I want to thank all of you for your comments about the hate club problem. It really made a difference in what I did; Stimey in particular opened my eyes. My nephew, too, will probably be the butt of something like this someday, and won't be able to easily tell anyone, either. Thank you all for helping me to realize that it was absolutely my job to say something. I've told Josie before that watching something bad happening and not doing something is almost as bad as doing it yourself, and there I was, not doing anything. I guess I was muddled by the fact of not actually *seeing* it myself, but it's the same thing in the end. Also thanks to Marie for the book suggestions - I have Queen Bee because I read it years and years ago when it first came out, out of curiosity, but I should definitely read it again NOW, and the others as well.
I ended up discussing the incident with someone who works at the school, another substitute who was the Josie's class's student teacher last semester and who was subbing for Josie's teacher that day. The principal was busy, and the other fifth grade teacher was as well, so since I knew this woman and am reasonably friendly with her, it was an easier option, anyway. Astonishingly, she was shocked that E would do such a thing, and I think almost didn't believe it! She said, 'What? But she's so little and sweet and quiet!' I just looked at her and said that sometimes that's exactly who it is. The astonishing part is, this isn't the first time that E has done something like this, and I can't believe she's missed it all this time. She also said that they've had a really hard time with bullying in 5th grade this year. I think, though, that fifth grade is often this way, and she just hasn't been around older children, and in a school, long enough to know it.
Anyway, she said that she'd talk to the other fifth grade teacher about it, but I wasn't sure what would happen, given her shock and disbelief. I found out yesterday, though, from a friend who also works there, that my friend saw E, two other girls, and K, who was the object of one of the clubs, leaving the guidance office after lunch, which is about an hour after I spoke to a teacher, and yesterday when the regular teacher returned to the classroom, the grade split into boys and girls, with each half going with one of the teachers (there's a man and a woman teaching that grade) to have a discussion about bullying and what had happened. I am SO PLEASED that it was handled so swiftly and without any room for doubt as to the school's opinion on the matter. The girls were dressed down within the hour, and all 50 kids were spoken to within 24. I call that impressive.
Also, I am so, so happy to say that Josie, who at that point didn't know that I had said anything, told me yesterday that she herself reported the incident to her regular teacher as soon as the teacher returned from her time off yesterday morning. I am so proud of her! It's not easy to face up to that kind of thing, especially when the next 'target' could easily have been her in retribution. She's always been a brave girl, but I am SO proud of her. I did tell her yesterday that I had spoken to the sub, because I wanted to be honest with her and for her know that I felt strongly about standing up for people. I said that I hoped she didn't mind, and that anytime she wants to tell me something and doesn't want me to say anything, she can tell me and I will respect that (within reason), but that I hadn't thought she would mind in this case. She wasn't upset, although I think she was a little disappointed that the whole in-school resolving of the event wasn't due to her own reporting of it, as she had thought it was. Both DH and I made a big fuss over her about doing the right thing, though, so she seemed to feel pretty good regardless.
The only depressing part is that K has gone right back to being friends with E, AGAIN. Why do some girls (and I guess boys, too, but it seems to be mostly girls) go back time and time again in these circumstances to what basically amounts to more punishment!? Josie asked me this, and I told her that the only reason I could think of was that K is buying into the idea that E *is* better and cooler than everyone else, and thinks that by being near her, K will be cooler, too. It's so sad. K has real friends, but she's insistent that she WILL be part of this group who really doesn't want her there. Sure, they skipped along out of the guidance department together, but this isn't like when little kindergarteners say they hate each other over some incident with the jumprope. This was calculated hurtfulness, and while obviously I hope that E has learned a lesson, to be honest, I doubt that after a twenty-minute group-hug free-love meeting in the guidance department she's magically ready to accept K as her new BFF. It's not like she didn't KNOW what she was doing was hurtful and wrong, for heaven's sake; it's a personality thing, and her desire to be Queen Bee isn't going to change just because some touchy-feely grownup announced that it was wrong and hurtful, kumbyah. In fact, I think she did K a huge disservice by not telling her in no uncertain terms that she should NOT be friends with E until E has proven that she deserves it. Allowing her to go trotting out of there all happy and trusting that things are fine was just ludicrous. Sigh.
2 months ago