Witnesses at school

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by tinamarie1, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. tinamarie1

    tinamarie1 Member

    This grates on my nerves so badly and I don't know how to handle it. difficult child brought home a note from his teacher that said that he claimed that other children were in his face and grabbing his arm at lunch, and that he called one of them a "freaking idiot" and kicked him on the foot. She says that a "witness" says that they did not see other children bothering difficult child and that he just walked up to someone and called them that name and kicked them. I just wonder how all of this plays out...the person goes to the teacher after lunch and tells her that difficult child did this, she questions difficult child, then does she stand in front of the class and ask for a witness? IF so, how many kids are going to raise their hand? I would think more than just one, and if they see difficult child as the "trouble maker", would they be quick to jump on the band wagon? Every time there is an incident, it seems witnesses come forward and it just so happens that these kids are the ones who do not like difficult child. *sigh* I told difficult child to focus on what he could have said and not what the other kids were doing. I told him he could have raised his hand when the kids were bothering him and the teachers in the lunch room could have come over to find out what was going on. He said he did raise his hand, but they were all chatting and would not even look his way. part of me just wants to let this go, but i am afraid that if i do it will just open the door to more incidents. i am going to the school this morning to volunteer and wonder if i should say something to the teacher.
  2. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    I would say something and point out how every time there is a witness it is someone that does not like difficult child.

    I also think these things are just not fair. It is a long time problem that nobody has a good way to solve. It is one of those life lessons that bugged us when we were little, too. When our parents had to tell us 'life is not fair'. It stinks!
  3. Christy

    Christy New Member

    As a teacher, and one crazy enough to have her difficult child attend the same school where she taught for awhile, I can tell you that kids love to see someone else in trouble. If a kid gets a reputation as a trouble maker, other children will feel it is there "civic duty" to report any incident no matter how trivial. In additon, these events, often become exagerrated as the tale is told. Students would approach me in the hall and feel the need to give me updates on my difficult child's day. You could see the anticipation in there eyes just waiting for me to react, which I would not give them the satisfaction of doing.

    My suggestion is to talk to the school satff and voice your concern that your child may be tattled on more than his fair share. Ask that a staff member pay close attention to difficult child at recess and other unstructured times so that they can see what is happening first hand.

    Good Luck,
  4. AmyH

    AmyH New Member

    I so totally feel your pain. My difficult child has had issues with a group of kids all school year. We have had meetings with the teachers, principal and a huge meeting with everyone and no changes. One of his teachers had a small group mediation in which she told everyone that Blake acts the way he does because he has a medical condition which he takes medication for. So now these kids ask him all the time "Did you take your medications today?" Both of his teachers have him sitting away from the other kids in seclusion somewhat and this makes me so mad. And the same one who had the small group called him weird in class. When confronted about it she said "what do you suggest I say to him when he acts that way?" I was totally enraged, but I kept my cool. The Principal has said that this is the worst 5th grade class she has ever seen they are just full of bullies. Well too bad take care of the issue and quit making it look like it is the kids fault that already has emotional problems.

    These are not "BAD" kids and so many times they get a bad rap because of the issues they have.

    That is enough of my vent! Have a great day!!!!!
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Oh boy, have we been there on this one!

    There are two sides to this. First, difficult child COULD be doing exactly what the teacher said. We live near a kid who does this - we worked out what was happening not only from difficult child 3 (and what we understand of his behaviour patterns) but also reading between the lines of what this kid himself said.

    Example: It was the Friday afternoon before difficult child 3's transfer to a new school to get away from bullies. He was sitting in the gutter across the road from our house (which he often did) playing with a paper plane. We had seen this many times - he would be lost in his own world, examining the way the wind moved the plane in his hands. Then he came in crying, almost hysterical, because the (younger) boy up the road had ridden past on his bike and kicked him. I took photos of the bruising, it was so bad. We questioned difficult child 3 carefully, asked him the sequence of events in detail without prompting. And yes, it seemed that this kid, wearing the uniform of difficult child 3's proposed new school, had simply ridden up to difficult child 3, shouted something about, "You'll never get away from X & G, I'll be there for them," then kicked him.

    husband & I went up the road to talk to the parents. The boy was reluctant to come out until his father called him firmly. Then the boy got quite belligerent, said difficult child 3 had hit him first (which he never did) and anyway, ALL the local kids were out to upset him (the boy) that afternoon; he continued with, "Just around the corner I met J who also hit me first, but I left him with a bleeding nose," he finished with a grin.

    Now, difficult child 3 & J also did not get on and would not have colluded to have a go at this boy (who frankly, difficult child 3 didn't know - poor facial recognition as well as being younger).

    I later heard from friends of J what happened to him.

    Two separate incidents but very close in time - and from what we observed of the boy's father, he has 'small man' syndrome, when his son mentioned leaving the second boy with a bleeding nose his father said, "I've been teaching him to defend himself because he's small. He has sensory integration problems, a touch can seem like a blow to him, your son probably touched him. Son, did you warn difficult child 3 to not touch you?"
    "Yes, Dad."

    We agreed to leave it at that point, clearly the father couldn't see how damaged his son was. We left on friendly terms. I did dob the boy in to the school, however, and the principal, a very wise man who was sure we were right, told the boy to stay right away and added playground supervision to ensure it happened.

