Bullying—Why do parents miss it?

Claire McCarthyOver the past few months, I’ve started asking the patients in my primary care practice about bullying. I’m asking them all sorts of questions anyway, about their health and their habits and their daily lives, so it’s not so strange when I ask: “Does anyone pick on you at school?”

A surprising (and heartbreaking) number of children tell me someone is picking on them. Although, given that it’s estimated that up to a quarter of kids experience some sort of bullying, it really shouldn’t be surprising. But what really worries me is that most of the time when a kid tells me they are being bullied, their parents had no idea.

It worries me not just as a doctor, but as a mom. My middle daughter is an awkward, artistic, often moody pre-teen who is more of a loner than I like. She seems to me like just the kind of kid bullies might target. “Does anyone pick on you at school?” I ask her. “I’m not being bullied, Mom,” she says. But I still worry.

There’s been a lot of media attention recently on bullying, in the wake of the suicide of Phoebe Prince, a South Hadley high school freshman who committed suicide after being persistently bullied. Some of that attention has been on the adults in her life. Some had no idea anything was happening. Some knew something was happening, but didn’t realize how bad it was. Some knew something was happening, and spoke up, but it didn’t help.

So what is it about bullying that makes it so hard for adults to see—and help?

It’s hidden. Bullies aren’t stupid; they hide what they are doing, so that they don’t get in trouble. And victims hide it because they are embarrassed—and because they worry that telling about it might make things worse (which sometimes happens). Cyberbullying, in which the bullying takes place on the internet or through text messaging, is even harder for adults to see; it’s silent, can happen when the victim is entirely alone, and occurs within a world and context that most adults don’t know about.

This means that parents, teachers, coaches and other adults who are involved with kids need to have their antennae way up. They need to watch for changes in behavior (anxiety, sadness, poor self-esteem, loss of appetite, for example), dropping grades, unexplained injuries, or coming home with damaged belongings (www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov has information on these and other possible warning signs that a child is being bullied). Direct questioning may not work; indirect questions (how do they spend their day, who do they eat lunch with, etc) may yield more clues. And if questioning doesn’t go anywhere, adults should check in with each other to find out what’s going on at school, home, in the locker room (I check in with my daughter’s teachers and guidance counselor regularly).

People don’t want to see it. We all want our children to be popular, to fit in. It’s hard to think that it’s our child, or our student, who is being picked on. Maybe it brings back memories from our own childhood of being picked on, times we’d just as soon forget. So when a child denies being bullied, says everything is fine (as a bullied child often does), we breathe a sigh of relief and take them at their word. That’s if we get up the nerve to ask. And if it’s our child who is the bully—well, nobody wants to think of their child that way. Nobody wants to think about what this might mean about them as parents; research shows that bullies often come from families who are uninvolved, overly permissive, overly harsh, or who role model bullying behavior. Since bullies are often popular students, it’s easy for parents to think: my kid is great, they would never do something like that.

Confronting bullying is really uncomfortable. But it’s something that adults need to do. Suicide is a rare consequence, but victims can carry emotional scars that can last a lifetime. And not only can being a bully be a sign of mental health problems, bullies are more likely to be aggressive or violent as adults. For example, bullies identified by age 8 are six times more likely to have a criminal conviction by age 24. This isn’t just a phase that will pass.

People don’t know what to do when they discover bullying. Indeed, it can be hard to figure out how to help.  Victims may be bullied worse when the bullies are disciplined, unless the adults are watching closely—but they can’t watch every minute. Some parents, some teachers, some school officials or coaches are more helpful than others. Some schools have rules and consequences, some don’t (although the recent law will help with that). Some victims are lucky enough to have kids stand up for them—others aren’t so lucky.

See, that’s the thing: we all need to fight this together. To make a difference, we need to change the culture of our schools, our teams, our communities; we need to create a culture that doesn’t tolerate bullying. This means education, lots of it, empowerment of kids to stand up against bullying, as well as clear and consistent consequences for anyone who bullies.

But we have to start somewhere. So as adults, let’s start by asking the hard questions—of our kids, of our communities and of ourselves. Let’s get involved, so that we can see what’s going on—and keep trying to find ways to help.

We want to know your thoughts on bullying and the effects it has on today’s kids:

Are there any tell-tale warning signs you recognize in your child that indicate a problem at school with another student?

