Monday, March 30, 2015

Big bad bullies

*WARNING* Long post on parenting and soliciting advice. 
We have had a new experience this past month in the Camus house. Bullies. Miss Ellie is in the 3rd grade at the local public school. We love our school and the community. Most of the same kids have been in Ellie's classes since kindergarten, with a few new ones along the way. Ellie started off the year great, and became good friends with a girl in her class. This girl has gone to Ellie's school since kindergarten, they just hadn't been in the same classroom.

Seems like since September, this girls name was always brought up. Ellie had lunch with her that day, they played together at recess, etc. Always positive. They even ended up being in the same dance class at the dance studio.  But the friendship began to change after winter break. One day Ellie told me that this young girl said she "needed a break" from another classmate. I asked Ellie if they were being mean to this other girl or anything, and she said no. I didn't like this whole "need a break" talk, seemed not okay, but I let it go.

Then about a week later as we were heading to dance Ellie brought up her friend and said that the friend said she needed a break from Ellie. I was like "why does she need a break from you now?" The friend told her she was just tired of spending time with Ellie and needed a break. She told Ellie not to talk to her at dance as she has other friends she wants to talk to that she doesn't see at school. Then Ellie tells me this girl has been really mean to her. When I pressed further she said "well sometimes if I don't want to do what she tells me, she squeezes my arm and tells me shes gonna make me bleed". This was alarming to me. I told Ellie that is no okay, and asked her if she had told her teacher. Of course she replied she had not. I said well I think its okay you two are on a break, you need to play with friends that don't talk to you like that and don't threaten you.

Then next morning, I'm still upset by what Ellie has told me. Ellie brings this girls name up again, and says that this girl tells Ellie she needs to shave her legs because they are hairy, and you shouldn't have hair on your legs. I tell Ellie that's not true. Ellie is upset and says well this girl doesn't have hair on her legs, I say everyone is different and just because you have hair and she doesn't does not mean your legs are gross. And because I'm really getting upset that this girl is saying things like this to Ellie, I tell Ellie I just think she needs to stay away from this girl at school since she can't talk or play nice.

So I think this is all settled. Until it wasn't. About 2 weeks ago, Ellie tells me this girl keeps getting upset with Ellie, and has squeezed her arm again. I said Ellie, remember what we talked about, this is not okay. So I email her teacher telling her I'm concerned about what Ellie is telling me. The teacher tells me she too has had some concerns and is looking in to the situation. She has advised the two girls to just stay separated for now. So for a few days I ask Ellie who she's eating and playing with and that her and this other girl have stayed separated. Ellie says they have, except the young girl has come up to talk to her, and well just said mean things like: "i know you are the one that's gotten me in trouble" "if you tell anyone I'm a bully I will squeeze you're arm" "I'm only mean because I am copying you". I said Ellie, please tell me you've told your teacher, and she said that she did.

Last week I had a early parent teacher conference. I asked what Ellie's role in this all has been. I don't want to be that parent that'd blind and thinks their child is innocent. If my child is contributing to the problem, I want to know and fix it. But that's when her teacher told me something even more concerning. The teacher told me she had been talking to the girls and other kids, this young girl had denied everything that she had been accused of, and so the teacher was questioning what to believe. Until she saw the following: Ellie was holding the classroom door open, and the young girl walked through the door and punched Ellie right in the stomach. 

People, I was shocked. I thought with so much talk and education now about bulling that maybe it didn't happen as much. Apparently I was completely naive to it all. And I certainly did not think this would be happening in the 3rd grade, isn't this behavior for older kids? Again, I know nothing. And lastly, girls are becoming physical? I thought this was just a boy behavior. I know girls can be mean, I lived through middle school and high school, I just didn't remember it starting so young. 

So a bullying report sheet came home, and I have to help Ellie fill it out. She had to identify in a picture what role she fell into in the incident (victim) and where the incidents were happening (playground, library) and in her own words what has happened. After we turned the sheet in, a few days later the vice principal called the girls to his office. There the young girl blamed Ellie and said Ellie was elbowing her, which Ellie denied. The VP told Ellie he was what inclined to believe she did not do this as she has not been in his office before, and this young girl has for this exact behavior in years past. (Ellie's version on what he said)

I hope the school and her parents address this issue with the young girl. I don't know what makes a child be a bully, I guess I haven't read enough about it. Obviously this is a pattern. And if she has demonstrated this behavior in years past, why isn't is being addressed more aggressively? Why is it repeating, just on a new victim?

What's your experience with this? Any and all advice appreciated. 
Ellie's bday party 2 years ago. 

1 comment:

  1. I had a nice long response to this then I had to sign in as a user and it deleted everything:/

    Sarina went through almost the same thing in 3rd grade. It didn't feel completely behind us until she was in 5th grade and the girls had completely separate groups of friends.

    My good friend (who is also a counselor) suggested reading "Odd Girl Out" and I recently ordered: "My Secret Bully" & "Trouble Talk" to read with Elsa (they've been great!) and "How to Stand up For Yourself & Your Friends" an American Girl book. In first grade Elsa has a "friend" who made up the game Run-Away-From-Elsa and is recruiting all the kids Elsa usually plays with to play too. We've had lots of talks about what a true friend is like and how true friends treat each other (make you feel better about yourself, encourage you, etc not make you feel bad, self conscious, left out, etc.). Girls are manipulative and mean and usually it's under the radar. Good for you for cluing in and wanting to give Ellie the resources she'll need when encountering this scenario her whole life long...
    You can call anytime if you want to chat.