?> Annie Fox Parent Forum - Ask Annie - Bullying: My daughter's life has been made a living hell by bullies.

Bullying:
“My daughter's life has been made a living hell by bullies.”

Dear Annie,

I read the article in Saturday, December 9th 2006 issue of the New York Daily News entitled Scourge of the Mean Girls. Please keep spreading the news because this is a huge problem. The affect on the victims is still yet to be told. We all have been picked on to some point but in today's reality the peer pressures and bullying have surpassed the positive reinforcements of parents, educators, religious figures and mentors telling the victim how beautiful, smart, blessed or worthy they are. None of that matters because the mean girls tell them different. How can we counter that when the heads of our children tells them we are right but their hearts and emotions say "Yeah, I hear you but so and so said ____ and therefore you are just saying that".

It saddens me and I don't known how to help or combat that. Trust me from my own personal experience with a now 17 year old daughter who I can only say took all she could and experienced a breakdown the likes of which we did not see coming. Everyday is a form of living emotional hell... we can not help, do not know how to help and have tried everything professional, personal, religious and social services. We the family suffer too... so now an underdeveloped bully in today's world victimizes the whole family long after the acts are committed. I could not protect mine as hard as I tried... and I know if people would be more truthful and open the numbers would blow the article's stats out of the water. However, for now, please please keep spreading the word.

A Parent

Dear A Parent,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

I hear what you're saying. I hear the anguish in your description of what your daughter and your family have gone through due to the behavior of sorely misguided children at your daughter's school. Of course what your daughter has suffered is terrible and I'm very concerned about her. The way you describe it, it sounds like the situation persists. Is that the case?

You say that you "can not help, do not know how to help and have tried everything professional, personal, religious and social services." There are two areas to deal with, the school, and your daughter's well-being. I don't mean to presume that you haven't done either or both. Have you have screamed bloody murder at the principal of your daughter's school DEMANDING that this harassment be dealt with immediately and effectively, or that you will hold the school liable for failing to provide a safe environment for your daughter to receive an education as the LAW says is her right? I'd guess if you did that, the school would listen. If you've done that and they haven't responded by taking this very seriously and bringing the perpetrators in for punishment, then I'd go to the Superintendent of Schools and threaten to sue the district. And then I'd do it.

In the meantime, I'd put my daughter in a different school.

Anything to stop the harassment.

If your daughter is still suffering from the psychological and emotional impact of what she's been through (and it sounds like she is when you write "Everyday is a form of living emotional hell") and is not seeing a counselor, then she needs to get back into counseling. She needs to talk to an excellent psychotherapist... One who specializes in working with teens who have specifically been victimized by bullies. In fact, it would probably be an good idea for the family to have a session with a family therapist since you say that you have all suffered from this...

So those are my first immediate recommendations: 1) take her out of the abusive environment. 2) get her into counseling.

If you want to pursue action against the school, do it on a district level.

As for the mean girls, the bullies... they are kids. Which means they are psychologically, socially and cognitively immature individuals. We think that when they reach a certain age that they ought to "know better." And if their parents did their job effectively, those kids WOULD know better. But clearly the kids who targeted your daughter do not know better. And other kids, like your daughter, are made to suffer as a result of their thoughtless behavior. I'm not suggesting that the bullies aren't culpable because of their age... Sure they are! But they apparently believe that what they're doing to other kids is OK. They desperately need adults (parents and teachers) to let them know that targeting someone and spewing meanness is never OK, in fact, it is totally UNACCEPTABLE behavior.

But they're not getting the message, not from their parents, who often have no clue what their "sweet" daughters are doing to the girls they target at school and/or online. They're also not getting the message in any comprehensive way from their teachers because the schools don't deem this a high enough priority.

I will continue to speak out to kids, parents and teachers.

I wish you and your daughter well.

In friendship,

Annie

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