How to Deal with Bullying

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

Raising Compassionate Children

Review of Gordon Neufeld’s Hold On to Your Kids

Babies and Bullies

Photo credit: Eddie~S


  1. One of our children was verbally bullied when they changed schools mid-year (we moved house). We encouraged the child to stand up for themself, but refused to speak to the teacher unless the child had done something for themself first. The bullying stopped and eventually the bully and our child became a bit friendly. On erev Yom Kippur of that year, the bully rang our child to apologise! I called the mother to tell her how impressed I was and she told me it had been unprompted – the kid had just asked if they could use the phone.

  2. My third grade daughter had her arm broken this past friday by a 7th grader at her school. He kicked balls at her and her friends until her arm broke. The school did a good job taking care of it. My responsibility is to teach my daughter that she could have stopped things earlier by walking away and finding a teacher.

  3. Wow, from the two responses, I guess I’m feeling more like a coddling Anglo mom. My daughter has reported a lot of physical violence happening in her second grade all girls class. I have to say I was a bit shocked because the last time I remember dealing with physical altercations was when she was age 2 in mishpachton and her “best friend” at the time would scratch her all the time. 2 year old violence i can understand. 2nd grade?

    In any case, first she would just report things generally happening in the class and general disrespect for teachers and the principal. Recently, there have been two incidents when she was the target of physical violence. The first one, the teacher (not the mechanenchet) didn’t do anything. The second, the mechanechet walked in as it was happening and reacted swiftly and strongly- the offending girl went straight to the principal’s office, the parents were called, a letter went home. Which I’m very pleased at.

    I spoke to the teacher last night and she told me that they are working a lot, with the guidance counselor, on the social dynamics of the class. The girls have a once a week session with the yoetzet on communication, and a smaller group of girls in the class who seem to have more problems have an additional session.

    Despite this work, there is still one girl in the class who has been the target of bullies. I encourage my daughter to support the girl who is targeted and stay friends with her, so she’s not isolated. It’s a complicated situation, but suffice it to say that my daughter takes her role as a friend so seriously, that she has started intervening when this girl is targeted in the schoolyard or between classes. On the one hand, I’m proud of her that she stands up for her friends. OTOH, I don’t think it’s her job to fight bullying in her class!

    I’m grateful the school seems to take group dynamics so seriously and doesn’t just leave it up to the kids to “work it out”. However, I think the missing piece is that parents must be involved and the school should involve them. I would like to see a parent/child workshop one Friday morning, discussing these issues so the children know that the school and the parents expect the exact same thing and that the parents are aware of what’s going on. I believe strongly that parent involvement can make the difference in these situations. Maybe that’s very anglo of me, but, so be it.

    I have a friend who dealt with a situation so severe she had to go into school and threaten to call the police if the a very violent child wasn’t expelled from the school (after her own child ended up in the hospital). Kids need to work on their own relationships, but if parents are completely absent, this is how bullying and violence flourish.

    • Abbi, it’s encouraging to read how some schools are dealing fairly well with the issue.

    • “On the one hand, I’m proud of her that she stands up for her friends. OTOH, I don’t think it’s her job to fight bullying in her class!”

      I think the most efficient way of fighting bullying is peers speaking up for the victims. So perhaps it would be nice if your daughter could also have support from other friends to fight bullying, but I definitely think this is the way to go…

  4. Tehillah says

    Hi Hannah,
    Thanks for writing about this topic. There was a time when I didn’t think I’d ever see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you’ve caused me to reflect on the progress we’ve made!

    And I want to preface this with the fact that this is NOT just an Israeli problem – my son was bullied in 2 Cleveland (religious) schools as well. He is a passive personality, always striving for peace, and even though he is tall for his age he has been the victim of several bullies – the worst being his first school in Israel (the bully was American, by the way!)

    Our experience was similar to that of the family in your post… when my son ended up in the emergency room with a hematoma on the side of his neck from the bully’s attempt to strangle him, the school’s reaction was that the new kid/ VICTIM was the problem!

