Dealing with a Bully
Yesterday afternoon my daughter seemed bothered when she got off of the bus. With her typical I've-been-wronged indignation, she explained to me that the girl who sat with her on the bus today was just not nice. After some complaining from her that the girl had no manners and could be very mean, I began to worry. My daughter is in first grade. Is it really time for her to worry about bullies?
A half an hour later I had pieced together what turned out to be a rather complicated situation. Small tales that had been told to me over the course of a week and a half turned out to all be related to the same little girl on the bus, a little girl who began sitting with my daughter shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday. This girl - two years older than my daughter - proceeded to demand candy, push, reach into my daughter's things, and refuse to allow my daughter to stand up and exit the bus at her stop. I was mortified.
The best next step seemed to be a phone call to the school, but with just moments left until the school office closed, I knew I would receive little consolation from them. Instead I was told that most parents like to take the issue up with the bus driver. While this seemed like a reasonable first step, something did not sit right with me.
Shouldn't the school address a situation of bullying directly?
I spent the evening checking in with friends only to find that many friends and acquaintances' children had similar experiences with little assistance from the school once the incident was reported. Some research led me to find the school system-wide policy regarding bullying, so I went into the school office this morning armed with my knowledge and a bit of my own I've-been-wronged indignation. After filing an incident report and speaking with the school principal for the better part of an hour, I felt secure that I had done all I could to keep my daughter safe from this particular girl. I also hoped that my actions would keep other little girls and boys safe as well.
Do I think that this is the end of my family dealing with bullies? With seven years of elementary school alone remaining between my two children, I certainly do not. But what I learned from this experience is that parents can often easily advocate for their children's needs and safety, sometimes making an actual difference. By researching the school policy, following it to the fullest extent including filing paperwork, and showing my face in the school office to make known that I was serious, my family ended up with a positive outcome. My daughter feels empowered for having finally shared with me what was happening on the bus, she feels safe having spoken to both the Assistant Principal and the bus driver, and I feel confident that my voice was heard during a negative situation.
Have your children ever faced a bullying situation at school or on the bus? Were you able to find a positive outcome?