Do you think that the recent rash of media attention on bullying, cyber or otherwise, has been sensationalized?

If your child has been the victim of bullying, what are somethings you have said (or would like to say) to the parents of the aggressor?

  • I have three daughters who have each been bullied. Attempts to address the behavior and its impact with school administration were disregarded. Comments such as, “this is standard mean girl stuff,” and “well, it was over a boy, afterall” punctuated conversations. The Dean of Student Life (dean of discipline) said that other teachers told him not to try to worry about what goes on online if he wants to have a life. Yes, he actually said that to me on my third meeting with him to impress upon him the serious negative impact it was having on my daughter’s grades, emotional health, happiness and most recently physical health. She is in a private school and mentioned what a “PR nightmare” it would be for the school if he were to do a ‘full court press.’

    This foreshadows the lack of seriousness that women face as victims of domestic violence when they seek help from the prevailing authorities.

    • Sillysisi

      that is awful. hopefully when the bill gets passed, the dean will have no choice but to do something.

    • Mom3

      WOW! I just posted my own entry on this site. I am so disgusted by the way this sort of bullying is just…”blown off!”…TERRIBLE! It has a name..it is called ‘Relational aggression’….

      I hope that things are going better for your daughter/family. It is frustrating…She has to stay strong..and true to herself!

      Take care!

      Mom3

  • I have three daughters who have each been bullied. Attempts to address the behavior and its impact with school administration were disregarded. Comments such as, “this is standard mean girl stuff,” and “well, it was over a boy, afterall” punctuated conversations. The Dean of Student Life (dean of discipline) said that other teachers told him not to try to worry about what goes on online if he wants to have a life. Yes, he actually said that to me on my third meeting with him to impress upon him the serious negative impact it was having on my daughter's grades, emotional health, happiness and most recently physical health. She is in a private school and mentioned what a “PR nightmare” it would be for the school if he were to do a 'full court press.'

    This foreshadows the lack of seriousness that women face as victims of domestic violence when they seek help from the prevailing authorities.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • Sillysisi

    that is awful. hopefully when the bill gets passed, the dean will have no choice but to do something.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • LongAgo

    My son is now twenty one but when he was in first grade he was bullied. It occurred during early spring, he would get off the school bus and started telling me how he felt like a “slave” and “wished he was not here”. I also noticed that a number of times one of the six year old girls getting off the bus with some other girls and she would complain to me about him but with a smile. She wanted to get him in trouble.

    I knew something was up. I spoke to his teacher about what my child was saying. Since the elementary school had some sort of bullying program in place, she went to work. The children were young so it stopped in about two weeks time.

    I can’t imagine what a teenager would feel about being bullied if a six year old could feel so dread about himself and school.

    A clear program in school regarding bullying has to be in place with leadership at the top. Parents have to become aware that their children might be part of the bullying equation either as the bully or being bullied and the adults have to step in. Even if it is “Boys will be boys” or “that is the way Girls are” does not mean it is acceptable.

    Children even teenagers like direction.

  • Judy

    My older son was bullied by two neighborhood siblings in the 5th grade. My husband and I tried everything we could think of, talking to the bully’s parents, confronting the school, bringing my child to counseling to help him develop strategies that would work against bullies, removing him from the bus, starting steps to remove him from the school. We were at our wits end as no matter what we did made it worse for our child. It was finally a casual conversation with a police officer that stopped these children from bullying our child. This officer contacted the juvenile officer in our town, and they called the parents and had them bring the children in to the police station. The officer confronted the children and the parents with not only what they were doing to our son but to other children in the neighborhood. The bullying stopped after the police conversation and has not returned so far. My son is now doing well in the 7th grade.

    It is very sad that children have to die to focus on this subject. It is terrifying as a parent to know that your child is being bullied. It would be even more devastating to not even know that your child is being bullied.

    As a society we need to expect adults to stand up and speak out when anyone is being bullied. We do not set good examples for children when adults in school systems or in public look away when bullying is occuring. Ignoring it does not work, it does not go away for the one that is being bullied.

    In schools parents of bullies should be told their child has been “accused” of being a bully and work with families to stop the child from bullying behaviors. Parents of children that are being bullied need to be told that their child is experiencing bullying so they can protect their child. Bullied children should not have to die to make the point that bullying in our society is an epidemic that is devastating to so many children, and if confronted by adults can be stopped. Having the new law is a good start.

