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Seventh-Grader Is Being Harassed
Q: My son is an honors student in seventh grade. A girl in his class has teased him since the school year began about his height (he's small for his age). He says this goes on in some classes as well, and that the teachers overlook it. Last week, at the girl's urging, two boys started teasing him about his gym clothes. He told one of these boys to stop and after awhile one did but the other didn't. So my son pushed this boy and was punched back and now they are both suspended. My son's friends have supported him but my son is mad at himself for giving those boys power over him. We know that he violated a school rule, but how should we deal with the harassment in the future?
A: Harassment in any form is very painful. Does your school have a peer mediation program? If so encourage your son to ask for a mediation with the student most responsible for the harassment. If not, ask for a meeting with all his teachers, his counselor, your son, and the person in charge of discipline. Be firm in insisting that you want a resolution of the problem and that the harassment must be stopped. Schools have an obligation to provide a safe educational climate for students. Parents can and should insist that administrators and teachers intervene to prevent the kind of escalation that resulted from the bullying your son suffered.
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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.