Our five year old is being bullied on the school bus!!

Maybe you have dealt with yourself, or with your child…we never really have to this extent and are stumped.

So what do we do, now that we know for sure our son is being bullied by a boy who is in an assigned seat on the school bus with him?
My son came home with a crumpled up apology note from the kid today.

It said, “Orion I am sorry I hit you”. Robby.

Robby: Five year old only son of our neighbors, just two houses away. His mother is also my son’s music teacher, and the only teacher he is having trouble with as well. (UGH, but another long story).

What I have seen Robby do with my own eyes, is put my son in a head lock.
What Orion said he did today, was to take Orion’s hand and punch him in the stomach with his own hand and laugh and say, “stop punching yourself…hahaha why are you hitting yourself”. Hmmm I wonder where he learned this, not having siblings, and being his first year in school? My husband and I are pretty sure it is from his dad, who treats the kid like he is his little brother and bullies him around from what we have seen.

Orion also told me the kid has ripped his(Orion’s) glasses off, and held them out of reach and said stuff like, “hahah try and get them”. These are the same $150 dollar red glasses we let our son pick out himself last December.

Nothing a parent wants to hear, about their kids first year in school.

Orion is very passive and usually just looks sad, bewildered, or cries, when he is picked on. In the past we have taught him to say, “STOP IT” or be specific and say, “STOP taking MY Glasses” etc. That way an adult will hopefully be alerted to the situation, and possibly the kid will stop.
Orion did that with some success a few years ago when another boy was picking on him in a preschool class. But it seems he has forgotten how to stick up for himself again.

What I am wondering is when do I or my husband step in? Because believe me I wanted to march over to the boys house with his note in hand and make sure his parents were aware of the situation.
And then secretly inside I hoped my hubby(6’5" 280#) would go over to Robby’s dad, grab his hand and tell him to “Stop punching Himself”!

Any advice, besides the hubby/dad punching scenario, will be greatly appreciated.

If this had happened to me when I was five years old, my instinctive reaction would have been to elbow the other kid in the face. It wasn’t something I would have thought about for a second. I think it’s in the nature of some kids to accept this kind of bullying and it’s in the nature of other kids to fight back against it, and if your kid doesn’t naturally hit the bully for messing with his expensive glasses, it’s unlikely that he’ll take anyone else’s advice to do so until he mentally resolves to do so himself. The world of little kids is filled with a lot of very real power jockeying and shows of domination; it’s not something that many people ever think about, but I can remember it like it was yesterday. When you’re a kid, you take the business of being a kid every bit as seriously as an adult takes his adult job and life; allowing things like bullying to go on without doing something about it will create a lot of very deep humiliation within the child that can go bottled up for years, and he could become very neurotic because of it. Alternatively it could cause him to become a sadistic person himself, later in life. Who you are is largely shaped by your experience as a child, and that includes one’s self-confidence and his will to stand up to those who are cruel.

Spend a couple minutes talking to the bus driver, maybe he/she can switch up the assigned seats. But now that an apology note has been issued the novelty of picking on him may start to wind down. SOme kids are just beasts on the bus and the driver cannot monitor all the shenanigans.

On any given day my kids hate riding the bus because of the kids who can’t keep their hands/comments to themselves or keep their butts on the seats. Other days its fine overall but they still ride the bus everyday and have learned to cope with the nasty loners (on the MS/HS bus), the grubby stealers and the loud raucous migrant kids(on the elementary bus).

It’s why I give the kids their space when they get home, they’re frazzled!

Definitely talk to the bus driver, to inform him of the situation, and to get his assigned seat switched. If he resists switching seats, don’t be afraid to talk with the school principal, or with the head of the buses. Don’t take “wait and see” for an answer. Even if you were being unreasonable (you’re not), they’ll eventually give in.

I just about fell off my chair when I read this today.

Unfortunately, as a parent, I have no words of advice (other than what’s already been said). I wasn’t physically bullied in school (much), but rather verbally picked on. My mom’s fabulous advice was “Just ignore them,” “If you don’t run they can’t chase you,” etc. :rolleyes: Thanks Mom. I was afraid of/felt inferior to other people for YEARS.

Maybe some role-playing on “What would you say/do if Robby (or some other kid) did X?” Practice might make perfect and help him remember.

Obviously that apology note wasn’t Robby’s idea, so at least it sounds like some adult at school knows about it. But yeah, time to step in. (Is having volunteer adult bus monitors for a while a possibility?)

Would it be possible to have Orion take some karate/martial arts classes? Not so he can go all Chuck Norris on Robby, but they are good for teaching confidence in yourself and learning about boundaries. My 6 year old has had a few lessons through his school and he loves it.

