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*** Helpful Books ***
The Transgender Child
A Handbook for Families and Professionals
By Stephanie Brill and
This comprehensive first-of-its-kind
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families raising gender variant and transgender children.
Through extensive research and interviews, as well as years of experience
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the authors cover gender variance from birth through college.
Transgender Explained - For Those Who Are Not.
by Joanne Herman
True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism -
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by Mildred L. Brown & Chloe Ann Rounsley
Therapeutic Guidelines for Working with Gender-Variant People and their
by Arlene Istar Lev
Transitions: A Guide to Transitioning for Transsexuals and Their
by Mara Drummond
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The Transgender Companion: (Male to Female)
The Complete Guide to Becoming the Woman You Want to Be
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Facial Feminization Surgery:
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She's Not the Man I Married:
My Life with a Transgender Husband
by Helen Boyd
My Husband Wears My Clothes:
Crossdressing from the Perspective of a Wife
by Peggy Rudd
The Lazy Crossdresser
by Charles Anders
Crossdressing With Dignity
The Case for Transcending Gender Lines
by Peggy Rudd
My Husband Betty
Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser
by Helen Boyd
Crossdressers, and Those Who Share Their Lives
by Peggy Rudd
Miss Vera's Cross-Dress For Success:
A Resource Guide for Boys Who Want to be Girls
by Veronica Vera
Miss Vera's Finishing School for Boys Who Want to be Girls
by Veronica Vera
Wrapped in Blue - A Journey of Discovery
by Donna Rose
Changes: Erotic Tales of Forced Feminization
Out & About: The Emancipated Crossdresser
by Lacey Leigh
The Mistress Manual
A Good Girl's Guide to Female Dominance
by Mistress Lorelei
How to Change Your Sex -
A Lighthearted Look at the Hardest Thing You'll Ever Do
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Hello Cruel World
101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws
by Kate Bornstein
Mom, I Need to be a Girl
by Just Evelyn
The Art of Sensual Female Dominance - A Guide for Women
by Claudia Verrin
Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with
by Amy Bloom
The Complete Guide to Transgender in the Workplace
by Vanessa Sheridan
Intersex: (For Lack of a Better Word)
by Thea Hillman
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Studies Reveal Why Kids Get
Bullied and Rejected
Kids who get bullied and
snubbed by peers may be more likely to have problems in other parts of
past studies have shown. And now researchers have found at least three
factors in a child's behavior
that can lead to social rejection.
The factors involve a
child's inability to pick up on and respond to nonverbal cues from their
In the United States, 10
to 13 percent of school-age kids experience some form of rejection by
In addition to causing mental health problems, bullying and social
isolation can increase the likelihood a
child will get poor grades, drop out of school, or develop substance
abuse problems, the researchers say.
"It really is an
under-addressed public health issue,"
said lead researcher Clark McKown of the Rush Neurobehavioral Center in
And the social skills
children gain on the playground or elsewhere could show up later in
according to Richard Lavoie, an expert in child social behavior who was
not involved with the study.
Unstructured playtime - that is, when children interact without the
guidance of an authority figure -
is when children experiment with the relationship styles they will have
as adults, he said.
Underlying all of this:
"The number one need of any human is to be liked by other humans,"
Lavoie told LiveScience.
"But our kids are like strangers in their own land." They don't
understand the basic rules of operating in society
and their mistakes are usually unintentional, he said.
In two studies, McKown and
colleagues had a total of 284 children, ages 4 to 16 years old, watch
and look at photos before judging the emotions of the actors based on
their facial expressions,
tones of voice and body postures. Various social situations were also
described and the children were questioned
about appropriate responses.
The results were then
compared to parent/teacher accounts of the participants' friendships and
Kids who had social
problems also had problems in at least one of three different areas of
reading nonverbal cues; understanding their social meaning; and coming
up with options for resolving a social conflict.
A child, for example,
simply may not notice a person's scowl of impatience or understand what
a tapped foot means.
Or she may have trouble reconciling the desires of a friend with her
own. "It is important to try to pinpoint the area or
areas in a child's deficits and then build those up," McKown explained.
Ways to help
When children have
prolonged struggles with socializing, "a vicious cycle begins," Lavoie
Shunned children have few opportunities to practice social skills, while
popular kids are busy perfecting theirs.
