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Ask Rene: What To Do About Mean Girls?

Hi Rene,

My 13-year-old daughter is being bullied at school by a girl in her class – and I don’t know what to do. She often comes home crying and on a couple of occasions has actually been physically attacked by this girl.

I’ve complained to the school but they’re just not taking action and seem oblivious to the problem. I want to speak to the girl’s parents – but my daughter is begging me not too as she says it’ll just make things worse.

I’m beside myself with worry from all the horror stories I hear in the news but don’t want to add to my daughter’s problems… what do you think I should do?

bully3

 

Ask Rene:
What To Do About Mean Girls?

Hi Rene,

My 13-year-old daughter is being bullied at school by a girl in her class – and I don’t know what to do. She often comes home crying and on a couple of occasions has actually been physically attacked by this girl.

I’ve complained to the school but they’re just not taking action and seem oblivious to the problem. I want to speak to the girl’s parents – but my daughter is begging me not too as she says it’ll just make things worse.

I’m beside myself with worry from all the horror stories I hear in the news but don’t want to add to my daughter’s problems… what do you think I should do?

Yours,

Susan, North Carolina

Hi Susan:

Wow, I feel your pain as my Casey is 13 and we know how difficult it is navigating the choppy waters of adolescence. I am a big believer in equipping our kids with the tools they need for the rest of their lives and part of that is learning how to deal with difficult people. But when physical violence, or the threat of it exists, it’s time to take a quantum leap forward.

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GET THE SCHOOL’S ATTENTION

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I think the solution is two-fold. First, you must get the attention of the school officials. If they are not taking you seriously, you have to go to the superintendent of schools because they understand the liability involved. Once you have them focused, you can work with them to formulate a plan to keep this girl from bothering your daughter, whether they physically separate the girls or keep a discreet eye out for your daughter.

Read more: Our Story Begins: When Bullying Hits Home

TALK TO YOUR DAUGHTER

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The second part is that you are going to have to have a talk with your daughter about what she can handle herself and when it’s time to get adults involved. I think it’s admirable that she wanted to deal with this on her own or perhaps she was afraid of being branded a snitch. Whatever the reason, explain that this is one of those instances where adults have to be involved. You can tell her, without going into great detail, some of the items in the news where children kept quiet when they should have spoken up, sometimes with dire consequences.

Read more: The GEM Debate: Bullying: Should You Make Your Kid The Target?

PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Chalk drawing - Caution sign and text

Unless you are good friends with the other girl’s parents, I’m not sure I would say anything to them. It’s hard to imagine them being receptive to your overture and I think their reaction could be downright hostile, especially if they cannot possibly see their angel as being a bully. I think it’s also imperative the school be made aware of what is happening on their grounds.

Read more: The GEM Debate: Can A Bully Ever Really Change?
**************************************************************************************************************Lastly, you need to make sure your daughter knows she is not the first person to have to deal with this and she won’t be the last. In other words, she is not alone and you are definitely in her corner.

Best of luck to you!

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(Editor’s note: This piece first ran 6/25/2010)
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14 Comments

  1. Linda Bosco

    June 25, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Rene, get in touch with an eduacational advocate attorney-that will get them to notice-really! There is a no tolerance policy for the school district. If you have been complaining-there should be a paper trail-pursue it! Bullies stink! Just keep reassuring Casey that she will be fine and that these bullies are just insececure adolescents! Peace

  2. Lena Cole Dennis

    June 25, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Your advice to the bully question is on target. I would like to add…give your child words to use or scenarios. A child should be prepared to have words to say to the bully based on the previous things they have said to your child. If called fat….it’s better than being ugly. Who cares what you think? Is my fat hurting you? I love being skinny. I like my dark skin. Yes, I am black and I love it. I love my kinky hair. Red hair makes me stand out. Curly hair is beautiful. Never say to a child ignore them they don’t count. Teach her how to ignore someone with power! Empower her to know her feelings count.

  3. Rene

    June 25, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Hey Linda:
    yes, that is so true. But just to clarify, this is not Casey but Susan’s daughter. So far, in that regard, it’s been smooth sailing for her. But you are so right, an atty would really get their attention.