    This happened the 1st week of school in 2nd grade during recess in the classroom (unsupervised) as the boys were playing with blocks and the bully decided he didn’t like the idea of having another American child in the class to compete with for attention.

    It took more than a week to get the school to agree to a meeting with the guidance counselor, teacher and principal and then the principal didn’t show up – he sent a school psychiatrist instead. And she suggested that my son should undergo psychiatric evaluation to determine what caused the other boy to want to strangle him!!!

    They refused to tell us who the boy was or how to contact his parents, but fortunately the parents heard about what had happened (the child received a 1 day out of school suspension) and took the initiative to contact us and apologize (and to ask us not to press charges against them or the school). They admitted that the boy was on medication for his “issues” and perhaps needed a larger dose.

    We decided that since the school’s reaction was so opposite of what we expected, to demonstrate our disatisfaction by withdrawing our son from their tuition base. It took an entire month (because of the chagim) to get the education ministry to grant permission for him to attend a different school.

    There were bullying problems at the new school as well, but the principal reacted swiftly & appropriately and now that my son has been there for a while he’s made friends and has learned to put the bullies in their place (he’s big & strong and usually able to restrain bullies by holding them down until an adult arrives – or they cry). This has turned him into the unofficial playground guard – when a child feels threatened, they run to him for protection.

    We left for a year to be closer to work and had huge problems in that new (larger city) school, so bad that he didn’t want to go and there were days when I allowed him to stay home. The teacher phoned to ask if he was sick and when I told her what was happening she lectured the class on proper midot, assigned a few children to report offenses to her, and meted out discipline as needed. Within 2 weeks my son was happy to be going to school.

    Parent-Teacher-Principal cooperation is what’s needed to stop the violence in our schools. How to achieve that is the big challenge.

  5. These stories are terribly disturbing. Bullying is epidemic in the US, something I regularly discuss but I would have thought that at a religious school abuse by other students would be shunned and denigrated not celebrated, expected or excused. What does that say about a society that thinks its just fine to harm the less powerful and what about those moron parents who think their child just needs to toughen up? Israel is such a wonderful country in so many ways, but it seems that it lags so badly when it comes to modern child raising. I truly don’t get it.

    • Tehillah says

      Hi Elise,

      I don’t think (actually I know) that this behavior is exclusive to Israel. We lived in Cleveland for 4 years and when my son was THREE I was horrified to pick him up one day with a swolen face and bloddy nose – from his Orthodox very religious preschool!

      What was his offense? He was talking to a little girl in his class during recess while the teachers were huddled in conversation and a 5-year old boy who was spending his 2nd year in the 4-year old class decided his face needed to be smashed into a bench over and over again!

      And just like in Israel, the principal refused to tell us who the boy was. And the teachers admitted he was a problem child who attended school only half days because he went to a “center” during the other half. It wasn’t until the following year that we learned who the boy was – and that was only because he was repeating kindergarten and they placed him in the same class as my son (along with only 2 other boys and 17 girls).

      This is a serious social problem that needs to be addressed. I believe drugs are being handed out too quickly to these “ADD” or “ADHD” children. I’m sure some of them need it, but I’ll bet some really just need good old fashioned parenting.

      Growing up (back in the 60s/70s) one of my brothers might have been diagnosed ADHD but our old fashioned family doctor didn’t know about those things. And my parents never thought to ask a doctor why my brother did bad things! They just loved and punished him until he straightened out. And today he is a model father of a lovely daughter and he’s quite disciplined in all facets of his life.

      IMHO children are born with acute manipulative skills that parents must learn to master with love and patience (and not by turning a blind eye).

    • I think the religious schools in chul often have a problem: funding, that also relates to bullying.

      In one jewish dayschool of our city, there are terrible bullying issues, a child broken an arm.
      However, the bully is a son of very wealthy parents and this might dissuade the principal from suspending him.

      On the other hand, we often have the issue “you can’t send the bully to a non-jewish school, so we have to keep him”….

