Saturday, January 26, 2013

Yes, They DO Get Bullied

One of the great myths about homeschooling is that your child won’t get bullied.  I hate to burst your bubble, but it happens.   How do I know?  Well, a not so funny thing happened at co-op, ahem..  Now before I go on, if you go to our co-op please don’t ask me who, if your child was involved you already know, if your child wasn’t then you don’t need to know names.  However, here are a few pointers for parents, and kids.

Child being bullying by a group of other children

photo credit

Parents:

1.  Follow your gut feeling.  God gave us those instincts for a reason. 

2. When you walk into a room and find your youngest child cornered (literally) by three (yes three) much larger children, ask questions.

3.  When the three much larger children exit the room as soon as they see you, glaring at you as they leave, it’s a given that something’s not quite right.

4.  Take the situation to the parents of all the kids involved.  Parents need to know what’s going on, they can’t handle things they don’t know about. 

5. Make sure you let the leaders of your group know there has been an issue.  Again, they can’t address things they don’t know about.

6.  Teach your child that there is safety in numbers, both physical safety and collaboration of story.

7. Don’t assume that because you are in a homeschool group or church group, everyone there has the same values.  Each family is different, and sometimes the difference can be vast.

8.  Make sure your kids know not to believe everything other kids say, they may be trying to get you in trouble.

9.  Know your children.  Seriously, this whole mess appears to be a cry for attention.  Pay enough attention to your kids to know if they are feeling left out for some reason.  They will get your attention, good or bad.

Kids:

1. Follow your gut feeling.  God gave us those instincts for a reason.

2. Never allow yourself to be separated from the group, by a group.  If several students approach you with “We need to go to another room and talk with you.”  Say no.

3. Tell your parents, teacher or another adult when you are being picked on.

4. Remember there is safety in numbers.  Even if nothing physically bad happens, sometimes you need someone to see/hear what happens so you have a witness.

5.  Older siblings, keep an eye out for your younger brothers and sisters.  They look to you for guidance and protection when your parents aren't’ around.

6.  Don’t believe everything other kids say. They may just be trying to get you into trouble.

Let me give you a short version of this issue to show you how quickly something that is nothing can become something that is BAD.   Lindsey made a friend at co-op.  The friend is two years older than Lindsey, but is in all of Lindsey’s classes.  The friend comes from a large family and is a middle child.  Mom had a baby over the Christmas break.  The friend is apparently having some issues with that.  Lindsey loves babies, always has and always will.  The first week back to co-op, Mom has the baby and Lindsey goes over at lunch and ah’s and oooh’s over the baby.  Pretty normal stuff.  

The problem arises when the friend announces to Lindsey that “real friends don’t go look at the baby and say how cut she is, you’re not a real friend.”   Then the now non-friend starts picking at Lindsey.

Fast forward to this week.  The “non-friend” does something to a smaller childs possessions.  Then she goes to the protective older sister and tells her that Lindsey is the one who did it.  Then insists  that the older sister go confront Lindsey.  The older sister, being a good older sister, rushes to the defense of her younger sister…taking younger sister and the “non-friend” with her.  

Truthfully, at this point there are three victims.  Lindsey obviously, but the older sister and younger sister duo were also victims in the sense that they got sucked into the “non-friends” issue.   Thankfully, Olivia arrived shortly before me and was wise enough to tell Lindsey not to go anywhere with the three girls.   The “non-friends” older sister saw and heard what was happening and backed Lindsey up 100% in her innocence of the entire debacle.

The fact still remains, that something as ridiculous as saying a baby sibling is cute could have really gotten out of hand.  What would have happened had I not walked in?  I don’t know.   I’d like to think that there would have just been some harsh, angry words and a few tears.  However, after watching the unbelievable verbal and physical outburst of the “non-friend” when confronted by the parents of all involved, I’m not so sure.

We don’t have co-op next week, so that gives us almost two full weeks for this situation to die down.  Truthfully though, I’ll be keeping a much closer eye on Lindsey when we return. 

Have you faced a similar situation?  If so, any tips?

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