However, having just one or two friends can be enough to give a child
the social practice he or she needs, he said.
Parents, teachers and
other adults in a child's life can help, too. Instead of reacting with
embarrassment to a child who, say, asks Aunt Mindy if her new hairdo was
parents should teach social skills with the same tone they use for
teaching long division or proper hygiene.
If presented as a learning opportunity, rather than a punishment,
children usually appreciate the lesson.
"Most kids are so
desperate to have friends, they just jump on board," Lavoie said.
To teach social skills,
Lavoie advises a five-step approach in his book "It's So Much Work to Be
Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success"
The process works for children with or without
learning disabilities and is best conducted immediately
transgression has been made.
1) Ask the child what happened and listen without judgment.
2) Ask the child to identify their mistake. (Often children
only know that someone got upset,
but don't understand their own role in the outcome.)
3) Help the child identify the cue they missed or mistake
they made, by asking something like:
"How would you feel if Emma was hogging the tire swing?" Instead of
lecturing with the word "should,"
offer options the child "could" have taken in the moment, such as: "You
could have asked Emma to join you or told
her you would give her the swing after your turn."
4) Create an imaginary but similar scenario where the child
can make the right choice. For example, you could say,
"If you were playing with a shovel in the sand box and Aiden wanted to
use it, what would you do?"
5) Lastly, give the child "social homework" by asking him to
practice this new skill, saying:
"Now that you know the importance of sharing, I want to hear about
something you share tomorrow."
The studies are detailed
in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent
They were funded by the Dean and Rosemarie Buntrock Foundation and the
William T. Grant Foundation.
A Parent's Dilemma, the
By Gianna E. Israel
My 14-year old son, Martin, was recently sent home from school for wearing
girls' clothing and insisting that
his teachers and peers call him "Monique." This is the 3rd time this has
happened since we moved,
and he started going to a new school. Please help -- I'm worried that other
parents may ask us to keep our
child away from their children.. Is this a phase that will go away? How can
I help Martin live a normal life?
Signed, A Concerned Parent.
My readers, the preceding is a letter I recently received from a mother who
felt deeply concerned for her child.
Panic is frequently one of the first responses caring parents experience
when they perceive something is
amiss with their child. Questions are asked when gender or sexual identity
issues arise. What did we do wrong?
Is my child mentally ill? What will others think if they find out? How do I
deal with this shocking news?
Regardless of the child's age, most parents feel confused, angry,
and deeply worried when they learn of their child's crossdressing or gender
These feelings are frequently exacerbated by the parents' belief that there
is no place to turn for help.
Some parents in their search for answers turn to a school counselor, local
therapist or even their church minister.
Unfortunately, in most circumstances these persons are not familiar with
gender identity or sexual orientation issues.
If a child crossdresses or has gender issues the parents may assume or be
misled into believing that their
child may susceptible to having a socially unacceptable sexual orientation.
It is true, particularly during puberty,
that a child is likely to questions about gender and sexuality, however
there are identifiers that differentiate these
two separate but equally important components of self-identity.
In the simplest of terms, sexual orientation defines who a person finds
attractive for sexual interaction.
This may include persons of the same, opposite or both genders.
Gender identity defines how a person identifies his or her role (male or
female), and how he or she presents it
to the world. While most adults are comfortable with their "birth" gender
and sexual orientation,
there are some persons who find themselves dealing with personal questions
during different stages of life.
Asking these types of questions is a healthy part of self-development,
and may be engaged in by males and females at any age.
For people dealing with gender issues, some find their outward physical
appearance does not match
their internal gender identification. This happens to be the case for the
transsexual and transgenderist individual.
Transsexuals are those who transition socially, hormonally and surgically
and live permanently as a
member of the opposite gender. Transgenderists may live "in role" as a
member of the opposite gender.
Typically they are not interested in genital reassignment. Because
transgenderists have a more fluid
approach to gender, some are interested in hormones while others may seek
Within the transgender community, some persons may not wish to self-identity
with either gender identity
and choose an androgynous manner of dress or unisex presentation. This is
particularly so for young adults,
although as most progress toward adulthood they will adopt a firmer gender
orientation leaving only a small
proportion who permanently self-identify as androgyne individuals or as
members of the transgender community.
