Ask an Expert: My son is being bullied; should I force him to finish the school year?

My 15-year-old son is having a difficult time at school at the moment. He has been picked on mildly by another boy in his class for the past two years. Two weeks ago the boy and a couple of accomplices refused to let him out of the changing rooms and told him he had to do press-ups before they would let him out. This really upset him as one of the other boys was a good mate. 

The following day a family photo from a Halloween dress up party was copied off my Facebook and cropped so only my son was in the picture.  This photo was emailed to all the year 9 boys and on the bus on the way home he was surrounded by boys and made fun of.  When he got home he was extremely upset and refused to go back to school. I spoke with the school and two of the boys were spoken to and suspended for one day.

He returned to school on Tuesday last week and was ignored. He felt he couldn’t hang out with the group as most of the year 9 boys all hang out together at recess and lunch.  After speaking to the school again we had a meeting on the Thursday and he is still very uncomfortable going to school as most of the boys are good friends with the bully and blame my son for getting him in trouble.

This morning was a nightmare, he was refusing to go to school and very upset.

My question is should I keep making him go to school as they finish school next Tuesday.  He is changing schools next year also. Any advice would be great.

I feel deeply for your son’s situation and for your family.  From what you have said you have covered all the bases and worked closely with the school.  I assume they have been a  help, as they should.

Given he is changing schools and that school finishes next week, I do not see much value in forcing him to go to school.

I would have a discussion with him about his opportunities for closure, he could see this as an opportunity to feel he walked out, rather than being forced out, if he chose to go back to school.  I would leave the decision with him.

Greg Whitby is the executive director of 78 schools in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta and author of Educating Gen Wi-fi: How to make schools relevant for 21st century learners.

Our Ask an Expert Week panelists are all qualified professionals in their field. However, advice given on The Kids Are All Right website is not a substitute for direct, personal, professional counselling or psychological care, medical care and diagnosis.

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