A new bullying: social exclusion

By Dustin Petty
Staff writer 

Bullying has taken a new form on playgrounds across the county.  Instead of the child being teased, pushed around or called names, they are shunned and not invited to join games and activities.

The child is being socially excluded.

According to Dr. Lynn Todman, the term “social exclusion” was initially used during the 1970s by a French politician trying to describe those excluded from the labor market.  Todman, the executive director of the Institute on Social Exclusion at Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, studies the subject in terms of socioeconomics.

“Social exclusion is actively created by the structures and systems that organize and guide the functioning of our society,” said Todman.  “These structures and systems determine the allocation of rights, resources, and opportunities such as food, safety, education, health, due process and shelter.”

While Todman’s studies focus on social exclusion in underserved populations, she is quick to point out that the result is the same in groups.

“There is research . . . showing that when people feel like they’re being excluded, they lose their willingness to self-regulate,” said Todman.

Dr. Edyth Wheeler of Towson University in Baltimore County, Md, agrees and has studied social exclusion of children and young adults.

“Four year olds are master at this,” she says.  “When they say ‘I’m not going to be your friend anymore’, they are making the threat of exclusion.  Children at that age are at the point where their need for adult approval is declining and they are dependent on peer approval.”

Wheeler says she doesn’t believe that children learn from their parents or other adults how to exclude others from their parents or other adults.  Instead, she believes it is a knowledge of the human condition which leads to the ability – and desire – to exclude their  peers.

“It’s this innate understanding that makes people want to be accepted and let ‘in’,” she said.  “To show we have power, we can not accept them and leave them out.  Or to cement ourselves as a group – to be a stronger ‘we’ – we’ll identify a ‘them’.”

According to her work, young girls are specifically good at performing acts of social exclusion.  For them, it’s a strong and powerful tool used to negotiate their world and relationships.

There’s good news, according to Wheeler, if you’re the victim of social exclusion.

“It’s not a permanent condition,” she says.  “It peaks and then goes away.  Part of it is about finding your own identity.”

Teachers and parents may also play a role in preventing social exclusion or healing the hurt after it has taken place.

“The adults really need to listen to their children and to pick up the signals,” said Wheeler.  “Children need to trust that somebody can help them.  If the message can be that everyone is valued and everyone will be listened to, the situations can become better.  In classrooms, teachers can create a sense of community and be very aware of grouping.  Really, It all goes back to the responsibility of the adult.”

82 Responses to A new bullying: social exclusion

    • Tammy says:

      My 13 year old son is dealing with this. Exclusion Bullying. He has been part of this group of boys since kinder and they are in 7th. The leader of the group has not always liked my son for some reason or another and he has finally accomplished excluding my son. He has all the newest and coolest skateboard toys and every boy wants to go to his house after school. My son has been excluded for months. He tells his mom that my son calls them names and the other boys agree. Instead, he is the one doing the name calling but the other boys want to hang out with the cool stuff… My son is depressed and cyring and it makes me angry that the response I get from the mother is “they are growing apart”

      • carline says:

        You posted your comment months ago, but I just stumbed across it. I have a boy, 12, in same position. It’s awful. The parental response is similarly uncaring.

        • Kelly says:

          I am also in the same situation. It started in 6th grade and has continued into the summer. My concern is 7th grade. This kid has succeeded in turning most all my son’s friends away from him and it’s breaking both our hearts.

      • Joanne Mays says:

        I could of wrote the exact thing, my son is going through the same, have things improved? My son is going into yr 8 and it been slowly getting worse, longer and longer periods of being excluded, we are into the 3rd week of summer hols and it’s heartbreaking.

      • Danielle says:

        I feel ur pain I have a girl that excludes me a lot and every time I talk to her she has a change of voice tell ur 13 boy this tami cuase I’m 13 too. Tell him that he is special and those boys are acting like that probably cause there jealous he does have a freind and someone to care for and that’s u and his family… I’m sry to hear that there’s more kids like this I feel his pain cuase I’m struggling with exclusion too.. Parents respond to this messege please… And just think that ur kids are special and the other kids are Total bullies.. And they just have to ignore them and have confidence cuase God is watching over him and everyone and he loves us with all his heart.. Think about what I said and pray to God that this will stop.. I pray everyday and it’s been getting better trust me just pray.

        • DC says:

          Well written Danielle, I hope things are better now.

        • Mrs Potts says:

          Hi Danielle,

          what a lovely person you are, thank you for trying to help these people. I know that GOD is very proud of you and relies on the good sense and compassion of individuals like yourself

          God Bless

    • Lisa says:

      Tam my, I am going thru the same thing with my 13 year old too.
      Friends since kinder all of a sudden – nothing!
      Parents who are my so called best friends won’t do anything ‘don’t get involved – they’ve just grown apart etc… It’s not their kid alone without a friend for the last six months!

    • Caroline W says:

      Sorry, this is not new. I was excluded in school all 12 years (same children) in a suburb of Chicago in the 1950s. I have never been able to recover and do not ever trust people entirely.

      • Wendisue B Matyas says:

        Doesn’t make it ok. We as a nation are getting more educated. Bullying should not be happening any more than people should be smoking. We know the effects on people and it should make people chose to stop. But they do not. Does not make it ok.

    • shelby says:

      I am 12 and there’s this girl that says we bullied her even though the only thing we did was not wanting to be her friend and we will old her like 4 times throughout the year to leave us alone she never listened and was always like I’m going to kill myself. And I’m like go ahead it’s not like somebody would care if this sounds mean it’s not cuz if you don’t like someone you don’t have to be their friend if you just tell them nicely they’ll understand. I honestly don’t undrdtamd how this is bullying it’s stupid and not enough to be bullying

      • RB says:

        You have to be kidding? You all decided together you don’t like her? Ckearly there is one person who decided this and this rest of you are a bunch of nasty girls who have no minds if their own. Disgusting. This has to be a joke. If you were my kid, I’d be worried sick about you and your attitude. No big deal that a peer is threatening to kill herself? Get yourself some help kid !

      • Alyssam says:

        Well it is bullying and you should stop it especially since the girl says she’s thinking about killing herself you should take that seriously

      • Marie Damato says:

        This is truly awful. And I hope you learn someday just how awful this is.

      • Florence Darling says:

        Shelby, you need to understand that by excluding her, you are bullying. Bullying is exclusion. Put yourself in her shoes, how would you feel? I wonder if this might happen to you in a few years to come, maybe your friends will exclude you, will it be bullying then? Try to be a leader, tell the other girls that you need to look after the little girl, help her, be kind. Kindness feels good, you will feel better as a person. Encourage your friends to Be kind, you will gain respect amongst your friends, peers and teachers. People will think that you are a good person. But NEVER exclude others, have you ever spoken to your parents about this?

      • Wendisue B Matyas says:

        What is bullying?

        1. Exclusion – Purposefully leaving someone out, using the friendship as a weapon.

        2. Gossip & Rumors – Stories or information spread behind people’s backs, can damage reputations and destroy relationships.

        3. Silent Treatment – Signaling “our friendship is over” or “your’re not worth talking to”

        4. Body Language – Things like eye rolling, noises and mean looks that signal “I hate you”

        5. Verbal Put Downs – Using sarcasm to be mean, teasing, calling someone names, abusive phone calls, implying that you’re joking but hurting others in the process.