I wouldn’t rule out you or your husband going to speak with them. Maybe Robby’s parents aren’t aware of the extent of his behavior, and maybe they’d step up their parenting. If they brush you off, tell them you’ll be speaking to the school principal. If she’s a teacher there I’m sure she doesn’t want to have to explain herself to her boss.

Good luck.

Who made the other boy write the apology?

Definitely save that written confession for later use.
The bullies mom teaches music at the school? Why doesn’t she just drive her little thug with her?

Confidence was the key for me. I was always able to talk my way out of trouble until the 5th grade when a girl wouldn’t leave me alone. I was terrified that we would get in a fight; I didn’t sleep much and I was scared all the time. My folks took different approaches to helping but both of them pumped up my self esteem a lot and stressed that no matter what they would love me and things would get better.

I used to dread my folks asking me about it because I felt like a failure for not handling the situation. However, it really helped to have them reassuring me so much. They just laid it out for me, said that even if she kicked my ass and broke my nose or something, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Mom tried non-violent solutions, Dad wholeheartedly endorsed violence.

Eventually, I got worn down and after delivering a spectacular string of threats and epithets I got physical - no problem from her ever again. It’s not as though I trounced her either, I was saved a long fight by the recess bell and she just never bothered me again. The resulting reputation carried me through a lot of other potential problems.

I had one other indecent in the 7th grade but by that time I had a lot of confidence and no desire to suffer another protracted conflict. I just started whaling on this guy in the hallway. That was a real fight and I took my share of licks. I got in-school suspension and my poor mother had to come to the school and we both got a dressing-down from the principal. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

My folks, Mom in particular, wanted to handle it for me but, as you are finding out, they couldn’t. The did give me the tools to handle it myself though; lots of love and confidence.

Martial arts, Scouts, any activity to get him socializing with other kids, getting dirty. Maybe a pet? That kind of responsibility and extra love can’t hurt. I dunno, definitely no easy answer. My folks didn’t agonize over the situation in front of me, they maintained a confidence that gave me the courage to stand up for myself. Good luck, I sure hope things get better for him soon.

Two qualifiers: I am not a parent, and I haven’t read the responses to the OP. But I’ll give you my take as a kid who was bullied all through school.

As much as it’s going to hurt you, you have to toughen the kid up. This is what I wish my parents had done when I was a kid. My dad was an intellect; he had no desire to roughhouse with me. My brother and I didn’t get along very much growing up, so there was little to no playful contact between us. There were no other male figures in my family.

Your kid is afraid of getting hurt. If your husband or another male family member your son trusts would go out and throw a football with him, wrestle around with him, throw him into a pile of leaves, etc., it would teach him that a little bit of roughness isn’t all that bad. Make it fun for him. Don’t damage the child, of course, but let him have a good ol’ bit of male roughhousing. I never stuck up for myself in school because I was deadly afraid of getting hit.

Teach your child that while violence doesn’t solve everything, it may make the occasional bully or two think twice. If your kid isn’t afraid to get in a fight, you’ll be amazed at how much more confident he is and how many more friends he has. He has to learn that most kids, no matter the age, are usually going to back down from a fight.

Boys and girls have it very hard in grade school. Girls are pressured to be sexual and claw their way up through the social hierarchy, and boys are expected to be tough, macho, and to bust each others’ balls. Teach your kid the difference between toughness and machismo.

Just my two cents.

ETA: It sounds to me like this bully of your son’s actually wants to be friends with him, he just doesn’t know how to make friends in a normal way. Invite him over to do an activity with your son and I think you’ll see the bullying boil down into a friendship.

  1. Find out who made the neighbor kid write the note.
  2. Find out who assigns the seats on the bus (school, transportation dept, bus driver), tell them about the issue, and ask them to move the neighbor kid to another seat. Since they already have assigned seats, this shouldn’t be a problem for them.
  3. Re-vist the “STOP IT” lessons with your son. Roleplaying tends to work the best. It sounds like that is what you used before.
  4. Talk to the neighbors in a non-confrontational manner. Try to be as constructive as possible, but make it clear that it needs to end now. I would start out non-confrontational and non-angry because they are your neighbors. If the problem persists, then you can turn up the heat.
  5. Do not be afraid to yell at the neighbor kid if you see him bullying your son. The kid may react better to your husband intervening (if the kid is used to being bullied by his dad).

My kids’ school has a zero-tolerance for hitting and bullying. This includes the bus rides and it even includes siblings. If your school has something like this, then there might not be much you need to do.

Forgive me, I seemed to have missed the part where your son is only five years old. He’s obviously not old enough to be pushing back physically. I too would suggest talking to the parent.

A couple things.

The note idea came from Robby’s teacher. They aren’t in the same class, once they get to school. Whew.
The reason they ride the bus, is that the 4-K and Kindergarten students in our little town are all bussed 7 miles away to a little country school where they are alone. There are 3 classes this year, and one 4K class out there. I live right across the street from the School where my son will go from 1st through 12th grades, so he won’t be riding a bus after this year. Neither with the other boy.

