Sunday not off to the greatest start. My daughter's best friends' mom called me this morning to inform me that my daughter J has been bullying her daughter L, and this has been going on almost since the very beginning of the school year. This came as a surprise to me, as I ask my daughter regularly if there are any problems at school with her friends, and she always says no. So it turns out that L is becoming quite popular in the classroom, as she is a sweet little girl who has no difficulty making friends, and J has been feeling threatened by this, for fear of losing her best friend. Now, we all know that 9-year-olds don't always make the most informed decisions, but my daughter felt that in order to not lose the friendship she needed to try to control L as much as possible, and ended up bullying her in the process. Now L doesn't want to be friends anymore, and is very upset by the continuing bullying behaviour from my daughter. As a parent, I don't know what is worse: having your child be bullied, or be the bully. I think it's actually having the child who is the bully. Not only do you have to know that your child is unhappy enough to feel that he or she needs to resort to physical or emotional abuse of another child, but, having lived through school myself, knowing that the bully is only setting herself up for being disliked and bullied herself in the future, as bullies seldom have good friends of their own. This is also a difficult issue to tackle with the child as well. When I sat down with J to ask her what was going on at school, she tearfully told me she was so afraid of losing L's friendship that she ended up losing it. My first reaction was to be angry with her, and made it clear in no uncertain terms that I did not tolerate her bullying another child, and how could she inflict that type of abuse on another person. I asked her how she felt when she was treated that way herself, and she told me how sad it made her. She is so sorry and regretful about how she lost L's friendship, and wants it back. After about an hour of trying to get to the bottom of all this, I realized that my daughter is facing what most adolescent girls do, extreme insecurity. I now worry about how she is going to fare for the next 8 years of school. I'm terrified that she may now be at high risk of being bullied herself. I remember how difficult high school was, and how much it hurts when your best friend turns her back on you. And I see my daughter, who, at 9, is such a sensitive little girl, and am terrified about what lays ahead for her. You can't pick up a newspaper, or watch the news without there being another story of some tragic outcome of bullying. My action plan going forward is this: get in regular contact with her teacher, keep in touch with other parents of children in the classroom, and continue to educate J on the long term effects of her actions. I don't know anything else to do.
*Adam's Song - Blink 182*