12YO picked on for being "ginger"

(35 Posts)
PreteenNightmares Wed 14-Dec-11 11:26:31

12YO son burst into tears last night when I affectionately (I thought) greeted him with, "Hiya, ginge" (we've called him ginger at home all his life as a term of affection and he's never reacted badly before...). Turns out that since shortly before half-term, classmates have been needling him with "anti-ginger" abuse (e.g. - Why is a redhead different from a shoe? Because a shoe has a sole. And other similarly unfunny stuff).

I'm sure that this has boiled over partly because it's the end of term and he's overtired, but there is absolutely no way I want it to get any worse. He's been really happy at the school up til now, and is a bright, sporty, well-liked boy otherwise.

I just don't get it myself - why is red hair something to pick on?? I think it's gorgeous.

Any advice for dealing with this specific kind of bullying? Much appreciated.

NiamhThomas30 Tue 07-Aug-12 23:40:58

As a mother to three gorgeous ginger haired kids - I feel so sorry that your son (and you) have to endure this,.

My eldest has survived much of primary school without any serious bullying, but has had the odd comment that has upset him.

Personally, in my experience I'm afraid its the adults that have been worse! Since my eldest was born I've had the (head cocked to one side - pity look) "ahh he's ginger" or "don't worry, he can always dye it when he's older!! In fact, I have found that it's at family functions when I meet aunts/uncles/cousins etc. - a few times a year that I get the most insults! I think they think they are being funny, or maybe that they assume its acceptable to be so darn right rude!! My uncle recently said of my youngest (in his loudest voice - of course)"He's ginger!" to which I responded rather sarcasticly "Never! really thanks for letting me know that??" For once I made them feel rather silly, and I didn't care how awkward it was either.

Sorry for hijacking your thread with my own problems, but I thought I'd highlight the fact that these children who make judgement must learn this from somewhere and although this will not always be the case, I believe many learn from their elders...

All the best
Niamh

claraschu Mon 11-Jun-12 09:40:26
Gemtubbs Mon 11-Jun-12 09:35:43

Keith Lemon is ginger and I think that he is a pretty popular comedian. For some reason, these jokes coming from a ginger person seem funny rather than offensive, and that's coming from a red head. I try not to get offended by jokes any way, and just laugh them off. I think that there's a difference between a joke coming from a good hearted place and a mean spirited joke intended to hurt. Of course, that's ok for adults but it's hard for kids to feel this way, and jokes about their appearance do tend to hurt their self esteem and knock their confidence.

I do find it a bit offensive when I see programmes like One born every minute, and hear parents to be say things like "So long as the baby's not ginger, we'll be alright." As if being ginger is the worst thing for a baby to be. I don't think that they're even joking. A girl at my school once said to me that if she was having a baby, and she found out that the baby had ginger hair, she would have an abortion. Nice.

No one should be allowed to get away with pickng on any one for the way that they look. It's not acceptable. I was always told that If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I think that people being kind hearted is more important than being intelligent, pretty or wealthy.

I hope that your ds is ok now op.

QOD Sun 20-May-12 21:11:47

I was watch Keith Lemon the other day and he cracks endless jokes about being ginger, I wondered if that made being ginger MORE positive or if it had an adverse affect? Ie he's cool, funny and currently trendy?
What do red heads think?
Dd has a ginger friend, her mum has insisted she's strawberry blonde, friend has aspergers and so always speaks back arguing that she's not ginger etc, it makes it all worse as the bullies love to get a reaction.

I c&p'd a thread off facebook about her the other day, bitching about her and her food intolerances and ginger ism and personality traits..... And emailed it to the head with ALL the participants names grin

FrauGrau Sun 20-May-12 21:05:07

Sorry loads of typos in last post. Should have reread before posting (autocorrect, I hate you!!)