  • LongAgo

    My son is now twenty one but when he was in first grade he was bullied. It occurred during early spring, he would get off the school bus and started telling me how he felt like a “slave” and “wished he was not here”. I also noticed that a number of times one of the six year old girls getting off the bus with some other girls and she would complain to me about him but with a smile. She wanted to get him in trouble.

    I knew something was up. I spoke to his teacher about what my child was saying. Since the elementary school had some sort of bullying program in place, she went to work. The children were young so it stopped in about two weeks time.

    I can't imagine what a teenager would feel about being bullied if a six year old could feel so dread about himself and school.

    A clear program in school regarding bullying has to be in place with leadership at the top. Parents have to become aware that their children might be part of the bullying equation either as the bully or being bullied and the adults have to step in. Even if it is “Boys will be boys” or “that is the way Girls are” does not mean it is acceptable.
    Children even teenagers like direction.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • Judy

    My older son was bullied by two neighborhood siblings in the 5th grade. My husband and I tried everything we could think of, talking to the bully's parents, confronting the school, bringing my child to counseling to help him develop strategies that would work against bullies, removing him from the bus, starting steps to remove him from the school. We were at our wits end as no matter what we did made it worse for our child. It was finally a casual conversation with a police officer that stopped these children from bullying our child. This officer contacted the juvenile officer in our town, and they called the parents and had them bring the children in to the police station. The officer confronted the children and the parents with not only what they were doing to our son but to other children in the neighborhood. The bullying stopped after the police conversation and has not returned so far. My son is now doing well in the 7th grade.

    It is very sad that children have to die to focus on this subject. It is terrifying as a parent to know that your child is being bullied. It would be even more devastating to not even know that your child is being bullied.

    As a society we need to expect adults to stand up and speak out when anyone is being bullied. We do not set good examples for children when adults in school systems or in public look away when bullying is occuring. Ignoring it does not work, it does not go away for the one that is being bullied.

    In schools parents of bullies should be told their child has been “accused” of being a bully and work with families to stop the child from bullying behaviors. Parents of children that are being bullied need to be told that their child is experiencing bullying so they can protect their child. Bullied children should not have to die to make the point that bullying in our society is an epidemic that is devastating to so many children, and if confronted by adults can be stopped. Having the new law is a good start.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • A. Lopez

    My daughter goes to an afterschool program (all girls). One day when she was being
    dropped off, she was upset and I asked what was going on. She let me know that
    there were two girls bothering her on the bus and I brought it up to the attention of the bus driver and she let me know that she made a report. I then spoke to the afterschool program and we were told in different meetings that my daughter had to use her words to defend herself and she told my daughter to deal with it.
    Unbelievable, isn't that something.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • Susan

    Dr. McCarthy:
    Good, important and helpful article. But I think your “awkward, moody, loner, artistic” daughter might be very embarassed that you used her as an example of “just the kind of kid bullies might target” in this public forum.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • mattcyr

    From Dr. McCarthy:

    Susan,
    I talked to my daughter. She’s not embarrassed. I’ve been writing on health and parenting for more than 15 years, so my kids are used to being written about. It’s an occupational hazard of having a mom who is a writer! And she acknowledges that my description of her is accurate and my bullying concerns fair.

    She said, though,that it would have been embarrassing if indeed she was being bullied. Which started an interesting conversation about the secrecy that shrouds bullying—and how that secrecy helps the bullying to continue. We talked about how it would help so much if we could be open, really open about bullying—if we could change things enough so that parents and teachers and kids wouldn’t feel like there were any secrets to keep.

    Thanks very much for your comment.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • Ron B

    Bullies are predators. The statistics of 1/4 of kids being bullied doesn’t mean that 1/4 of kids are doing the bullying – rather that the bullies cast a wide net. They seek out the children most vulnerable to their attacks and then sink in their teeth.

    The best defense for the bullied is a strong ethic in their school and community among their peers that bullying is wrong and not acceptable. While a police officer may have been effective for one bullying family, it is not a realistic solution to this broad problem.

    SCHOOLS (and, sigh, media) need to teach from a young age that bullying is wrong. Children need to learn to stand up in a group against bullies – even if they aren’t the ones being targeted. This behavior may be hidden from parents and teachers, but it is rarely if ever hidden from the other kids.

