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September 23, 2010

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Catherine

It's interesting that you raise this topic today. I've just heard of an incident of bullying through Facebook that occurred yesterday. It involved kids in my older son's grade at school (Grade 9) where some kids were planning on ambushing a boy in their class. I hope that the school deals with this quickly and effectively, sending out the message that this behavior is unacceptable. I feel terrible for the intended victim and his family. I think that the bullies need an 'in your face' talking-to as well as concrete consequences.

gary rith

I live under that rock and this was all new to me. The teacher and author of Angela's Ashes Frank McCourt says repeatedly "why do people have to bother other people?" and it is so true. Author and cartoonist Lynda Barry talks of her childhood with a variety of bullies including her parents, and says they treated her as though sensitive was something you could deal with like cutting long hair short. Anyway, don't bullies have anything better to do??????

Diane

I am currently going through an assessment with my youngest daughter that will determine if she is eligible for state services. In our intake interview, she spoke haltingly of bullying while she was in school. Some of it I knew about, but some was new to me. On more than one occasion I had conversations with teachers and principles about protecting vulnerable students... students that don't have the right words when they get home to even tell their parents what is happening. I understand exactly where the Dad in the video is coming from.

green girl in wisconsin

There is a line--I've never had to get involved to defend my children in that situation, but you're right. We DO have to be careful not to turn the bully into a victim. And I still think the best defense is a good offense--confident people who aren't afraid aren't bullied. More confidence = less bullying.

kellyg

My son is autistic and was not very verbal when he was younger. Even now I'm not sure he would tell me if anyone bullied him. But, fortunately, his school seems to be very pro-active when it comes to bullying. My son has a great social worker at his school who includes NT students in a lot of her session with the ASD kids. It serves to give the ASD kids models and shows the NT kids that the ASD kids are just a little quirky, not weird.

As far as the Dad on the bus, if he didn't exhaust his resources at his daughter's school, then yes, I do think he went too far. I haven't been able to find any information on that -- if the Dad tried talking to anyone at the school. I'm kind of going with the assumption that he did alert the teachers and principal at his daughter's school because in the News Stalker video at the end he does seem contrite about his actions and that they were born out of frustration. Unfortunately, as you said, his actions only make the bullies into victims now. I really do hope the charges get dropped. But if the bullies' parents push to keep those charges in place, I hope the Dad fights back. I'm not usually one to start screaming "Sue them!" but in this case, if the Dad did talk to the school and the transportation department, maybe he then countersues the school and the parents of the bullies.

As for your discussion with DB's bully, I don't think you went too far. I've been on both sides of this. When my daughter was about DB's age, we were in a playgroup and there was a boy who just would not leave her alone -- pulling her hair, taking the toys away, pushing her. The kid's mom would apologize but she never really did anything about it. I just stopped going to the playgroup. I wasn't really sure why this boy wouldn't leave Q alone. 18 months seems a little early for real bullying but I'm not really sure what else to call it.

As I said, my son is autistic and last year we were at a Children's Museum. DH and I were both helping Q and not paying that close of attention to son. Then all of a sudden this man started yelling at my son. Apparently, K was walking into his 18 month old and knocking him down. I apologized profusely to this very large man to get him to stop yelling at my child. I didn't even try to explain the autism thing. I was afraid that would lead to a round of "why do you even let him out of the house, then". In that case, I do feel like the guy went too far, but some of it is because of the guy's size and the fact that instead of speaking quietly to my son, he just started yelling. If the situation had been reversed, I know I would have been just as upset as the man. But I would have just moved my kid out of the situation and to another part of the museum.

Oh and one last thing -- would the Sheriff's Dept. really have followed up if that Dad had come to them about the bullying? I just don't see it happening. Maybe, at the very least, if the Sheriff had then talked to the school authorities that would have woken them up.

ok. this is long enough. sorry to take over your comments.

busy bee suz

I think the Father had every right to confront the bullies as well as the bus driver. Of course, he could have done it with a bit less temper, but I am sure by this time, he was losing his mind. I too hope that the charges are dropped.
Kudos to you for taking charge of the little bully!