FrauGrau Sun 20-May-12 21:03:27

First of all I want to say that along with some of the other posters, I think ginger/gold/ auburn/red hair is absolutely gorgeous !!! the idiots who make these negative comments are idiots with no aesthetic sense!
Do not blame the schools for bring unsupportive just because they can't solve the problem- it's your kid, and you having solved it either. Not an ideal answer I know but trust me if your kid stands up yo the bullies that will be an end to it. I have been there and done that. I have also seen it mang many times as a teacher myself. Professionally I couldnt endorse violence, but privately I know it works. Act like a victim and you become a victim. Sorry , but there it is.

schilke Thu 17-May-12 09:48:31

suburbandream - that was fab!!

suburbandream Fri 04-May-12 20:15:39

blush Just seen that this is a really old thread! Hope things are much better now, OP

suburbandream Fri 04-May-12 18:51:18

sad I can't add any words of wisdom that haven't already been said, but I can offer you this to cheer you up (any excuse to see a bit of my favourite redhead wink) Tim Minchin Prejudice

newgirl Fri 04-May-12 18:32:15

I think your child should reply by saying 'you are racist'. They are making comments based on his colouring. I don't see how it is different from comments about skin colour.

mightymouth Wed 14-Mar-12 12:06:13

Your son deserves to be happy and feel safe at school and the school has a duty to keep him safe. They should be doing group work on how unacceptable it is to make remarks about anybody being different - difference should be celebrated. Ask the school what they are actively doing to prevent bullying. Name calling about appearance is the most common form of bullying in many schools.

Your son might find it helpful to practice some witty retorts at home so that he can appear cool and fend off the bullying. If bullies see that they have upset him they are more likely to keep at it. Try 'Yeah I'm ginger, your hair's a bit dull!' or what kind of colour is yours? or Yeah - at least my hair is a definite colour - or unique or special. or Yeah I'm ginger and proud of it,

schilke Sun 11-Mar-12 11:06:18

Meant to add that i received a lovely email from pantomime company saying they were very sorry about the ginger joke and would remove it from next years productions. They seemed genuinely apologetic. Normally i would have let it go, but coming on top of a term of bullying it just seemed so wrong that adults were laughing about "can't go out with him because he's ginger".

For ds2 no bullying this term - not sure if school found the culprits or if, unfortunately, new term new victim.

Emmaroos Wed 15-Feb-12 01:38:57

The difficulty with "ginger" bullying is that the term crosses the boundary from affection (as used in your own family) to friendly teasing from genuine friends to harassment and abuse, which is what your son is experiencing. It is too easy for a teacher to take the lazy way out and conveniently assume that your son is over-reacting to "friendly" teasing and to not take any real action. The whole PC thing DOES irritate me, but I guess the system is what it is, so you might as well make it work for you. Inform the school of the harassment and play the race card because it is one of the few issues that scares the bejaysus out of school authorities and will force them to act. Point out that the bullying IS race related...people of certain Celtic ethnicities have red hair while others do not. Ask what their racial bullying policy is and what strategies they employ to deal with it and ask them to keep you informed of what actions they have taken. Any vaguely competent teacher will deal with it in such a way that your son is protected from any suggestion that he grassed the bullies up. If I were you I would also explain to your son that it isn't really about his hair colour. There is nothing right or wrong with having red hair any more than there is with being short or tall, or fair skinned or dark, but that anything a little less common gets noticed, and when people are young and insecure they big themselves up by trying to put other people down. Explain to him that many of the peripheral bullies probably feel quite bad about being mean to him, but they don't have the confidence to be individuals and are following the pack. It is horrible to see your child distressed, so I hope he has some strong friends around him for moral support and gets through this difficult time.

mamakemp Thu 09-Feb-12 09:39:30

It makes me really sad to see all these posts about bullying because someone has red hair. It seems that it's okay to make fun of ginger hair, and it's in mainstream comedy all the time. But it isn't okay. Why should one set of people be the permanent butt of everyone else's humour. It might be slightly different from racism, but it's a slippery slope, all part of disrespect for one another. So good on you for writing to the pantomime company. You've inspired me to complain next time I hear such a joke. And when we all start to complain, when we all stop laughing, then the taunts might stop. And by the way, my god daughter who is a stunner, and gets stopped in the street, asked if she is a model, has a huge mop of glorious red hair. She was teased as a child. But not now. So tell your son to love his gorgeous hair, and be proud of himself. And his mother!

Sixer Tue 07-Feb-12 00:16:43

My DS 1 has Beautiful red hair, he's 10. His take is.... that it's acceptable from very close 'mates', he is proud to be the 'Ginger ninja' whilst playing sport and proud of his colour and history. However if said out of spite/meaness/name calling, he knows this is wrong, very wrong... in his words "This is the colour I was born. It's the same if someone has another colour of skin." He's big, some will try...I just hope he's smart enough!

schilke Wed 04-Jan-12 16:06:37

I have just written an email to the Pantomime production company complaining about the ginger "joke". Ds2 came home from school taunt free today - first day for ages.

