17 November, 2008

Here we go again...

My kids were bullied on the way home from school today. The two hyenas from S's class spit on them, kicked them and pushed B out into the street. A parent drove by, chased the bullies away and brought S and B home in his car. Both were crying, B's new pants were torn up and he had a scrape all the way down his shin.

I was livid and drove straight to confront one of the bullies and his mother. She and I know each other through the school, and she invited us in so that we could all discuss it calmly. It all started out with everyone claiming that the other one started it, but within a couple of minutes the boy tripped up in his story and started crying. The mother realized that he was in the wrong and made him give B EUR20 from his allowance to pay for his pants.

The other mother then showed up and we all continued the discussion, but this time it went differently. The other boy is a superb actor and feigned surprise that we were even discussing this at all. He still maintained that it was S and B who started the whole thing. And then that it was someone else. His mother was furious with him, furious with me, and furious with my kids. How dare they bother her child?!

This kid bullied a little girl out of B's class a couple of weeks ago, but when I brought it up she just refused to listen. "I know my son is no angel, but he's definitely not aggressive!" Even though I've seen him be so with my own eyes!

I don't understand what's going on here! We are not living in an urban environment where one would expect this kind of aggressive nature from elementary school children! I feel completely helpless-- on the one hand I want to be able to foster my kids' independence and let them walk home alone from school. On the other hand, I need to know that they're safe and secure and not being accosted when I'm not there!

When I called M to tell him what happened his first response was: "Why does this type of thing always seem to happen to our kids?!" But I don't think it's just us-- it seems to be happening to a lot of people, and no one does a damned thing about it!

Is it just Germany, or does this type of thing happen in other places as well?


G in Berlin said...

I think it's worse here in Germany. Although this sort of thing happened 20+ years ago in the US (my next door neighbor was chase by bullies off a roof and broke his leg) nowadays, unless you live in an urban inner city, you can prevent bullying by dealing with the schools. Bullying is generally illegal in the States and the school systems are responsible if they have adequately been put on notice. I think that may be true to a certain extent here,but you have to be unbelievably aggressive in following things up and putting them in writing. Have you notified the school and the police? In wroting? I think, to get the results you want, you may need to do this.
I'm sorry- I see some of this with my little ones, but the kita controls it better. I still see far more aggression on the playground here than I have ever seen before, and parents that justify their childrens' bullying rather than discipining the, That's where it all starts, doesn't it?

Betsy said...

I did notify the school and the police last time this happened (with another bully), but initially they didn't do anything about it.

It wasn't completely in vain, however, because the bully attacked another classmate shortly thereafter, and based on that and my well-documented incident they were finally able to expel him.

Today's incident happened with a couple of other troublemakers. We've had problems with them in the past, and unfortunately they live right down the street from us and take the same road home as S and B.

I spoke with both mothers (again!) and the teacher. Last time that helped temper their behavior for a little while, but within a couple of months they were back at it again.

We've put S and B into Taekwando to help teach them some self defense, but there's a big difference between doing drills in a group and putting what you know into practice. Especially for two small, sensitive softies, like my little guys.

I'm not sure what more we can do aside from just cross our fingers and hope it gets better...

Jennifer said...

I don't have first had experience yet, but I've heard from friends that there is quite a bullying problem in the Swiss schools. Especially what's called "mobbing" which is ganging up on one person. From what I've seen of the Swiss parents with kids the same age as mine, the attitude seems to be instead of teaching your kids not to be aggressive in the first place, to teach your kids to be able to stand up to the aggressive kids. Thus producing more aggressive kids. It's the ultimate collective action problem - if I'm the only parent teaching my kid reasoning skills, am I just making him a target??

It is something I worry about for the future.

anno said...

Most of the bullying I've heard about around here is more emotional, but hard enough to deal with. What you've described there sounds outrageous, not to mention upsetting and worrisome.

As Jennifer says, it makes me fear for the future.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I think it happens everywhere, sadly. There was a little monster in C's class who was one of the reasons we pulled him from public schools after second grade.

I went to a cafe the other day and sat next to a table where two mothers, including the mother of the monster-child were having a chat about bad behavior of high school students (they're all in high school currently). The mom, who is a very sweet person but who has never been able to take in the behavior of her son, turned to me recognizing me finally and said, "Can you imagine, my ___ was mean to my close friend's daughter! I don't understand it - he's never been aggressive before!"

Well, I've talked to this woman years ago and I know several other parents who have... it's like she doesn't get it on any. level.

I'm glad S and B have a guardian angel, but those other boys absolutely need better parenting.

Goofball said...

that's so aweful. I never had to deal with bullies when growing up. I so hope that when I have children, I'll never have to deal with this. This just drives me mad and I can imagine how helpless and frustrated and angry you must feel each time. Should be become pessimistic about our society?

honeypiehorse said...

We just moved here from California and the kids do seem to be more aggressive here. In a nice CA Montessori it isn't tolerated, whereas here it seems to be acceptable. So far no huge bullying problems for us and our daughter seems to have made friends with a boy who was being too rough but it is different.