Brightside-Susan

I don't think you were too harsh with DB's bully. He knew he was doing something bad and would keep doing it until he was clear there were consequences. You made it clear.

As for the dad. I think the hightened anger and foul language is what got him in trouble. If he had spoken with the same message but different manner, I don't think it would have made the news or gotten him arrested. I do hope they let him off.

Heather

I never quite get why some parents get so incensed if another parent reiterates a rule to their kid, or points out to them they've had quite a long turn on the swings, etc., when done in a kind manner. I also think it's a uniquely American thing. In many other countries you have any stranger both policing and keeping all the children safe.
I pointed out a rule in a sing-songy good-natured way to a child wrecking havoc at a Children's Museum the other day (before I knew his mom was sitting right there), and the mom asked me if I was one of the staff. When I said no, she gave me an evil look and told the child it was OK to keep breaking the rule (taking toys out of the appropriate room). I think what you did to the older kid at co-op falls in the completely acceptable realm. (Plus in my opinion it's totally what co-op preschool is all about.) I would take exception with calling a three year old a bully, though. Three is before a child has a real handle on controlling his emotions and being able to verbalize them. The same behavior in, say, a kindergartener or older, yes, is a bully.

aaryn b.

I am completely new to this, as I don't watch television. But I completely sympathize with this father. He lost his temper and didn't handle the situation in the best way; however, the reaction of the mother of one of the bulliers is so telling. She should be horrified---HORRIFIED---that her child is involved with bullying, and especially the kind that the father had reported.

I think it's all well and good to say, "raise your child with confidence and then they can stand up to bullies." But the reality is that this might not always be enough. Certainly in this case, where the bullied child is disabled on some level.

I am three weeks into my public school experience. When I take my daughter to class in the morning, there are 150 kindergarteners waiting in the lunch area to be taken to their classes. There are roughly two adult school officials present and only a handful of parents. On Monday, I mediated two arguments between classmates of my daughter who were kicking and screaming at each other. I looked around to see where the administrators were and they were nowhere.

Parents cannot leave the education of their children up to the schools, and by that I mean their instructional education and their interpersonal education. Bullies need to be identified and called on their behaviors by any adult who is present. The hem-and-haw-just-call-authorities tack is preposterous. Phoebe Prince's family went to authorities and now she's dead. Her bullies even went on to laugh at her after her suicide.

You better believe I would board a bus and defend my child just like that dad did.

Suzy

The TV poll I saw had 98% of the people agreeing with the dad, 2% against him.

He spoke to the school. They did nothing.

When you're dealing with bullies you have to DEAL WITH THEM ON A LEVEL THEY UNDERSTAND. Which means YOU have to turn into a bully.

Jenn, DB was no longer tortured by the child you spoke to. But did he go on to bully other kids with less proactive mothers? My guess is that he did.

I was in a store with another blogger here in Hollywood and there was a kid hanging around us yelling and touching everything and just generally being a nuisance. His mother was nowhere to be found. I turned to him and said "Beat it, kid."

He stopped and walked away.

Mama Hen Em

I missed your post last week, being that we were on vacation, but wanted to weigh in on the topic. Both of my children have been bullied. For both of them it started in Kindergarten. With my son, I spoke to the teacher, who told me the other child was so sweet she just couldn't believe it. By the time they reached first grade, the other boy, twice the size of my child, "body checked" my kid to the black top where he then hit his head (because my child told him to stop bullying the girls). All of this at recess, with zero supervision. My son told me about it when I picked him up from school and by the time I got home I had two phone messages from two other parents whose children had told them what happened. I called the other parent IMMEDIATELY and let her know that if she chose not to address it with her kid, then it was coming down at the school. Period. We never had an issue with that child again.

Just last year, with my daughter a new Kindie, a boy pulled her jeans and panties down to her ankles while she hung from the monkey bars at recess (the same child who had previously threatened to kill her brother and repeatedly told her she was the ugliest girl in class). She was MORTIFIED. The same Kindergarten teacher didn't even tell me about. I am very lucky to have children who know they can tell me ANYTHING. After being told by my daughter what happend, I called the teacher who my girl had told, and she confirmed it. I was LIVID. I immediately involved the administration, who called the child into the office and made his parents come and get him. That evening the mom brought her kid over to apologize.

