My friend shared the following story:
Her 10-year-old son came home from school with a red slap mark on his face. He’d been hit hard enough that the mark was still visible by the time he got home.
The parents called the school and the child was switched to the other class. But that afternoon at mincha in the neighborhood synagogue, the boy told my friend’s son “We’re out of school now, so I can do whatever I want.”
The next day, the 10-year-old was walking home with his little sister. Unrelated to the previous day’s events, two boys threw shoes with dog droppings at my friend’s children. When the father called to complain, the principal’s reaction was, “Your son’s in trouble again?” This response disturbed them greatly.
Later the principal apologized, and one of the three children was suspended for violence.
My friend has also noticed that a boy she knows, a third grader who is small for his age, often sits by himself and looks unhappy. Once he even had a black eye. When my friend spoke to the parents, they told her their son needs to “toughen up” and that they don’t plan to intervene.
So what is the answer? Anglo parents probably raise children to be more gentle, and they (both parents and children) may be less skillful at navigating the Israeli social scene. This could lead to a child becoming a bully as well as a victim.
I think we have to fight bullying on at least three levels:
- Report all cases of violence or cruelty.
- Develop effective anti-violence programs in the school and community.
- Give our children the tools they need to recognize bullying behavior and avoid becoming victims.
Has your child been bullied? What helped solve the problem?
Resources and Related Posts:
Michele Borba: Three Ways to Bully-Proof Kids
Michael Thompson and Lawrence Cohen’s book, Mom, They’re Teasing Me: Helping Your Child Solve Social Problems”>Mom, They’re Teasing Me