Tattletale, gingerale, stick your head in a garbage pail...

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Tattletale, gingerale, stick your head in a garbage pail...



Do you think that children are encouraged to tattle too much these days instead of working things out for themselves?

I have a story to tell but don't have time right now. But my answer to the above question would be a resounding YES. I'll write more later, but just thought I'd start the discussion off if anyone's interested.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Is this an allegory for babble? I resemble being called a child.

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

Moderators alerted!


Okay, I can't think or work until I get this out of my system.

So, at summer camp, which my kid loves, I heard from a camp counsellor yesterday that there are a couple of siblings in his group that "gang up" on other kids and tease them. And so I guess yesterday while they were playing dodgeball, it was my son's turn to be "ganged up on" by the siblings. So my son eventually got peeved to the point where he threw the ball too hard at one of them and it went towards the kid's face.

It didn't hit the kid - he blocked it with his hands and nothing happened. It probably would have hurt if it had hit him in the face, however.

So I guess they took the kids aside and worked it out, telling my son that his action was not a good way to solve the problem, and telling the other kids not to pick on him. Fine, sounds like it's resolved, right?

But no. Then when I picked my son up, one of the counsellors told me about the incident, in front of my son, in a way that kind of made it into a whole, "we're telling your mom to get you in trouble" kind of thing.

They then told my son, with me present, that if kids are teasing him, he should go to the counsellors and tell them about it instead of getting upset about it.

And what did I do? I just sort of nodded along because I didn't want to undermine her authority with my son, who can be rather stubborn and high strung.

But what I was really thinking was this:

1. Dodgeball is an inherently aggressive game. The whole point of the game is to hit each other with the ball. If you don't want kids getting aggressive and carried away, what the hell are you playing dodgeball for? And don't get me wrong - I think dodgeball is great fun with kids, but not if you're going to encourage all the kids to be a bunch of sissies and whine to the teacher every time some other kid looks at them funny or throws the ball too hard.

2. At nine years old, isn't it just about time for kids to maybe work things out for themselves instead of encouraging them to be crybabies and go sobbing to the teacher every time other kids tease them or say something they don't like? I'll take a kid who throws the ball a little too hard at a kid who's teasing him during dodgeball any day over a kid who whines to the teacher over it instead.

3. I completely agree with them taking the kids aside once they see that there is teasing and aggression going back and forth between them. I don't think they should have allowed it to escalate further. But what's wrong with simply taking them aside and saying, "You two - quit teasing. And you - don't throw the ball so hard. Otherwise you'll both be sitting out"? And then letting that be the end of it? Why would you turn a little incident like that into a big federal case where you go to the parents afterwards and shame the kid?

I mean, honestly? I want to know if my kid gets hurt or if he's really bullying or being bullied. I don't give a damn about every little argument or small altercation he has in the schoolyard. They've already dealt with it, nothing happened before or after it - why turn it into a big thing?

The trip home after that was miserable, because he felt like he had been berated at the end of the day and left a bad taste in his mouth about the first day of summer camp. Probably the other kids got "talked to" in front of their parents too. All over some stupid little 5 minute spat that had been resolved already.

And the lesson learned? Don't work things out for yourself. Don't learn to defend yourself. Go tattling to the teacher like a big crybaby whenever some kid looks at you funny at camp or school.

Why are we teaching kids to be snivelling little wimps?

[ 03 July 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]

Maysie Maysie's picture

Michelle, I'm really shocked by your post, on a number of levels. I have a number of responses.

First, what you described is, in fact, a group of bullies, the "siblings" you mentioned. They are bullies who are deliberately bullying other kids. This isn't okay.

Second, your son's response, while perhaps inappropriate, was not the equivalent of the bullies' systematic targeting of other kids. What you described is what often happens when kids are taunted with racist teasing. Finally, the kid who's been targeted loses it and lashes out, and it's that kid that gets punished, not the bullies/harassers. Even if this behaviour is more severe (shoving a bully when the bully has been only verbal for example) it is not equivalent.

The counsellor talking about the incident to you in front of your kid is a sign of cluelessness about power relations between adults and kids. I'm not sure what you can do about that.

And finally, this needs to be said. If I didn't know you, if you weren't a moderator and regular poster to babble for many years, I would read this post and think "right wing macho crappola".

