Bullying in kindergarten

This is not my usual kind of post, it’s not a recipe and it’s not about food intolerances.   It’s about bullying.  Bullying in 3 year old kindergarten.

Oscar started at kindergarten in the 3 year old group at the start of the year.  I had concerns right from the start but I ignored them.  The teacher “X” seemed to be one of those people who had been in their job too long and no longer enjoyed it or wanted to be there.

But before I get into that, a bit about Oscar.  Before kindergarten he had been attending a Childcare Centre for 3 1/2 years.  He made friends easily, loved doing new things and told us everything that happened to him – the good, the bad and the ugly.  He had been involved in a biting incident the year before kinder started, as the person bitten.  He immediately told his Dad what had happened and who did it.  The Childcare Centre dealt with it immediately, as did the parents of the biter.

When kindergarten started we were surprised that Oscar didn’t make any friends, but he was one of the oldest in a group of very young children, so maybe that was it.  When I first did duty Oscar seemed to be left to his own devices, with very little interaction with the teacher or assistant.  I was also very disturbed by what I saw that day.  One child, “G”, was totally out of control – pulling open cupboards, running outside, interfering with the other children’s play.  (This child didn’t speak English,  there were probably reasons for his behaviour.)  The assistant spent 90% of her time supervising him.  Meanwhile Oscar would never tell us about his day – something very out of character for him.  Hubby observed the same when he did duty in term 2.

Then there was a biting incident, or an almost bite.  “X” told me that another child had tried to bite Oscar but it had been seen and was stopped before the bite made contact.  She told me Oscar might not even be aware it had happened.  I believed her, and given the previous incident at childcare we didn’t ask him about it, something I now believe was a big mistake.  At the end of term we debated whether or not to send him back, he still hadn’t made any friends and didn’t talk about what went on there.  We asked Oscar whether he wanted to keep going there, he said yes, so we enrolled him for term 2.

A couple of weeks in we were driving home one night after swimming lessons and Oscar told me he didn’t want to go to Kindergarten any more.  He started crying.  When we got home we tried to calm him down and talk about what was happening there.  We found out that “G” had been saying bad words to him, snatching his toys and doing bad things to him.  We told him he never had to go back if he didn’t want to.  I don’t know why he didn’t tell us these things as they were happening, but I can’t help but think that not asking him about the biting incident was a mistake, maybe he had been waiting for us to say something.  What happened at Kindergarten to make him afraid to tell us?

Two days later it was kinder day again and he wanted to go back.  I told him I would talk to his teacher about “G”, but that those bad things might happen again. He wanted to go back.  We told him that if it happened again he should try and get away from “G”, ask for help and tell a teacher.  I spoke to “X” before the session started, her response  – “I’m not surprised” – was a shock.  Did she know this was going on?  Why weren’t we told so we could do something about it, help him cope?  I was stunned, and there must of been some of this in my face because she quickly changed her tune and told me they would keep an eye on Oscar.   I don’t know what kind of eyes they had, but after we got home that day Oscar told me “G” had hit him from behind on the back of the neck.  Oscar said he didn’t tell anyone, and I can’t blame him, the teachers were useless in protecting him from this.

That weekend I consulted my FB friends and wrote an email to the teacher, this is what we wrote:

Dear “X”,

last Friday Sandra discussed with you some issues that Oscar was having with
“G”‘s behaviour towards him. Oscar had told us on the previous Wednesday
that “G” had used “bad words” and snatched from him. He told us that “G”
does “bad things” to him all the time. Oscar was so upset that he said he
did not want to go back to Kindergarten. On Friday morning he told us that
he did want to go, we discussed that “G” would be there and he said he
would tell yourself or {the assistant} if “G” did any more bad things. Friday
afternoon when we got home from Kindergarten Oscar told us that he had been
hit by “G” on the back of the neck while playing by himself. He did not
tell anyone because ” “G” stopped doing it by himself”. It appears that
“G” has approached Oscar, hit him, then moved away.


We have both witnessed “G”‘s behaviour while on duty at the Kindergarten
and the behaviour we have observed is consistent with what Oscar has been
telling us. We understand that the kindergarten offers the opportunity for
all children to learn and develop social skills, however we have witnessed
the amount of time that staff have to spend one on one with “G” in order to
keep him away from the other children and feel that this distracts from the
staff’s ability to provide all children, including Oscar, with equal time
with staff in their sessions and therefore limits their developmental


We do not believe that Oscar is being provided with a safe learning
environment by the Kindergarten, and that his emotional and physical
well-being is being put at risk. We are requesting that {the}
Kindergarten address these issues immediately and provide us with details on
how they will be addressed. We are both willing to meet with you to discuss
these issues further, or you can contact us on the phone numbers below


I met with “X” at the next session.  It was a bizarre experience, I wasn’t allowed to mention “G”‘s name, we had to talk about “the other child”.  “X” was going to address the issue by reading stories and showing the children pictures of tactics to use when other children are doing things they don’t like.  All well and good, but “G” didn’t speak English  so I didn’t believe it would have much effect.  She also told me that the kindergarten was getting an additional person in to help with this group because of some of the issues with particular children. “X” said “G” had “problems” but this did not excuse his behaviour   There was no mention of how he or his parents were being held accountable for his behaviour    I wasn’t convinced that anything was going to change, but I didn’t know what else to say. She told us not to talk too much about it with Oscar – it would only reinforce the negative (I ignored this, and I think that is why he now talks to us about Kindergarten).