        6. Texts & Posts – On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or SnapChat even if include terms like “jk” or “lol”

        You seem to not know what bullying actually is, thought I would help you understand. Please keep in mind even if this behavior is going on since the 1950’s that still does not make it ok. Everyone needs to educate themselves on what bullying is and stop listening to their child’s excuses for their behavior. There are no excuses for ignorance or this terrible debilitating behavior towards another human being. You need to own up to the behavior and apologize. You do not have to be friends with anyone you do not want to but you do not have the right to convince the rest of the group to not be friends to the person you do not like or personality is clashing with. You leave the group if you cannot handle that person. People need to shut their mouths and be themselves and let the other one be who they are…..don’t like them that is you. If a person then convinces the rest of the group that that girl should not be in their group, they are the bully. They are insecure. They need help. This is absolutely crazy that our society cannot be secure enough to stand alone.

      • Jolene says:

        No offense but… Obviously you’re a bully yourself. You have no right to commenting such a thing. You should care if someone dies. It’s not a joke, especially if you’re the one that caused it. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Frances Keitz says:

      My daughter experienced the social exclusions; not being allow to join in games, or being spoken to, or told to go sit somewhere else at lunch even though assigned tables. But in addition to this she was kicked in the head on the playground, they tried to choke her, poked her with pencils, threated to cut her hair; threaten to come to our home and kill us. The police response, “ignore it”. Well after she spent 10 days in the hospital for threats of self-harm; it was pretty hard to ignore. This was all after the school knew she was in counseling for the bullying.

      • Wendisue B Matyas says:

        Hello Frances,
        Just wondering how is your daughter? So sorry for what you have gone through. I know it hurts. Hoping things are better. Wendi

    • Mom says:

      Unfortunately, it is extremely sad when a jealous adult is instigating the social isolation. There is a parent that is quite obviously jealous of my daughter and her athletic ability. Both our daughters are 12 and socialize with the same group of girls.They participate in the same sports but my daughter was giving the gift from God of athletic ability and seems to have an easy time taking on a new activity and flourishing. It is quite obvious this is bothering this mother. She is continuously inviting the other girls over and excluding my daughter. Thankfully, my daughter is very well liked and her plan doesn’t seem to be working but rather backfiring on her own daughter. It is just so sad that this individual is trying to recreate a falicity of popularity through her daughter. Her daughter is becoming a bully. Pushing other girls including my daughter who is 25 pounds less than her. I have held my tongue because I want my daughter to use her voice to tell her to knock it off.

    • Claralise says:

      I’m a 14 year old girl and me and my two friends just found out that our class has had many parties and we haven’t even been invited.

    • Lori says:

      My daughter is 14 and trying to deal with this. Her entire school career she has excelled at everything in addition to being the nicest kid in her class to everyone, as complimented to us, her parents, from teachers, other kids, community members, etc. We have always taught our children to stand up for themselves if they can’t look the other way and to make just decisions with integrity and self respect. We deal with jealousy, alot. Certain girls try to bully her with social exclusion, though in sublte ways at times including manipulating. My daughter tried to refuse to give in, understanding the real problem, not the issue being pushed on her. Parents behaved just like the teenagers. One teacher/coach tried to stand up and correct the problem as a group but it wasn’t long before the second coach gave in to the students, only wanting to remain popular herself. What they were pushing my daughter about was not the real issue, and the first coach understood. I believe the second adult did also but was too concerned with her own popularity (with the parents as well) as a coach/pal in town to stand up to the kids so she caved instead of supporting the other adult. When parents and the teachers join in the problem and even ignore it at home, the bullying magnifies exponentially. Exclusion IS BULLYING. We have even heard from some of her own classmates and friends that they don’t like how their parents are behaving. But these kids are afraid to say that their parents. They don’t want the same treatment. Understandably. Our guidance counselor and staff seem to think bullying isn’t that much of a problem and I have heard from other parents how some kids are disciplined in school and some are not. Our town’s history with bullying in recent years is, I believe, is appalling. We have tried the ignore tactic, and my daughter is a strong person, but is draining emotionally. I have quit ignoring and speak up, adamantly. It matters to them that my kids know that I support them and what is right, no matter how hard the road. I don’t subscribe to “kids will be kids”. How do you change this behavior??

      • Wendisue B Matyas says:

        Lori,
        The only thing I can tell you from our years of much of what you described is ignoring everything but your child. We focused too much on the bully that our daughter developed a “stomach ache”. We were so worried as to what it could be. We thought from the worrying of the girl bullying her & what was the girl going to do next she developed an ulcer. She had exploratory surgery and it showed nothing. The stomach ache was all in her head. The bully girl would not leave our daughter alone. Whatever sport our daughter joined the girl joined. Whoever our daughter talked to, the girl would talk to. My daughter had a child tell her (after the child was talking with the bully girl) that she was an outcast and had no friends. We eventually moved (after 5 years of living with the abuse) because the girl lived across the street. If it helps, my daughter says she doesn’t remember much. I do. I remember changing schools to see if that would help only to have our daughter kick and scream and not get out of the car in the drop off line only for the principal and parents to think she had a mental health disorder. Then she went back to the public school. Then left and did online schooling. Where we moved she was bullied again. It was a rough 2 years completing high school in a private school paying over $30,000 to get what we got for free in the public school.

        Back to what I learned. You cannot run from your problems. And the most important, forget the bully and focus on your child. We spent too much time thinking about the girl doing the bullying. That girl today has one friend and is in no sports. She looks extremely unhappy and is not going to an ivy league college on a full scholarship. (What I think was the goal from the behavior.)

        Obviously there is more, like the father called me once. He stated our daughter was not liking his because she was jealous that she is popular. She also told her father our daughter was talking about her. We knew what was taking place.

        Our daughter is well. She is learning to fly to be a commercial pilot and is attending the local campus of Penn State then transferring to the main campus. She is unbelievable. She has an edge to her but one that is necessary for the jealousy that comes her way. She is stunning. I know I am her mom and of course, I think that but she really is. Our daughter is comfortable with herself and being alone. She has her family and a few friends and really doesn’t need much more than that. Hang in there. It gets better.

        Onto our other daughter that has been bullied thought it was over and recently her “friend group” decided they no longer want her in the group. Well luckily I know the drill and she will be fine. I will make sure of it. Forget those girls they suck. Not friends so forget them. We have told her “you cannot make people be your friend, I know it hurts but block them on social media so you are not seeing the friendship continue without you and you will be fine.” The school year is about to begin. I have to keep a positive attitude and keep going and push her to do the same. My nephew was recently in a terrible accident so honestly, it puts it all in perspective. He nearly lost his life. He should be okay but brain injuries are no joke. They call them concussions sometimes but that word just disguises a brain injury.

        However, contrary to Marcus, Exclusion is bullying it usually is the first step to a long line of miserable things that define bullying. Bullying sucks. Just as one person stated and the article states, it comes down to parental responsiblity. Parents, educate your children.

    • J says:

      So you are saying it is not learned from the parents, but it is the responsibility of the parent to say or do something…can’t have it both ways.
      These kids learn social exclusion from their parents – who decide who will go to their homes because they are driving – the parents decide then who will not be going. And eventually or immediately, the kids realize who is not there and decide why – with or without the parent’s rationalization. Come on, it is not a sudden learned thing by a child – they see the parent behavior and do it too.
      How many times have you met a kid, witness their behavior, then met the parent and said to yourself, ” Well, that makes so much more sense now”!