Kids who seek out adults do so because they understand the problem is bigger than they are, and they need the adults' support. Much more bullying and harassing goes on than adults ever see. The naming and shaming of telling adults, of something the kid knows is wrong, as "tattling" is what's problematic.


That's fine, I figured there would be disagreement about this. I have no problem with that.

I don't believe in teachers allowing bullying or teasing to go on if they see it. But I also don't believe in labelling every little schoolyard altercation "bullying". And I say this as someone who was bullied a lot as a kid, so I certainly don't want to see us go back to the days when teachers just let the kids sink or swim in a schoolyard full of sharks.

I think there is a certain point at which kids need to learn to work things out for themselves. Does that mean they should never tell an adult? Of course not.

Are these two siblings bullies? I don't know. What I do know is that these days, every little thing is labelled "bullying" by teachers and some parents, and that even normal interaction, if it's not all sweetness and light, is blown out of proportion by many adults.

If kids get into an argument once in a while that gets ugly, that's not "bullying" and that doesn't make the kids involved "bullies". That makes them normal kids who are getting into an argument.

Now, if there is a pattern of aggressive behaviour, or any kind of racist or sexist or other kind of discriminatory behaviour happening toward one kid or by certain kids, then yes, there's a real problem there, and one that requires adult intervention and parental involvement in its resolution.

But I didn't get the impression that this is what was happening in this case. The impression they gave me is that in this game of dodgeball (you know, a game that all about kids hitting other kids with a ball), two siblings decided to team up against the other kids, and some baiting and teasing likely happened. And then my son got peeved and threw the ball too hard.

I'm not saying that any of this is okay. But I guess what I'm saying is that it's not outside the realm of normal behaviour for kids, and that the way to deal with it is to take the kids aside, tell them to be good sports and stop getting angry and aggressive with each other, and then let that be the end of it. I don't think there's any need, three hours after the incident, to dredge it up again and get the kids in trouble again, this time in front of their parents.

And you know, maybe it's right-wing of me, but I really do think that to some extent we as parents and educators go too far in the other direction, in our sincere desire to ensure that kids aren't bullied, and turn them into helpless wimps who can't resolve any disputes on their own. You see it all the time in playgrounds - parents jumping in so quickly to mediate all their kids' interactions with other kids instead of leaving them alone to play together and only intervening if there is a real problem.

Do I wish it was like the old days? Not at all. I lived through the old days as the fat kid who got bullied and picked on all through school, and it sucked and I hated it. But I don't think the answer is to make a federal case out of every little dispute between kids. They have to learn sometime how to resolve stuff themselves. And when intervention is necessary, then make the intervention proportionate to the problem. A little spat on the playground where no one gets hurt and it's resolved by a quick word from the teacher doesn't require parent-teacher conferences and rehashing the whole thing later.

writer writer's picture

I'm thinking of naming my next book "tattletale."

It's something I was called. What I really wanted to tell adults was that I was being seriously abused. I didn't have the language at the time. I told about being hit and picked on. I tried to start the conversation in the best way I could, with the words I had at the time.

I was humiliated for doing so. I was told to stop. I was told to learn to deal with stuff myself.

The abuse continued for years. In silence.

Don't think I need to go on about what I think of the desire to discourage children from telling us about their suffering, as silly as it might seem to adults.

It could be the first tentative efforts to get into the real shit.

Talk away, child. That's my position. And I'll always have time to hear - both what is being said, as well as for the catch of breath that might indicate there is something more.

Listening shows the respect I have for all human beings.


Well, as a parent I'm not shocked. Kids live in a very unidealistic world, and at the end of the day they are the ones who have to deal with and live with the consequeses of their realities Frankly I'm surprised any of us can survive childhood with any sense of optimism about life.

First, I would have a long and serious chat with any adult caregiver who thinks dodgeball is a good idea. It's legitimising assault.

Taking a problem to an adult is only as good an idea as that adult is competent and sensitive. Too many adults lack the skills and willingness to look into the complexity and layers behind what may seem like a simple conflict, and not respect the seriousness of the problem which the child has just placed in their trust.

Sometimes with adult help, things can work out well, but most kids learn early on that in the end it's going to be up to them to solve their problems.

I've worked with kids a lot, and also been a Beaver and Cub leader. I think what's really important, is that when I've been entrusted with a role in helping a kid deal with an issue, is to do good followup over days and weeks, if necessary. Keep revisiting, and checking to see if the kids are ok, and really really listen for feelings. Also, the bully is probably a victim in his own world too, likely moreso.