There are also persons who feel perfectly comfortable with their gender yet
need to crossdress in order to
relieve anxiety, reduce stress or to get in touch with their
These crossdressers or transvestites, are rarely interested in hormones,
surgery or living as a member of the
opposite gender. Within transgender populations, crossdressers are the least
Most are unlikely to express their needs openly to family or friends, and
few are likely to go out in public crossdressed.
Youth who are caught crossdressing and subsequently humiliated, are likely
to keep their needs deeply hidden so as
to not be found out again. Rather than dealing with this issue during
childhood their crossdressing needs are more likely
to reappear with adulthood, when they can no longer hold back and face times
of crisis or major change.
Generally, most young adults find themselves examining many types of
questions as they develop a separate
identity distinctly rooted in their own needs and experiences. This dynamic
is also true for children who have
questions about gender identity. In fact, the largest proportion of these
individuals frequently do not make firm
"transition" oriented decisions until close to adulthood or later. As a
result they are frequently referred to as
gender-questioning youth. This group of young persons over time tomorrow's
crossdressers, persons attracted to transgender individuals, those who
repress gender issues as well as
persons who develop non-transgender identities.
Understanding this dynamic suggest the frequently asked question, "Is this a
I regularly hear this inquiry from parents of children and adults. In part,
their may be based in denial, a cry,
"No, not my child!" Overall, most parents really do want the best for their
child, regardless of age.
Most do not want to see their children unnecessarily suffer or care to have
friends and family question their
efficacy as parents. Some parents with adult children may ask whether gender
issues is a phase out of a difficulty
in allowing their child to build an identity and experiences separate from
family or social expectations.
Nearly all parents fear the awful stereotypes that the media uses when
characterizing transgender persons.
Most are not aware that transgender persons are with the exception of being
differently gendered much like
other persons they may know.
To answer the question posed at the beginning of the article, there several
criteria which help determine if the
child really has crossgender issues or is going through a phase. Do the
child's questions about gender arise regularly?
Does the individual consistently express he or she has gender issues or has
adopted an opposite gender identity?
Are attempts to crossdress made regularly? If, "yes," is the answer to any
of those questions,
there is a strong possibility that this is not a phase. The individual may
likely have special gender issues and needs.
These criteria are generally applicable to both youth and adults, except for
closeted crossdressers who are the
least likely to bring gender questions to the forefront unless actually in
crisis or caught in the act.
When a child begins asking questions about gender identity or starts
crossdressing parents frequently begin
looking for a cure. There is, however, no cure for having a transgender
identity or an individual having the need
to crossdress. As mentioned previously, the first place parents of children
with gender issues turn for help is
usually within their local community. Unfortunately most mental health
professionals are not familiar with
gender identity issues. This is because with the exception of actively
practicing gender specialists or clinical sexologists,
the vast majority of mental health professionals have no training or
experience working with transsexuals,
transgenderists, crossdressers or gender-questioning youth. Subsequently
many parents invest large amounts of
time and money into psychotherapy for the child.
Tragically, like young gays and lesbians of previous years, today's
transgender children may fall victim to a
mental health professional's insistence that such behavior is abnormal or
Some professionals may also claim that a transgender behavior can be cured
There are documented cases of children and adults being subjected to noxious
methods including: shock therapy,
confinement, institutionalization, violence, verbal abuse, etc. No matter
how well-intended these activities amount
to nothing more than human rights' abuse. No adult or child should be
subject to such abuse in effort to make him
or her conform to social stereotypes, particularly when varying gender
identities are part of the human experience.
If there is any "cure" for children or youth with gender identity issues, it
can be found within the keywords acceptance,
androgyny, compromise and communication.. It is important for parents to
recognize that children need to be accepted
for who they are, not for what others perceive they should be. This is also
true for children with gender identity issues.
There is a variety of gender specialized material which indicates that
having a transgender identity or crossdressing
needs is not mentally disordered, mentally diseased or abnormal. Once that
fact is recognized, it is easy to
understand that the majority of difficulties transgender persons face do not
originate internally or from their own
question-asking process. Rather, the origin of their difficulties is
external, resulting from the abuse, harassment
and violence transgender persons face from people who cannot accept
differences in others..
