Mother: “My 10-year-old daughter is regularly called names by a boy in the class. For example, when she walks by, he whispers “cunt whore.” Recently he said something really mean about her eczema. I was so angry, I thought: now there must be blows. Verbal then. The boy is too heavy himself. “You know what,” I told her, “next time he says something nasty, just say, “I didn’t know you were pregnant.” But when she did that the next time, he cried! Of course I felt very guilty about that.

“The teacher is not allowed to say anything back, he says: ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.’ He thinks she should come to him if the boy is mean. But she really isn’t going to bother the master with this all the time. How do you make a child resistant to aggression without harming another child?”

Name is known to the editor. (This section is anonymous because difficulties in parenting are sensitive.)

Everyone loses in a fight

Bass Delivery: “The mother’s reaction is not unusual, but I think it is really wrong. Going into a fight sounds tough, but with that the situation escalates, and everyone loses. It also shows once again that fat shaming is still the only form of discrimination that we consider completely normal. One possible cause of this boy’s name calling is very obvious.

“A good response here is to listen to your child, and then ask if it’s okay for you to call the teacher. I would go through with that. I’d like to know why the teacher didn’t just sit the kids around the table and talk about it.

“As a parent, you obviously know what the anti-bullying policy is at your child’s school, because that’s what you selected the school for: you worried beforehand about the social environment in which your child will end up. Of course you also choose the school according to the way in which they teach children to interact with each other. So you know who to contact about this. Of course your child will not curse back, of course your child will go to the teacher in such a case.”

resilience course

René Veenstra: “Parents and teachers often see bullying as an individual problem, but it is a group problem. You can have a child take ten resilience courses, you can do a self-defense sport such as judo, but some children remain misfits, or are verbally weaker. After all, we’re not all the same.

“Bullying and bullying in the end only produces losers. Sure it’s possible to put someone back in their cage with a witty joke, but the outcome is still negative.

“What matters is that a group is created in which everyone interacts nicely with each other despite the differences. This also protects the thirty percent of children who do not say it at home if they are being bullied. A group with a self-correcting ability: in which, if one makes a bad joke about someone, the others don’t laugh, but say ‘Be normal dude.’ There is a lot to gain from making a group resilient. If you already provide children with that kind of intelligence at primary school age, you lay a good foundation for later. The school and the teacher have a role in this. Anti-bullying programs such as ‘KiVa’ and ‘Prima’ are achieving good results in this regard.”

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