    • Sally says:

      I’m so glad to have found this. My 14 year old has struggled with this for a couple of years. She is sweet and kind but young for her age and a little insecure. We are on a long trip with another family. Their two girls are 17 and 18. One is very introverted and the other was part of a very exclusive clique in middle school but was dropped in HS. We thought she had improved. All was fine for the first few days as the kids had fun together as we toured around as a group. At dinner, the sisters started hugging on each other. My daughter tried to hug her brother and he shrugged her off. The sisters saw and thought it was funny. After that, the sisters spent the next few days hanging all over each other. The mean one would make sure my daughter was watching and would then snuggle in to her sister and they would whisper and laugh. It was weird and made our whole family uncomfortable but felt very intentionally exclusionary towards my daughter and we all recognized that. We were no longer a group – they had the power now. My daughter started shutting down, was in a horrible sullen mood and was ready to fly home. They didn’t speak to us at meals and were very rude to our youngest. I was trying to stay positive and to treat each day as a fresh start, but it became clear I was going to have to have a conversation with them. But before that happened, my daughter wrecked on her bike on a busy road. They stood and laughed and I went ballistic on them. I’m embarrassed by my rather lengthy outburst and the anger I spewed. When we had a very uncomfortable conversation with the parents afterward, the mother said that’s just what they do. One of the girls had said to her “we can make X try to find somebody to hug…watch this” and the mother never thought to say, stop doing that to her. So disappointing. So here we are, two weeks left on this trip and not sure how we will move forward. All that to say, it is a very real thing and while our daughter was the one shutting down, my husband, other kids and I were all, quite frankly, feeling bullied, too.

  1. Sarah Johnston says:

    I can’t believe this is only being adressed now. Let me tell you a little story.
    It was 11 years ago. Primary 2. I walked up to a girl in the playground because I had no one to play with. She was a lovely girl but had epilepsy and a learning disability but I didn’t mind. We quickly became friends.
    However, people soon found out that we were friends. Due to her learning disability, my new friend wasn’t always the cleanest person in school (for example, she couldn’t understand why she had to wash her hands after going to the toilet. But it was quite severe and I understood. I couldn’t blame her for something that was not her fault). Therefore, she was dubbed as having “germs.” And I was, too. People would run away from me, screaming about germs. I felt so lonely, especially since my “best friend” decided that it was time to move on and play with new, prettier and more popular girls.
    And then, I did the most regrettable thing I have ever done. I didn’t deserve her forgiveness.
    Confused as to why even being with her caused this lonelyness, I screamed at her, saying that I hated her, and ran away.
    But, even being away from her didn’t stop the bullying. I had hypermobility problems in my wrist which hurts me every time I write. Therefore, the teachers naturally hated me just because I couldn’t write as fast as everyone else. My parents basically didn’t care. It wasn’t their problem.
    For 6 years, I was bullied heavily like this in school. I had no one to talk to. People took advantage of my desperation for human contact by using my inability to say no in order to get money and food out of me.
    When I was at home, I was terrified to go outside. I would be punched, kicked and swore at by local bullies who would go outside when they saw me, just to make fun of me for being ginger.
    Even now, I have maybe 6-8 friends out of 60 people who are all friends. My friends are quiet, shy, non-outgoing outcasts. Like me. 2 of us are gingers.
    But you can’t imagine the loneliness that I felt. No friends. No one to make me feel better when I was down (and my sister only ever unfairly ridiculed me). And, when I was in P7, my teacher told my parents that I would amount to nothing, just because I couldn’t write fast enough. They were so disappointed. But it wasn’t my fault.
    Even now, I get “GINGER!” in the hallways. There’s always that one seat between me and the next person. I’m ridiculed by my classmates and it’s horrible. If your kids are being bullied by their peers and teachers, DON’T STAND FOR IT!

    • Ellen says:

      Sarah,

      You sound a lot like me when I was a child growing up. I was excluded from pretty much everything. Even when I would sit down with a group of kids, I was either told to go somewhere else, get picked on, or even ignored as if I wasn’t even there. School, neighborhood kids and the church youth group gave me a hard time about everything. I also had poor handwriting and was always given a hard time by the teachers, and back then, they graded based on handwriting in addition to the school work. I also have scoliosis which was very hard for me to deal with because I had no one to support me. My own family even would yell at me and ridicule me because I never walked straight. Back when I was in school, they always did scoliosis screenings and even played a 15-minute video/movie about along with some discussion about it. Looking back on this, I don’t think that it was very effective, especially if teachers ignore it and peers teased kids about it. I do believe that kids do learn this exclusion behavior from their peers, more than at home. When kids go to school, they are there for 6 or 7 hours, 5 days a week. Some of these kids probably don’t see their parents as often, so the re-enforcement is probably not there. Kids do learn by example, not just by being told that they should or shouldn’t do things. If kids see their peers acting a certain way with no repercussions, they will think that it is okay. And some kids are smart enough to know that they can get away with things when their parents are not around. That is probably why I got into trouble more when trying to stick up for myself. I was never taught how to do that. If a kid said or did something hurtful to me, I would retaliate by saying or doing something that I knew would be hurtful to him/her. The teacher would always discipline me for that, but never the kids who were bullying me. That is being singled out.

      As an adult, I have no connection to anyone from school, (except on Facebook). Over time, when people find their niche or interests, the significance of school peers fades away. I guess that when making friends in school, it merely is supposed to be a skill builder to have and build strong relationships for later in life. I am guessing that most school relationships are short-lived because interests change and things happen in life. As for facebook, you can have the “friends” on there, but with no contact or interaction. So, even if you have friends on facebook, it does not mean that they are really your friends.

      Teachers and adult mentors need to remember that teaching is not just about what is in the books or subject matter. It is about conduct and setting an example. Teachers need to remember that kids imitate what they see. I know that surveillance is getting more common in various areas and a lot of people feel that their privacy is being invaded. But, I have to say, if it is in a common area, such as school or public places where people can come and go and be targeted for bullying, then the devices should be allowed. It may be the best way for now to show people how a situation is appearing, and how they are behaving. It gives proof when it is “my word against your word”. I wonder what people would think or say if their behavior were recorded and it were played back 20 or 30 years later.

    • alex says:

      thank you for sharing your stories. I had my own fair share of bullying as a child for reasons i could never understand. I think a lot of it was that i was a bit eccentric and different but i have grown into a successful adult and i think a lot of those experience have made me stronger. I have even gone on to perform my own music (rani’s fire) which i never thought i would do.
      It gets hard sometimes though, when you meet people that display behaviours that remind me of the past. I tend to revert to the shy person that i was and become socially awkward because i am fearful of saying stuff that makes the situation worse. T
      I have to say i did experience bullying as a young adult too and have met people who persist in excluding behaviours – i had never thought of it until i found this blog. I guess it is a form of power play i just hadn’t thought of it that way.
      I hope you keep staying strong and know that the problem lies within others and that you probably have something pretty unique about you that others feel threatened about.

  2. Richard says:

    I imaging that being left out can loosely be considered bullying, which is different from what I lived through in the 60’s and 70’s with haising and physical violence. I wanted to avoid those people. If people did not want to associate with me, then I found a group of people I could identify with more easily. Not everyone can be in every social group, and probably should not be. That is not reality in life. There are exclusive groups everywhere: political, religious, economic, athletic, professional, etc. some exclusions are needed to encourage specialization and encourage higher standards of conduct or ability. Letting anyone join a group can water down and deminish a groups function. Take basketball. 5 persons working together, adding a new person to the group changes the chemistry and function , especially if the new person cannot function to the level of the original 5, so the entire group suffers until the new person reaches a better level of function. If a person with similar ability joins, they will be able to adjust quicker. Being able to choose who you associate with and become part of a group is important and should not be considered bullying.

    • Bill M says:

      Richard, what the heck are you talking about? Exclusionary tactics are not new. I grew up in the sixties and seventies, and yes there was hazing and physical violence, but there was also this same tactic of excluding and, contrary to the article noble as it is, this is hardly new. Common decency to human beings and kindness toward classmates, workmates, whomever, doesn’t mean ‘everybody gets to join the club’. Your logic is exactly why parents feel completely justified in organizing playdates for their kids with only certain childrenon a regular basis. Simply, this hurts kids. This behavior and logic creates ‘clicks’. We must, as a society, get our heads on straight about this stuff. New victims of this exclusionary bullying are compiling everyday. Kids can change their behavior toward these bullied kids, but need the advice and teaching from their parents and adults in our society.

