• Resolving Problems

My 15-year-old daughter was bullied at school

Published: February 9, 2015 | By | 10 Replies Continue Reading
A mom is concerned about her daughter’s school placement after being bullied.



Tragedy struck us earlier this month when my 15-year-old daughter attempted suicide. Up until that point, she appeared happy. But as parents, we could see that she had trouble making friends.

She is very pretty, athletic, but just not very mature (at least for her age). She is also very poor at making decisions and had been going to a therapist for the previous three months.

She has been being bullied since she entered middle school. This was one of the reasons she chose to go to a county school system instead of the local high school, to avoid the girls that have been bullying her. It started happening again in her new school and finally it drove her to try to take her own life.

We are at a crossroads now. She is finishing up outpatient therapy and we now need to decide where she can go to school. She is so defeated at this point that she doesn’t care were she goes because she feels that where ever she goes, it will just be the same situation.

She doesn’t want to go back to where she is enrolled now (because of the bullying). If she goes to her local HS, she will see the girls that ganged up on her in middle school.

We, as parents, do not think that this will compensate for the torture she will go through with bullying from the girls that did it to her in Middle School. And the other option is a school that has been described as having “very tough” kids as the general population.

We are stuck and could use some advice as to what to do. We have met with the social worker at the clinic and have a meeting with the guidance counselor and principal at her current school.

Any guidance would be helpful.

Signed, Nancy


Hi Nancy,

I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s experiences at school. I hope her treatment has given both you and her insight as to why she was bullied as well as the tools she needs to respond to and report bullying (to teachers or other adults) in the future.

It sounds like school placement alternatives are limited: the country school system (that has very tough kids) or the local high school (that has the kids who bullied her). You are absolutely correct to seek advice from professionals who know your daughter—and who know each of these educational settings—before making a decision.

While your daughter may have developed improved coping skills (on an individual level,) she also will require an academic environment that takes bullying seriously and supports her re-entry. Hopefully, the school you ultimately choose will develop a specific plan to help her achieve social and academic goals.

Your role should be to solicit opinions from her clinician—and from the administration and special services personnel at both schools—to determine the best fit for your daughter. They can also offer ideas about how to solicit your daughter’s input and buy-in into making this decision.

My suspicion is that your daughter will need special attention during this transition period. Hopefully, you and the professional team can help in this regard, too. Of course, without knowing your daughter or the schools, I can’t provide more specific advice.

Best, Irene

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Category: Bullies

Comments (10)

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  1. Cheryl says:

    I have two children 14 and 16. If my child was going through the same thing I would keep her home. Definitely homeschool or something online. Keep her safe. Good luck. Hope she is doing well.

  2. Sarah Anne says:

    I applaud you for taking the bullying seriously. I was only at high school a decade ago and my parents and teachers didn’t care at all. I find the schools have rules about “bullying” but will find any loophole they can find.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Depending on where you live there might be charter schools, which may be a much better option for you. I have one daughter in a high school charter school and 2 in public high school and I have to say the charter school is by far the friendliest of the two with very little bullying. I’m only aware of one small incident of bullying that when it was caught, was dealt with by the principle immediately. Private school might be an option as well, although it can be unreasonably expensive. I have known 2 private schools close to my home that offer free education if the child attends their church. Might not be what you want for your child, but it is an option to consider looking into. Homeschool might work even if both parents are working, since your daughter is older. There are various ways to do it. 1. Through the local public school system/independent study. 2. Through a charter or private homeschool program. or 3. On your own (you’d have to look up state requirements) which is probably too overwhelming and not in your child’s best interest, because you wouldn’t have the support of administration to help you, but I have friends that do it on their own and even get together in groups for class time or pay private teachers to teach a small group. Usually one who goes this route is not isolated but very involved in lots of activities with other homeschoolers. Depending on which group you join you might just find other girls who would make great friends for your daughter. I homeschooled 3 kids for many years and saw many benefits to it. If it happened to my daughter I would homeschool her again in a heartbeat.

    But homeschooling isn’t the right choice for everyone, so I hope you can find the best solution. Some private schools will also trade tuition for school help, such as teaching or office assistant.

    One last thing, I have some friends in the homeschooling movement who had their 16 year olds take the GED and then started them in the local junior college when they would have been juniors in high school. Your daughter is close enough to that age that this might be the easiest route to go. The 16 year old have not had any difficulty adjusting to college level classes, but there is also the option of taking a very light load as well.

    I hope and pray for the best for your daughter!

  4. Maddie says:

    Homeschool state curriculum for now is one option. let her grow up and mature a little.

    • Laura says:

      Home schooling has come so far! Some states have online programs and really neat activities. I’m a big believer in attending public school but if I had an unstable child that was suicidal I would work from home and keep a close watch on her.

