School Bullying

What would the SD recommend to squelch a potential bullying situation? My daughter is in a carpool. One of the kids is just rotten and has been starting to do small things I deem bullying such as writing nasty things on the school chalkboard about my daughter and once wrote on my daughter’s sweater with chalk. The girl also makes snide remarks in the carpool which my daughter ignores. So far, my daughter has been able to avoid confrontation.

But, what might she do to discourage and hopefully stop this? We depend on these people for carpool, and if the situation ramps up, we will talk to the parents. But, speaking to the parents at this stage does not seem wise. Someone suggested to try “killing this person with kindness”, like sharing snacks, etc., but I don’t know if that is the answer.

How would advise your child to handle this? And also, as a parent, at what point would you step in?


  • Jinx

Does the school know about the stuff written on the chalkboard? I’d definitely count that as bullying. They shouldn’t be allowing that to happen - at the schools I’ve worked in, it would mean detentions and a long ‘talk’ for a start (why did the bully do that, why they shouldn’t have, etc). What anti-bullying policies does your daughter’s school have?

Spaking to the parents doesn’t have to mean telling them their kid’s a bully. It could just be ‘how are the kids getting on in carpool? They don’t seem as friendly as they used to be,’ or something similar, just so that they pay a bit more attention next time they’re in the car.

Your daughter’s right to ignore it, I think. Killing with kindness is a pretty good idea, especially if the snacks are shared right at the start of the journey.

I would strongly advise you to simply call up the parents and have a talk about you daughter’s concerns with them. Don’t have to be aggressive, but something like, my daughter says that one of the girls is making her feel uncomfortable and hurting her feelings,. Is there anything we do to address the situation with the two girls? Be diplomatic but straight forward.

Remember, The longer you wait the more distressed and sad she will become. Remember back when you had a similar situation and how stressed, scared, intimidated and mad you got.

I worry about “we can’t talk to the parents because we are dependent on them”. It sends a message to your daughter that her parents can’t protect her because they are weak (and I am sure that the actual situation is way more complicated and nuanced than that, but your daughter isn’t going to see those nuances any more than people on a message board).

I think you have to find a way to talk to the parents. As others have said, it doesn’t have to be angry–it can just be concern about both girls. Did they use to be friends?

I am just finding this out from my wife as I have been on travel for awhile. I am not sure when/where the chalkboard incident occured especially when they are in different classes. I wager my daughter heard about it, or saw it when they switch classrooms. As for being friends, no. This girl started off as such a “know-it-all” kind of kid. No matter what my daughter (or probably any kid her age) would say, she knows better. It sounds like some kind of underlying jealousy issue, but I can’t image what/why this kid has to feel jealous (or threatened) about.

Also, I cannot say my daughter is 100% percent innocent in this regard. She can come across as a “know-it-all” at times, too. But, my daughter can curb it whereas I’ve seen where this kid cannot. It could simply be a little fallout from personality conflicts. Maybe the other girl is used to drawing attention to herself by being an unchallenged, “know-it-all”. Yes, I need more facts. My wife doesn’t drive carpool in the winter because she cannot drive in the dark (this is for bible studies after school twice a week). However, with Daylight Savings Time coming, we may be able to see what’s really going on.

How old are your daughter & this kid?

I would recommend against sharing snacks only with the alleged bully, as it could be seen as rewarding the behavior. Sharing snacks with everyone in the car is fine, if that is what you meant.


I’m sorry but wouldn’t you think the one place a child could be safe from bullying is the Bible Studies carpool? It seems as if this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss “do unto others”, no?

The age of the kids is important. As kids get older, parents need to step back and let them handle their own problems more.

I believe most parents these days will be somewhat defensive about their kids’ alleged bullying. You suggest in your follow-up post that you’ve “seen” that the other girl cannot control her behavior but it doesn’t appear that you or your wife have witnessed anything more than some snide comments. If you approach the parents it should be to listen as much as to talk - their daughter’s side of the story might be an eye-opener for you.

Documenting the bad behavior is a good idea because if things come to a head, you want something more than one girl’s word against another. Mostly I mean write stuff down as it happens, but heavy-duty pocket digital cameras are $15 these days–photographing the chalkboard and sweater incidents as or after they happen would help persuade the other girl’s parents and other authorities who otherwise will not want to take sides.