Parents can play a major role in teaching children how to communicate
effectively and counteract abuse from
others who cannot accept differences.
Looking at gender issues from a larger perspective, all cultures have
varying degrees of acceptance and
permissiveness toward androgynous individuals. Adopting a unisex or
bigendered presentation is a safe option
for children and adults who need to explore gender identity issues, are in
the beginning stages of transition,
or are unable to crossdress publicly because they have not built sufficient
opposite-gendered presentation skills.
While many adults are locked into gender-specific social stereotypes, youth
often embrace androgyny
as a form of self-expression, whether or not they have questions about
Remarkably those youth who do adopt an androgynous presentation, as well as
those who openly explore issues
of gender and sexuality, frequently have an advantage over their peers who
simply conform to stereotypes.
In establishing independence in dress and presentation they also build
communication skills and coping
strategies that will be advantageous later in life.
Many parents are surprised initially when they hear a gender specialist
state that compromise is the best approach
to supporting children or youth who have strong transgender needs and
After all, aren't parents supposed to know what is best for their child? Not
always. Parents are not provided a
"training manual" when they have children, whether their children have
gender issues or not.
Building mutually acceptable compromises can include asking the child to
dress in original gender clothing for
formal events such as weddings but allowing the child to dress androgynously
for school and peer activities.
Or, children who insist on using opposite gender names can be encouraged to
adopt an androgynous name
until they are old enough to be certain they want to change their name
Examples include: Mickie, Bobbie or Joni. More fully developed gender
transition plans or crossdressed presentations
should be adopted only after both parent and child have consulted with a
gender specialized therapist or sexologist.
Communication is the final keyword for a healthy relationship between
parents and children, and is a crucial
component to dealing with gender identity issues. Even if parents cannot
fully understand what their child is experiencing,
children of all ages need their parent's love, acceptance and compassion. If
you have a transgender child,
remind him or her that your love is unconditional, regardless of whether you
find their experiences or identity
difficult to understand or accept. Relationships are most fragile when
talking stops, becomes unproductive or one-sided.
While parents may be charged with the responsibility of caring for their
children, as children move through youth
and into adulthood they need the opportunity to build social skills and an
separate identity in order to survive independently.
The price of not talking about these processes or encouraging children to
become independent is very costly.
Youth who are continually forced to comply with social stereotypes may
develop behavioral problems or depression.
Like adult transgender persons, they may also become estranged from family
Youth who become disillusioned with their families may end up homeless and
at risk of victimization and disease.
Some may commit suicide, leaving others with no explanation or insight into
the pain they were suffering.
As adults, those youth who were not permitted to give voice to gender
identity issues may find themselves in
tremendous anguish later in life. Tragically, these children frequently
become the very stereotype the parent
had hoped to prevent...a gender conflicted adult who self destructs careers
and relationships as well as their own children.
Occasionally parents respond with shock or dismay upon finding out their son
or daughter has gender identity
issues or crossdresses. While some parents may have suspected or denied it,
many never imagined such a possibility.
This is particularly true in situations where the grown children adopted
stereotyped roles and socially-acceptable
gender behaviors in order to mask their gender identity issues or
While it may be difficult to accept that your child has these issues, and it
may not initially be possible to offer
validation or acceptance, please remember that your child needs your love
Do not reject your son or daughter because this may result in unresolvable
While some parents may believe that their child is not well and needs help,
others may think they themselves
need help. In addition to looking for a cure, these parents frequently ask,
"What did we do wrong."
Chances are, probably nothing. After all, if a child is asking
self-examination questions, a parent is likely to have done
more right than wrong. While parental self-doubt is not be useful to anyone,
asking questions is healthy.
The following are some useful questions to start with: How can I keep
communication lines open even though I am
not familiar with gender issues or crossdressing? Where can I send my son or
daughter for support and validation,
particularly when I don't know how to offer it right now?
Which is more
important, fulfilling social stereotypes and other's expectations or giving
an opportunity to develop a healthy, gender identity?
If you are a parent with a son or daughter who has transgender issues,
whether or not he or she lives under your roof,
I advise you read about gender issues from recognized sources of current
Do not rely on television talk shows or uninformed persons, it is likely
their facts are sensationalistic or extremely biased.