  4. ALLISON VAUGHAN

    June 25, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Allison Vaughan I WOULD RECOMMEND SELF DEFENSE CLASSES AND CHARM CLASSES. BULLIES DON”T GO AWAY WHEN YOU ARE A GROWN WOMAN. THE STRENGTH AND COURAGE OF KNOWING HOW TO HANDLE YOUR BODY OF THE SELF DEFENSE, AND THE GRACE AND FEMININE AWESOMENESS OF THE CHARM CLASSES GET YOU ARMED FOR BEING A MODERN POWERFUL CREATURE!! SHE WILL GAIN A PRIDE AND CONTROL THAT WILL KEEP THE MEANIES AWAY!!! ASK ME HOW I KNOW, MY MOM WAS MY COURSE INSTRUCTOR FOR BOTH CLASSES!! SHE TAUGHT ME TO FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY AND STING LIKE A BEE!!!!GOOD LUCK!! MODERN DAY LITTLE GIRLS, IT’S NICE TO BE NICE AND FUN TOO!!!

  5. Amanda

    June 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Bullying, sadly, is a part of life, and I agree with everything you’ve said Rene. I was bullied when I was around this age. And girls bullying each other is almost worse than boy bullies. Boys seem to slug it out then get over it, but girls are catty and will carry the bullying on for many sessions, and what seems like for no reason at all. I think it’s time that parent stepped in, especially if the bullying has gone to violence. That the school hasn’t done anything at all is appalling.

  6. katina traeye

    June 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I had this problem with my daughter and its such a shame that girls are learning to “hate” on one another at all but at such an early age my goodness. The harassment with my daughter was getting worse moving from verbal threats to possible violence. After speaking with the school principal about the problem (to no avail) I took the next logical step and enlisted the police department in our town. Although nothing criminal could be done the police did make a report, called the principal and told her that she had better do more about the problem before they had to step in and also parents were contacted. Needless to say my daughter had a great school year after all this was taken care of. No child should ever have to attend school in fear and as parents we need to pull out all the stops to make sure they are safe at all times. Hope this helps:-)!!!

  7. John

    June 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Can a good enough dad chime in? Rene, I agree with your response. And while our kids (and we grown folks) should always avoid physical confrontation, I can attest that in most cases all it takes is a good, well delivered smack upside the head to tame a bully. No need to become the next Jet Li, but a few good self-defense classes might help.

  8. E Minor

    June 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    How do you feel about home schooling as an option? I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback about this – safety of their children being one of the several reasons for their pursuing the home-schooling option.

  9. kim

    June 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    awesome response, rene! i would just add one more thing at the end: “and if it’s within your means, also let her know that you’ll be getting her some karate lessons!”

  10. Coy James

    June 25, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Hi Rene! I’m going to have a conversation with Tim Seelig about inviting Good Enough Mother to speak on combating school violence as part of our 40 Days & 40 Nights dedication event for the Interfaith Peace Chapel in Dallas this Fall. The bullying problem is even more dangerous for gay kids and school teachers & administrators are even more reluctant to intervene – especially in conservative Texas.
    Coy

  11. Gayle Mahoney

    June 25, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I am not a parent, but I was often bullied as a child since my family moved a lot and I was always the “new” kid.
    What made the biggest difference to me was when ADULTS in my life (teachers, church leaders, Girl Scout leaders) confirmed my sense of value and self-esteem. It literally made me not care what other kids felt, to know that the important adults in my life thought I was OK.

  12. lindsey

    July 15, 2010 at 8:27 am

    I think it’s interesting how NOT talking to another kid’s parents is being encouraged nowadays. Not too long ago I think the first thing one would do was talk to the other kid’s parents. But I can understand that today, parents seem to take criticisms of their own children as attacks against them or their parenting skills. Not sure how that happened.
    One thing I might try is write a very polite and professional letter to the parents. With the increased awareness of bullying and the potential legal ramifications or ignoring bullying, people tend to pay more attention when things are written down. Their fear of being sued later might out-weigh their pride in their own kids.

  13. Pingback: ASK RENE: MY DAUGHTER IS A BULLY!

  14. The SistahChick

    April 13, 2011 at 11:10 am

    My daughter is only 8 and experienced this as well from a girl in her class. I called the girls mother. I am old school. I went straight the source. the mom didnt realize how out of control her kid was. Found out that it wasnt just my daughter she was bullying but others too. We got the teacher MORE involved. Things are ok now but if it flares up again…

    nice post and responses.

    Peace 🙂

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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