  6. I’m sick over these stories, truly sick. How can the school (or the PARENTS?!?) turn a blind eye to serious physical violence???

    This topic is very near to my heart this week because just a few days ago my 10 year old son and 3 of his friends played a pick-up soccer game against two 17 year olds. When the younger children won the game (it was four on two remember), one of the older two got so enraged that he threw my son to the ground and started smashing his knee into his chest.

    My son was not seriously hurt but he was pretty seriously traumatized and insisted that it should be reported to the police – so we did.

    In all honesty I didn’t feel that the police would be able to do anything but it was important to him to feel that he was being heard, and that made it important to us as his parents. He and my husband reported it to the squad car that came and then went to the local police station to file an official report. Even if nothing comes of it (it won’t) he feels better knowing that he Did Something, and that his parents have his back when he needs us.

    This wasn’t someone he’s ever seen around the neighborhood before so we’re hopeful he’ll never see him again.

    (Psst… I just put up a giveaway for a $50 gift certificate – swing by my blog for a chance to win.)

    My photography is available for purchase – visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

    • Hi Robyn, in my story the school reacted appropriately. In some of the other stories as well.
      I strongly advise my kids not to play with kids who are much older or younger than them. It often leads to trouble.

  7. In some yeshivas in the US, there has been a dramatic difference with bullying problems after instituting a karate anti-bullying program. There are many karate instructors here who develop a program in schools once a week for several weeks that teaches the children to say no, and how, how to respond with confidence but not retaliation, and what their rights are. It is vastly different than hearing it from a Rebbe or parent. There are also so many karate, judo and krav maga instructors in Israel that I wonder why there isn’t a market for the same thing.

    • We lived in Seattle for three years and my children attended the Seattle Hebrew Academy. They indeed had a Judo program, that was fortunately too expensive to send my children to. why do I say fortunately? The assistant to the judo instructor turned out to be a parolled sex offender.

    • There is a market here. A Rabbi hired me to teach his sons basic self-defense and anti-bullying tactics because he got tired of his children coming home with black eyes and bloody noses.

  8. Ms. Krieger says

    bullying is indeed epidemic. Even my daughter experienced an incident where she was victimized by older children in a playground – and she was not even two!

    Three children (two boys perhaps seven and five, and their three year old sister) walked into a play area where my daughter was playing alone. My husband was watching her, but it was some kind of fenced child-only area where adults could not easily enter. The two boys began telling their sister to knock my daughter down, which she did. And then they told their sister to pull my child’s diaper off!

    It was hideous. My husband got extremely angry and got as close to the boys as he could and told them to back off. They said why should they, how did they know if he was even my daughter’s father! He then verbally threatened them, and their mother noticed and came over to see what was wrong. (Apparently she was talking on her cellphone the whole time.) The boys blamed the incident on their little sister. The woman apologized and explained her daughter was only three and didn’t know any better.

    My husband interpreted this incident this way: he says it is obvious the boys’ father is a domineering, belittling jerk and they learn this behavior from him. And their mother screens it out or tries not to recognize that her husband is abusive.

    I do not know if this is true. It was very disturbing though. I am not sure how to handle things if she encounters bullying when she starts school.

  9. Elisheva says

    In my limited experience with a frum community in the US (I now live in a tiny community in Canada), there just aren’t the resources for frum parents to turn to. Domestic violence often gets swept under the rug (it does in secular society as well but somehow in a religious community it’s more shocking). If the family doesn’t fit the norm of the community, they are effectively shunned. I saw several examples of this where I used to live.

    I agree with Tehilla that the bullies often need more interactive parenting (see the link to Hannah’s review of Hold On To Your Kids) and victims often turn into bullies themselves if the situation isn’t handled appropriately or at all.