Instead, seek advice from a gender-specializing counselor or sexologist. If
your child has questions,
refer him or her to gender-specialized help, also.
"Cross-dressing and the Trojan War"
By Harley Jane Kozak
One of the big fringe benefits of being a writer is research, and the
enlightenment it brings.
My four year old son
He comes home from school and gets into pretty dresses—silks, satins and
velvets are his favorites,
with beading or flowers—then loads up on hair ornaments, nail polish, high
heels, evening bags, makeup and jewelry.
He also likes to advise me on my wardrobe. It’s like living with Isaak
Lately he’s been pushing on me a certain slinky black silk number with
attached feather boa
that he considers suitable for carpool, jogging, and shopping at Costco.
I don’t have statistics—or J. Edgar Hoover—on hand, but my understanding is
that cross-dressing is
independent of sexual preference—i.e., there are lots of heterosexual guys
out there wearing lingerie.
I can’t speak to this as far as my son is concerned, because he’s not quite
four years old.
And none of it troubled me till this week, when my son announced his plans
to wear ruby slippers
and turn into a girl when he grows up. His sister informed him that he would
NEVER become a girl,
because he’s a BOY and would always be a boy, because THAT’S HOW LIFE IS.
“Actually,” I started to say, “he can become a girl someday, if he wants to,
and he can certainly wear ruby slippers, assuming he can find them in his
but was this the time for the transgender/transvestite/gay/straight
They’ll figure it out eventually. If they pay attention at the next family
reunion they’ll notice there’s
quite a bit of diversity under that tent. Which leaves me with my own mixed
feelings on the subject.
I love gay people. I grew up in theater. I did musicals. Half my
professional influences were gay,
and most of my closest friends. The problem is, the majority of them are now
I came of age in New York and L.A. when the Sexual Revolution ran smack into
so I can’t even listen to show tunes now without weeping into my espresso.
For most of my friends, it wasn’t all LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, or even BROKEBACK
I come from Nebraska, BOYS DON’T CRY country. Every person I know with any
kind of alternative gender
or sexual preference issue lived through hell while coming to terms with it.
So when I think about my son and anyone taking issue with his evening gown
and chiffon scarf, I get all worked up.
Violent images run through my mind, the kind that end in lawsuits.
Good mothers do not commit assault, do they? But what do they do?
Warn their children about the dangers of complete self-expression in social
I found the answer in Homer (no, NOT Homer Simpson).
Homer. THE ILIAD...
Which I’m slogging through as research for my novel-in-progress.
Guess what I found out yesterday? Achilles’s mother, Thetis, knowing her son
wouldn’t survive the Trojan War,
tried to keep him from being recruited into the Greek Army by dressing him
in women's clothing.
Now this isn’t a scene you’ll find in the Brad Pitt film, TROY (why not?)
and also, it didn’t work.
But it reminded me that there are worse things in life for a child than
falling outside the mainstream.
And you can bet that if they reinstate the draft, in about fourteen years,
I’m lending my son that slinky black number with attached feather boa to
wear to his Army interview.
Can’t hurt, right?? ;o)
"Stop Bullying My Child"-- What a Parent Can
by Elisabeth Wilkins, Empowering Parents
Being the target of
bullies is a form of torture. I know this firsthand—I was bullied
for two years in elementary school.
Now I’m a mom, and the thought of the same thing happening to my
child terrifies me.
Recently, we caught up
with Peggy Moss, a nationally known expert on bullying and a
tireless advocate for the
prevention of hate violence. Peggy is also the author of Say
Something, an award-winning children’s book that helps
parents and educators start conversations with kids about actions
they can take when they are being bullied,
or are a witness to other kids being tormented at school.
Are name-calling and
teasing just part of growing up, a rite of passage that all kids go
"Many people out there think that adults are making too much of a
fuss about it, that we should leave kids to their own devices.
We know better now,” argues Peggy.
“I have talked to
80-year-olds who remember the name of the person who tormented them
in school, and the name of the
child who stood up for them in first grade. This is pain that has
lasted a lifetime. We have the information to stop bullying now,
so why wouldn’t we?”
What Can Parents Do to
We sat down with Peggy and asked her what parents can do when they
suspect their child is being bullied,
and what they can do—together—to try to stop it. (The good news is
that there are a lot more resources
out there than when I was a kid!)
