the ability to deal with this so he needs you to be a strong advocate for him. Don't stop until things change.

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N..

answers from Chicago on

I am sorry your family is going through this! I think the best thing you can do is give your son tools to deal with these kids in a healthy way. Tools that are going to defuse the bullies and allow your son to keep and grow his self esteem.

Check out http://bullies2buddies.com/

All The Best!

1 mom found this helpful
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J.F.

answers from Chicago on

If you are able to, I would pull him out of school now...homeschooling for a few months will not hurt him but it will stop this nastiness from getting out of control. Homeschooling would offer you a wonderful opportunity to really connect with your son and it would send a message to the school that 'Hey, you know what, it's not okay that this school is filled with a bunch of educators who don't actually care about the individual students'
If it just isn't possible for your family to homeschool until you move than I would look into getting your son transferred to any other school.
Definitely get him a new phone # and delete all social media accounts (after you have reported their contents to the proper authorities of course).
Have a heart to heart with your son about sexuality...he may just need to know that you are willing to discuss the topic whenever he feels comfortable doing so...whether he is gay or straight!
Prayers for your family, J

1 mom found this helpful

K.I.

answers from Los Angeles on

I had to peak through your profile to find out how old your son was, that is and would be helpful information to add, in a question like yours.

IMHO, at 13y/o I do not think he needs his Mommy to be making phone calls and to try to help him out with these types of things. He needs to try to solve his issues by himself, he is almost in HS!

However, I can see why you would call the Mother of the girl from your church and am *very* surprised you didn't get anywhere with her? That to me, is odd....very, very odd? You know the old saying 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree'..well, it is obvious that this Mean Girl has a Mean Mom.

My only advice is to keep up the communication with your son, continue to enforce that being mean is never a good idea and continue to tell your son to keep his chin up, things will get better..... and I sincerely hope that things do get better for your son (and all of you) when you move!

While peaking through your profile I realized that ALL of your questions are about 'issues' you and your family have had with others.....? I truly hope that your move can be a fresh start for all of you and that your new life is filled with WAY less drama! It is not healthy and very stressful on our bodies to be feuding or 'on the outs' with others all the time!

FWIW: If my boys were being bullied by another boy and talking didn't help, I wouldn't give a rats behind how it made *my* child 'look'....I would do what your husband suggested and suggest to my son that he whoop that bully's behind! As far as being bullied by a girl goes, I do not know what I would do? I/we/my sons (knock on some wood) haven't encountered any 'mean girls' yet! Thank Goodness!!

1 mom found this helpful

S.A.

answers from Miami on

This may sound like oversmplification, but it's at least a start. You sound like you are at your wits end, and sometimes at that point we just want something constructive to DO. SO try this:

Everything we focus on gets bigger. Just like a flashlight shining on something. I am sure there are many more pieces to consider, but just to start, try to take the focus off all the negative and find some positive things for you, your husband and your son to focus on. What are his strengths? Have him do more of that each day. What do you like to do as a family? Do lots of that for now. Talk about all the rest as little as possible even as you seek permanent solutions, go over it as little as you can.

Taking the focus off the negative can shift the energy of the entire situation and then answers and resources will come in more clearly.

It's a do not harm solution. I hope it helps lead to peace for all of you.

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L.B.

answers from Biloxi on

You son is what, 13 or 14? It is a horrible age.

If he is being cyber bullied then you can contact the police.

If he is being bullied on school grounds you should talk to the school administration.

You should not be calling round to the other parents and telling them to have their child stop picking on your child. OMG, then the other parents tell their kids that you called, then kids are going to pick on your son because his *Mom* called to tattle.

See the problem here?

Yes, there are some horrifically mean and rotten teens out there.
But, you are actually not helping by speaking with the other parents.

Your boy is a teenager now. You need to begin to see him that way - as a teenager that needs to learn to defend himself - through words or "swords" or a combination of both. Some of your own words, from this post make me think that you still see him as a tiny, defenseless, child: my son is a little kid; his little eyes filled with big wet tears; it makes me hurt just thinking about all of the problems he has had to endure

Take the electronics away - you keep them, so if the cyber bullying continues you can document it.

Continue the dialog with the school.

Continue to talk to your son about ways to stand up for himself. (my son went through this at 13/14 - he decided to use words and to ignore the bullies - they went away when they stopped getting what they wanted from my son)

Stop calling the other parents - this is teens, not toddlers. Teens are vicious and you are giving them reason to torture your son.

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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I am going to assume the school is involved because at the first sign of this all parents would have been up there telling the school to handle this on their end.

On the second part, why are you letting your son continue at this school? He could come out and do home schooling for the next 2 1/2 months and start all fresh next fall in his new school. He needs you to get him taken care of and to make this stop. He doesn't need to fit in, he's not going to be at this school in a few short weeks. He is suffering mental damage that will stay with him the rest of his life.

A young man got tired of being bullied at school and went home one day and shot his head off. His mother found him.

Here's his parents site.

http://www.standforthesilent.org/

If you contact the Smalley's and they can't help you find out what to do then please at least read the story of how their son ended up dead at 11 years old.

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