    Dr. McCarthy, next ask your daughter who the bullies are in the school. Ask some of her classmates (not just her friends). The same names will come up. The kids know who the bullies are.

    By the way, if your daughter really didn’t care – she is cool. May be why she isn’t being bullied?

  • Ron B

    Bullies are predators. The statistics of 1/4 of kids being bullied doesn't mean that 1/4 of kids are doing the bullying – rather that the bullies cast a wide net. They seek out the children most vulnerable to their attacks and then sink in their teeth.

    The best defense for the bullied is a strong ethic in their school and community among their peers that bullying is wrong and not acceptable. While a police officer may have been effective for one bullying family, it is not a realistic solution to this broad problem.

    SCHOOLS (and, sigh, media) need to teach from a young age that bullying is wrong. Children need to learn to stand up in a group against bullies – even if they aren't the ones being targeted. This behavior may be hidden from parents and teachers, but it is rarely if ever hidden from the other kids.

    Dr. McCarthy, next ask your daughter who the bullies are in the school. Ask some of her classmates (not just her friends). The same names will come up. The kids know who the bullies are.

    By the way, if your daughter really didn't care – she is cool. May be why she isn't being bullied?

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • clairemccarthymd

    I talked to my daughter. She’s not embarrassed. I’ve been writing on health and parenting for more than 15 years, so my kids are used to being written about. It’s an occupational hazard of having a mom who is a writer! And she acknowledges that my description of her is accurate and my bullying concerns fair.

    She said, though,that it would have been embarrassing if indeed she was being bullied. Which started an interesting conversation about the secrecy that shrouds bullying—and how that secrecy helps the bullying to continue. We talked about how it would help so much if we could be open, really open about bullying—if we could change things enough so that parents and teachers and kids wouldn’t feel like there were any secrets to keep.

    Thanks for your comment–it was nice of you to be looking out for my daughter!

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Claire, thanks so much for the post – it’s one of the best things I’ve read on the topic. I’m already worrying about my six-year-old daughter. I think the crux of parents not knowing about bullying is that kids feel their parents can’t help. I remember having that feeling when I was bullied as a child myself — the minute you breathe a word, responsible parents will jump on it and only stir up more trouble. So, sadly, kids try to conceal it.

  • Judy

    What do you recommend when the teacher is the bully? Along with several other parents, we approached the superintendent last year to demand change. We knew the reputation the 5th grade teachers had in our school and the negative environment created by their rants on particular students and in general. When my high honors daughter complained of being sick to avoid going to school – I decided to finish the year with her at home. She thrived and is much happier this year, with a wonderfully talented 6th grade teaching team. In NH, where we live, the law doesn’t restrict reporting of bullying to only children and, requires other teachers to report bullying. However, due to the power of teacher’s unions, firing teachers who bully is easier said than done. We teach our children to respect adults. But when the teacher humiliates, demeans, harshly criticizes a child in front of their peers and yells within a classroom, how do we teach them to respond? I have a third grader and will be fighting this to ensure no other child has to endure another year in such a hostile environment. Thanks for letting me vent.

  • nansona

    Claire, thanks so much for the post – it's one of the best things I've read on the topic. I'm already worrying about my six-year-old daughter. I think the crux of parents not knowing about bullying is that kids feel their parents can't help. I remember having that feeling when I was bullied as a child myself — the minute you breathe a word, responsible parents will jump on it and only stir up more trouble. So, sadly, kids try to conceal it.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • Judy

    What do you recommend when the teacher is the bully? Along with several other parents, we approached the superintendent last year to demand change. We knew the reputation the 5th grade teachers had in our school and the negative environment created by their rants on particular students and in general. When my high honors daughter complained of being sick to avoid going to school – I decided to finish the year with her at home. She thrived and is much happier this year, with a wonderfully talented 6th grade teaching team. In NH, where we live, the law doesn't restrict reporting of bullying to only children and, requires other teachers to report bullying. However, due to the power of teacher's unions, firing teachers who bully is easier said than done. We teach our children to respect adults. But when the teacher humiliates, demeans, harshly criticizes a child in front of their peers and yells within a classroom, how do we teach them to respond? I have a third grader and will be fighting this to ensure no other child has to endure another year in such a hostile environment. Thanks for letting me vent.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • intheloop