I always listen to my son when he tells me things. He talks to me all the time about stuff that happens at school. Most likely I would have heard about this myself because he tells me about his playground disputes with other kids himself all the time.

And we talk about ways for him to deal with it, and, if it sounds like he's being bullied, I go to the teacher or camp counsellor about it. The more I heard about this one on the way home last night, the more I realized that a) the other kids were more in the wrong than he was, and b) it was over quickly and there wasn't any issue before or after the incident.

I think it really sucks that I'm being painted here as a parent who wouldn't listen if my kid was being sexually abused, or actually being bullied. I listen to everything my son tells me. But I also think that, as a parent, I should use some judgement when it comes to knowing when to intervene and when to let him work it out for himself.

My son has no problem telling teachers and me about incidents like this. The point is - should we be encouraging them to run to the teacher over everything that happens in the playground? Or should we encourage him to work the stuff he CAN handle out for himself and ask for adult intervention only when it's something he can't deal with on his own?

There's a difference between being open to having a kid tell you anything (which I do - he can tell me anything and everything about his social interactions with other kids) and actually intervening on his behalf about anything and everything.

And when we do have to intervene, why do we have to turn it into the third degree? Everything isn't dastardly abuse. Sometimes it's just a spat.

[ 03 July 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]

writer writer's picture

Michelle, I don't mean to paint you any particular way. I guess I would point out that you seem to be saying this is an issue about children tattling, when it seems you are really objecting to the way the camp staff dealt with this issue.

Why blame kids?

I'd say there is no such thing as tattling. It's a term I find dangerous.

Kids tell us stuff. Why do we throw up walls to stop them from confessing weakness, fear, fright, and a feeling of being overwhelmed?

I've read too much Alice Miller to assume we do so for their own good.


Everything isn't dastardly abuse. Sometimes it's just a spat.

True. And it's the spat that is safer to talk about. If a child is shut down over a little thing, the big thing remains unsaid.

That's my point.

And I think there is way more big stuff in way too many children's lives than we would like to believe.

So we make it children's jobs to maintain the pretty myth of innocent youth.

I'm not speaking about you specifically, Michelle. You raised the issue of tattling in this thread. I am responding with my perspective on that term.

[ 03 July 2008: Message edited by: writer ]


I wasn't blaming the kids at all - all along I said it was about the way the camp dealt with it. I don't think they should encourage kids to run to the teacher and ask them to resolve disputes they should be learning how to settle for themselves.

All the kids did was have a little dispute, which is normal. And they acted like normal kids. How did the adults deal with it? By telling the kids to always ask for adult intervention whenever they have a problem that needs solving.

Sure, kids should be encouraged to talk to adults about anything and everything. Adults are great advisors, and, on occasion, when necessary, defenders who can intervene. But being open to kids talking to you about stuff is different than expecting kids to come to you to solve each and every problem they encounter. How does that encourage them to build those skills for themselves?

[ 03 July 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]

writer writer's picture

Normal kids are abused. Normal kids turn around and abuse those they can: other kids.

Normal kid behaviour includes being fiercely and devastatingly abusive.

Sometimes this is called bullying.


I have never "thrown up walls" to my child to tell me about his fears or anything else. There's a difference between being open to being told about all the worries and cares of his everyday life (which I always am) and jumping in to resolve every little dispute for him.

That's what his camp counsellors are telling him he should do - run to them whenever he has any dispute with any child, and let the adults resolve it for them. I think it's ridiculous, and yes, I think it does turn kids, male and female, into wimps who can't do anything for themselves if those who are trying to take the initiative to defend themselves or resolve issues by themselves are berated for it and told that they should always get the teacher to resolve it for them.

[ 03 July 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]

writer writer's picture

Michelle, you know I know you are a good parent.

That said, I was told not to be a wimp. As a result, abuse continued. For years.

I strongly, deeply object to the term tattletale, and the notion that kids should be directed to tough it out in silence rather than be seen as wimpy / weak / sniveling / babies.

A lot of what was seen as normal in the past is looked on with horror now.

I think this discussion could have been framed more clearly to be about the adults' behaviour, rather than about children disclosing.

With that, I think I've said my piece.


