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Handling bullying.........

Guest coupe66

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Guest coupe66

Hi Everyone,


My dd, age 10.5, is having trouble with another girl in her class and today the situation crossed the line and became physical. My dd is one of the younger girls in her level, is a serious student dancing technique classes 5 days a week, as well as a Jazz class. The other girl is one year older than my dd and dances roughly the same schedule. My dd is friendly with everyone, but is not part of the "in" clique of girls in her level, of which this other girl seems to be the leader.


This classmate of my dd began making very rude comments to dd beginning last Spring/Summer. Dd is fairly self confident and let the comments roll off her back, and my dh and I figured if she just ignored the girl and her rude comments, eventually the comments would stop. Three weeks ago the Nutcracker cast list was released, and since then this other girl has become even more cutting with her comments, telling the other girls in the class that dd should not have been given the roles that she was given by the AD because she is "really not a good dancer", etc., and today during rehearsal, she actually began pushing my dd (who is smaller) until another girl stepped in and asked her what she thought she was doing. I know this is must be a silly question, but this is our first time dealing with a situation like this and I feel a bit like I am in shock. Dh and I discussed it this evening, and he would like to speak with dd's teacher about the situation, and make him aware of what is going on. Do any of you have any other suggestions or words of wisdom to share? Thanks so much in advance for your help!

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Things like this have to be handled the way you would think. Bring this matter to the attention of the teacher or rehearsal supervisor where the incident occurred. If there is no improvement, then kick it up a notch, and bring it to the attention of administration. If there is still not improvement, then your recourse is to the law. Depending on the laws in your jurisdiction, a very serious violation of the law could have taken place. Simply put, if a threat has been offered to your daughter, that's assault. Since contact was made, in this state that's assault and battery. Not only is it a violation of criminal law, it's actionable under tort (lawsuit) law. Start by handling it at the lowest level and see if that doesn't bring improvement. Bullies MUST be caught and stopped before they spread their behavior over a larger piece of society.

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Coupe --

I feel your pain. We experienced a similar situation last year.... primarily vocal bullying, but the other

girl did once push dd's foot off the barre. It was miserable for my dd, and was one of the reasons we

ultimately decided to change schools. I know girls of this age can be brutal, but it was really affecting my

dd's love of ballet. Best of luck. The AD needs to know.

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I agree- the school needs to be made aware of the problem so that they can address the incident.

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Yes, make the school aware immediately and also ask the school for what their prescribed course of action is for your child should something further occur. I would certainly thank the dancer or the parents of the dancer who came to her defense. That might be a "big sister or brother" in the making.

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you should indeed act a soon as possible.We made the mistake of telling our son to try not to be bothered by the girls who were constantely making fun of him and were trying to make his time in the studio as terrible as they possibly could.We talked to his teacher,but she told us that since she never witnessed any of it,there was nothing she could do.When he decided to quit,she phoned us to try and convince him to come back,she was going to talk to the girls.But for my son it was allready ruined.We tried switching studio's,and eventhough he loved it there and the teacher assured us that if anything like that would ever happen in her studio,she wanted us to tell immediately so she could do something about it,he still quit a year later because he was scared his friends would have the same reaction when they got older.

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When DS was a fifth grader and had finally had enough (after weeks of me telling him to ignore it), I picked up the phone and called the father of the perpetrator. I gave him the specifics of several incidents and told him it needed to stop. It did. In fact, the bully called and apologized to DS. Later in the year the father introduced himself to me and wished my son well in his endeavors. DS said it was awkward to see each other at first, but they learned to ignore each other and move on.


Its heartbreaking when any child has to deal with mean kids. I hope it ends quickly for your DD.

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coupe66 - I can feel your pain. DD has been bullied by one girl at dance for several years now. I changed DD's classes, and this girl followed right behind her. I told the studio owner and found out that DD is not the only girl being bullied and they are aware of the situtation. However, I don't think some of the teachers "get" what's going on. They seem to treat it as "kids will be kids and everyone gets picked on now and then." I've enlisted some of the older, bigger girls (DD is also one of the youngest and smallest in her group) to play interference. When the Ballet Bully makes her move, DD is to move next to one of her safety net friends. I just hope it works.

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With all the publicity surrounding recent events about the tragic effects of bullying, I think everyone who comes into contact of any kind with children should have their radar up for any signs of bullying.


Having said that, I also think parents need to teach their children how to have thicker skin.


In my era (geez, I'm sounding so old...), we were taught that we could not control what others thought of us, and that not everyone in life would like us. We were taught to please ourselves because we could not please everyone else. We were taught that just because someone said something nasty, it was not a reflection of who we are, but rather a reflection of who the bully was. We were taught to never let anything show on the outside about how we were feeling on the inside with those who were not our true friends.


We were taught that in life, one has very few true friends, but lots of aquaintances. In this day and age with kids having hundreds of "friends" on Facebook and MySpace etc., I think they become too complacent in thinking that all of those people are also their supporters, when in fact, they are not people who have their best interests at heart.


Also, I think it is important for people to know that no matter how embarrassing the situation, people will forget about it after time. Celebritys & politicians prove that fact every day, and they make come-backs to prior levels of success. I think we all need to be taught that we are not the epicenter of the universe.