Has your daughter taken a stand? Seriously, she needs to learn if someone is doing something to her, she can say “stop it!”. It won’t neccessarily work, but she needs to learn to stand up for herself.

I wouldn’t give treats, etc. That’s rewarding bad behaviour and teaching your daughter that friends are bought, not made. There’s little difference between that and giving the big 5th grader your lunch money to make him leave you alone.

Girls often think they have to be the “good girl” and not make waves. I’m all for appropriate politeness, but I think they have to learn that they don’t have to compromise their body, their ethics, their morality or anything else, so that people like them.


How old are the kids involved? How long ago did this start? What has your daughter already tried?

Tell your daughter that if ever it’s justified to feel free to slap little miss trouble maker and give her a talking down. She needs to do it in front of other people, like while in the carpool car.

I was bullied mercilessly as a child and I think that was mostly because my parents’ advice was to “just ignore it; she/he is jealous of you.” That advice doesn’t really help much, IME.

My parents also did not go to the school and talk to the teachers or administration, or the bus driver, which is where a lot of bullying happens. I suspect that would have made it worse.

My advice is to teach your kid how to set limits and stand up for herself. Don’t teach her kickboxing or go over the top with that. She doesn’t want to become the bigger bully; that’s not the goal. But, in general, in my experience, bullies bully because they have exceedingly low self-esteem, may be abused or neglected at home, and have to pick one someone they perceive to be smaller and weaker in order to feel better about themselves. Also, bullies are, as a general rule of thumb, cowards.

So here’s a little anecdote about how I handled a situation once in high school. Take whatever gems of wisdom from this that you choose.

So we’re talking about 9th grade gym class – the only class that wasn’t really divided by “college track” vs. “fast food track.” Right? So everyone in the gym class was from different socioeconomic backgrounds and fit into different demographic categories. A very mixed crowd. (Don’t flame me for this next, please, the race of the individuals involved is relevant to the story.)

So the school was about 60% black/40% white. The gym class happened to be about 80% black/20% white. It was winter in the Midwest, so all gym activities had to occur inside. This particular unit was “jazzercise.” Yes, this was in the 80s, so sue me, I’m old. The lazy teacher had trouble controlling the class because she had some troublemaker/rabble rouser punk girls in there who were always very disruptive (in any class) and pretty much took control and ran things they way they wanted to. So the teacher threw her hands up and told us to pick out whatever music we wanted, divide ourselves into groups, and each group was to come up with our own jazzercise routine, which of course, turned into a dance competition.

I was one of four white girls in the class, and all four of us were geeky, dorky, smartypants types. Not one of us had a lick of rhythm. However, I had (and still have) a deep and abiding love for music so I picked one of my favorite songs at the time, which was Erotic City by Prince. Yes, I was only about 13 at the time. :smiley:

So we start playing our music and trying to come up with some moves, we four dorky, awkward white girls. This large, tough, semi-punk black girl stalks over to my little group and gets right up in my grill, all threatening and menacing-like. She says, “I know you don’t even have any moves. You got no bidness using that music!” I might have even gotten a finger in the face and a good head-waggle to boot.

Now, I’m sure I was supposed to “throw down” which means I was supposed to defend my honor and fight this chick, who would have wiped the gym mat with me in two seconds flat. So I agreed that I had no moves at all and would she be willing to teach our group a few moves so we wouldn’t look so stupid when the teacher graded us?

Turned the whole situation around. Instead of responding to the bait, I asked the girl for her help. That bolstered her self-image enough (She was valuable! I needed her help!) so that she brightened up, called her friend-girls over and said, “Now we gotta teach these white girls some moves so they don’t embarrass themselves.” Half of my high school’s Ladies Basketball Team descended upon us and taught us how to move our hips so that it looked like we had more than a couple vertebrae and that’s how I learned rhythm. I ended up having a passing acquaintance/friendship with that girl and her basketball team, but she never asked me for help with academic stuff, although I’d have been happy to return the favor if she had.

I was never bullied again. Lesson: You can stand up to someone without inflicting violence yourself, or inciting a fight or a race war in your gym class.