  10. BookishIma says

    I am beside myself reading the post and people’s stories – bullying is one of my greatest fears for my child. I was never really bullied myself, but I witnessed it as a constant (in the mild forms that it takes in affluent American public schools) and lived in fear of it. My child is small, and I haven’t had to content with it yet. I live with my fears by promising myself that I will not, to the very best of my abilities, ever send him into a school situation that I am not comfortable with. Obviously, that is not good enough as a large-scale solution. No child should have to face physical or psychological pain or intimidation. And you can’t )and shouldn’t) keep a child apart to avoid all possible hurts.

    I’m well-acquainted with the tougher side of the Israeli mentality, and it never fails to disappoint me. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s fair to say that we’re lagging in modern parenting, not even with the caveat that all generalizations are reductionist. Much of Israeli parenting (insofar as such a thing can be said to exist) is warm and child-oriented, in my experience.

  11. In the American yeshiva my kids attended there was some bullying going on, but I never heard of anything of a physical nature.

    When we arrived here, my youngest, who was in the 5th grade at the time reported to me that there was a girl in her class who hit other kids and once, when she was younger (2nd or third grade) slammed a kid’s head against a desk. Being a shell-shocked new olah, I had no idea how to react other, than to tell Orli to stay away from her. After sixth grade the girl went away to school, and Orli informed me that she had indeed been hit several times by that kid, but she didn’t tell me because she didn’t want me to worry. She said the hitting stopped when she made friends with some Israeli girls.

    I hear stories like the ones in the comment all the time. I don’t understand why this physical behavior seems to be more common here in Israel. I was shocked by it. Stealing also seems to be more prevalent here–my kids have had school supplies and lunches taken out of their bags. Their friend’s have had cellphones stolen.

    Now that my girls are at the ulpana (high school), the physcial bullying and the stealing seems to have lessened. Thank G-d.

  12. As someone mentioned above, bullying in schools is an epidemic. I think old school thinking was to sweep it under the rug, blame the victim on being too sensitive and pretty much ignoring the whole issue.

    Obviously recent tragic cases of kids committing suicide demonstrates that ignoring the issue is not the solution.

    Schools need to take a stand of not tolerating bullying of any kind. When I went to private Jewish school we were always told that we were ambassador at all times, so essentially.. BEHAVE. So if kids are bullying other kids off of school grounds, they are still representatives of that school and the same rule should apply (i.e no bullying period).

    Why should it apply in/out? Because the bully/victim met in school. If they never met, the bullying wouldn’t have occured. The school therefore has some responsibility for these kids, just as a bar has a responsibility not to let people drive drunk (even though, they’ve left the premesis).

  13. This post really scares me. My son walks to school alone and I always pray that he will be safe from bullies. That said, we once had a slight issue of social rejection in school (not quite bullying) and I called up his teacher about it. The teacher was very receptive and he handled the problem very sensitively and effectively BH.

  14. sylvia_rachel says

    Some of these stories are really awful.

    I hear a lot about how terrible bullying is these days. I can only conclude that the people talking about how much worse it is now, and how parents and educators don’t handle bullying well, were never bullied in their own childhoods. Because for a child to feel that it is not only OK but a good idea to report bullying to parents and teachers? For parents to feel comfortable complaining to the school? For the school to see bullying as a problem and to do something, anything, about it? That is a HUGE improvement over the way things were when I was a child.

    I was relentlessly bullied for seven years, from Grade 2 (overcrowded and underfunded public elementary school in large Spanish city) through Grade 9 (very good elementary school and pretty good junior high, both public, in large Canadian city), with a blessed respite in Grade 3. Some of the bullying was physical (trousers pulled down or skirt lifted up, pushing and shoving, boots and socks stolen so I had to chase around the schoolyard in the snow, barefoot, to get them back) but the majority was what is now called “social bullying” but didn’t have a name back then: name-calling and whisper campaigns, theft of prized possessions (usually things of no value except to me), rejection from groups for group projects (I don’t include not being picked for teams in this category, because I really was terrible at sports, so I can understand the reasoning there!), lunches stolen, sitting on the floor on the school bus because no one would share their seat with me, having my school agenda “borrowed” then returned with unpleasant or obscene graffiti written in it … I didn’t tell anyone. Other kids were also victimized, and they didn’t tell anyone either. I have no idea whether my teachers saw what was going on and didn’t do anything, or just didn’t see it. I know that my mother didn’t know about it, because when I eventually did tell her, many years later, she was shocked.