      • Jake says:

        I agree with you that parents justifying play dates only with certain kids creates a lot of the cliques in the first place, especially among younger children in small groups or classes. The parents send the message that only certain kids are good enough and the rest should be excluded. Instead of playing with whoever is nice and wants to play, they learn that it’s the right thing to do to exclude certain people. Eventually, people forget the reason why some are accepted and some are excluded while the attitude persists until much later in childhood. The child left out grows up believing that they’re not good enough and doesn’t even know why. The adults, acting like mean teenage girls, decide who isn’t good enough and exclude them to feel better about themselves. It makes some feel more powerful. It completely contradicts teaching a child sympathy, empathy, or simply how to be a decent human being.

    • Moma says:

      I feel it can be considered bullying. I have a 15 year old who started high school last year and made new friends, since the girls from her previous school decided to stop talking to her. All was fine until someone who she always considered a friend (though I do not know if it was reciprocated) started hanging out with her new group of friends. Now this girl is making plans outside and intentionally not including her. I know this because one of her close friend (who is a boy) asked if she could come with them and was told she was not welcome. (His parent informed me of this.) This girl is trying to cut her out of a friend group. I have talked to my daughter about taking the high road, but it breaks a mother’s heart to see how hurt she is. Excluding some one out of an outing once is not a big deal, but doing it multiple times and posting how much fun “her group” is having is intentional bullying.

    • Sandy says:

      Very well said. This is nothing new, kids aren’t being taught how to deal with it. The sense of entitlement that is so widespread makes people think everyone has to be everyone’s friend. This is not real world!

  3. Katherine says:

    Social exclusion occurs not only with children but adults as well, especially in neighbourhoods and workplaces. The sad reality is not many adults are willing to stand up to the “adult” bully or exclusion.

    http://bulliedandtired.wordpress.com/

    What we need is more discussions on HOW this can be stopped and provide SUPPORT to those who are being excluded. Currently there are no formal laws to prohibit such behaviour in adults and mediation can not be made mandatory without a criminal offense.

    So adult social exclusion continues causing individuals and families emotional trauma and stress.

    They are left with the only option of relocation – which at the best of times can be costly.

    What lessons are we leaving our children if adult bullying through exclusion is tolerated, to the point of dismissal?

  4. Mary says:

    Richard – While I agree that we should be allowed to associate with whomever we please there is a fine line between “preference” and just plain old meanness and exclusiveness. It’s basic kindness. If you see someone who is an ‘outcast’ or who has some difficulty in the social skills department then will it really kill you to go out of your way and ask them to join you at lunch or at recess? It’s easy to be glib when you have no problems socially. I hope those who exclude others find their behavior worth it- you know being popular is more important than being kind. Barf

    • Stacey says:

      I completely agree with Mary. Kindness is something we need far more of in this world. A smile or kind word can brighten someone’s day and requires very little effort. I have always reminded my children of this.

  5. Janet says:

    I agree that exclusion should not be tolerated. However, as a teacher I often tell my students that they should not have to ‘hang out’ with people that they simply do not get along with. I would love to have some feedback as to what people think.

    As an adult, I choose to socialize with people that have similar interests and people that make me feel good about myself. Does that make me a bully if I purposely don’t invite others to a party or an event?

    • Hi Janet,
      It’s been over a year since you posted your comment, but I just happened to see it today. In my view, the school years provide us with an opportunity to socialize kids and help them learn to be kind and understanding, both to themselves and their peers. Unlike social situations later in life, children don’t choose to be in a particular school or class. They can’t decide to seek out another class where children share their interests if they are being shunned by their classmates. I see it as comparable to learning how to get along in a work environment as an adult. You may not share interests or even like everyone you work with, but it’s important to treat coworkers with kindness, understanding and respect. Similarly, if we can help our kids learn to be inclusive and kind at school, and also help the excluded children understand what they may be doing that makes others uncomfortable and learn to improve their social skills, we can help kids grow up to be higher functioning, kinder, happier adults.

    • sam says:

      i think there is a difference in social exclusion bullying where say two children have had a disagreement or do not get on, and one of those children then proceed to convince all of there mutual friends to not play with the other child. this can be heartbreaking for a child and with no real skills to deal with this social exclusion. it is obvious when the one bully is absent from school, the socially excluded child then is ‘allowed’ to play with the other friends. this is one version of bullying where teachers parents can be a great guidance for all of the children involved.

      • Samira says:

        Sam, I am 13 and this is exactly what has been gaining to me. I have a lot of friends who are also friends with one of the most popular girls in school. This girl shuns me and because the other girls want to be cool they spend time around her as she continues to do so. I feel cut off from my close friends because I’m excluded by this one girl and a couple of other girls that are kind of her followers. If anyone has any words of wisdom.on how to deal with this o would love to see their response. I love that people are coming together to share their thoughts and experiences it is truly significant and important to me!

        • Anna-Louise says:

          Dear Samira,

          Like you I am pleased to gave come across this thread. My 13 year old daughter has been excluded little by little over the last six months until it is now very noticeable.

          She can’t pinpoint who is causing this, or why.

          What I sense is that my daughter is a little bit more confident than many of the girls deep down. She values self-assuredness in others and really does know who she is. However, she is sweet and eager and like a friendly puppy, wanting to get on with everyone!

          I think a lot of girls sense the fact that in some ways she doesn’t need to follow someone or be part of a group and this means they start to shun her.

          But of course, as a friendly thirteen year old she desperately loves sleepovers, parties etc.

          I sent her a few really good blogs and chatted to her about this. We decided to follow some advice which makes a lot of sense. Try and rise above it, look at what everyone is up to on social media a bit less so as not to upset herself and to ensure that she is not deliberately mean back. (Which is different to my mothers’s advice when I was thirteen. She told me to he horrible back)!!!

          At least my daughter is just experiencing exclusion. When I was thirteen I received anonymous hate mail and threats to shove my head down the toilet etc. But at the same time I didn’t want to fit in with the other girls. I need to respect my friends and I didn’t respect those girls. They used to shoplift for example and I found that horrifying.

          Ultimately I read a lot (which was great), learned to cook well (also useful), spent time with my family – also good, because my father unfortunately died when I was 16, so I was so glad I had spent time at home, rather than always visiting friends.

          I also learnt to be wary of women when I first met them. I would stand back a bit (so against my instincts, where I want to be friendly immediately). The nasty ones would then try and make friends with me. That was strange to see happening! But by the time I was 14 1/2 a couple of genuine friends started to appear.

          Even now, (I’m 48), I go on holiday once a year with my best friend from then and our families. We are so relaxed with each other.

          My advice would be to patiently find one or two friends with whom you can relax. Everyone else, just be a little offhand, but still nice. They are fine to have in your life, but just spend your main amount of time with the girls you can respect and relax with. The others are great for practicing how people think, react etc. You can learn from them for the future.

          Good luck and I am just starting the process of helping my daughter through this.

          When it happened to me at 13 I can tell you it taught me a lot and enabled me to face difficult situations in my life later. I held my own in a big investment bank, started my own business etc. I may not have had the courage if I hadn’t had a pack of girls taunting me every day, trying to make me cry. (I never did in front of them)!!!