  5. Mrs. Chen says:

    Hi Nancy,
    It’s a tough situation you and your daughter are in.

    Obviously, her safety is the top priority, and if you have to homeschool her to ensure her safety, you might have to do just that.

    If you decide to send her back to school, perhaps you can try to arrange an ally for her before she goes back. Do you have a friend who has an older daughter? Maybe she even has a cousin a year or two older? Can you enroll your daughter in the same school? If so, maybe you can ask the mom and the girl for help. You come clean with them about your daughter’s problems, including her suicide attempt, and ask the girl to “keep an eye out” for your daughter at school. My experience with teen girls is that, while they may be ruthless towards their peers, they tend to be protective towards younger girls. If you are able to access a such a girl — fairly confident, a year or two older than your daughter — then maybe you can tap into this girl’s compassion and outrage against bullies. She might be willing to recruit her friends and let it be known around school that your daughter has “protectors”. The point is to make your daughter a “tough victim”, and hope that the bullies would move on to someone else.

    This is a short-term solution. In the long-term, your daughter really needs to identify what she is doing that is making her look like “easy prey” to bullies. It is really unfortunate that schools and some parents allow their aggressive teen girls to bully and intimidate their peers without consequences.

    Lastly, I just want to say that I can imagine how tough it must be for you to witness your daughter’s situation. Seems to me you have done everything in your power to help her. And your job is not done yet as she still needs you more than ever. So please stay strong for her.

  6. Amy F says:

    I’m glad your daughter is doing better.
    Your daughter should not be finishing therapy, until she is strong enough to return to school. If she’s defeated, she still needs therapy. In my experience with teens, the longer an anxiety provoking experience is avoided, the more anxious it makes those who are avoiding the stimulus. Homeschooling might seem like a way to avoid the discomfort, but in all likelihood this could unintentionally reinforce her anxiety. The cliche about getting back on the horse applies.
    Since the bullying happened at more than one school, I wonder whether she’s unintentionally doing something to draw bullies to her. I don’t mean this could be her fault in any way, but that she may be carrying herself in a way that makes others see her as a victim (hard held down, looking fearful) or reacting in a way to give the bullies satisfaction (getting upset, crying). Bullies like attention and reactions.
    If your daughter is inadvertently calling attention to herself and attracting bullies, she will need to learn and practice skills to combat the bullies,. She should be developing these skills during continued therapy, role playing them with her therapist etc.
    Your daughter’s therapist should be liaisoning with her guidance counselor to help the transition back to school, or to a new school. If your daughter doesn’t have the right therapist, find one who can continue to help her grow and develop social skills. She needs these skills to be successful, not just socially in school, but in college and on the job because bullies can be everywhere.
    Lastly, and maybe hardest, is to try not to see your daughter as a victim. In doing so, you may be unintentionally disempowering her. What happened to your daughter was terrible, and should never have happened. You need to see your daughter as strong (learning to be stronger) and capable. Blaming the bullies makes the possibility of overlooking other problems, like a tendency toward depression or anxiety or lack of assertiveness. In my experience when kids and teens (and some adults) zero in on a figure or incident to blame, it puts often blinders on to seeing the whole picture and finding solutions.

  7. tanja says:

    So sorry to hear that your daughter is going through this. No one deserves to be bullied. If I may give some advice, the first thing I would do, which I did years ago for a friend whose teenage son was being bullied, I did some research about bullying. I listed the effects, the types of bullying and ways to combat bullying in a school environment and it was listed under headings and in point form and in my own words. Then, my friend handed this into the teachers and principal at her son’s school. Set up a meeting with the teachers and principals at the school on what is going on, why it is happening and how that school can encourage positive behaviour and kindness and empathy and how to help your daughter to handle herself in certain situations making her more confident and assertive. There is a book called How do you fill a bucket, it is read in elementary school but I think in this case, the teacher can read this book to her class and make a statement how it is for written for the elementary level but obviously it needs to be read again because some of the kids are not very kind and one needs to do something about that. My sister is a teacher and reads that book to her class once a month to get it into people’s heads and she has activities out that promote kindness and students can write about how someone was kind to them and put it in a jar and at the end, my sister will give gifts of appreciation for those students that showed empathy. Everyone wants to have their name in the jar so it has worked well.

    If those suggestions do not work, you may have to try homeschooling for a while. There are some great homeschooling programs that your daughter could go with. They also get together with other homeschooled kids in that age group as well to get socialization and talk and they tend to get along very well because they meet in an open setting, the have the homeschooling thing in common…..

    Good luck.

  8. Laura says:

    Home schooling might be a good alternative, at least initially, so the parents can keep an eye on her. Home schools have associations that have regular activities and field trips, so it shouldn’t be isolating. Many school districts now offer alternative home schooling programs online. The home schooling crowd is much kinder and gentler than the typical high school.

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