I know you do. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] And I can see where some of the adjectives and labels I used might be off-putting. I think there is a place for the word "tattletale," personally. What else do you call it when a kid gets into the habit of telling on other kids when they have no stake in what has happened? (e.g. "Teacher, teacher, Johnny is chewing gum!") But I can see where people might not like that term to be used in a case where a child DOES have a stake in it, such as when they're being teased.

I think there has to be a happy medium here somewhere, and that you can be open to kids telling you all about their lives and their world without constantly intervening on their behalf to resolve stuff they could resolve themselves.

In fact, I think that's one way of actually bully-PROOFing your kids. Because you know, you can't be standing next to your kids all the time. Eventually, they're going to be alone with other kids and they're going to have to figure out how to survive it. You're not doing kids any favours by always doing for them what they need to learn how to do for themselves.

[ 03 July 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

The line between normal conflict and bullying is one we've been refining and defining in the last year... Ms B was a bully-target this past school year. She wouldn't tell the teachers, though, and at first didn't even want to tell me what was up. We finally worked through it, but part of that process involved appropriate and assertive responses to be used to defuse the situation before involving the teachers. It's a sort of balance between handling conflict independently and knowing when to involve the authority figure.

There was also some conflict between our estimation of appropriate response and the school staff's. There's a "zero tolerance" for hitting, which means that if someone corners you, you're not allowed to fight your way out. We told Ms B that she is not to hit if she can retreat, but if she's cornered to have at it as in my book doing so constitutes self-defense.

I've also gotten the teachers to please talk with me about any problems privately first, then to bring the kid into it. It makes it easier to sort things out if there are any differences to our approach without putting the child in the middle of it and seeing inconsistencies that are either confusing or exploitable in pushing the envelope -- both my kids are envelope pushers, and that's not a bad thing necessarily, but they don't need any help if you get my drift. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

We do deal with tattling at home. It's the kind of interaction where Ms T or Ms B will come and inform us of something the other did that's technically against household policy, but has already been dealt with appropriately, but there may still be some resentment or a desire to land sibling in hot water just out of boredom. We tend to just give it a shrug and move on, hopefully extinguishing the behaviour.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

I read this, and wanted to think on it, so I've made some cinnamon buns, they are rising on the stove - I've got to stop watching the Food channel!!

Another perspective is that of the day camp staff. They are faced with an array of parenting styles from the helicopter to the neglectful and they have to manage which parents want to know what in terms of detail on the day.

If you were not aware that there was teasing going on, and that your son was asserting his displeasure, and it did escalate to the point where suddenly you're called at work because he was successful in physically demonstrating his displeasure with the teasing siblings, you'd be peeved you weren't given a bit of a heads up.

These siblings may also be so clever with the passive aggressive teasing to get others to act out and therefore get in BIGGER trouble, and the worker was enlisting your support in speaking with your son so he doesn't get drawn into their game.

They (the staff) may see you as an ally with the siblings as well as the sibling parents may be of the "it's your problem to deal with them" variety.

When I worked at a day care running the school aged program I had parents that felt I shouldn't bring issues at day care to their attention because I was being paid to put up with their kid's s**t. Others wanted to know if a hair fell out from their precious head.

remind remind's picture

Interesting discussion, and I agree with everyone actually, RF and timebandit have some valuable thoughts, but I agree mainly with Michelle, as I can see what she is getting at and believe children should be encouraged to work their own problems, between them, out, if possible. The key is teaching them the difference between what can be worked out and what needs to go to adults and it seems like Michelle is all over it in that manner.

The granddaughter was being bullied for the first time this year, I believe it commenced as she was having esteem problems, due to a facial birthmark that she has been waiting to have removed.

Anyhow, she resolved it herself, after the teachers and counsellors became involved in the bullying and tried to stop it, the girl in question was also bullying the plump girls in the class, but it, the teachers involvement, did not work and the bullying did not stop. What happened was finally she got sick of being the victim and slapped the other girl across the face and told her she was a mean little girl who needed to grow up and get some manners and at the same time told her if she caught her bullying anyone else she would get more than a slap.

Of course the teachers found out and told the granddaughter hitting was not allowed, but gave her no sanctions, the girl stopped bullying granddaughter and others though.

Stephen Gordon

The thing that strikes me is that you were told in front of your son. That's just wrong.