    It was understood by both bullies and victims that this was not a matter for adults, that involving a parent or teacher would simply lead to escalation of the bullying. This was “tattling”, you Did Not Do That. And if you did tell anyone, the most likely response was either “Just ignore them; if they don’t get a reaction from you, they will get bored and stop.” or “Laugh it off. No one likes a person who can’t take a joke.” Talk about blaming the victim!

    It’s also true that I put up with a lot of awful things because I kept hoping if I was a good sport, they would like me.

    My younger brother (who, like me, was geeky, and was also very small for his age until high school) was also bullied, but in his case my mom did find out about the problem because the bullying was much more physical, eventually involving actual violence. Other boys in his class would torment him until he eventually retaliated. The school’s solution was usually to suspend him. Should he have retaliated? No. But there was really no reason for it to go that far, except that the school’s attitude was pretty much “boys will be boys!”

    I do think that these days parents are sometimes too quick to intervene in minor squabbles, which hinders kids from learning how to resolve conflicts on their own. Sometimes we are too quick to label something “bullying” when it really isn’t — it’s a conflict between kids in which the power dynamic is more or less equal. But I also think it’s a very good thing that we are now more inclined to recognize bullying as a problem, to put programs in place that help prevent it, and to offer the victims something better than “Just ignore it!” Even if the worst doesn’t happen, bullying has powerful long-term effects on both bullies and victims (and, as you point out, it’s all too easy for the latter to become the former), and for the most part they’re not good effects.

    • Ms. Krieger says

      I do agree with some of Sylvia_Rachel’s comments. I, too, experienced bullying to some degree in elementary school. And learned to develop my own coping skills. Much of what she described – kids “Not Tattling” is common – have you ever noticed the bullying in the Harry Potter books? It’s part of Harry’s character development to learn to deal with it.

      @Tehillah – Sylvia is most definitely not saying that what you did is inappropriate, or prevented your child from learning life skills. Once severe physical or emotional violence is involved, the situation changes. I am sure everyone here understands completely why you reacted as you did to your child’s situation.

  15. Tehillah says

    @ Sylvia Rachel – your conclusion is NOT correct. At least in my case – that is having been a child who like you grew up thru elementary and junior high the victim of bullies – I am more in tune with the symptoms children exhibit when they are victims, and more compassionate of their plight.

    And I don’t believe that as a mother I overreacted or prevented my son from learning conflict resolution skills (at the age of 3 or at 7) by taking him to the emergency room (twice), filing social service reports, and demanding the school put an end to the violence.

    As a shy child I was only able to respond with tears to the mean and hurtful treatment (both physical and emotional) that I received from classmates for the crime of entering a small town school with a NY City accent at the age of 5. As you may be aware, for many people those scars never heal completely.

    Some say that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. So today I have the strength to be my son’s advocate, while also empowering him to respond appropriately to bullies while we wait for their parents to take positive action. And we have the Internet to help us learn more about the “whys” of bullying, as well as potential solutions.

    Shabbat Shalom!

    • You were a little too quick on the draw and didn’t read until the end. This was her conclusion:

      “But I also think it’s a very good thing that we are now more inclined to recognize bullying as a problem, to put programs in place that help prevent it, and to offer the victims something better than “Just ignore it!” Even if the worst doesn’t happen, bullying has powerful long-term effects on both bullies and victims (and, as you point out, it’s all too easy for the latter to become the former), and for the most part they’re not good effects.”

    • sylvia_rachel says

      Shabbat shalom!

      Actually I did not at all mean to imply either (a) that every parent who takes steps to help a bullied child is overreacting (in fact that doesn’t strike me as true of any of the stories people have told here — although I have seen it happen in other contexts, which is why I made that comment) OR (b) that parents who object to bullying were never bullied themselves.