    • Amy Paulsen says:

      This has always been my question. As an adult I choose to not associate with certain people. Those same people probably don’t want me as their friend either. My daughter had a new friend when we moved to a new neighborhood/school and after about a year she didn’t want to hang out with her anymore. When my daughter would go over to the other girl’s house the mom would yell and my daughter didn’t feel comfortable. She tried to move on, but the other girl wouldn’t accept it and was calling my daughter a bully for not wanting to be her friend anymore. I feel like there is such a fine line between exclusion/bullying and not wanting to hang out with someone anymore. *shrug*

    • Ruth says:

      @Janet: I’m a teacher who struggles with that question as well. I think it depends on the situation. If 5 kids are playing tag at recess, there is no reason not to let #6 join. If 2 best friends play their special game (whatever that may be), nobody will have much fun if they’re forced to let #3 join. And everybody should be able to do partner work with everybody else (unless the teacher knows it’s not going to work out.)

    • Jake says:

      I think it depends on the situation. If most or almost all of the kids are included, leaving one or two children out will make the kids feel hurt and feel like outcasts. Mature adults should work with kids to try to teach the kids to get along and not leave people out. Leaving a small percentage of the kids out is cruel. It’s not the same situation as just having 2 or 3 close friends you choose to spend time with. What’s sad is that sometimes the parents play a role in the exclusion, especially at a younger age. When parents plan outings and play dates with most of the kids in a small group and exclude one or two, it sends the message to the little kids that these children are not good enough and that it’s okay to exclude them. That attitude eventually seeps into how they treat their peers in class. The parents are teaching their girls to exclude one child, which basically sends the message it’s the right thing to do and teaching them how to be mean. Of course, the only way they will see that it’s wrong is when eventually their child becomes the one excluded.

    • Kate King says:

      I know this is a long time later, but Janet there is a difference between choosing your friends and wing excluded. People often are a part of a group of friends, then someone new joins the group and someone else is excluded. That person feels rejected by a whole group of people who were their friends and it can be incredibly destructive of the self esteem and self confidence. It often comes from an insecurity of the leader. Creative children cannot be predictable and reassuring to children who like to control their group. Creative or sensitive children are easy to make fun of and exclude. This affects the children involved long term. Do not think that the excluding children are not affected by guilt. My mother used to exclude me and only talk to my father and my younger sister:- I was then excluded from my whole friendship group aged 14 by the actions of one insecure but dominant girl and I have suffered intermittent depression ever since. My sister is on her fourth partner. We have both suffered as a result just in different ways.

    • debby says:

      hi Janet, I know this is an old post but as you are a teacher would like advice please if you don’t mind, my daughter is 13 always been in a “group” of 6 girls one of them has always been a bit argumentative with one or the other girls.
      well now its my daughters turn and in a big way, dirty looks and trying to exclude her and the other girls are to scared to stick up for her. she’s so sad and this girl will not make friends with her, despite my daughter trying
      she’s sending snap chat pictures round school today of a so called weird picture of my daughter although I think she looks lovely…..
      which way shall I jump? school? the parent or let her sort it?
      either which way I’m scared I will make it worse
      thanks lots
      debby xxxx

  6. Max says:

    I am a teen, I’ve been going through this all 5-8th. I only have about 2 real friends but one can be a jerk sometimes the other is genuine friend that talks to me slot and understands me. All the other kids in my classes are some of my half friends and the others just ignore me like I’m a ghost, they just think Im a tubby nerd that is not “cool”.
    Even though I have bullied by accident I think afterwards “why did I do that, that was mean”. I try to stay away from bullying but now bullying like name calling is kinda accepted by teachers, most teachers just turn a blind eye to it.

  7. Richard says:

    It depends on the context Janet. If you invite everybody but one person, invite all of somebodys friends but omit them. What do you think the consequences are for that individual and their social network? I would wager it would cause friction between friends. Now if the person excluded raises an issue with you and you stick to your morals and persist excluding, are you then a bully? I don’t consider it bullying until an issue is raised. The action thereafter may or may not become bullying.

  8. Ad says:

    Has anyone heard of this shunning bullying practice:
    – Child A goes up to Child B to talk to them. Child C butts in and says, “I really need to talk to Child B and intentionally whisks them away for the entire lunch period”? Several children participate in this activity and have done so several times this year.

    • Amy Paulsen says:

      Ad- Yes, this has happened to my child. She went to the skating rink with a friend and another classmate was already there. That classmate whisked my kid’s friend away and skated with her all night and my kid was all alone.

  9. […] A New Bullying: Social Exclusion.–Dustin Petty […]

  10. Day says:

    Janet, social exclusion is something different than what you are thinking about. As being a victim of social exclusion for many years, let me tell you what social exclusion really is. First of all, I have my own identity, and I don’t have the urge to be accepted anymore (even when I was in Middle School). That small “urge” is present in every human being when they are young children, weather they have a sense of identity quicker than others or not. If this continues for a long time, it is bad for the child’s social skills. They will become of what is called “socially awkward”, and will be taken advantage of due to problems defending themselves. The story will continue on from that.

    You see, preference is completely different from exclusion. As a teacher, it is important for you to understand this. Exclusion is nothing but being treated unfairly. Like how women used to be treated unfairly.

  11. I WAS A VICTIM OF BULLYING THAT STARTED THE FIRST YEAR OF SCHOOL INSTIGATED BY THE TEACHER,SOMEONE WHO SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN A TEACHER, SHE HAD NO UNDERSTANDING OR PATIENCE WITH YOUNG KIDS,WITHOUT GOING INTO DETAIL, SHE HUMILIATED,EMBARRASSED AND TOOK AWAY MY DIGNITY AND ALSO TO A FEW OTHER KIDS IN MY CLASS AS WELL.
    SHE WOULD THEN TELL,NO DEMAND THE OTHER KIDS LAUGH AT ME AND MY FELLOW VICTIMS. WE DIDN’T DREAM OF REPORTING HER, I WENT TO A CATHOLIC SCHOOL THAT WAS RUN BY NUNS AND I KNOW WE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN BELIEVED.
    FROM THAT POINT ON I WAS BULLLIED ALL MY SCHOOL LIFE.
    I HAD NO SELF ESTEEM HAVING BEEN HUMILIATED. PREVIOUSLY.
    KIDS CAN SEE THAT YOU’RE EASY TO HUMILIATE AND I FELT HELPLESS.
    THIS TEACHER LEFT ME WITH LIFE LONG DAMAGE, MY PARENTS WEREN’T THE KIND OF PARENTS I FELT I COULD CONFIDE IN
    (MY MOTHER WAS SHORT TEMPERED AND STRICT, DAD PRETTY MUCH THE SAME

  12. Trevor says:

    I have to agree with sam, there are subtle differences in types of bullying. there has to be a way to identify the bullying behavior and participants and act on that information whether it be directly to the bully or via the bully’s parents. not being a teacher, i am afraid i don’t have all the direct knowledge of what it is like having to deal with this stuff.

  13. Aandelen Kopen says:

    Social exclusion has always been a way of bullying. As explained before there exists a group mentality where the bullies feel safe. They act and support the group behaviour because they cannot exist without it. For this reason exclusion outside of the group is to be preferred by the bully, so he can maintain the rules as he knows them in the group.

  14. Elba says:

    This is very sad, but it is true meaning that social exclusion happens very often in jobs, schools, regardless of different backgrounds of people. However, we live in a polarized society and it is very important too learn that people must try too tolerate others without hurting their feelings. In this case, I totally agree with all of you and good point by the way.