There are usually 3 adults on the bus already which is great. The bus driver is a woman and starting to be a friend of mine. She is also a teacher’s aid and I have worked with her quite a few times. She didn’t see the incident. There is one other woman who rides to school with the kids and is a Kindergarten aid. I think she is the one who saw and reported the incident to Robby’s teacher. And there is one more woman who rides the bus with an autistic boy, who is his aid. I even rode that bus when I subbed one day, so sometimes there are more adults on there. But the bus is also jammed with kids, 3 to most seats, so stuff gets past them.

I really am considering martial arts for Orion. It would mean a long drive for us, but I am sure would be worth it in many ways. He already loves doing that type of thing when playing. He loves to play that he is a robot or transformer, or power ranger and do all the kicks and karate type moves.
I am also thinking taking him to play with the kid some more might help. We have played with that boy in the past, and as far as I know are the only ones in town who do. So that may be why Robby is singling my son out…he does want to be friends, but isn’t sure how to go about it. I suppose if his dad does stuff like that to him(which we know he does), he figures that means you like someone and it is how you act.

I have already had to reprimand Robby myself, and give him a time out at school when I was subbing. He was using some stick puppets as weapons and hitting everyone on the head with them. When I removed him from the group, he gave me a “teenager stare of death”. I was a little freaked out, and worried that he might be trouble, but didn’t think he would be trouble for my kid just 2 weeks later. UGH. I didn’t even know he was sitting with Orion until now.
Robby also has never gone to school before. My son and most of the other kids went to preschool at a local church, and then to two full days of 4K, last year, at the same school they go to now. So I am hoping that Robby will adjust.

I really just want to nip this in the bud, and not let it escalate until my son comes home with broken glasses/and or really hurt.

We will also up the role playing again. And…I am looking into finding him a playmate to rough house with that has more self control than Robby. I have a boy in mind, and need to talk to his parents.
My husband and I are older(44 and 47), and try and do it some, but are not doing it enough apparently. I have heard from Orion’s Dr. that it is very good for boys to do this, and she thinks he needs more of it too. I think our mistake, as well as a lot of parents today, is that we are always stopping any kind of play like that as soon as we see it for fear someone will get hurt! Now I am realizing that they need to do that, and probably need to get hurt once in awhile.

A pet is hopefully on the horizon too. My son has so many stuffed animals that he tends to daily, and makes homes for, and carts around, so we know he really would love a pet. Our beloved 16 year old beagle died when our son was 2, and we have just had a hard time thinking of another pet until now. We are thinking, Cat, this time however…so not exactly a rough and tumbly pet, but one that we think we could care for better. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the input…keep it coming. It really helps to see all the different perspectives, even if you aren’t a parent, I am sure you remember being a kid. :slight_smile: Like Agent Towers said, kids take the business of being a kid very seriously. I remember that so well. Whatever age I was, I thought I was as old as I would get, and every bit as much a part of the world as anyone else. I was picked on a lot myself as a kid, but never at school. I was tortured at home for being the only fat kid in a family with 5 other kids. But at school, I was the funny kid who was friends with everyone, and if I was bullied, which I was a few times, I was able to stand up for myself and dish it right back. I even got in trouble for pushing snow in a girls face after she slapped me. I was 7. I remember the incident like it was yesterday, not 1972!
That girl is my friend now, and she has no recollection of hitting me, or me taking up for myself.

What’s with the death stare? Our next-door neighbors have a couple of little girls (5 and 7) who do that. Gives me the creeps.

Our school system comes down hard on bullying behavior. They should reassign the bus seats. You mentioned having your son play more with this kid. I would not do that. Your kid needs to learn there are a lot of different kinds of people, and how to deal with them and stand up to them, but he also needs to learn not to hang out with kids who are abusive to him or are just trouble. There are plenty of nice kids out there.

My first-grader was getting harassed on the bus by older kids last year. It wasn’t exactly bullying, it was more like, they were goading him into breaking bus rules for their own amusement, and he wasn’t quite socially mature enough to grok that they weren’t really being his friends, you know?

First I contacted the bus driver. She moved his seat, but the other kids were still close enough to bug him. Then I contacted the principal. Contrary to popular opinion here on the SDMB, this did not somehow mark my kid as a giant loser who should be beaten up daily. The principal laid the hammer down on the older kids that were tormenting a 1st-grader, and that was the end of our problems with those kids. We also did quite a bit of education with Whatsit Jr. about how to recognize people who are your friends (hint: if they are encouraging you to break the bus rules and get in trouble, they are not your friends).

Visit the other kid’s parents and tell them everything their son has done and as others have said tell the bus driver to reassign the seat.