    So in this example we have two kids, one who does seem to hit in unprovoked attacks (despite what his parents say) and the other (difficult child 3) who doesn't initiate, but will attack physically if verbally or physically hassled. We've been trying to teach him not to, but he still will sometimes threaten and then follow through with a blow, if he's not stopped. In each case, he begins to threaten only after another kid is clearly repeatedly pushing his buttons. He also does this whether there are witnesses or teachers present or not.

    Despite knowing that difficult child 3 won't start anything, he was still often accused (at his first school) of unprovoked attack. When I was able to get the story from difficult child 3 (who can't invent a complex lie) I was usually able to work out what happened, even if difficult child 3 didn't understand.
    Example: difficult child 3 comes home with a note saying he is on detention because he hit G "in an unprovoked attack". I ask difficult child 3 what happened. "X arrived at school with his mother, who is my teacher. X looked like he was crying, so I went to ask him what was wrong. But he didn't want to talk to me, he just shoved me away. It was very rude. Then his friend G came up and called me names, told me to go away and he shoved me too. So I hit G, he shouldn't have shoved me and said those bad things to me over and over."
    Of course, X & G, regular bullies of difficult child 3's, had their story together. But the heartwrenching truth stood out for me - difficult child 3, a softie, saw a kid upset and wanted to comfort him. But it's unmanly for the school dummy to be comforting you when you've just been told off by your mother who also happens to be the dummy's teacher. So X was embarrassed that difficult child 3 had even noticed and was now drawing attention to the fact that he'd been crying. G went in to stick up for his friend and protect him from difficult child 3's unwanted attentions. difficult child 3 simply didn't get the hint that they were trying to keep X's distress secret.
    All this was just too subtle for difficult child 3. He never realised the full truth, never understood. And there was no way the two boys would have told the truth about it to X's mother, who only saw the final blow from difficult child 3.

    When these things happen over and over, it's easy for a kid to get a reputation as someone who lashes out in entirely unprovoked attack; a kid who is dangerous; a kid who should be "somewhere more appropriate". This fear of autistic kids as if they are walking time bombs likely to instantly turn into axe murderers really cheeses me off.

    Here's what I did, and I recommend you do the same - cultivate your own 'witnesses'. I had a couple of advantages here, but you can create your own. There were kids I knew from teaching Sunday School; these kids didn't particularly like difficult child 3 but they understood him a bit better than the boys in his class. These kids would tell me or easy child of various things they saw, often things unreported to us by the school. One girl told us of seeing difficult child 3 grabbed by the neck of his shirt and dragged by a teacher to where he should be. I reported it but the teacher denied it, and I wasn't about to name my witness. But at least by reporting it, I was letting the school know that I had sources who were reporting to me, so I would know what was going on.

    I also cultivated a couple of younger kids who liked difficult child 3 for his loyalty and skill with computer games. They were often nearby and would tell me their observations, which would neatly dovetail with 'the truth' as presented by the teacher, and also difficult child 3's statements to me. However, I did find that even when I named a witness (who said he was prepared to be named, so he could back up difficult child 3) the teachers STILL insisted that both difficult child 3 and his witness were lying (because they were friends and had colluded) and yet didn't consider that the gang of bullies & thugs DID NOT collude.


    I would invite difficult child 3's friends home, take them on outings together, spend time playing games with them and in general, make these kids MY friends too.

    Where possible, I did similar things with the bullies - I made friends with them, which helped me better explain to them why difficult child 3 was no threat to them, and beating up difficult child 3 was no glory either.

    Interestingly, it is a couple of those former bullies who now have rescued difficult child 3 from the younger group of upcoming little delinquents (who hassle a lot of people, not just difficult child 3). I have made a point of thanking them for their efforts and for looking out for difficult child 3.

    Sometimes bullying happens because the bully is feeling upset and just wants someone else to feel worse. "At least I'm not as low as HIM." Sometimes it happens when a bully is someone else's victim (as with G). I found that by praising G when I saw him do something really well, and encouraging difficult child 3 to also see his skill, and by 'catching him out doing something good' I turned around THAT kid, at least. It then began to flow on to other kids, friends of G's.

    And so on.

    I would be letting the school know that while you're not necessarily insisting on your child's innocence, you feel that for them to automatically accept the testimony of a kid who dislikes difficult child, is not fair or logical, especially if difficult child has a different and plausible version of events. If they feel that difficult child IS attacking other kids in an unprovoked manner, then they should bring in playground supervision designed to observe vents around difficult child. We had that for difficult child 3 (for one term only, unfortunately) and found a massive improvement in difficult child 3's record both in the playground and in class.

    And meanwhile, quietly cultivate your own band of spies.

    I am only now realising just how much damage was done to difficult child 3 that I never heard about. This is despite the method of reporting, plus my spy network. I'm also realising how even I got brainwashed by the local school into even partly seeing difficult child 3 as a violent troublemaker, and thus not protecting my child as I should have, from long-term abuse and assault..

  6. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh I can so relate to this. We are dealing with this right now in a major way! It is Gentle hugs.
  7. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    been there done that for too many years.

    I refused to have him punished "while they investigate". i take him home.
    I ALWAYS ASK - what happened prior to this?
    difficult child may be reacting in the correct way - but he wouldn't be reacting at ALL if others would keep to themselves. And difficult child..if he ever laid a hand on anyone he would be suspended. But others can push him, trip him, punch him and HE gets in trouble for reacting. I brought him in after school one day to show the marks on him.

    been there done that.