      What I said was that when I hear people say how much WORSE bullying is now than when they were kids, or how BADLY bullying is dealt with now, as if this were something new — I have to think probably they did not experience bullying as children. Of course I can’t speak for every school system and every family everywhere, but it certainly looks to me as though overall, both parents and schools are now much more willing, and therefore more able, to address the problem than was the case 20 or 30 years ago.

      I think the awful things that happened to your child would have been unusually awful at that time, just as they were unusually awful when they happened. But out of 2 schools, 1 “reacted swiftly and appropriately.” And you felt it was appropriate to make a stink until something was done. In my younger brother’s case, 3 or 4 schools in a row blamed him for being bullied, and at least 2 of them kicked him out. And my mother tried to make the situation better, but was not listened to. Obviously both cases are anecdotes, not data, but maybe you see where I’m coming from here?

  16. My son was experiencing social rejection at cheder (not quite bullying). I called up his Rebbe and told him about it. He was very receptive and took very sensitive and effective action. Over time, he managed to solve the problem. A good teacher can have a huge impact…

  17. Thank you for this important posting and the comments it has elicited.

    When I was a kid, a cousin kept beating me up, since at the time I was small and very quiet. I complained and the adults chided him but there were no sanctions and nothing changed.

    I complained to my babysitter. Her husband told me to punch him in the nose. I was cluesless about what he meant so he role played it with me over and over.

    Next Shabbos afternoon I kept the lesson in mind but forgot the part about, “next time he hits you.” I punched him in the nose with no provocation. He went crying to the adults “Yerachmiel hit me and I didnt do anything to him this time.”

    My aunt asked me for my version. Feeling somewhat guilty, I said nothing, scared of the repurcussions.

    Then I heard the adults talking in the dining room. “It must have been a worse beating than usual for Yerachmiel to finally fight back.”

    That was the last time I got beaten by him.

    • observer says

      So much for the idea that bullies are poor souls who have low self-esteem. It sounds like your cousin was a coward who was interested in someone easy to pick on. Good for your babysitter’s husband. At least the adults accepted your right to fight back. Sometimes it really is the only answer.

  18. I endured ten years of bullying in school from ages seven to 17. A few teachers and other pupils tried to help, but mostly, the teachers’ response was to ignore it or blame me. I think it was simply that they didn’t want to deal with it. After all, by the next academic year, my class would be gone, and if the bullying was still going on, it would be another teacher’s problem by then.

    But the problem stayed mine. For ten whole years.

    I’ve learned a few things about bullying since then, particularly the following two items:

    1. Bullying is a form of abuse.

    2. Abusers abuse for one reason only: because they can.

    If a pupil were to hit a teacher or destroy school property, would the teachers or the principal say that they didn’t want to deal with it for fear that things might get worse? I very much doubt it.

    So… if the school would deal with those problems swiftly, why should they give bullying a pass? I wish I knew. I think that it’s mainly because people in general don’t like to recognize the fact that abuse exists in their communities. Let’s remember that society didn’t want to deal openly with domestic abuse until quite recently, and within living memory, there were Knesset members who didn’t want to establish shelters for abused women because they felt that it would reflect badly on Israel’s image if they admitted that there was a problem.

