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    Hi. I am a single parent and my son is 7 years old. Due to my work pressure, I am not able to spend much time with my son. I am exhausted after work and he keeps pestering me to play with him. Recently, I have noticed some changes in him. He has become very gloomy and depressed. While enquiring about it, he said that he was repeatedly abused and bullied by his seniors in school. I have intimated the school management regarding this and they have promised me to take proper action. But my son refuses to go to school. What should I do? A friend of mine suggested an abuse therapy treatment in Toronto ( https://www.drcohen.ca/services/abuse/ ). What are your thoughts regarding this treatment? Will it help in my son’s case? Please advise.



    While I’ve never had experience with abuse therapy treatment, my son has had troubles in the past with a bully at school. The first time it happened to him, he was about 7 too. Here are the steps I took with him and it seemed to work.

    1. I talked to him about bullies. I pointed out that many times bullies are unhappy with their own lives so they try to make other people feel bad. I think understanding that helped him.

    2. I made sure his teacher was aware of the problem and told her who was giving him a hard time. I didn’t do that in front of my son — it was a conversation when he wasn’t around. Only telling principals isn’t always the best policy because they aren’t the people who are with our children all day long — the teachers are. I also made sure the teacher understood that I wasn’t accusing her of not properly protecting my son. I just wanted her to keep an eye on it in the future. And she did.

    3. I told my son to always play near the teachers during recess because if the bully tried anything they would see it or hear it.

    4. I told my son to use his voice, loudly if necessary, and that there wasn’t any shame in running to the teacher and telling if he felt he was in danger.

    5. I told him to stay in his pack of friends as much as possible. Bullies are often intimidated by groups of friends who stick together.

    That was enough when he was younger to make him feel better about the whole thing. It gave him a workable plan for handling any more incidents. It was a rough month or two where he didn’t want to go to school, but his bully eventually moved on and after a year or so, they even became friends.

    Now that my son is in sixth grade, he still encounters bullies from time to time, especially at track practice. These bullies are seventh graders. He isn’t bothered by them now — he knows how to handle them. But he’s also made good friends with some of the eighth graders on his team, and they look out for him as well. So my final piece of advice would be making sure your child develops strong friendships, whether that means joining extracurricular activities or having frequent playdates at your house.

    Good luck!

    Profile photo of Bethany Pembrook
    Bethany Pembrook


    So sorry to hear about your son. I’m a foster parent and I’ve dealt with bullying schools more than I can remember. It can be heartbreaking. Bullying can lead to really serious mental health issues, and a lot of people just don’t take it seriously enough.

    This infographic that the fostering agency I use distributed gives a few warning signs that the bullying is developing into something more serious.

    Warning signs of mental health in children

    Have you considered switching his school? Sometimes, no matter how much the school tries, the damage is done and the only option in a fresh start.

    I hope it works out for you both,

    Beth x

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