I wouldn't have a problem with the counselor telling me about it; these things depend on the child. If this story were told to me about my youngest (for whom this sort of behaviour is by no means atypical), I would nod my head, thank her for the update and forget about it - she dealt with it the same way I would have.

OTOH, if it were my oldest (who would never, ever in a million years react that way), then that would be a sign that something is seriously wrong. I would want to know about it.

But in neither case could I see a reason for having the child present during the report.


Strange, I've had that happen a lot and at different places too, such as day care when he was little, and camp during summers - you come to pick up your kid, and the counsellor lets you know, generally in front of your kid, how their day went and if anything notable happened. I didn't find it that unusual that she would tell me in front of my son - I think they do that to show the child that Mom and the counsellor are communicating and to give the child a chance to answer.

So that didn't strike me as odd, although now that I'm reading posts here highlighting that part, I'm starting to think maybe you're right, that this is something they should tell me privately and not in front of my son (or the other people who were standing nearby and able to listen in).

Stephen, that's kind of what I did - I just nodded, thanked her for letting me know, but I didn't rebuke my son in front of her (or at all, actually - I just asked him for his side of the story on the way home).

oldgoat's post also made me think too, about whether I should say anything about them playing dodgeball. Today when I picked my son up, they told me that he sat out of a few games because he didn't feel like playing, although he participated in other stuff that he liked, and he's getting along well with the other kids and has made a friend of one of them. Maybe it was a reaction to his experience yesterday with dodgeball.

Which, if you think about it, isn't a brilliant choice of game to play on the very first day of camp, with kids who don't know each other and are just getting used to being there. But now, I'm afraid that if I say something, I'll be one of THOSE parents to them. You know, the helicopter parent whose kid is a perfect little angel who can do no wrong - or who is looking for a reason to excuse her kid's aggression, by claiming that it was the camp's fault.

Oh well. I'll think about it if I see it again on the next weekly schedule, which will be the week after next.


remind, you said in one short post what I meant in all my other ones! [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

Francesca, that thought also occurred to me, that the camp probably has a policy of telling parents absolutely everything, all incidents, no matter how small, in order to cover their butts if it ever escalated.

So remind and timebandit made me think of another dilemma: is there ever a time when kids should be "allowed" to fight?

No, not in this case that I outlined with my son. But I've also heard the same thing as timebandit - that kids are now being taught that they're not allowed to "hit back" no matter what.

I remember being the picked on kid. I never used to hit back either. And I became a total bully magnet, because they knew that if they picked on me or hit me, I'd just crumple up and cry. Telling the teacher worked - until it was time to walk home and there were no teachers or parents there to tell.

I suppose I could have lived through my entire childhood cringing from attacks and being shadowed by my parents or sticking close to the teacher at recess. But my parents both worked and couldn't be there to drop me off and pick me up at school. And the teachers couldn't be everywhere on the playground.

And it's not like my parents didn't try to intervene. I remember a couple of different times when they came in and talked to the school (different schools - we moved around a lot, which didn't help), and both times they intervened and it did help. But it didn't stop the bullying.

What stopped the bullying is when, in grade three or four (I think three), I learned how to fight, and I pounded the crap out of some kid who was always picking on me.

He never bothered me again. And it only took another couple of poundings of a couple of other kids who tried to "test" the new Michelle before EVERYONE learned that I wasn't having any of it.

That's when the bullying ended for me - at that school.

At the next school, the bullying was less physical and more psychological, and I had a hard time dealing with that because my rule was always to only hit back when hit, and I couldn't bear to call kids mean names because I knew how it felt. I only got in one fight at that school - years later - because one girl kept telling me she was going to beat me up on the way home from school, and then when she approached me when we were going home for lunch and said the fight was on, I smashed her in the face - then she got mad at me for being "unfair" and told me she would "get me for that" (although she didn't "get me" then - she backed off while making threats). I was scared of my success and was afraid it was just a fluke and that she really would "get me".

I called my father at noon (I went home by myself for lunch which was in the fridge for me - I was 12 at the time) and told him I was scared to go back to school. He asked me what happened and I told him. He burst out laughing and congratulated me, and said I did exactly the right thing. He told me I wasn't allowed to stay home, and said that if she threatens me that I should tell her that I'll be happy to give her another knuckle sandwich if she wants more that badly.

Sure enough, her threats to "get me" were just a show. She never bothered me again. Both my father and I laugh about it now.

