Child Being Bullied at Clifford School in Portland, Maine

Received Monday, April 14, 2008- Rant
This is a Rant about elementary school teachers rather than a Nanny. However, I am very concerned about the little girl I saw and if by some chance parents from this school read this I would want them to know about the lack of supervision. I saw this at the Clifford School in Portland, Maine. I am not going to list the name of the child here because it is a small school but if someone has a daughter there than email Jane and I will send you the girl's name.

I went to move my car, which was next to an elementary school. The kids were outside. On the farthest end of the playground this little girl was laying face down on a bench SOBBING. A group of boys were covering her in leaves and chanting "(name) likes to wear dirty underwear" ... I tried to say something to them through the fence but they ignored me. I looked for a teacher and there were two, standing by the school chatting and ignoring all the kids. But they were too far away for me to yell to them from the fence. So I went to school and couldn't get the poor sobbing kid out of my head. So I ended up going back to the school and telling the people in the principles office that this kid was getting bullied and the teachers didn't see it. They knew who the girl was and said they would look ask her who the boys were, etc. I mentioned politely that the teachers might need to walk down that way to deter the boys from gathering in the corner. They rolled their eyes and laughed and basically said "yeah, if we could get them to." Hello, that's your job!!! Grrrr. I'm really glad I said something and that they are looking into but I feel so sad for that little girl. I don't want anyone to get in trouble I just want them to watch out for her... getting picked on is one thing. Getting buried and leaves while you sob is another.

I wish I was a parent and knew other parents. I am providing Jane my email address so she can forward any inquiries directly to me.


Anonymous said...

I hand it to you for taking action. I'm sick of sightings where someone just points out an injustice. That's great you stepped in.

melamonk said...

Awesome post OP. Great job sticking your nose in! Children need more people like you nannying and walking the streets.

Anonymous said...

This just makes me sad, and gives my job a bad name. I'm an elementary school aide, and part of my job is recess duty. There is one teacher and 5 aides outside during recess (for about 125 kids). Out of the 6 of us, the teacher, myself and two other aides consistently watch/interact with the students. The other two aides (who are personal aides, no less!) stand around chatting, nowhere near their students. It's disheartening to know that these children suffer because their aides would rather chat with each other than interact with them. I know everyone needs a break now and then, but a busy playground is not the place.

This happens at lunch, too. I have lunch duty, and one aide is constantly on her cell phone. If it's an emergency, then fine - excuse yourself and take your call. However, I've heard her on these calls (it's easy, as she wanders around the lunchroom), and she's just chitchatting with her husband or whomever. The lunch teacher and I have both reported her; hopefully she won't be hired back next year.

OP, good for you to say something to the school office. However, with school politics the way they are, sometimes it's difficult to correct the teachers in question.

Liv said...

That little chant was on the new Alvin & the Chipmunks movie. It's nasty, but kids seem to think it's pretty funny. My charge likes to sing it too, and he gets his little sister in on it (rolls eyes)

I'm not sure if those boys were trying to be intentionally hurtful, as I've heard many kids sing the same song jokingly with their friends. The problem, though, is that whether they meant to or not, this little girl got her feelings hurt and her teachers did nothing to correct it. Good post, I hope the school officials have a talk with their teachers.

Anonymous said...

Good job, OP!!

cali mom said...

OP, I'm glad you inrevened, at least to the best of your ability.

It's sickening what some people seem to think is acceptable behavior to promote to children. (ie, nasty bullying rants being demonstrated in "children's" movies.)

I work at my son's preschool sometimes, as it's a co-op, and this issue of bullying or ganging up is one that has been discussed much recently because parents (rightly so) have been extremely upset at witnessing such incidents and have been discussing ways of constructively adressing it when it happens.

cali mom said...

S/b intervened. And meant to say chants, not rants.

ALIANA said...


fg said...

how very sad. glad you reported it and hope it does some good.

Anonymous said...

On behalf of all bullied children everywhere (who rarely have a voice), "Thank You!", OP for going out of your way to bring this hurtful and neglectful incident to the attention of the school officials. It really DOES take a village to raise a did your part. I hope you'll continue to be a child advocate wherever, and whenever, the opportunity presents itself.