How can you tell if
your child is being bullied?
There’s a good chance
your kid won’t walk up to you and say, “I’m getting teased and
bullied at school,
the kids are calling me names.” Instead, it’s going to manifest
itself by your child saying, “I don’t want to go to school today.”
If this seems to be happening a lot, consider the possibility that
bullying might be the reason behind the sick days.
Also, look for signs
that kids are hurting themselves. Self-mutilation can be a sign.
For boys, one classic symptom is that they are teased so much about
being gay or being atypical that they’re terrified to
go to the bathroom. Since there’s only one way in and one way out of
a bathroom, it’s an ideal place to tease other kids.
Boys who are bullied
often won’t go all day, which can lead to lifelong intestinal
This could potentially be a sign—if your kid races home and goes to
the bathroom every day after school.
These are all possible signals that your child might be the target
of teasing at school.
Let me be clear: As a
parent, teacher or health care worker, add “Bullying” to your radar
when you’re trying to figure
out what’s going on with a child—add the possibility that your kid
is getting tormented at school.
The injury is real when kids get teased—unchecked, it can be
If my child comes to
me and tells me he is being bullied, what is the best thing to do?
As a parent, I would say let your child talk about it. Don’t say,
“What did you do that made them tease you?”
That’s a pit parents can fall into. Don’t make the assumption that
your kid has done something to bring on the teasing.
Teasing isn’t always logical, and for your kid it doesn’t matter
why—it just matters that it’s happening.
Listen in a
non-judgmental way about your child and about the teaser. Let your
kid do the talking.
Don’t try to solve the problem. Ask, “What happened? How did that
make you feel?” to draw your child out.
And try to find out more about the kid who’s doing the teasing.
Don’t say, “Oh my God,
what a rotten kid,” because you’re just getting a part of the story.
Your child doesn’t need you to go ballistic or take on the problem
as your own.
Your child needs to know that he’s being heard and that his feelings
Once you’ve got the whole story out, depending upon what’s happened,
you can take your next step.
For a parent to be
explosive about the situation will cause a child to recoil. If I
march to school and confront the bully
on the playground, my child is not going to feel safe telling me
anything about this again. I’m taking on his battle for him.
(Note from Peggy: A good resource for starting conversations with
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. )
So, what can I do to
stop the bullying?
The short answer is to
let your kid come up with ideas. Ask him questions like, “What do
you think you can say next time?
What do you think might work?” Help your child see what the outcome
might be of their words and actions;
help them see that this is a problem they can solve on their own
For example, your kid
might come up with the idea of saying to the bully, “Leave me alone,
Instead of the parent saying, “That’s a bad idea,” respond with,
“What do you think is going to happen if you do that?”
Let them figure out that the bullying might escalate if they resort
Your child might then
shrug and say, “I could walk away from the bully.”
You can suggest that they walk away the first time and say what they
need to say the next time.
We have to be honest about how hard it is to face a tormentor.
It’s also important to
ask your child this question: “What’s going to make you feel better
about this situation?”
But make sure you’re not the one coming up with the solution. It’s
important that your child feels like they’re
solving the problem on his or her own terms. It’s a skill you can
teach them that will last a lifetime.
What if my child won’t
talk to me about being bullied?
As long as they feel
like they have a safe place to go, that is what’s important. And if
you feel your kid can’t talk to you,
swallow hard and say, “OK, my child is not talking to me, but
they’ve got to talk.”
Put someone else in that room with them that they can talk to,
whether it’s an aunt or uncle, teacher, counselor,
coach or family friend. Unless that conversation can start, it’s
very hard to get to the heart of the problem.
When should I approach
my child’s teachers about it?
Go in pretty early, as
soon as your child starts coming home and mentioning that they are
If your kid is coming home more than once a week and saying, “These
kids are teasing me and I don’t like to go to the bathroom,”
go in after school when all the kids are gone. Call the teacher and
set up an appointment.
Teachers are like everyone else, if you mention something in
passing, it won’t carry as much weight.
If you make an appointment, they will listen.
