My Bullied Son Lacks Confidence in School, Help!

30 September, 2019
Q My 9 years old son has been bullied on and off by the same kid for 2 years. We have just started a new school year and although things are much better (they are in different classes), he's been physically hurt twice by this child (nothing major, just pushing). He stood up for himself both times and told the teacher, but somehow this little rotter gets away with it every time. The other thing that really gets up my nose is that my son’s classmates are always calling him gay because all his friends are boys.

That implies that they know exactly what they are saying and use the word intentionally. I am concerned because of the bullying issue he isn't very confident making friends and I don't want potential friends to be worried about being called gay also. Now my question is: should I do something about it like talking to the deputy principal? Or shall I just support and reassure him from home? There is no Islamic school in my area or Muslim counselor who could help my son.

Answer

 In this counseling answer:

•You should speak to the school counselor, the vice principal, or the principal about your bullied son.

•You should know the exact spelling of the official’s name and title so that when action is taken, you know whom to thank in writing. If no action is taken, then you know whom to address again in writing.

•You should keep notes of the conversation in order to remember what the official’s response was, what exact course of action he/she will take, and what if anything is expected from your end.

•It is highly likely that they will do whatever they can as soon as they can to stop the problems. If they do not, go to a higher authority. If you have already met with the principal, or the highest authority in the school, then write a letter to the school board.


As-Salamu `Alaykum,

The problem you describe about your bullied son is one that is very common in schools around the world. You did the right thing by going to the teacher first. He/she should be aware of any problems or things that may affect your son in school. Because the other boy is in a different class this year, there is probably not much that your son’s teacher can do to monitor the other boy’s behavior.

In addition, most of the problems at school happen at lunch, on the playground, or on the school bus. These are areas where people other than the teachers are in charge.

Reach to the principal

Therefore, you should speak to the school counselor, the vice principal, or the principal. You should send in a written request for a meeting. In that note you should describe the problem, let the school know when you are available, and how to reach you.

My Bullied Son Lacks Confidence in School, Help! - About Islam

When you meet the school’s representative, you should have a small notebook with you. Have your points or questions and concerns planned out in order of importance? Write down who you are meeting and the general points of the conversation as it progresses.

This may sound like an overreaction to the situation. Believe me it is not. You should have your points organized because the meeting will probably not be too long and you do not want to forget anything that you want to say.

You should know the exact spelling of the official’s name and title so that when action is taken, you know whom to thank in writing. If no action is taken, then you know whom to address again in writing. You should keep notes of the conversation in order to remember what the official’s response was, what exact course of action he/she will take, and what if anything is expected from your end.

Concerned parent

Keep a copy of any letter you send or receive stapled in the notebook so that if this problem continues you have a record of what is going on. All of this tells the school that you are serious about the issue and that you are a concerned parent who will be holding them accountable for the environment at the school.

The school is responsible for your son’s physical and emotional safety while he is in their care. That includes free time or after-school activities. Most schools have a “no physical contact” policy, meaning no pushing.

This also means that if your son decided to push back, the other boy’s parents would be in the principal’s office that day complaining about your son.

Many schools have a “no put-down rule” meaning no name calling of any kind. If the school does not know what is going on, they cannot help it stop.

It is highly likely that they will do whatever they can as soon as they can to stop the problems. If they do not, go to a higher authority. If you have already met with the principal, or the highest authority in the school, then write a letter to the school board.


Check out this counseling video


Join School Groups

Having said all of this, I suggest that if you are not already part of the school PTO/PTA, then you join. They are usually looking for help in a variety of ways. There are often things that you can do at home like baking or just simple cutting and gluing for school projects. This creates a bond between the school and family.

It allows you the opportunity to help with school activities and show the community at large that Muslims are caring parents who contribute positively to the school.

Studies have shown that the children of parents who are involved in their school do better academically and have an overall more positive experience in school.

May Allah bless you and your family and guide us all on the straight path.

Salam

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. If you feel you are going to harm yourself, or harm someone else, please seek immediate help by calling your country’s international hotline! In no event shall About Islam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides.

Read more:

My Child Is A Bully, How to Deal with That?

My Child Is Being Bullied at School, What Should I Do?

My Children Insulted by Their Cousin, How to Act?

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.