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14 yo emotionally bullied now isolated at school

14 yo emotionally bullied now isolated at school

Active scribe

14 yo emotionally bullied now isolated at school

Hi everyone

I'm really in need of some advice or support on my 14 yo son.

It's taking a toll on me badly.

Basically it began with verbal bullying at school, escalated into throwing books. We informed the school, the kids got in trouble. It was fine for a while, but then they began spreading rumours and continuing with verbal bullying and name calling again recently. It is not only this group of kids, but now my son's actual friends have begun excluding him and want nothing to do with him. Basically he's now isolated and hates going to school.

This is making me cry daily to the point where my heart is physically painful. It's so hard to watch this unfold and I feel angry at these kids who are so cruel to my son.

I constantly ask myself, is he really such a terrible kid that no one wants to hang out with him? Real friends don't just dump you, so maybe they weren't genuine to begin with .

I want to change school but I'm so worried if this plan will fail, then what.

Any help will be very welcome thank you

Casual scribe

Re: 14 yo emotionally bullied now isolated at school

I'm so sorry - I can hear how upsetting this is for you.

I think if this was happening to me I'd be going back to the school as this is obviously at a point where it is likely to affect your son's learning...and that's something they should be addressing, whether or not they want to get involved in the 'emotional stuff'.

When we've had similar things happen in school, the school tend to have group talks, rather than single out individual culprits. I've never really been convinced that this approach worked that well, but at least the more decent kids in the group will be 'on notice' that their behaviour has been/is being observed,.

Is there a favourite teacher/tutor who your son could reach out to?

Does he know any older kids who might be prepared to hang around for a bit just to observe what's happening, and intervene if things get nasty? (Or maybe even record what's going on with their phones, if they are allowed them at his school).

If it's happening at a particular time of the day, maybe there's a different place he can eat lunch, etc?

How would your son feel about speaking out as it is happening? Would he be prepared to even say 'stop!' (preferably shout it...loudly!) I know this is really hard for some kids, but bullies often back off if they think people are prepared to stand up to them, to call out their actions as wrong, or if there are others/bystanders watching their poor behaviour. Maybe you could practice at home with a bit of role play? Might sound silly but if your son is not used to standing up to people, or shies away from confrontation (and let's face it, a lot of us do!), he might have to actually try what it feels like to physically make a stop sign with his hand and hear his own voice saying 'stop'. 

I takes a lot of courage to stand up to people who are behaving badly, but it could help him with his own sense of self-worth in the long run, rather than asking others to intervene.

I'm only a mum myself, not a counsellor, and I obviously don't know your circumstances but you should know that you and your son are not alone - sadly, this happens to a lot of kids on a daily basis. They usually get through it eventually...I hope he can hang in there for the school holidays.


Active scribe

Re: 14 yo emotionally bullied now isolated at school

Thank you very much for your response.


I think the school has got a handle on the verbal bullying itself in the last week- they've spoken to the year as a whole, as well as individuals and got a couple of them to come up to my son to apologise. 


However the issue is that he is still isolated. People are just ignoring him in class, like they don't want to know him. It's like they picked on him to begin with because he is different, now that he has got them into trouble, they may dislike him even more.


One of his old friends talked and was nice to him. But this was only after the counsellor spoke to this kid. So my son feels like it isnt really genuine. They are only doing it because they've been asked to, and they don't want to get into trouble. Other than that, he is sitting in school all day not communicating with anyone.


Which is really bad for his mental health.. as well as mine to hear the sadness everyday.. I can't see how things will get better at this school..


Re: 14 yo emotionally bullied now isolated at school

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Dear @Sil77 


I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through such a difficult time at the moment. Watching your son get bullied would be incredibly difficult .I can see how much you care about him and want the best for him.


It sounds like things are very unhealthy for him at school. @AvenueTribe offered some great suggestions, which might be really useful if you decide to keep your son at the same school.