My kids know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I have their back and if I had called the parent or the school and either one had refused to protect my kids, then I would absolutely be that man on the bus. I appreciated the other parents responding appropriately to their kids bullying mine, but the teacher failed BOTH of my kids. In a school with a zero tolerance policy.

Nic

I absolutely don't think you went too far, Jenn - DB could have been really badly hurt and you'd taken previous steps before speaking to the kid directly. Plus, you don't say, but I can't imagine you waving your arms around threateningly and promising to kill anyone!

I'm under the non-USA rock so this was the first time I had heard about the bus-driver. If he had been less aggressive it would have been preferable. That said, I don't blame him for losing his cool and I hope he gets a 'pass' for his behaviour - it would be remarkable to me if he didn't. What I'm saying is that his behaviour was less than exemplary, but criminal? In the circumstances, I don't think so. Of course the police had no choice but to pursue it, and he should stand the charge (of assault, or whatever they would throw at him) but let's hope he gets off.

I'm not sure whether I agree with Suzy's assessment of the need to become a bully to deal with bullies - that's a little too close to the justification for everyone needing guns and nuclear weapons for my taste. My philosophical standpoint tends to lean away from a kind of 'levelling up' approach to any aggression towards a 'leading by example' levelling down.

Fannie

Unless than man has known “anger management" issues I think we can assume that he had been pushed to his limit. I have taken more than one child to task for hurting another child – even when the child hurt was not my own.

mom taxi julie

The schools all preach the 0 tolerance and yet they do nothing. I totally applaud that dad. Yes he should have done it without the cussing but he was probably so upset it just came out. Everytime the elementry school has their 0 tolerance assemblies I just roll my eyes because they obviously don't stand behind their "rules".

kcinnova

I'm with you 100% in both instances.

I saw the footage and report on the news the other day. Did the dad go too far? Yes, because he cursed like a sailor and threatened the bullies with his person. Had it been me, would I have done the same? I'm quite sure I would have (although minus the f-bombs). It is our duty to protect our children. However horrified anyone is over this situation (and yes, the dad blew his top), his daughter would have been harmed had he done nothing. Inaction would have loudly stated, "I don't care." She now knows for sure that Dad has her back. In this case, it was love in action. And HOPEFULLY those bullies have been dealt with appropriately by the school AND their parents.

I've also had to intervene for my son on the playground, although the situation was not as bad as DB's. If the other parents aren't going to deal with the problem being caused by their child(ren) then it is totally up to us to step in.

gina

I'm probably in the minority here but I think that Dad went too far. If he had talked with the school and they refused to do anything then he should have talked with the police before ever getting on that bus. It's a terrible thing that his daughter is being bullied but the way he acted did nothing but give the bullies excuses to continue behaving badly. Now they are victims and can justify their bad behavior and, obviously, their parents are now more focused on protecting their babies than disciplining them. Instead of protecting his daughter this father has actually drawn attention away from the real problem and has done little to insure that she will be safer on the bus.

However, I do not think that you went too far at the co-op preschool. You were supervising the playground and enforcing rules. You didn't threaten to hurt the kid or degrade him.. you told him to stop an inappropriate behavior. When my oldest son was in preschool I was thankful for other mothers that would remind him of the rules because he needed constant reminding and I wasn't capable of seeing everything.

jenrantsraves

I do NOT see the bullying kids as victims, because of what happened. I think they deserved to be yelled at (not sworn at, though), and since the parents didn't appear to be doing that, I'm glad someone did. I will never forget the time a few kids cut in front of me and my fiance, in line at the movies. He didn't yell, but he very sternly stated, "You need to get behind us, and wait your turn like everyone else". Five seconds later, the mother was in his face screaming and spitting at him, saying "Don't you ever tell my kid what to do" (but in much more... uh... colorful language).

Life with Kaishon

I think he did the right thing. I feel livid that his child was being treated so horrendously. I would yell at the kids as well. They deserved it.

PS I must live under a rock because I hadn't heard one thing about this!

