My 12 year old stepson recently revealed he's been bullied most of the year at school. Help us help him!
June 24, 2012 12:31 PM Subscribe
How do I help my 12 year old stepson cope with being bullied ?
posted by Sal and Richard to human relations (25 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My 12 yr old stepson started middle school this year and for the first part of the year he seemed to be doing fine. After January, his once honor roll grades dipped quite a bit and for the first time ever he got a D and a couple of C's. He also started having lots of mood swings and tantrums that seemed out of the ordinary from his normal behavior. We attributed some of this to hormones and adjusting to a new school and more demanding course work and homework. He has struggled with school quite a bit -- he has ADHD and has a really difficult time staying on track and getting organized. Though he has done well in school and is described as intelligent by his teachers, he is very hard on himself and gets extremely frustrated when things don't come easily to him.
He started seeing a therapist in April and though he doesn't like going, he generally doesn't put up too much of a fight about it. He seemed to be doing better - less tantrums and outbursts, but we noticed he seemed sad and he denied anything was wrong. Fast forward to last week when my husband found him sobbing in his room. He tells him that a boy at school who is in all of his classes has been bullying him since October. That particular day the bullying was witnessed by the VP while they were out at recess. She noticed a boy pulling stepson's shirt by the collar and confronted both boys. Stepson told her that the other boy has been bullying him for his leftover lunch money since October. The school has a policy that kids are not to give any other kid money (to avoid this type of scenario) and when stepson came him without his change, we figured he had misplaced it.
Both of us feel terrible that we didn't put this together earlier, and hate that he dealt with this on his own all year. The VP spoke with my husband and said she is monitoring this for next year, but no real concrete plans for what will be done. I don't want him in the same classes as this kid and wonder if this is a reasonable request. What we really want is for stepson to feel happy and safe in school, and to regain some of his list self-esteem.
To complicate things, he recently got an OT eval for what may be dysgraphia and the OT described him as having a "flat affect" and "limited eye contact." She wrote that his teachers have mentioned this also and have noticed it as a change since the second quarter. The OT report had a ton of errors on it - saying stepson was a rightie (he isn't), referring to him as a completely different male name, and finally, she sent us recommendations for a different child (not ours) complete with that child's diagnosis and interventions. We called her on this, she apologized, and asked that we shred the report for the other child. However, we are really concerned that she has described him as "flat affect" and are really worried that he is withdrawn and probably depressed, but I personally feel its irresponsible for someone who is not a mental health professional to use terms which can be very loaded. We are getting him an eval by a children's hospital for the dysgraphia, but what else can we/ should we be doing for the self-esteem/bullying issues?
My knee-jerk reaction was that he needs a different, smaller setting, but I don't know if that is the right move. We live just on the outskirts of Boston and the school has about 1,200 kids. My gut is that he'd do better in a smaller school, but there's a cost issue as well as a fear that he would not transition well to this.
What else should we be thinking of? We thought of enrolling him in a tai-chi or martial arts program to build success and confidence, and encouraging lots of time with friends this summer, but how else do we help a kid who is pretty closed off to discussing his feelings, yet clearly is struggling a lot. His dad and I have him and his 9 yr old sister (who he gets along great with) for the entire week on alternate weeks. Mom and my husband are on good terms and she is also very worried about her son.
Sorry so long, and thanks in advance for your input.