  15. Karol says:

    I am a teacher, and it is part of my job to help socialize my class. Whether it’s been primary or secondary grades, I have always shown my class girl bullying in a short role playing activity, which is exclusion. I’ve researched this, and guys as a whole may never understand the extent of this type a bully, although there are exceptions. More men find friends that serve a purpose on their lives. Women find friends that the purpose is really just to be friends. I’ve seen exclusion first hand many times through my work, my family members, and just being female. It is usually when someone feels the need to exert power over another. The bully/exclusion expert feels “special” when she is part of an exclusive group she’s helped to create. Girls are apt to do this to when they are jealous or insecure in a relationship, so they create places to exclude the person they’re trying to get rid of and their social circle. Maybe she has befriended the bully’s best friend. Lord forbid if there were to be three in a group, and consider their relationships equal, if one is insecure. It gets ugly quickly. As a parent of teenagers, I could tell you stories. Sometimes the most vicious girls, have watched their mothers do it in adults circles as well. Apples really don’t fall far from the tree. It is important to realize though that some introverts could appear to be doing the same thing, and that’s where discernment comes in. I really liked what someone said above, saying that at school, that the teachers can help kids learn to play with a variety of people. At our school, unless somebody is being hurt emotionally or physically by someone, we always let other people play together on the playground. They naturally find those who want to play soccer, or go down the slide, etc. I also tell my students not to always ask if they can play, but just start playing. It is at a very young age where kids feel empowered when they get to tell somebody else, “No.” I just shake my head when I see adults doing the same thing. I feel bad for them, and tell my students to do the same with their peers. we may never know why someone is mean by purposeful exclusion, but there is usually a back-story.

    • William Wood says:

      Karol, What do you do when there is one student that NEVER seems to be included in ANY group, in spite of seemingly being “just like the others”. Do you try to help this child and find out why they are completely alone? Or do you view them through the teacher’s lofty mantra (excuse) that “teachers should not be involved in student’s personal lives”? Back many years ago, I was that kid, and I’ve never understood why. I had to graduate from high school and move far away before I could learn some social skills and be able to interact with others. It took me a horribly failed marriage to teach me how to interact with the opposite sex. (I recently celebrated my 40th anniversary, thank God.) 40 years ago, she had enough faith in me that she took a chance, and I was grateful. I still have many interaction problems, but my wife taught me most of the limited social skills I now have. All I remember about my teachers was none of them “gave a damn”. If you want to know what you are contributing to, read “Brandon’s” letter, dated May 16, 2016.

      • Jenna says:

        My daughter is that kid at school right now who has been excluded from every social clique in the 8th grade. Shes made fun of every day, & called every name possible. She dreads going to school everyday. Its at the point there isnt even a table in the lunch room that will allow her to sit down. I have tried involving the school and it only made things worse for her. I am at the point of possibly switching her into a different school. I cant understand what would make a group of kids exclude someone to this degree. My guess is their own fears of being an outcast.

        • Michelle says:

          You are not alone. My daughter’s entire 8th grade year has been like this. She hates going to school and now my beautiful…sensitive…friendly…daughter is starting to believe there is something massively wrong with her. I am fed up. Kids have so many means to be cruel today and have no conscience…they use social media to spread lies to the masses without a second thought.
          It is just so hard to witness your child going through this!

        • Michelle says:

          My daughter is in 8th grade and is going through the same exact thing. I don’t get the cruelness. My daughter dreads go everyday. It is such a struggle. She is completely isolated.
          Yes…getting the school involved made it much worse for my daughter as well.
          How are things going for your daughter now?

        • Michelle says:

          My daughter is in 8th grade and is going through this exact thing. These kids have completely destroyed her reputation and her self esteem.we tried to get the school involved too and it made it worse..it is also not taken very seriously. It is so cruel. How is your daughter doing now? If you would be willing to share more about your experience, I would be honored.

  16. Helen says:

    LOL I found this after I went to a reunion and relived some bad memories!

    I was socially excluded at school at around age 12. My former best friend since age 4 decided I was not longer good enough to be her friend. I was from a single parent family, did not fit into any ethnic clique, was the youngest in the year and was in desperate need of orthodontic treatment. I struggled to find friends and became labelled as the shy and retiring one. I recall hiding in the toilets because I was so ashamed I had no group to sit with at lunch. The teachers did not detect my agony. Only lasted about three months but affected me for the rest of my life.

    I also suffered from social exclusion at a university when I changed courses and found myself with a bunch of slightly younger, stuck up arrogant private school kids in a medical school. Again I responded by withdrawing and became labelled as the slightly odd,shy and retiring person. I managed to pass but it affected my marks as study groups were all organized by the students themselves and I was never once invited to join one.

    Children / people who are being excluded feel ashamed and humiliated and then try to hide what is happening by further isolating themselves, but this is absolutely the worst thing to do and this feeds into the social exclusion and results in poor self esteem.

    I have now learnt to speak out at every opportunity if I am being treated unfairly, and don’t worry too much what other people think, but it has taken me at least 40 years to be able to do this.

    Social exclusion is a huge problem in modern society where many people do not have the benefit of large family groups as support, and it is a shame that the comments by teachers above indicate that they do not really get it as it will affect their students for the rest of their lives.

    The most important thing to do is to teach kids to come forward as soon as possible if they do feel they are being excluded or treated unfairly, and to not dismiss their concerns.

  17. […] April 10, 2016 ~ leesa822 A new bullying: social exclusion […]

  18. Grace says:

    I am a student working on an exhibition about exclusion. as I read the comments,it seems like there are lots of people getting excluded.(or had been) Because of the exhibition,I want to know how it feels being the target. If you can, it will be very thankful.

    • Tracy says:

      I will start with a bit of my story, Grace. It all started when I went to daycare which is from the age of 4, it was not just my peers; it was also the teachers who have mistreated me in my early years. In my daycare, I was always made sure I was being treated unfair: whenever I would reach for a crayon in my favorite color, pink, the other kids would always break off a small piece to give to me. They would also steal things out of my backpack, threaten me, and exclude me from games, I forgot the rest. The teachers would often punish me for my “difficult” behavior, one would threaten to lock me in a closet, and there was a lot of favoritism going on in that garbage daycare. How did I feel? Powerless!

      Then this transitioned into kindergarten. I was completely normal, I was just the smallest kid in my class. My peers treated me even worse here. I always wanted to be friends with everyone instead of dominating them. A group of girls would always threaten and exclude me. I always tried to tell the teacher about one specific girl, who’s bullying was constant throughout the whole day. Both of my teachers would always respond with laughter as if I don’t know what came out of my mouth! Even after being bullied in FRONT of the teachers, no change would happen. I would get punished for another’s mistakes. Soon, I stopped standing up for myself because if I respond back with my anger, the bullies would get me in trouble. And that is how I developed the inability to say no. This allowed people to take more advantage of me.

      I moved 3 times and the exclusion gave me social anxiety and the fear that people are watching me. I’m now a HS freshman, and my social anxiety is chronic. Being the target feels painful, and changes and damages your physchology. I have a different thinking pattern now, and keeping even good friends is not easy!

      • Kelly says:

        This happened to my son in daycare, when he was 3. He was isolated to the corner and ridiculed by his preschool teacher in front of his peers. I believe this planted a seed of rejection and has effected the way he carries himself. He was also ridiculed by his kindergarten teacher. He now tends to move away from others and is often not included by his peers. At 12, he is just now starting to notice that he is not being included. Not surprising, this is a result of Instagram and other social media.

        It takes him time to warm up in social situations. The years of social exclusion have taken their toll. It is absolutely heart breaking to watch my son not be thought of or included by other kids, in the same class or teams he is on. (He is considered “shy”). This has been magnifid by social media, where everyone now has to post everything they are doing, every minute of the day, and who they are with.

