Dear Abby:  “Target of classmates’ teasing”

Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


DEAR ABBY: I am a girl in the fourth grade, and there are some mean people in my class. They're always making fun of this girl from China.

When I see them teasing her, I want to be nice to her -- but I'm afraid if I am nice to her, they will make fun of me.

I am one of the cool kids. Abby, please tell me if I should be her friend. -- TRYING TO BE NICE IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR TRYING: You are an intelligent, compassionate girl. The time to be a friend is when somebody needs one, and your classmate certainly needs one now. One effective way to defuse this kind of harassment is to speak up and say that YOU don't think what the bully is saying is funny.

Another way is to tell your parents, your teacher and the principal what is happening. That girl is being harassed because of her race -- and it is against the law for it to be ignored. So don't wait. Speak up now. I commend you for writing.

January 19, 2004

Dear Abby:

Regarding your response to “Trying to be nice in Pennsylvania” (1/19/04), I think there is a better action to suggest to a 4th grade girl who wants to stop injustice.

Noting that the girl said there are some mean people in her class, and remembering these are mostly 9-year-olds, I suggest she not face up to the bully(s) alone first, nor report to the authorities unless everything else fails. If she first talked to several of the ‘cool kids’, she would have a good chance of getting a group of kids to stand up against the bullying, perhaps starting by gathering with the girl from China, talking and playing with her as a group (not telling her why, just enjoying her company), and making sure she can’t get cornered alone by the mean guys. Then if anyone makes fun of her, the whole group can put the bully down just by backing up someone who briefly, quietly, and seriously states how lame it is.

This is the way a group effectively sets proper behavior.

Janet Foldvary

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