Expert Advice

Students Are Targeting 14-Year-Old

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q
My son is a fourteen-year-old high-school freshman who is a constant target for other students, both physically and verbally. He is now called ethnic slurs because these children think that he is Spanish. He is failing his freshman year and I am in a bind because private schools will not accept him due to his poor grades. The district has been aware of this problem, but whenever they call in the bullies to tell them to stop it gets worse. This problem is out of control because there are now sophomores and juniors involved. The problems are mainly happening in the classroom, when the teacher turns his back. My son is also being body-slammed in the hallways. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
A
Whether your son is Spanish or is perceived to be Spanish should not be a reason for harassment. What you are describing is serious. Are there any witnesses at the school? Insist on a meeting with all of your son's teachers, his counselor, the person in charge of discipline, yourself, and your son. Insist that this problem be resolved. Listen to what part your son has in this and what he can do. Ask what the school will do to resolve the problem. Then follow up.

If the harassment continues in spite of all this, file assault charges with the local police against one or more of the perpetrators. Everyone has a right to a safe, non-hostile educational atmosphere.

Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.

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