  19. Rose says:

    I think the comment above by Helen pretty much hits the nail on the head when it comes to exclusion bullying.
    It is absolutely the worst form of bullying as it is so subtle and insidious – the fear and paranoia that it creates within the victim can leave them with a permanent and unjust feeling that they are not good enough.
    As a parent of a child who has suffered this horribleness on and off for the last 4 years (and she is still only 8) it is bitterly disappointing to read the comments by some of the teachers who sound almost wilfully naive on this whole issue. The fact is that as children in school and adults in the workplace we will all come across people who we like, people we don’t like and people we don’t feel one way or the other about; that is natural and not the fault of ourselves or the people we meet. Therefore whether we like (or prefer) people or not is not the issue, it is how we deal with it that matters, and it comes down to one basic tenet:

    Treat other people as you yourself would like to be treated.

    Rather than teaching or reinforcing the idea in kids that it is alright to leave someone out of the game because they are not a ‘special friend’, we should be saying to one of those ‘special friends’
    “What if you stay with me and we send these two (the other friend and the child who wishes to join) off to play the game?”
    Immediately the child can see how unjust and unfair it is to be excluded and in my experience will usually accept another child into the game rather than be excluded themselves.
    Not having a special friend or fitting snugly in with others in the class is not enough reason to strip a person of their confidence, dignity and self respect and this is precisely what exclusion bullying does.
    Often parents whose children are exhibiting the behaviour will shrug it off as the fault of the victim. My daughter is naturally an introvert (she is also smart, witty, creative, fun and friendly) so she takes a while to get used to and open up with new people so comes across as quite shy. Naturally, being made to feel like a pariah at school exacerbates this and decimates her confidence in herself – to the point where she is afraid to try new activities with new people because she is sure that they will not like her. The attitude I received from her school about it was that she is too sensitive and needs to toughen up – but of course how can we build up her confidence when she is subjected to ignorance and derision every day? It is a vicious circle made all the worse because of the pervading attitude that it is natural to leave people out when in actual fact it is just bad manners and rude.
    It does a disservice too, to the child who is engaging in the exclusion. It all stems from insecurity and by shrugging shoulders and passing it off we are failing to care for the well-being of either child and everybody loses.

  20. anonnona says:

    This is a very old and dangerous form of bullying. As a child I came from an abusive home, and I was reserved because of this. All I wanted (needed) was someone, anyone, who didn’t treat me badly. It never happened… I had a group of “friends” whose parents forced them to hangout with me because my social awkwardness was very prominent. I was told everything in the book about how horrible my existence was, the group became the “others” because of me. I had no one and became very emotionally shut down. To the point of high emotions turning my brain off (I would literally forget the conversation as it happened). I stuck with this group because as long as I was silent I would get very minimal hate, their hate wasn’t as bad as my home. They would joke and laugh which gave me the smallest form of positivity which just didn’t exist otherwise. Even though I couldn’t participate. I took it all in stride and tried to participate anyways, it wasn’t until high school they got over themselves enough to not shut me down. First year because they ditched me. And I was accepted in the larger school on a general level, alone, but who I was seemed to be appreciated by strangers. When I reached a point of making new friends this group came back. They made friends with whoever I hung around and I would then become socially separated from them while still in this group. It became impossible for me to share anything I held dear or was vulnerable about through all of this. I wish it ended in high school. Anyways, I am alone, get panic attacks even around family. If someone is nice to me now I don’t believe there isn’t malice intent behind it. I barely leave my house, only to get things needed. Even then it is wrought with anxiety. I still think I am not worthy of anything or that whatever environment I am in I have no where to go or turn to. Maybe it was just the combination of the two, but I was a 8yo who contemplated suicide, that’s not something I shared with anyone, I only mention it now because this is something that can really destroy someone. At 27 I am just now learning to open up emotionally.. kind of.

  21. Brandon says:

    I suppose I can leave my story related to this here.

    23 at the moment; I didn’t trust much of my family emotionally. Still don’t even though they help financially support me. They put more trust and care in my half-brother ten years younger than me.

    I never enjoyed the rougher activities my peers partook in. They didn’t really appeal to me. I was always a weenie as a kid, didn’t know what I was doing socially. Not really all that different now.

    I was bullied, and usually excluded from social circles. I was much more easily angered so I kept getting picked on. I had no friends and as a result had nobody to confide in. The only reason I graduated high school is because I grew spiteful of my peers. I never wanted to hate people, but using my anger in such a way managed to motivate me to be somewhat academically successful.

    Thanks to being excluded though, I don’t have the social skills needed to survive in the world. I never had a friend to this day. I try talking to my peers and they look at me like I had said something horrible. I can’t even give a friendly “hello” without being looked at strange. The only comfort I have is going into solitude and doing what I always have done; playing video games, reading, watching videos, working.

    The worst part is I don’t even know what I did to deserve it all. I’m trying my hardest to be successful but people keep shooting me down. It doesn’t matter what social advice I receive; “just be yourself” gets me the stares, “just say yes” to no invitations. I don’t know how to resolve it when I have repeatedly run into failure. Any rational human being would have given up but I was too distraught. I hide all this with a mask like everybody else but it doesn’t work. They probably see right through me. Even the people that are supposedly like me look at me as though I’m a black sheep.

    It is a better emotional investment for me to just retreat into my own mental world, whether I’m imagining some strange world or spacing out entirely. The two years I ended up spending in solitude in my room post-high school were the greatest I’ve ever felt emotionally. All that spite that was fueling me turned into self-hatred, but I even managed to figure out how to regulate it. Trying to figure out how to conquer my loneliness through self-reflection instead of talking to people that refuse to reciprocate was the most liberating thing. Keyword was. Now it bites back at me trying to obtain a job, because of my inability to be personable and lack of connections. I stopped choosing to try when I realized that I would be stuck competing with people who had socialized all their lives, even below the average person. It’s why I am always overlooked.

    That’s what hurts most, not being able to catch up no matter how hard I try. Socializing is a two-way street, and I have nothing to offer due to my exclusion and lack of experience. Suicide even seemed more merciful but I’m stuck trying because I want to see how far an unaware failure like me can go through sheer effort. I want to see how far being an honest person can carry a human being.

    I probably will run into more trouble later down the road if nothing changes, due to all these complications having long-term effects on my career prospects. Not to mention starting a family, which can also affect how employers view me in spite of what EEOC would want.

    At least my dead mom’s side of the family cares enough to somehow pay for my college, so at least I’ll just be broke instead of in debt. They aren’t really willing to tell me how it is being paid for. Maybe I’m better off not knowing.

    I apologize that I ended up ranting (maybe this could be considered a whine), but I figured some thoughts from someone “twisted” by social exclusion might help paint a clearer picture. Thank you for reading.

  22. Elena says:

    Dear All, it is very sad to read how you or your dear ones have suffered so much from destructive power games, mainly just because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In my experience, a sensitive and reflective nature favours these situations. I was reading this by chance when looking for ideas to setup a prevent harassment site in our company. As you have commented, awareness of small but repeated symptoms is fundamental to try and change the dynamics. Please don’t be harsh on the teachers though, since they have been sincere in trying to improve, and the signs easily pass undetected to those not specifically trained or not having suffered it. My admiration to Anonnona for keeping opening horizons; indeed it can be done with time and work. Please seek specialist help if the situation is severe. For self-help resources there is some good advice in friendship.about.com and wikihow for e.g. shyness. Another very interesting aspect is to raise the status through assertiveness and body language. See Impro by Keith Johnstone.

