My Daughter is Being Bullied // How far should we go to protect her?

Moderated by Rechy Frankfurter

We live on a beautiful cul-de-sac with nice houses and manicured lawns. The people in the neighborhood give a tremendous amount of tzedakah and do lots of chesed. They graciously host parlor meetings and send generous gifts to simchos. The kids are always outside playing or running from house to house. It seems like the perfect block. When we first moved in, we couldn’t believe our mazel! We felt as though we had won the neighbor lottery. Everyone seemed so sweet and kind. It took a while until reality sank in and we saw that the beautiful outside was masking a very rotten inside.


If you take a closer look while driving slowly down the block, you may notice a group of girls playing together. They will look like they are having a great time, and most likely they are. What you will not notice is my daughter sitting inside my house crying bitter tears. If this were a one-time occurrence or even weekly or monthly, you might be able to write it off by saying that girls can be cliquey. But when it happens daily, it’s impossible to justify.

This is not a situation where a couple of girls are good friends and always play together. I’m talking about a group of five to seven girls who deliberately bully one child. For example, they will threaten to ride their bikes right into her, or if she gets them “out” when playing ball, they’ll kick her. Sometimes they make fun of her and say she smells (she doesn’t). They will huddle together, whisper, point at her and laugh. If she goes outside, they will tell her that she has to go back indoors. Imagine a whole group of girls sharing a big pile of candy and inviting one girl to come over to see what they have, only to tell her that she can’t have any of it when she gets closer.

You may wonder if I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. I am sad to say that these are regular girls who go to regular Bais Yaakov schools. Saddest of all is that these are my neighbors who constantly torment my daughter.

My daughter is a sensitive child. She feels things deeply. She is pained when she sees others getting hurt, and her feelings are hurt very easily. Children will often pick on a child who gives them the biggest reaction; it’s no fun to bully someone who is indifferent to it. The intent is to elicit a negative response or to make themselves feel better.

My daughter’s social skills aren’t the greatest, but she’s an adorable kid with wonderful middos. She is super-sweet and would give the shirt off her back to someone in need. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. She is also athletic and loves to play sports. We make sure she has all the latest gadgets that everyone else has because we know it’s important for her to fit in.

Lessons in social skills and therapy can only do so much for my daughter. I’m not even sure they’re necessary, as she has plenty of friends in school. We tried being extra nice to the bullies. Surely, if we told them how great they were even when they were obnoxious, they would eventually feel stupid being mean. Alas, that didn’t happen. The girls would just run away and whisper about her or laugh in her face. It became impossible for me to keep telling her to be nice to them. Anyway, are these the kids I even want her to be friends with?

I have begged my daughter to find other girls to play with, but it isn’t always realistic to go a few blocks away to find friends, especially when there’s a group of girls playing ball or jumping rope right in front of our house. Besides, sometimes they are nice, only to turn on her a few minutes or hours later. This gaslighting is very confusing for her. One minute she thinks they really are her friends, only to be hurt a short time later when they revert to tormenting her.

When I’ve communicated with the parents, I’ve gotten several different responses. Some parents are of the belief that their children are angels and can do no wrong; if my child was hurt, it had nothing to do with what their princess said or did. Besides, their child wasn’t the one instigating, so it’s okay if she follows the crowd. Others accept that their child did something wrong but insist that there’s nothing they can do about it.

The last category of parents are those who are horrified by their child’s actions. They will make their child apologize and promise never to behave that way again. Unfortunately, this is usually very short-lived—and how often can you go complain to the parents?

Of course, the ideal solution would be to have the children work things out on their own. But how can that happen when there’s a gang of children intent on excluding one of them? Many parents feel that you can’t tell your kid whom to be friends with. I agree, but what’s happening here is something else entirely.

Why can’t we simply tell our children that they have to invite everyone to their birthday party because it isn’t nice to exclude one girl? I sometimes feel as though we are living the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza right on our block. How can we expect better from the children when their parents condone such behavior?

I have often considered moving, but I wonder if that will help. I am currently within walking distance of my siblings, have a couple of close friends nearby, and really like the rav and rebbetzin of our shul. Is moving our only option?


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