    I ask my daughter every day how her day was, of course she’s a teenager so that sometimes is a problem. If I feel that something is wrong and she won’t talk to me I will usually ask one of her close friends on Facebook if anything happened that day. I find that most of her problems at this moment are because of a boy, I tell her no matter what every single day that she can talk to me about anything, if someone is bothering her to let me know or to tell a good friend, even a teacher if it gets to that point. It has taken a long time but she finally is standing up for herself. I can’t imagine losing her because I didn’t know what was going wrong in her life that she would take her life, so I push a little just to stay in the loop. That is the only advice I could give to parents is talk and do things with your kids all the time because they grow up too too fast.

  • delonl1

    I ask my daughter every day how her day was, of course she's a teenager so that sometimes is a problem. If I feel that something is wrong and she won't talk to me I will usually ask one of her close friends on Facebook if anything happened that day. I find that most of her problems at this moment are because of a boy, I tell her no matter what every single day that she can talk to me about anything, if someone is bothering her to let me know or to tell a good friend, even a teacher if it gets to that point. It has taken a long time but she finally is standing up for herself. I can't imagine losing her because I didn't know what was going wrong in her life that she would take her life, so I push a little just to stay in the loop. That is the only advice I could give to parents is talk and do things with your kids all the time because they grow up too too fast.

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • Laura

    Dr. McCarthy: I have a son who is autistic. He does not yet attend school, but will this coming Fall. While I don’t expect to have to deal with bullying in preschool (but, who knows?), the thought that he will be an easy target for bullies in the later years scares the heck out of me. He is verbal, but I was just wondering if you have any advice for parents of children with special needs in this regard? Or are the “warning signs” the same?

  • Laura

    Dr. McCarthy: I have a son who is autistic. He does not yet attend school, but will this coming Fall. While I don't expect to have to deal with bullying in preschool (but, who knows?), the thought that he will be an easy target for bullies in the later years scares the heck out of me. He is verbal, but I was just wondering if you have any advice for parents of children with special needs in this regard? Or are the “warning signs” the same?

  • childrenshospitalblog

    Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office April 13-15 and working remotely on Friday, April 16. During this time, I will have limited e-mail access. If you need to reach me immediately, please re-send your message with high importance (and it will be forwarded to my mobile) or reach me via cell phone at 617-600-8686. Otherwise, I will return your message at my first opportunity. Thank you.

  • Meg

    My daughter just turned 9 andis in the third grade. She has identified the bullies at school. Now it seems that she is bullied everywhere we go. What are the warning signs of depression in pre-teen girls? Should I contact the pediatrician? She is already seeing an LMFT. She used to be so happy! Now she can’t even decide what to eat. Her regular response is I don’t know, I don’t know!

  • Meg

    My daughter just turned 9 andis in the third grade. She has identified the bullies at school. Now it seems that she is bullied everywhere we go. What are the warning signs of depression in pre-teen girls? Should I contact the pediatrician? She is already seeing an LMFT. She used to be so happy! Now she can't even decide what to eat. Her regular response is I don't know, I don't know!

  • mattcyr

    accept
    ________________________________________

  • This article by Dr. McCarthy is insightful and right on the proverbial money. This aspect of school bullying, why kids so often keep quiet about it, is the prime thrust of my anti-school bullying website and my free access internet short story “Pride’s Prison” (*Bewildering Stories*, 2006). The story is a thinly-veiled, fictionalized personal memoir that offers an intimate look at a schoolchild’s personal thought processes and reaction to severe school bullying. The story’s title succinctly summarizes the reason why, according to a study commissioned by the State of Nevada, 54% of all kids chronically bullied at school keep quiet about it.

    As Dr. McCarthy notes, suicides in such cases are rare but, unfortunately, are becoming less so in contemporary times. The unwarranted sense of shame that bullying often engenders is *that* powerful a force: that kids would actually take their own lives before being willing to ask for help. The reaction of parents in such tragedies is all too often one of being absolutely stunned. *They never saw it coming.* I unreservedly believe them. Thus, I hope my story will serve as an admonition to parents and perhaps prevent another such tragedy. If it serves that purpose in even one case, then it would have been worth writing and promoting.