As an adult, I'm a pacifist for the most part. I don't believe in war, and I don't believe in corporal punishment, and I don't believe in violence. But I just can't convince myself that it's wrong for kids to fight back, even physically, when they're being bullied.

[ 03 July 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]


Bullying, aggressive play, tattling, and all sorts of interesting situations are going to arise when children play together. It's the response of the adults to these scenarios that provide examples to children as to how things are worked out. For adults to intentionally embarrass children in front of their parents, or in front of other children, as a way to correct perceived bad behavior, calls into question the competency of the adults entrusted with their care, not to mention providing Dodge ball, a completely inappropriate game, as a way to keep kids occupied. Dodge ball does nothing to foster teambuilding or rapport among children, only aggression. A better teambuilding activity would be an obstacle/confidence track, where they have to navigate over objects, short walls, tire tunnels, etc, whereby they get an opportunity to help each other.

Digiteyes Digiteyes's picture

As someone who was also bullied as a child (and back in the days when we were expected to solve the issue on our own) I'm of two minds, and trying to figure out why.

I think the reason this is causing me problems is that it's difficult, as a child, to be able to stand back from a situation that one is in, and objectively decide where it falls on the scale of "tattletale/danger:tell adult now".

I don't think that is an easy decision for a child to make, and it will probably take a number of iterations of a child "tattling" to a parent to help calibrate expectations. We can only hope that those calibrations come on the side of the balance where there is no harm done to the child, and not, because a child has been told to defend him/herself, at the harmful side of the scale.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture


I think the reason this is causing me problems is that it's difficult, as a child, to be able to stand back from a situation that one is in, and objectively decide where it falls on the scale of "tattletale/danger:tell adult now".

It's funny, because I was raised, as a child, to abhor violence. That I was not to fight. That I was not to strike back. It was partly a devout Christian upbringing that extolled turning the other cheek.

It puts one at an extreme disadvantage when one is being bullied. I wished I was told it was okay to defend myself.

With that in mind, when I found my nephew was being bullied, I pulled him aside and I told him it was okay to defend himself. That it is okay to strike back at a bully. And then I showed him how to use a head butt, his elbows and knees to hurt a bully bigger than himself.

Last I heard, he had no more bully problems.

remind remind's picture


Originally posted by Slumberjack:
[b]For adults to intentionally embarrass children in front of their parents, or in front of other children, as a way to correct perceived bad behavior, calls into question the competency of the adults entrusted with their care,[/b]

I concur as that is what I got from, Michelle's situation. However, I also see the point as RF pointed out, some parents want to know every detail and thus they could have been covering their butts. And perhaps it was even both motivators.


[b]...providing Dodge ball, a completely inappropriate game, as a way to keep kids occupied. Dodge ball does nothing to foster teambuilding or rapport among children, only aggression. [/b]

Yes, I agree, in fact I had been thinking that Michelle, should use this opportunity to get the use of dodge ball, at this camp, excluded from their activities list. It is not appropriate and indeed is in fact harmful to children.


[b] A better teambuilding activity would be an obstacle/confidence track, where they have to navigate over objects, short walls, tire tunnels, etc, whereby they get an opportunity to help each other.[/b]

What an excellent activity, and I agree, perhaps Michelle could suggest something like this to the camp program directors. One could probably get used tires donated for such a project, as well as wood for the short walls.

This could be an real opportunity Michelle, for you to make positive changes for other children attending this camp. It would be a way to give them feed back where you would not seem to be that "kind of parent". [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]



Originally posted by remind:
[b] What an excellent activity....One could probably get used tires donated for such a project, as well as wood for the short walls.

Well, I'm afraid my army background got the better of me on that idea, but hopefully it doesn't diminish the merits of the suggestion. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

remind remind's picture

Well, most certainly it would not be like boot camp, at least the one I am envisioning isn't.

When I was in school we had a winter carnival every year, and part of the carnival was an obstacle run, with hanging tires, ones on the ground, low fences you hand to go over or under, in the snow, combined with a group cross country skiing event that could be adapted to the summer even. It entailed 16 foot 2 x 6's with 8, or so, straps attached where one fit their shoe under, in order for progression forward to occur everyone had to lift the same foot side at the same time. It was hilarious to watch and to participate in, and it depended upon cooperation with participants.