Hubby and I talked again about pulling Oscar out, we didn’t want to punish him for being the victim  but we also didn’t want any more harm to come to him – physically or emotionally.  Then “X” resigned – a glimmer of hope.  We asked Oscar and he wanted to stay.  He finally made some friends, so we enrolled for Term 3.  We taught him about self defence, that it was OK to hit someone if they hit you first and you couldn’t stop them.  I saw him shove “G” once – two hands on the chest – and yell in his face, something I assume had been done to him.  I was so proud of him for standing up for himself.

For Oscar term 3 went well.  Every session I would try and encourage him to tell me what was going on, towards the end he did.  The new teacher “Y” seemed better, Oscar was actually interested in some of the things that were going on.  Meanwhile I waited for “Y” to come and talk to me about what had happened with Oscar and “G”, to find out how Oscar was going, how we felt about the situation.  By the end of term I had come to conclusion that she either hadn’t been told (very poor hand over by the kindergarten) or didn’t care.  We continued to term 4.

Then the final straw, the reason I am writing this.  When I picked up Oscar on Wednesday I had to sign a medical form.  “Y” told me that he had been accidentally scratched on the edge of his eye with a pipe cleaner by a child who had held it up to show him.  I had no reason not to believe that wasn’t the case so didn’t question it, kids have accidents all the time.  Oscar didn’t mention it until dinner that night when he told us “G” had scratched him with a pipe cleaner.  I told him it was probably an accident, Oscar said it wasn’t.  A little while later he told us that “G” had had “a fight with my eye with a pipe cleaner”.  If “Y” had told me it was “G” and she believed it was an accident I might have believed her, but she deceived me, and I can’t believe any of what she said.  There has been an ongoing pattern of aggressive behaviour by “G” towards Oscar and we had a right to know.  I believe what Oscar has told me.

I am writing this because I do not think it is acceptable for kindergartens – teachers and committees – to ignore bullying, or to hide it from parents.  It is not acceptable that a child who has problems is allowed to harm another child, and that Kindergarten staff ignore this.  It is not acceptable that when parents make complaints of bullying that those complaints are not followed up.  The kindergarten has a duty of care to Oscar as well as “G”.  Tomorrow I am going to ask “Y” why she deceived me and demand that “G” be kept away from Oscar for the remainder of the term.  He is not going back next year.

If you think your child is being bullied you may want to read this article on Parenting Australia: What’s Bullying and What’s Not?

If you agree that bullying needs to be stopped please share this post so that we get the message out that bullying does occur in kindergartens and it needs to be addressed in kindergartens.



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7 Responses to Bullying in kindergarten

  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    You mean ‘Y’.

    “Then the final straw, the reason I am writing this. When I picked up Oscar on Wednesday I had to sign a medical form. ”G” told me ….”

  2. Mrs B says:

    My DS experienced a similar thing in 4 yo kinder – 2 out of control boys there used to chase him down, hit him or punch him, hold him down by force or give him a wedgie (the mind boggles how a 4yo even thinks of doing this to another child). This absolutely traumatised him and his 4yo teacher stood by and did nothing. He too hid what was happening to him until we saw bruises, he started crying and begging me not to leave him there (which we didnt if he didnt want to) and then he began to flinch all the time, and apologise constantly to adults. The teacher had told him he was a baby and needed to play better with the boys, so he tried to please her and “be better” :-(.

    We ended up taking him out of his last term and he re-did 4yo this year somewhere else. The difference in him is amazing. He loves kinder, has heaps of friends and his gleefully going off to school next year with a great bunch of kids. He is also no longer scared of teachers or other kids and stands up for himself. When we heard this term that he had physically stood up for and in front of a smaller kid being physically bullied a bully brought tears to my eyes – we were so proud!!

    • Oscars Mum says:

      Mrs B that is so sad to hear, but how wonderful that he is now such a confident little boy. So glad that you found somewhere better for him. We took Oscar to a karate class for 4 – 5 year olds last weekend, he only watched but afterwards was so exciting about it. It’s fun and builds their confidence and self defense skills.

  3. Barb says:

    How very sad! This child who you refer to as G is obviously in need of some help and I would think that the kindergarten involved have done what they can to do this. However I wonder what the situation is on this for the parents of child G on an emotional, social and financial position? Sad for all involved and even more so the attack on staff. As a grandmother with a grandchild with intolerances to food I do love your site for the top recipes you provide. Thanks

    • Oscars Mum says:

      Thanks Barb, I’m glad you have been enjoying the recipes on the blog. I wrote this post out of frustration at the lack of action. I also agree that G must have issues/problems causing this behaviour, but that doesn’t make the behaviour acceptable. I have since found out that the current teacher and president were unaware of our complaint, however that calls into question the processes and oversight the kindergarten has in place for dealing with complaints, and who decides whether a complaint is serious or not. Hopefully this brings about change that will benefit other children in the future.

  4. Evelyn says:

    This is terrible. Felt very sad to read this.