Sigh… this is always a difficult issue. There are two schools of thought on how to deal with bullying: work through the system, though it may be slow or ineffective, or teach& train your son to beat the crap out of the ring leader, with is slow, and has it’s own set of consequences.
My suggestion is to approach this in two phases:
- Request a meeting with the principal. Request it in writing. In your letter requesting the meeting, document as factually as possible, and as completely as possible, both the effects on your child and as many specific instances of bullying as you can.
Regarding the effects on your child, document specific effects on your child’s behavior, academic performance, and emotional state. Mention any effects that hamper normal functioning, this will get the attention of any specialists such as psychologists. Try to write it in a clinical, detached, unemotional perspective. Mention dates, number of occurences of problem behaviours, etc. like how often he has cried from fear and refusing to go to school.
Regarding the instances of bullying, mention as many as possible. Mention each occurence individually. In each case, mention all the boys involved, the time and place, what everyone did, when was it reported to a teacher and to which teacher, and how that individual teacher failed to take you seriously or address the problem effectively. Needless to say, document any further instance to the nines.
In your letter, mention the measures you want taken to address the situation. You may include that each boy involved be given counseling, be kept apart from your son, and that an anti-bullying program be implemented at your school.
You must mention that, from what you have seen, the school adminstration is currently tailing to provide “a safe environment compatible with learning” for your son, and that you are prepared to take further measures if necessary to see that this matter be resolved. Use this phrase, because it is in the mandate of just about every school administration in North-America, and the job description of every principal.
In essence, your letter will be setting the groundwork for any legal action or escalation to higher authorities such as a school board, and the principal should realize this, and start worrying that this may affect his performance evaluation. In short, it should get his attention.
After you have the meeting, send the principal and everyone who attended a detailed set of minutes listing all the measure that will be taken, when they will be completed, and the ONE person who is responsible for each action. Finish your minutes with a sentence to the effect that, "unless he sends any additions or changes within a week, these minutes will be considered to match her recollection of the meeting.
Document any further incident in writing in a letter to involved parties.
There have been enough instances of lawsuits filed against schools & schoolboards lately that this should certaily get you on their radar.
Pursue them to make sure they implement their plan.
Second phase. While all this adult paperwork stuff is going on, teach your son that, every time someone does something that is bullying, to say, very LOUDLY:
“<Name of harasser> STOP <doing bad thing>” to turn away and to walk towards a teacher.
e.g. “ANDREW STOP THROWING BALLS AT MY FACE”’ - walks away from Andrew towards teacher.
If children are hurting him or hitting him, teach him to push (not hit) them away firmly then walk away, while saying the above.
Also, get him forethewith into an effective self-defence martial art class. Any karate school, or jiu-jitsu, hapkido, boxing or kick-boxing. I would stay avoid judo or Tae-Kwon-Do. Yes, this is teaching him how to fight. Ideally, the confidence gained will eliminate the need to use the skills. But learning to fight effectively, even at the elementary school-yard level, takes time, especially if you start with an already scared kid. If all your administrative measure above come to naught, he may have to settle this the old fashion way, but you will have hopefully prepared a thorough case for self-defense with all your documenting, and given him time to acquire some skills.
If it comes down to this, and hopefully it wont, he must take on the “leader” of the harassers, otherwise he will have to fight them all, one by one, and that will give him a problem in his file as frequently violent, which you don’t want. He must inflict enough damage in one fight to permanently deter the leader and his gang from coming back, so that means more than one lucky punch. He must not humiliate the leader, or mock him, or give him any reason to escalate a retaliation, just communicate the message that kid-taz is no longer worth hassling. There will be a disciplinary meeting of some sort, but for a first time offense, especially with the background of the situation, he should get off relatively lightly.
Your kid must never, in any way, either threaten to use, bring to school, or use anything that could be construed as a weapon. This could initiate “anti-Columbine”’ security protocols, and get your kid in worse trouble than his aggressors.
Alright. teachers, psychologists, parents who’ve been there, this is where you chime in. Agree with me or not, feel like applauding or screaming at me, it doesn’t matter, so long as we help out papataz in the end.
Ok, gotta run, I said I would be down for dinner 30 minutes ago. Good luck to you.