Little Miss Sunshine State

This happened in our county, so I have seen a few interviews with the parents. The Mom said she had contacted the school because of the bus issue and hadn't gotten a return call. The dad was also on tv with an apology that he felt bad for scaring the kids that weren't involved in the bullying.

Since we moved to FL, I am APPALLED at the stories I hear about kids down here. The news has daily stories about kids physically and emotionally torturing each other. The teenagers are attacking each other with guns and knives. Every day is seems that there is an incident in one of the high schools in the next county.

We had a similiar situation with a neighbor kid picking on both our kids. I confronted the bully after getting nowhere with Grandma and I decided to scare the kid into thinking I was going to the police. Of course, grandma decided to turn it into a "racial prejudice" issue and luckily I had the school principal on my side. He let us have a mediation session in his office.

reluctant blogger

I hadn't heard about this but then I am across the sea and often asleep when the news comes on anyway!

But yes, I guess the trick, if you can manage it, is not to lose your temper. You can say all the same things but in a cool calm voice with good eye contact and no finger pointing and swearing. But that is hard when it is your child and a situation has built up over time and you feel you have tried every means to get it sorted out officially.

I have never had to deal with bullying - not yet anyway. I am sure I will at some point and I hope I can be calm like you were and don't get the kitchen knife out of the drawer!

reluctant blogger

Oh and you do write such fabulous posts - not just the subject matters you choose, but the way that you write and also the fact that you are always so wise.

kcinnova

Just watched the video you posted above. I had only seen the news coverage of the dad and missed the clip of the one bully's mom. Good Grief!! She's all up in arms about someone swearing at her kid (while she's swearing herself, of course) but has ZERO concern over the fact that her kid has been named as one who has done some horrible things.
Any news coverage of me would have been my backside as I dragged my kid home by his ear before I yelled in his face to confirm what that poor girl's dad had already said to him. And then I would have been working out school punishment/discipline with the school officials.

I am angry all over again. I hope the girl's dad gets a "pass" for his overwrought emotions and verbage.

~annie

A few previous comments mention raising kids to be confident as a preventive to them being bullied.
Looks to me like that boy with the cussing mother has lots of confidence. Confidence that he can do whatever he wants, right or wrong, and his mother will be on his side. So, yeah - that kid isn't likely to be bullied by anyone.
No matter how much confidence dad tries to instill in his disabled daughter without support from the school and community there's a good chance the girl will always be vulnerable as a target.
Without knowing the details, I can't say whether I'm on the dad's side or not. Was this the first or an isolated incident of bullying the girl endured and dad overreacted? Or had he tried to solve this going though other channels before he was pushed to the limit?

Bramble

I understand where this Dad's emotions were in wanting to shut down the bullying but what if he had lost complete control and hurt a child? I wish he had used the proper channels to deal with this, sparing himself the criminal aspect. I found it disturbing that though the boy speaking in the interview was targeted by the Dad, neither he nor his mother took accountability for HIS actions that were inexcusable to begin with. He's almost smirking while being interviewed as if he got away with something. THAT I think is the real shame here. And WHAT was wrong with that bus driver to allow it to go on? Our bus drivers pull over and if need be call the police and have students removed.Might be extreme but it shut this behavior down fast years ago.

mrs. g.

Go Dad! He tried the proper channels and was ignored. It's a shame he blew his stack but he is going to pay the price and it's evident from the cameras stalking him that he knows he handled himself inappropriately. Would I have done the same thing? I doubt it, but I would have made a scene somewhere.

Chronic bullying affects children for life. It changes who they are. Imagine being a child victimized in the place you spend most of your time and having the grown ups who run that place do nothing. It's criminal.

mrs. g.

Also, I agreed with your post last week about raising self confident children is a good way to help prevent them from being victims of bullies. But I have also seen self confident children exhausted and worn down by bullies. Not everyone has parents who jump right in the ring or are even aware that there is a problem until it is a serious problem.

I do find comfort that the issue of bullying has finally made it above the radar in the educational system and that there are teachers like you in the world.

suburbancorrespondent

Well, it's official - I live under a rock. Hadn't even heard of it until now...

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