    This is why I offer it freely and even pay to promote it. I have no other agenda and no writing career to promote or launch. I sell nothing nor solicit donations, and I don’t accept advertisements. If any care to read my short story, then you will never again need to ask how such kids feel in their private moments. That, I promise you. The story already has over 20,000 hits.

    I wish to thank Dr. McCarthy for joining the anti-bullying cause in such a meaningful way. Her observations are wonderfully educational and are bred from her experiences as a onetime child, a parent and a childcare physician. I have added it as a most welcomed addition to my anti-school bullying resources links at my website along with an introduction to it that I have written which adds further insights along these lines.

    R. Donald Schneider

  • Joanne Kinlay

    Hi thank you for your blog on this subject. A really subtle form of bullying is exclusion by a group, along with the looks and whispering and notes and your friend not being available to “hang out” but then posting on facebook that you hung out with other kids instead. Soul destroying and very depressing for a kid!

  • Mom3

    I have read down the comments. Bullying is disgusting. My daughter has suffered bullying from three girls. Ironically, the ringleader and one of her minions(slaves)are daughters of teachers in the school. They don’t “see it”…My daughter was enitially picked on because she refused to join the bullies in picking on a little grade one girl…and then my daughter also refused to join in and pick on a boy with autism. We are so proud of her….but the price has been high…she is ostrisized, and left out. She became a target. The type of bullying that has been going on is called, “relational aggression”…which is common amongst girls. I personally feel that it comes down to a parenting issue..and lack of teaching the child(bully) about compassion, simple kindness, self-lessness, and empowering the child by ONLY re-enforcing only good behaviour…and making the child accountable for their bad behaviour…Teaching them to have a conscience. This is our last year in this school. This experience has prepared my daughter for the teenage years…eventual co-workers…and just dealing with horrible people. I have asked her many times if she would like to just “throw her hat in”….and lower herself to their level….joining in the behaviour(poor jokes, potty talk etc.)She says…”No way!”…so she is learning to be true to herself…no matter what.

    She is handling it all better than me! I am angry with the Moms…and wonder why they are sticking their heads in the sand!

    My heart goes out to all of you. Keep your chin up…as my Mom would say.(I would love to hear from any of you…with your ideas..)

  • Erinoddi

    My daughter was a victim of Cyber Bullying on facebook. Post about my daughter were nasty and said they were going to punch her at a party we were all going to attend. Those kids were smart though, they didn’t put her name on it. She knew they were talking about her because one of her so-called friends (who is a follower) fessed up and said they were all directed toward her. I was not tolerating this. So I went straight to the parents house and brought my daughter with me. I wanted to find out from those girls why they were doing this and i wanted the parents there as well. Well, the parents did nothing but yell at me, and say mean things to my daughter. Parents need to get involved and stop defending their children when they are at fault.

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  • jay

    It can be determined that most parents want to believe that
    they have a well behaved child. Many parents hold a personal bias because
    everyone wants to believe that their offspring is a reflection of their self.
    If your child is the bully then it may be concluded that the parent of that
    child is failing. Thanks for these tips. I hope that parents are trying to find
    out more about their children. There is a fine line between invading your kid’s
    privacy and protecting them. I choose to use Mousemail, but there are many
    programs that help keep parents informed about their children’s actions while
    at the same time giving the ability to remain ‘ignorant’ to your child’s life.

  • Meghan

    My daughter is 7 years old.  Yesterday she was accused of bullying another girl on her soccer team by a parent who said that my daughter is the reason this girl never shows up- that the girl hates it and is scared to come.  She used an incident of the girl taking my daughter’s “pink” soccer ball and my daughter wanting it back (and arguing with her to give it back) from as my daughter being a bully.
     I know my daughter is not perfect.
     Every time the girl showed up she does cartwheels, runs around and plays with her friends from school on the team. I’ve never seen anything to indicate this girl is unhappy there.
     Three parents have come forward, including the coach, who have said that they have never seen my daughter bully this girl or any other child on the team and that the incident was not as the parent described.  The coach suggested the parent is looking for an excuse as to why she never brought her daughter or practice or games.
    So, my question/issue is….bullying is awful..but now bullying is used for everything when it is also not the case. It seems to me that as much as there is horrible bullying, people also use it against others when it is not true.  These parents are hurting my daughter by this….How do I handle this?