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Parenting Issues Message Board

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Some schools have a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Bullying is a major issue, especially in middle schools. It seems that after 5th grade, relationships between boys change. Who was friends in elementary school are in a different group in middle school and won't even exchange a friendly 'hi' anymore. My son is 14 in 8th grade. He is 6'3" and 187 lbs. Not too many people pick on him anymore, but they still say things. He tried out for the baseball team and didn't make it. He accidentally threw something towards a table at lunchtime of boys that did make the team. One of the boys said, '***, that didn't make the team.' My son and his friends at their lunch table just laughed it off (yes, lunch tables are sacred grounds and there is a leader for each table that says who stays and who goes).

6th and 7th grade was very hard for my son. He was teased a lot, called 'Flamingo' and a few kids said they were going to beat him up. My oldest son (17) never had a bullying problem. They are two very different people though. My older son is mature and ignores the kids that are annoying and they don't pay him any mind. My youngest goofs around with his friends a lot and gets noticed more by the bullies. He will mouth off to start and if someone says something to him, he responds in a like manner. To this point, there has been no physical contact. But, let me tell you, when someone threatened to have two eighth graders beat him up (he was a 6th grader at the time), I called the principal. It was handled extremely well and the boys ended up being friends. The principal spoke to each separately then together.

Bullying will not go away. I have a niece in Florida with a son who gets picked on relentlessly. I believe it has affected him mentally as it would anyone. My sister's son also gets picked on due to his weight.

One of the things I told my youngest was that I couldn't wait until he made friends that didn't get a kick out of teasing each other. I told him that one day someone is going to get mad and hit someone. Unfortunately, a lot of kids get bullied. There are a number of websites that deal with techniques and what your child should do. The main thing I told my son was never hit first - you can hit back, but if you do - be ready! They cannot feel like they can't defend themselves. Laughing it off or ignoring it is another way. If the bully can make you cry, he has the power and he loves that feeling. If you keep giving him that feeling, he'll keep on you. We have to think in the mindset of what the bully is thinking and why he is doing these things. That way, we can counteract the action with something that may make the bully move on to an easier target.

Self-confidence must be retained. It sounds like your son is losing his. Deena was right. Get your son involved in sports - through school or the town. He will meet a lot of kids and not feel so isolated. I had both my sons in karate but they got bored just as they were about to get a green belt and do weapons! That didn't even keep them interested. School clubs or band is also good. My 14yo plays percussion in the band. If your son is interested in playing any sports in school, he needs to get experience prior to trying out most times. My son tried out in 7th and 8th grade for basketball and did not make it. Now here he is trying out for baseball which he's played since he was 8 and still didn't make it. Don't know what it takes to make it on a school team - politics probably. Be supportive, but be calm and quietly supportive. If you see something happening that could escalate, call the school. If you want to be proactive, tell the school that you see bullying as an issue with more than just your son and ask them what their policy is in dealing with it.

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