At my daughter's field days in elementary they also had an obstacle course with one part being a long tube, partially collapsed on differing and opposing sides, made out of nylon they had to crawl through and come out the other side, and every kid was smiling hugely when they came out.

Anyhow there are many much more suitable activities for children than dodge ball.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture


So remind and timebandit made me think of another dilemma: is there ever a time when kids should be "allowed" to fight?

No, not in this case that I outlined with my son. But I've also heard the same thing as timebandit - that kids are now being taught that they're not allowed to "hit back" no matter what.

I understand why school staff don't want anybody to hit, ever. It's a nice idea, but there are times when self-defence is necessary and allowable.

Ms B has been taking kung fu classes for nearly 4 years, and the teaching at our kung fu school is very clear -- kung fu is for self-defence, or defending someone who cannot defend themselves. It is never to be used as aggression or a threat.

My advice to Ms B is that she should use the blocking techniques and make noise first, but if she cannot retreat she is to use the basic self-defence techniques Sifu has taught her. If the teachers don't like it, they can deal with me.

Most of the bullying this year related to threats and psychological bullying -- girls in the 10 to 12 year age range, need we say more? One incident even occurred during an anti-bullying seminar when the teacher was out of earshot! We went over how cliques are constructed, the typical roles and such and then asked Bee to map out what the playground cliques were and who played what roles within them. Illuminating for all of us. Now, knowing the dynamics of queen bees, seconds, hangers on, wannabes and those outside the cliques, she has been able to shrug off most of the bullying. We did have to involve the teachers when there were overt threats, and a case of a veiled threat (two older girls in her gr 5/6 split class passing a note where they said they wished Bee was dead, then showed it to her) and I was pleased with the cooperation.

However, our hardest situation has been with Bee's teacher from last year. She openly disliked Bee and it was apparent that there was a problem before the end of September. We struggled through a very tough year, watching my eager learner's participation and postive attitude toward school spiral downward. At the end of the year, the teacher grabbed Bee by the arm and dragged her somewhere twice -- once off one side of the playground and through the parking lot and over to the senior playground and the other was from the classroom to the office after Bee reacted badly to being shouted at. It was the last week of school that this happened, and we did discuss our feeling that this was completely unacceptable with the principal, but didn't pursue it further as Bee was leaving her class immediately. It was a decision I've come to regret.

Although Bee wasn't in the woman's class this year (and actually got a great teacher who helped a lot in improving her attitude again), she's still had to deal with her on the playground. If she can nail Bee for some small infraction, she does it. Not helped by Bee's exercise of critical thought and general dislike of arbitrariness. Anyway, in May, she found Bee on the junior playground (Bee wanted to tell her sister something) and used exactly the same phrase she had before both times she grabbed her in the past. Bee said "Don't touch me, my parents won't like it." We'd explained that this was a fairly non-confrontational way to deal with a teacher who might get physical. Crazy bitch lied to Bee's teacher and principal, telling them Bee threatened her.

I wound up pounding a table in the principal's office over it. Principal apparently thought someone had mentioned lawsuit -- it wasn't us or the kid, so one can only imagine what the woman actually said. There was a total overreaction.

So what do you do with a situation like this? I am most certainly "one of [i]those[/i] parents", and even "that scary mother". I, personally, thought I was pretty restrained -- no furniture flew, anyway. I didn't even cuss. But I will maintain that my daughter has a right to say "Don't touch me."

Kids bullying kids is bad. I was bullied and it was awful. But what's even worse is when your 9 to 10 year old is expected to deal with the sophisticated bullying of an adult and expected to react in a more mature way than the grown ups around her. How can you have zero tolerance for the kids if the adults aren't required to keep their hands to themselves?

[ 04 July 2008: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


Thread drift - I feel the need to defend dodge ball. As long as the ball is not hard or heavy, there is no threat of injury and can be a lot of fun. We used to play with foam nerf (nurf?) balls. The only trouble with those is they don’t go very far. I’m not very athletic but I always enjoyed dodge ball as a kid. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with the sport and children who are abusing the game should have to sit out and watch. Why ruin it for everyone?


Holy jebus, Timebandit, that's awful.

You could still lay a complaint against the teacher with the regulatory body in your province, since it doesn't seem to be doing any good to go to the principal about it. I don't think there's a statute of limitations on getting physical with students, especially if you and Bee perceive that she has been retaliating ever since in psychological ways. Even if the action doesn't produce any results, I can assure you that a professional complaint is a huge pain in the ass, and a good way to let the school, which will surely find out about it, know that you're serious about them keeping psychoteacher away from your daughter.