It's so upsetting that his actual friends have started excluding him now, and that he no longer wants to go to school. @AvenueTribe is right in saying that his learning may now be impacted. The fact that your son is being bullied does not mean that he is a "terrible" kid. The reasons why bullying occurs are complex. To learn more about bullying - we have a few articles on bullying that may be of use to you. In this article "bullying and teenagers" - the video where the psychologist shares tips on how to support your child might be particularly useful. This article "what to do if your teenager is being bullied" might also be helpful. To try and understand why children bully, read here. These resources (here, here) by the raising children network are also really informative.


It might be best for both you and your son to get some professional support during this difficult time. For instance, your son can call Kids Helpline for free, confidential, 24/7 phone or online counselling.  You may also want to make contact with our one-on-one support service for parents, which is free (learn more about this service here and here). Parentline is also a good option - they're a free, confidential phone service for parents and carers of children from birth to 18 years old. The number for Parentline differs per state. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see which number to call if you're interested. Other options include the school counsellor or seeing a private psychologist.


In terms of moving schools, it is hard to say with such little information whether this is the right idea for you and your son. Speaking to a professional will help you determine the right path forward. If you've tried all the things you can with the school, tried to teach your son strategies on how to deal with the situation, etc. and the bullying continues, then changing schools might be the right option. It might be best to book in with an educational or developmental psychologist, or a psychologist who has experience with bullying, to help with your decision.


We hope you find these resources helpful. Please keep us updated with how this all goes.

Casual scribe

Re: 14 yo emotionally bullied now isolated at school

This must be really hard for you to watch - I'm so sorry.


If this was my child I would be talking to him about what a real friendship looks like. If these kids were real friends in the first place, they wouldn't drop him like this just because of a bunch of bullies.


He may feel like he's the only person in the class who is being shunned, but it might just be his perception of what is happening. For the rest of the kids, who weren't really the instigators, it might just be that they are all a bit wary, and letting the dust settle a little... If it was me, and I was called out for having dropped my friend, I would feel embarrassed to approach them for the first few times. He could try reaching out to them - it might be that simple...maybe they are thinking he doesn't want to know them anymore??

I know that your son might feel like everyone is avoiding him, but the reality might be that it is only a particular group when you look at the whole class. I would encourage him to sit down and name the class one by one, and have a detailed look at this - the numbers might not stack up the way he perceives it!  Maybe there are others in the class, who are shy by nature, who just wouldn't have spoken anyway? Or what about some of the girls? I'm willing to bet not every single one of them would be flinging books around just because some immature boys are! (I know my 15 year old daughter would take a very dim view of that if it was happening in her class!) 

What I'm trying to say is that although your son 'feels' like everyone is against him (and it feels very real to him), the objective view might not be quite the same. If you could encourage him to see this situation as if it were happening to someone else, he might start to see that feelings have a way of clouding our lived reality (I know that's definitely the case for me, so I totally get that, by the way!)

Obviously this is all still very raw, and it may settle in time. 

Is there another activity he's involved in where he could make friends? My daughter went to a choir, nothing to do with school, and looking back there were a number of times I felt so glad she had a circle of girls outside of the school ones. It helped her realise that not everyone thought she was too loud, too emotional, too... whatever else!

Also, it can take a lot of time to 'find your tribe'...lots of teens feel like there is nobody they can really connect with in their class, and sometimes it is only at Uni or later when they are working that they really find a good fit in their friendships. Learning strategies to deal with people who don't look on life like us is definitley a skill he could begin to develop, and it will set him up for later in life when he has to work with people who aren't necessarily his choosing, etc. 

If all else fails, I would encourage him to think of the longterm - this too shall pass!


I really feel for you. This is obviously occupying a lot of your thinking at the moment. Try to find some time to do something for you today - even if it is just for 20 mins. Your son is very lucky that he has a parent who cares so much...and you are lucky that he is talking to you! How much worse might it be if he bottled it all in and said nothing? That may sound flippant, and it isn't meant to, so please forgive me if it came across that way. You obviously have a good relationship with your son, so that's a great thing to hang onto at a time like this.

Sending positive energy your way...

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