  23. Kathleen says:

    I remember in 5th grade I was bullied by my entire class. The girls hated me. They wouldn’t even acknowledge my existence. The boys never spoke to me for fear of losing friendship with the other girls. One day in class I made a boy angry because I corrected him on an assignment. I guess I embarrassed him so he said he was going to kick my butt after school. He got a couple of his friends to go along with him. So there I am after school with these five boys that are pushing me, kicking me in the butt , calling me names. I was so scared. The whole school was watching. No teachers. Well apparently I had a break when one fellow squared off with me. His mistake. I kicked him in the chicken nuggets and the whole school saw it and laughed. The underdog took it. However, the next day I got into trouble for causing trouble. Oh well. At least instilled a memory that lasted the rest of my school days.

  24. Reesey says:

    I guess I can say my story related to this here. I am 19 at the moment. So, I guess as a child I would slightly believe what ever people would say, which I guess made me an easy target. I have 2 older brothers, 10 and 5 years older than me. Since I was the youngest and the only girl I was a bit spoiled. When I was 4ish my brothers would call me tattle-tale, piggy, ugly, and would say things like no one likes you; they said those things because I would want to join them since I was lonely and had no friends to play with. Being as slightly guidable as I was, I kinda believed in the things they said. When I was in 1st grade I would get a little teasing about my weight, wasn’t really that bad, but it was always in the back of my mind. In 2nd grade, the worst grade of my life, there was a boy who started the whole “She has Cooties” thing toward me. So literally the whole class would not talk to me or touch me or anything that I touched, unless they had their fingers crossed -.-. So my class pretty much isolated me from any sort and human contact with someone my age. Around a week after it started I told my parents about it and they brushed it off like it wasn’t serious, but weeks passed and it was still happening. I told them again, but again they brushed it off and said that I should ignore it. From that moment on and still today I don’t trust my family emotionally. I was always scared to tell the teachers about it because I was scared they wouldn’t believe me since, in the back of my mind I could hear my brothers calling me a tattle-tale. From then on I learned to put on a fake smile and hoping no one would see through it and it worked for the most part. The fake smile made them think it didn’t bother me, but on inside it did.

    In 3rd grade there were only a few people still hanging on to the cootie thing. I gradually just tried to blend in to the background so people wouldn’t notice me too much. I just became the quiet over weight smart girl who would usually say yes if you needed something. I just wanted people to like me. Still the occasional name calling, but again I just acted like it didn’t bother me and ignored them when they tried to get my attention to say it to my face.

    Middle school (6th grade) came and I found a group of kids that were similar outcast. My only bullies were in my PE classes; again with the name calling. Middle school is when I started to cutting myself. I still do it on very bad days. :/ In high school I took honors and I stopped being bullied (since most honor kids were nice people), but without those social skills you get from elementary school, I couldn’t really make real friends. I’m in college now and still have the same problem. I do not understand how to tell or share my true emotions with another person. I just show the fake emotions that make it seem like I’m okay, even though i’m not. But again, I just still wear my fake smile… (^.^)=(T.T)

  25. andrea says:

    A “new” for of bullying!!!??? Where have you been! I’ll be 48 next month and can say, categorically, that this type of bullying — social exclusion– has been going on for over 4 decades, as I myself observed growing up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

    My mother (age 73) is not a nice person. She used to tell me about the kind of exclusion and ostracism she and the other mean popular girls in her class used to perpetrate when they were kids.

  26. Madge says:

    My daughter is 11 and is excluded by another girl who lives on our street. She routinely walks past our house with my daughters mutual friends and does not call for my daughter. Another girl we know told us that she tells people not to call for my daughter as she ‘isn’t keen on her”
    She has also been known to just stand outside my house with the other kids but not call for my daughter. Fortunately my daughter is very popular and has other friends so does not react too much. The girl is also in the same class at school, she plays mostly with boys as most of the girls don’t really like her behaviour. She never invites my daughter to any birthday parties or events, where I have still invited her in the past, this year I stopped.

    I think I handle this situation much worse than my daughter does. It really angers me that this girl does this. I need to try and chill out and just support my daughter. I know this.

    They go to high school soon and I’m thinking of telling the school about this and asking that they try and put them in different classes as I don’t want this to happen all through high school too. It’s gone on for 4 years so far. Like other people have said I tried to approach the mother but I was literally told that my child was not important only her child’s feelings mattered. And yes, the mum is part of a mummy clique and so are the kids.

    I’m really proud of my daughter, she is a strong and resilient girl.

  27. erl says:

    Nothing new. Kids have excluded kids for decades if not centuries. Not being part of everything is something we just have to deal with.

    Even as adults, they are people we choose not to invite or associate with.

  28. Karen Vorwerk says:

    My 13 year son has been socially excluded since 5th grade. He is always alone on weekends and school breaks. Even when he does the inviting, no one “can make it.” Even on his tennis team he is avoided and no one wants to play doubles with him even though he is an excellent player. My hearts breaks more and more every day. He says he’s fine with being alone, but I can tell he is affected by it.

  29. Sad Mom says:

    So sorry to hear of all this. My kids are affected by this type of social ostracism. Mine are good looking and athletic but not the top athletes and I find the better athletes do see them as a threat. The insecure kids have parents who fail them on many levels: hey allow this type of behavior because they think it will land their kid on top. It will fill them with guilt and confusion later in life, especially if something happens to the victim and they are charged/blamed. Their kid will never learn how to have a normal relationship and will probably have marital problems if they can even find a spouse. They excuse it by saying “they are old enough to choose their own friends….blah blah.” Again, as long as their child is on top. I hope that as kids age they see through these types of people and dump them. I myself dumped my bff in high school because she always needed to exclude/mistreat others out of jealousy and insecurity and I outgrew it/her. It is heartbreaking and no adult seems to want to help my kids. Even the schools say this is normal middle school behavior. Well if this is normal, I think the world is in trouble!

  30. Marcus says:

    I don’t believe exclusion is bullying. I am an avid believer in freedom of association. That is a right that we have in this country. Why are we on this kick that everyone has to be included? When I was in school I was excluded and it never bothered me. I was content to be by myself. I had two best friends in high school and that was it for us. We would do things together and never felt like we had to include other people. I am sorry but it is getting sicking that everyone has to be included. Sometimes parents need to realize that not everyone wants to hangout with your child and that is life.

  31. Dawn says:

    This happens to our daughter at church. There was a very popular girl that everyone wants to be around. But for some reason, she has decided our daughter is the one to be excluded. We didn’t care if they were friends or not but things this girl did hurt her relationships with the other girls because she had power and influence over them and knew it. When my daughter would walk up to the group of girls to talk, this girl would step between her and them and turn her back then dominate the conversation. She told our daughter to go sit with the boys because there “isn’t enough room for you here” when there was plenty of room. She would whisper to the other girls and look at my daughter with a disgusting look. The girl being spoken to would wrinkle her nose up.. Meanwhile, everyone thinks this girl is SO sweet, she is always smiling and everyone thinks she is just so adorable. She and her friend would sit in the choir and see my daughter in the congregation, look at each other, and laugh. It is disgusting. This girl has left the church now, but still connected SO much to the girls there by social media and texting. The girls in youth do not reach out to our daughter. We are giving it a short while to see if it gets better, but if not, we are leaving. There is another youth group near by that the girls always are so friendly when our daughter shows up (her older siblings go there sometimes). She is torn and has asked “Am I annoying mom?” and “why don’t kids like me?” she is a very sweet girl with a huge heart. She prays every night for the homeless and abused children…God has truly given her a heart for the hurting and destitute.. He will use this to grow her and mature her beyond her years! Please pray for us as we navigate through this time with her. And just an afterthought.. we never knew WHY this popular girl disliked our daughter so much, and there were SO many things this girl did other than mentioned above. I tried to talk to her mom, but lies were told by this girl and we ended up being the bad guys..

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