Is it possible to tell the school that from now on, you want this teacher to never EVER address your child again, on the playground or anywhere else, and that if there is ever an issue with her, that it should always be another teacher who deals with it? Or is there only one teacher on playground duty?

In the case where a teacher has physically intimidated a child, I would be tempted to demand that the school not allow any situation to occur where this teacher is in a position of direct authority over my child - if that means she doesn't ever do playground duty again, then so be it.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

You're right, Michelle, telling the principal isn't the final step. Principals have a tough job -- they have to mediate between their staff and the students/parents, keep the staff working on teamwork and most are not trained to be judges or managers. They're teachers, and they often identify with other teachers. Sometimes they feel threatened by assertive or aggressive parents (I don't consider myself aggressive unless pressed). Often a principal will play "circle the wagons" when one of their staff fucks up. Not always - there are some good principals out there for sure.

In our case, the teacher in question is to have no contact with our daughter. Fortunately, she's gone on mat leave, but we have requested through the board of ed that a note be put on her personnel file, although we can't pursue any further action because she didn't actually touch Bee. We're very glad she's gone, as Ms T would have wound up in her class next year. Then we would have had to consider changing schools.

What I found most disturbing was that the principal felt that this woman, who had a history of putting her hands on my kid inappropriately, had every right to do it again and that Bee had no right to protest in a direct, assertive manner. I could have understood the shock if Bee had cussed her out or made a threat, but she didn't. Fortunately, Bee's current teacher confirmed that Bee told her exactly what she told us and that there was no reasonable excuse to disbelieve her.

I find it so bizarre that kids can be punished for defending themselves to a reasonable degree, whether it's against other students or teachers. We gave Bee the tools to defend herself with respect and courtesy, but even that isn't always considered acceptable. They should bloody thank us for that, because if she'd grabbed my daughter and forcibly moved her again, I'd have pressed assault charges.

We have to start teaching our kids to think, rather than be blindly obedient, and to know when to say "That's enough", whether it's a child or an adult who's crossing the line. Blind obedience is a precursor to abuse.

[ 04 July 2008: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


But she did touch Bee - I thought you had said earlier that she did, the previous year - that she grabbed her arm and dragged her a couple of times. I think that would be a good reason to take further action - I doubt there's a statute of limitations on that, at least through the professional body.

Speaking of which, I just looked for the regulator for teachers in Saskatchewan, and I keep coming back to the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation. Is it possible that the licensing board for teachers is actually their union?? How could that possibly be? Incredible.

Anyhow, [url=http://www.stf.sk.ca/the_profession/professional_codes/ethics/articles/a...'s their ethical code[/url] that includes physical abuse. Unfortunately, they don't outline what constitutes physical abuse, which is spectacularly unhelpful:


At no time in dealing with a student should a teacher be physically, verbally, emotionally or sexually abusive, nor should the teacher be physically or emotionally neglectful. It is the duty of the teacher, within the context of the school program, to care for students, enhance their well-being, and protect them from harm of any kind.

[ 05 July 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]


[ 12 July 2008: Message edited by: DonValley ]

Timebandit Timebandit's picture


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]But she did touch Bee - I thought you had said earlier that she did, the previous year - that she grabbed her arm and dragged her a couple of times. I think that would be a good reason to take further action - I doubt there's a statute of limitations on that, at least through the professional body.

Speaking of which, I just looked for the regulator for teachers in Saskatchewan, and I keep coming back to the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation. Is it possible that the licensing board for teachers is actually their union?? How could that possibly be? Incredible.

Anyhow, [url=http://www.stf.sk.ca/the_profession/professional_codes/ethics/articles/a...'s their ethical code[/url] that includes physical abuse. Unfortunately, they don't outline what constitutes physical abuse, which is spectacularly unhelpful:

[ 05 July 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ][/b]

Yes, licensing board and union seem to be one and the same.

Yes, she did touch Bee a year previously, but there you run into problems. The principal didn't think the force was inappropriate and vigorously defended the teacher's actions, we didn't act on it at the time beyond taking it to the principal, a year later memories get fuzzy on the details (especially Ms B's). We could try to pursue it, but the reality is that we have very limited chance of success.