Anonymous said...

I am not asking Teachers to babysit the the kids, but they need to be off the cell phones and protecting the kids from the bullies while they are outside playing. I give you a lot of credit for doing what you did ,OP.
To get bullying to stop at one of the schools, several parents and I had to get an attorney and threaten to sue the School and the parents of these bullies. Children should be able to feel safe while at school and getting beat up or pushed down or tormented is not being safe because the person who is supposed to be watching is onher cell phone or chatting away and not watching the children.

gina said...

While I hate to imagine a child being bullied, I appreciate this post because is such a perfect example of how to respond. Most people would have kept on walking, not to say they wouldn't have felt empathy for this child, but a million kudos to this OP and thanks Jane for having this site because when posts like this come along, I ever so happy that such a good example is being set about HOW TO DO SOMETHING!

OP said...

OP here - you all make me feel so good! Thank you! I was a bullied child myself. It wasn't until a friend told the guidance counselor (despite me begging not to) that the bullies were threatened (that their parents would be called) and it finally stopped. I had the same fears reporting this today that the girl would feel further shame getting questioned at the office and having to give up the names of her bullies. But, I remembered that it really helped me even though at the time I thought it was the end of the world. Today, I was worried the teachers might get fired or something but the budget here is so tight I am sure they will just get spoken to (which is all I wanted).

I'd love to do more. I go to school right around the corner which is why I walk by that school every day. I'm not a nanny or a parent but I enjoy reading this site as my mom is a preschool teacher and all too often I see the bad nannies/parents instead of the good.

I am considering going back into the school and offering to mentor this child but I'm not sure if the school/parent would find that creepy... stranger sees kid outside... stranger wants to be part of kids life... but as the kid that used to be bullied, I always had high self esteem despite them. I never believed them when they said I was ugly. Once I got out of middle school I was suddenly the "hot girl"... I never understood how one person could see me as ugly and someone else beautiful. There are just evil evil people out there. I think I believed I was beautiful because of the family and friends I did have telling me that. I hope this child has someone to do that for her in her life.

If I do decide to go back I will just ask the school to give my email address to the parent and have him/her contact me if they are interested.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad things worked out for you. Unfortunately, sometimes a child who is bullied never recovers, because the bullying is so emotionally hurtful and violent.
I too was bullied throughout middle school and high school. I never fully recovered. My self-esteem was ruined and I still seek therapy for it.
The good thing is that at least now most schools acknowledge bullying exists. Not so when I grew up in the late 70s and 80s. At least now the term harassment is understood.
Well done, though, for sticking up for that child. You sound like a good person. Well done.

i got the apple! said...

I am an Elementary teacher, and I agree with this post...and sadly I think that says something-if not alot! We are brought up in a day and age where bullying is accepted as normal, as something that every child must (sadly) go through...but this IS NOT true. Bullying does nothing but harm children and their self esteem and when adults stand by and simply watch it happen it does even more dammage. As an adult, stand up for these poor innocent children, if we make it known that bullying is not accepted and has consciences the children will follow. "Innocent" games, too often in this day and age, turn into true harrasment that changes children's lives (for the worse) forever. As a 1st grade teacher who cares, I commend you OP for standing up...we need more people like you! I will say in all honesty, I see bullying everyday, some of which that is so bad (YES, in grade one) that it breaks my heart, I stand up for it, but many other TEACHERS do NOT...please no matter who you are, be someone who makes a difference, not just another person who stands by and watches!

marypoppin'pills said...

My son's school has a "No Tolerance" policy on bullying. They send out letters quarterly and have addressed it at PTA meetings. They have given it alot of attention around here, and thankfully because of that, it hasn't really been an issue ... sort of nipping it in the bud.

Too bad all schools don't take it more seriously.

Thank you for stepping in, OP. And your idea to mentor that child? I think it's very admirable, and I hope they take you up on your offer!
I'm sure she could use another 'friend'.

t.r. said...

Your son? Hmmm. I thought you were someone else.

Great job- but I think that it might come off creepy if you offer to mentor a child you saw in the school yard. I get your intentions are good, they probably would too, but for how it would look, I think they would have to pass.

marypoppin'pills said...