JuliaScurr Wed 04-Jan-12 14:42:01

cake smile
A lot of it boils down to 'acting like an arse' but we now have Jeremy Clarkson et al whittering about political correctness gone mad if we don't collapse with mirth at their hilarious comments. Which actually aren't hilarious if you're on the receiving end

cakeismysaviour Wed 04-Jan-12 13:46:36

Juila you make some really interesting points. smile

I think it needs to be made socially unacceptable to bully/victimise/discriminate against people because of their hair colour or size. It isn't the exactly same as racism, but it does share some of the characteristics of it, as it involves people being bullied for their appearance.

JuliaScurr Wed 04-Jan-12 13:27:39

I never got teased at school etc, but this was 65-75 ish, so gits were picking on disabled/black/asian/gay. Now we're (meant to be) more civilised, ginger is one of the few things left. Size is fair game, too. It's not the same as racism; we never had seperate water fountains or back of the bus seats, but red hair does come from poorer areas of UK where people were historically oppressed, eg Scotland & Ireland. So I think it's one of the few characteristics left that are acceptable to pick on. Boys might like to know that red head men are really popular with women in USA.

cakeismysaviour Wed 04-Jan-12 13:10:54

schilke - I wouldn't have been able to restrain myself from complaining to staff at the panto venue about that. Would they make a joke about someone who is black? No they wouldn't, so they shouldn't be able to get away with insulting people with ginger hair.

Mind you, one of my bullies got an insult about my ginger hair into our yearbook. sad

My baby has ginger hair too, and it upsets me already to think that he might have to deal with this.

Mrsrobertduvall Wed 04-Jan-12 12:47:35

Definitely speak to the school but also arm your ds with strategies....next time anyone comes out with a comment, tell him to look really bored and say "Is that the best you can do?" "heard that one so many times before" "not very original are you?"
And say it loud and proud so others here...makes the other kid look stupid.

Although it hurts inside, try and get him to appear that he doesn't care, laugh it off, look positive. Bullies want a reaction...they will not expect someone standing up to them.

schilke Wed 04-Jan-12 12:40:33

Sorry cakeismysaviour and anyone else if I misquoted you. I read in a hurry and felt the gist was to ignore the teasing. I am highly sensitive on the subject at the moment!

Ds2 even had to put up with a ginger joke in the panto we went to the other day - silly billy suggests princess marries prince william, oh no he's taken ..what about prince harry, no way he's ginger - say all characters in unison. He has already said he's dreading the summer when his hair seems brighter and his freckles come out.

Someone even laughed at my 7 year old dd1 the other day - as we walked past boy laughed and said "God look at that ginger" I couldn't reply I was so shocked.

I do not have ginger hair myself, but 2 of my 4 children do. My mum's hair was ginger (now white!) and she had no problems at school, but that was in the 50s.

cakeismysaviour Wed 04-Jan-12 11:56:53

schilke - I absolutely did not 'suggest' that the Op's DS should put up with this bullying. As I stated in my post, I suffered very very badly from this type of bullying, to the extent that I ran away from home in an attempt to escape it, and would never suggest that a child should not do anything about it.

My reply reflected the fact that the bullying suffered by the OP's DS can hopefully be nipped in the bud now before it gets worse (like the bullying suffered by myself and your DS2).

Do agree that informing school is a good idea though even if it has now stopped, because the teachers can keep an eye out in case it happens again.

QueenKong Wed 04-Jan-12 11:35:29

Hi Schikle.

So sorry to hear your son is being bullied. I definitely would agree that you should get the school involved. I'm sure they wouldn't tolerate it now. My own experience was that my school couldn't give a shiny one about my situation. But that was 30 years ago now! I'm sure schools are now much better at tackling this sort of thing. My post was only meant to reassure that, for me, things got better as everyone grew up a bit. I didn't mean to sound insensitive.

JollyJinglyJoo Wed 04-Jan-12 08:58:42

sad I'm another one who took a lot of grief at school due to my red hair, and I'm really saddened that it still goes on all these years later. I actually prayed that none of my dc would have red hair- not because I don't like it, but because I knew how horrible it was to be singled out for it.

I agree it should be up there with racist bullying. It's not just "teasing" at all. Really hope people start realising this and it becomes as socially unacceptable to tease redheads as it does any other minority

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