Daughter involved in bullying; did I do the right thing?
March 3, 2014 5:55 PM Subscribe
A photo was taken of my 10 year old daughter doing a racist impression of an asian classmate. I found the photo on my daughter's phone and subsequently discovered that she had sent this to two of her friends. She has been duly punished and lectured on why this was wrong and my wife contacted the parents of her friends to ensure that the photo was also deleted from their phones (which it was). We had hoped this would be the last of it, however someone informed the school of this and now things have blown up into a much bigger issue; it turns out that there has been an ongoing campaign of bullying against the asian girl by all the girls in the class and this incident, combined with another far worse incident, has meant this has been dragged in front of the entire class, with my daughter now the target for abuse because other parents refuse to believe that their girls could be involved.
If we had kept our mouths shut and kept this incident entirely within the family, the chances are nobody else would have ever heard about this but my daughter would still have been punished and taught a major life lesson. Now she is learning a far more frightening life lesson (that adults can be shit too) and things are spiraling out of control. I am now suffering guilt about the pandora's box I have opened on her.
Could I have handled this better?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (53 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The photo was taken about 3 weeks ago; I discovered it the day after it was taken and my daughter has been living with the consequences almost daily since then.
At this point you will need to take my word that I know my daughter and I fully believe that when the photo was taken she had no intention of it being seen by the asian girl; it was meant for the purposes of an immediate "laugh" between herself and her friends and I very much doubt that she had given *any* thought to the consequences beyond that particular moment. I could bring to the table many, many character witnesses that would say was completely out of character - although, admittedly, she does have a tendency to be easily led. When the enormity of what she had done was brought home to her she was horrified at her actions and is desperate to correct the mistake. She's a good kid, but, boy, did she fuck up this time.
Also, let me state now that I am fully aware of the consequences of bullying, since I was severely bullied myself at school, so I am horrified at my daughter's actions and fully believe she should face appropriate consequences (which she has). My main concern now is that the consequences have become disproportionate to the act - confrontations with other parents in the playground (because "their kid could never have been involved in something like this") - and I feel myself to blame for what she is going through (although obviously she is to blame for her initial actions).
The latest incident was because the parents of the girl who took the photo (both of my daughter's hands are in the picture) refuse to believe she could be involved, even though my daughter has no reason to lie (her teacher asked her directly who took the photo and she told the truth). This is by far the most trivial aspect of this whole thing, however is proving to be the point at which the wheels fall off completely. I believe this is partly because the parents in question are very prideful and see an admission of guilt as a reflection on them.
Now I recognize that, at the heart of this, there is a girl who has faced exclusion and bullying and I know, from personal experience, what a toll this can have psychologically, so please don't think I am down-playing her experience next to my daughter's. Our main concern - and indeed my daughter's once she realized the consequences - was that this girl should be protected from any exposure to this incident, of which she was entirely unaware until things blew up out of our control. I do recognize that, as has now become apparent (it was not widely known before), in some respects it was good that this did unearth that something ugly that has been going on for a while (the class teacher has been unaware of the scale of the problem). As I mentioned above, my daughter's action has come to light in conjunction with another girl's action that was far worse (a direct, physical action made with the intention to cause anguish). If I take anything "good" from this, it is that hopefully this will see an end to the bullying.
The thing that is eating at my guts is that my daughter is 10 years old and has never done anything like this before. She has been fully and proportionately punished and lectured by myself and my wife, she fully understands the consequences of her actions. However, for the last three weeks she has also been lectured by on a daily basis by virtually every adult she has encountered (news spreads fast in the school), some of whom she has deep respect for. She has been rejected by her friends (who were involved!) and now she is facing abuse from parents who refuse to face facts. This, to me, is disproportionate and is the direct result of my deciding that we needed to involve people beyond the family unit; the chances are the photo would never have gone further than the two recipients' phones (I believe it was one of the girls who received the photo who was convinced to approach a teacher by her parents, which might well be a valid action on their part, but not one I would have chosen myself).
Sometimes being a parent is shit.
So, how would you have handled this differently?