I try to be careful about what business I put out there because I have seen so many posters personally attacked.
I'm sure you follow me ...

I don't quite know who you thought I was, but you are regular enough that you might.

As for the mentor thing, she's a College student, and if she wanted to get involved with the school, maybe she could start there?
It never hurts to do your Community good.

t.r. said...

Ok, I think I get it.
What's that 70's sitcom?

Melamonk said...

Schools nationwide have adopted "zero tolerance" policies about fighting and bullying. Although the following statement will bring rabid denial from school administrators, simply stated: Zero tolerance policies are for the school's protection more than your child's. If your child is in a bullying/self-defense situation at school, your child is in as much danger of being expelled as the bully. Find out how to use this policy to your advantage and get results:

mom said...

I hate those no tolerance for fighting policies (Although I would lOVE to see a no tolerance for bullying policy.) I can understand why I have them, but they need to ALSO take the time to use their brains and figure out that sometimes a kid NEEDS to be able to DEFEND himself. Punsihing everybody involved in every altercation, no questions asked, is as stuipd as having a little arrested for having nail clippers in her backpack.

We had bullies in our elementary school. My son was victimized to some extent by the known bullies, but not singled out. I mentioned to the teacher during a conference that a lot of hitting at recess was being reported to me. She said something to the effect of, "Yes, we have a lot of trouble with that child. Many parents have complained about him, but there's really nothing we can do." HUH?

After a situation developed where some older boys were seriously menacing the younger kids at recess, and my son was clearly scared, we decided to go together to meet with the principal. I went in to school with him every morning for a few days and was told the principal was too busy to meet with us. Finally I asked to schedule a meeting with her...and was told her schedule was very full, so that they didn't know just when such a meeting might be possible. So my son and I went to see the school counselor together. She gave him sympathy and asked him silly things, like how that (being threatened, pushed down and hit) made him feel and what he thought he might do to help the situation. But she gave no offer even to try to rectify the actual situation.

After that, I told my son that if anybody at school hit or kicked him again he had my permission to haul off and defend himself in a way that would make it clear to the bullies that they ought not tangle with him again. The poor kid was scared to death to defend himself because the "No tolerance" policy had been so drilled into their heads.

It really struck me as prettty lazy that the school couldn't take the time to make sure the kids were protected on the playground, but they could take the time to implement a school wide program aimed at teaching kids to passively accept abuse.

Janet E. said...

Where can we get the article?

here said...


mom said...

Wow. I read the article.
Funny they should mention Columbine.

The reason those boys gave for what they eventually did was retribution for having been mercilessly bullied over an extended period of time. If that's true...aaaggghhh!

Can't help wondering how things might have turned out of somebody along the way had stepped in on their behalf and stopped the abuse they claim to have suffered.

Miss J said...

I monitor kids at recess. I love my job and i love the kids. I am fortunate in that the other girls on my shift take the same no nonsense approach with 0 tolerance for bullying. (any and all infractions are handled by us and reported to the teachers)

It is a shame that we have a few teachers who will wave their hand at us and says, " Don't tell me about what they did at lunch.. they are not my problem then."

Very frustrating and I am certain that the unfavorable behavior carries over into their classrooms.

Great job OP!! I would love to have you on my shift! =)

cali mom said...

Mom, I agree that the zero tolerance policy on "fighting' is unfair and du7mb. I saw a mom take that approach about arguing w/her 2 daughters and it bugged me, when one girl was trying to defend her "turn" playing with a toy that her sister took away from her.

I do have to say it wasn't necessarily silly of the counselor to ask your son how he felt about the bullying and what he might do to alleviate it, because especially depending on age, asking these literal questions and guiding a child to think through it and come up with the idea of VERBALLY stating his feelings in no uncertain terms and deflecting a bully that way *may* help. Sometimes verbal self defense can be at least partially effective, and it SHOULD be the first step. Obviously, if it is not working, another approach must be found, and maybe you were already way beyond that point when you taled w/them. The principal sounds useless!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reporting that! It helps to know that someone cares. What is up with that? The school sounds horrid. Tell the parents to get her into Karate, That always worked for me...