A caution to parents:
often when your kid is getting bullied, their teachers don’t know
Kids are smart enough not to do it in front of the teacher. Bear in
mind that when you go to a teacher you shouldn’t
be carrying a hatchet in your back pocket. It may not be that the
teacher is doing a bad job, it might mean
it’s happening out of earshot.
Don’t go into school
assuming that you’ll be received with, “Oh yes, we’ve seen this
Say things like, “My child is coming home and talking about this.”
And then say, “This is how it’s impacting my child.”
That’s what teachers need to know, because it may not be obvious to
them. What you’re asking is for them to keep an eye out.
Later, you can check
in with email, and they can get back to you when you’re ready.
If the bullying doesn’t stop, or it’s really bad bullying, you
should go to the principal. A really great trick is to go in with a
“I talked to Ms. Fabbiano a week ago, and my daughter is still
coming home with this complaint. What should I do?”
Put it into the lap of
the principal and ask, “When can I expect to hear back from you
about what you’ve done?
What’s the next step?” Then you can tell your child that you will be
getting an answer on
Thursday about what steps will be taken. It’s also all right to ask
educators to keep your conversations private,
and then you can reassure your child about this as well.
What about when it’s
gone beyond verbal abuse and there is a physical threat?
Once you’ve got a
threat, you’ve got a crime—it’s called “Criminal Threatening.” It’s
time to alert the police.
You want to be in touch with the school long before you’ve got a
threat of violence. When the threat of violence comes,
you’re in police territory. That’s why there’s so much uproar about
teasing and bullying,
because once a child has been threatened with violence, it’s a
really big wound.
It’s hard to tell that
child that they can feel safe at school ever again. Especially if
the threat is anonymous.
For the kid who gets an anonymous threat, going to school is
There is no way a child can focus on her math test if she’s trying
to figure out who wrote the note saying they were going to kill her.
By the time you get to that point, you are in crisis mode.
Part of it is getting
a sense from teachers about what’s really going on in that school.
As a parent, it’s much more complicated. If you can’t figure out who
is making the threat and the police can’t figure it out,
you really have to decide whether the child is safe in the school
and whether you want to keep her there.
The message to kids in
your book Say Something is that kids have the power to stop bullying
behavior at school themselves.
Can you explain how this works?
When we talk to kids
about bullies, remind them of this truth: Bullies are cowards.
Most bullies won’t tease two kids together, and almost never will
they pick on three kids at once.
Even in a group, bullies single out one or two kids. In terms of
plain old teasing, bullies like to put other kids down,
to make someone else feel lousy so they can feel powerful.
Most kids who are
teasing and putting down other kids are looking for approval from
Teach your kids that there are a lot of ways to show that you don’t
approve. If someone just speaks up and says,
“Whoa,” or “Ew,” or “That’s not cool,” it can be effective. If
another kid can walk up and say,
“Hey, come over here, you want to go play?” to the person getting
picked on, that’s huge.
It often will defuse
the whole situation. That bully is unlikely to follow, and he has
just been told in public that what
he's doing is not cool. Whether a teacher or kid breaks the
assumption, now the kid getting picked on knows that
not everyone agrees, and so does the bully. It doesn’t always have
to take a lot of courage. Kids should know that
they have the power to change their situation, especially when they
Belsey, W Cyberbullying: An Emerging Threat to the Always On
Kerbs, J.J. &
Jolley, J.M. The Joy of Violence: What about Violence is Fun in
American Journal of Criminal Justice. Vol. 32, No. 1-2/ Oct. 2007.
(2003), Unequal Childhoods, Berkeley: University of California Press
Bullies and their
victims: Understanding a pervasive problem in the schools, Batsche,
G. M., & Knoff, H. M. (1994)
School PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW, 23 (2), 165-174. EJ 490 574.
About the author:
Peggy Moss has worked to eradicate bullying for more than a decade,
first as a prosecutor with the
Department of Attorney General in Maine, and later as an educator
and curriculum developer with the
Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence and the Cromwell
Disabilities Center. Peggy has given seminars and
bullying awareness workshops to healthcare providers, educators,
students and parents in the United States and Canada.
She is a graduate of Princeton University and the Washington College
of Law at American University,
where she was head of the Juvenile Justice Association. Her second
book,Our Friendship Rules,
co-authored with 14 year old Dee Dee Tardif, was released in May.
For more information about Peggy, see