  19. Peter Baum says

    Tehilla Hessler can attest to this. My son was beaten up and tortured by kids whose parents felt themselves untouchable. He has actually gone off the derech because of this history.
    However, while this went on, I went to the Yeshiva heads, and complained, so i got a reputation as a complainer, and they did nothing, as one of the kids was this Rabbis’ son. So,on one occasion, when this happened after school, I did the following. I called each parent, and told them what happened, (including this macher Rebbe) and since this happened after school, with witnesses, I was giving them 24 hours to discipline their children, PUBLICLY, with an apology to my son and my family, that I had to pass on the punishment as sufficient, or the following would happen.
    A) I would file charges with the local police that my son had been the victim of assault and battery. Once this was reported, the kids would be arrested, and brought to juvenile court, where it was then out of my hands.
    B) My best friend, an attorney, would file a civil suit against the parents for failure to rein in their children after they had been publicly warned to do so. I told them, as my friend would be happy to make their lives miserable, and expensive.
    The second occasion, three different boys left threatening phone calls, with the demand for money from my son. These kids were also untouchable Rebbe’s kids. So, after the appropriate phone calls, I called the parent, whose caller ID came up, as the source of the information, and told him that a felony had been committed from his home. I had contacted the phone company, the school, and the police. If the situation was not resolved in 24 hours, then FELONY charges would be filed against him, the father, and his son. i was threatened, called names, by the parent. I told him I didn’t care what he did. he had 24 hours before the police would be involved, and as it was a felony, with concrete evidence, he was toast. Plus, my lawyer friend would file a civil suit. Again, when MONEY was involved, the parents did something. All three kids were punished, and public apologies were made.
    I take no prisoners where my kids are involved.

  20. I am in a rush, just wanted to say that two brothers who made my son miserable when they were in 4th grade are now grown and really good friends. People and time do change people.

    • And now that I have a few more minutes, I just want to make it clear that I do not think that violence is to be tolerated. i went through something at work and I spoke out at the end because that was the message I wanted to send to my kids, that violence is not to be tolerated.

    • sylvia_rachel says

      I am also now very good friends with one of the girls who bullied me in junior high school. But only that one. She took the initiative of apologizing to me and starting the conversation that enabled us both to move on from that dynamic — and she had also never been a ringleader, only one of those who (like me, at times) let herself get pulled along with the crowd. We are friends now because she was genuinely sorry for how she had behaved and I could tell that she was — and because she has never again behaved that way that I know of.

  21. I want to thank all of you for sharing your stories. They were very powerful.

  22. I have a lot to say about this because I was physically and verbally bullied by two classmates in elementary school in Atlanta. Here’s the short version of my story:

    The school refused to intervene when two kids picked on me from 3rd to 7th grade. The kid who verbally bullied me’s mother went so far as to say that her kid was simply exercising his social dominance, there was no way she was going to stop him and I needed to grow up. He also was a Rabbi’s kid and thus was untouchable. Finally, when the kid grabbed me to shove me, I put his wrist through a wall. I got detention and the bully got off scot-free. But my parents told the school that if they punished me without punishing him, they would sue. The school did nothing and my parents threats fell on deaf ears. My parents told me that I could say or do whatever I wanted to the next person who bothered me.

    The kid who physically bullied me gave me a black eye and I ended up getting him suspended. He came back and started a fist fight with me in the middle of the hallway, which he ended up losing – I threw him into a locker. He left me alone after that and we get along quite well now when we see each other.

  23. I am very grateful for this topic, however I am shocked to see that there are so many children going through this horrible problem.

    I am writing here today because I am at a loss with what to do about a friend of mine. He is being physically and emotionally beaten up by some boys in his class. His parents turn a blind eye to the beatings and teven go as far as saying that it would toughen him up.

    His last beating left him black and with multiple bruises. A group of kids took turns with a stick and stones to beat him for over an hour. They then choked him and he was unconscious for awhile. When I spoke to him 3 days later he was a mess. His parents think its honorable and it disgusts me how proud they are of their son. How can kids think such behaviour is acceptable?

    I’m terrified that they are going to kill this shy, quiet and introverted boy soon, just for being different. He is ashamed and embarressed to tell his teachers – even though some have been aware of what is going on.

    Can someone please advise me on what to do next? I’m in a different country and at a loss as to where to go from here and how to best help him.

    • Hi Ariela (by the way there is a frequent commenter also named Ariela–perhaps you can add an initial or number to avoid confusion).
      What a difficult situation. It is critical to step in to protect the child, who could end up hospitalized or worse. His parents aren’t looking out for him and you may be the only person who is aware. Letting a child cope does not extend to life-threatening attacks. I suggest speaking to the school principal, and if that doesn’t help the police. Good luck and please let us know what happens.