I think that the only thing that works with bullys is to take away their power, and the only way to do that is to truly have a clear sense of who you are and your place in life, and not let them get to you. Don't keep your "goat" tied up in the front yard. Protect yourselves by not telling intimate details of your life to total strangers. Learn to recognize who the good witches are, and who do black magic. Document, document, document everything. Keep distance between yourself and your co-workers/fellow dancers/other children in your class. Remember that not everyone will have as strong a picture of who they are, and that others will try to take you down a few pegs because of their horrible insecurities. Feel sorry for those who bully.


And lastly, bullies are everywhere- not just in the performing arts, and I'm willing to bet that each and every one of us here has been the victim of a bully at some point in life.

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This was just too beautifully said!!!! I have experienced all of which you are referring to throughout the past 5 years in ballet. I think the truest comments were to develop a thick skin and recognize the difference betwen acquaintences and friends when sharing the intimate details of your life. You are not alone in any of this.


Thanks again for your post, Clara.

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WOW, coupe66! You've got a lot of people on the board who can relate to what you are going through. I hope that our stories encourage and empower you and help you know that you and your dd aren't alone in your struggles.


DD had a very bad Nutcracker last year. Just like your dd, the struggles began immediately upon the Nutcracker cast list being posted. DD was cast in some highly-coveted roles. Her joy was fleeting, though. Her bully was one year older (13). She was furious with envy that dd was cast at a higher level than she was. We spoke with the primary ballet teacher, who said that she would watch for things, but that she couldn't do anything unless she actually saw something transpire.


I know that it is hard in today's world to confront bullying. Ignoring the problem often doesn't work.


So, when should a parent step in? I read an article somewhere that had some tips for when to step in as a parent and when to let kids work it out on their own. It said that you should step in when there is a big difference in age, size, or mental abilitity between the bully and one bullied. You should also step in when it becomes physical or when physical threats are made. If any threats are made online, it is time to step in. Depending on the severity of the situation, "stepping in" begins with telling the teacher and can go as far as involving the local authorities. Even if they say there is "nothing that they can do", you will have filed a report for which they will be accountable. After the performance, the bully's actions reached the ears of the AD who told me that I should have come to her "immediately" and that all that had happened was "totally unacceptable".


By the way, Bully left the school.


Please update us on your situation. I pray that all is resolved soon and you and your dd can get back to the joy of dance!

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Guest coupe66

Hello Everyone and thank you all for your responses! I am happy to report that dh met with dd's teacher as well as the studio manager to discuss the situation, which they both took very seriously. The teacher will be discussing with all of the classes (without mentioning names) that pushing and other types of bullying behavior will not be tolerated. The studio manager will be meeting with the rest of the teaching staff to discuss with them, as well. Dd's teacher said that if the other student pushes or gets physical with her again, she should tell him at once. We are very pleased and relieved that the staff are taking the situation seriously and that they will be keeping an eye on it.


While at this point it is hard to say whether this will be the end of this or not, I am at least hopeful. So many of you have shared so much wisdom and experience here, it has been very helpful. Thank you all again for your support in this situation :thumbsup:

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coupe66-- I'm so glad that you have talked with the school and that they are receptive to the problem and that they are taking steps to curb it. Bravo to them, as well! I hope that this will take care of the issues!

Edited by scballetmom
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Recent events (Ohio) have illustrated the importance of taking clear, calm action.


We recently had a situation with my son and kept trying to "let it go" and hope that it would resolve. It didn't. It escalated. When we finally did bring it up, it was solved.

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I hate to sound pessimistic, but Coupe66, you should be prepared for the possibility that your DD will not be happy with the outcome of her teacher's action, at least initially.


We have been through this, when my DD was about the same age as yours. First it was verbal and she tried to handle it on her own. When it became physical (ie: slamming her into the wall when passing in the hallway, "oops" when doing battements at the barre and the bully suddenly turns to the side and nails my DD with a pointe shoe, "accidentally" colliding when going across the room and my DD was the one who would end up on the floor, etc.) I got involved. I spoke with the school's director who was also one of DD's teachers, who said she would speak with the bully. I can't tell you how humiliated, fearful and embarrassed my DD was that I intervened. She was mortified, but she also wanted it to stop and knew it was beyond what she could handle herself.


Unfortunately, instead of speaking with the bully, the director addressed the class in the form of a lecture that had the tone of "now, now children, let's all be nice to one another...". My DD came away feeling as though she had been punished. The bully smiled proudly as the group was lectured. My DD felt even more exposed, because everyone in the room knew what had been going on and everyone in the room reasonably assumed she had "tattled". My DD resented my involvement and felt I had made the situation worse by speaking up.


If the school has an annual or periodic presentation/lecture/discussion/stated policy about behavior expectations, that's great. Then when an incident occurs, the bully can be addressed as an individual having been given fair warning along with everyone else. Part of the problem with bullies is that they don't believe the rules and policies apply to them--they are somehow exempt, and they will test the limits of what they can get away with.


Coupe66, it sounds like your DD's teacher is taking the matter seriously, whereas my DD's teacher turned a blind eye until I complained. However if others have seen this going on, be prepared for the possibility that your DD will be looked at (or feel as though she is being looked at) as the person who brought all of this on, instead of the person who exposes the bully. It's unfortunate that this may happen, but if it does I hope your studio will handle that aspect with integrity as well. Your DD needs to understand that not only is this not her fault, but that she needs to have a thick skin in other ways as well. Doing the right thing can be very, very difficult and may not always feel good at first. I tried to teach my DDs that being the bigger person is always the right thing, and that is easier said than done.


Coupe66, I hope in your DD's case that the bully feels called out when the teacher addresses the class and the whole ordeal is over and done with! :shrug:

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