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talktome
talktome asks:
Q:

My son defended himself against a bully and now he's being punished.  What should I do?

My 11 yr old son has had issues at school with a bully.  this child is obnoxious and out of control but his mom works for another school in another county than where the kids involved go.  This boy threatened my son that he was going to cut him.  I went to the principle with this information but was not taken seriously.  The next mornig at school this boy was taunting my son during breakfast.  My son went to put his tray up and the other boy called him a name.  My son hit the boy one time and walked away, just to make a point.  My son got suspended for ten days, now know that my son is an a-b student and has never been in trouble before but this is the second time that this bully has threatened a student with a knife.  My son also has simple assult charges brought against him for this but the other boy suffered no punishment for his actions.  I am now dealing with juvenile services as well as charges brought against me for telling my son to do this.   I feel that my son was punished harshly considering this was a first time offense...ever...and now he has been cut out of basketball and school dances even though his last day of suspension is friday.  My son has been punished enough for his actions but at the same time he is being thanked by all ages of school students because somebody, being my son finally made a stand against this school bully and said enough is enough.  I would appreciate any input you have whether it be positive or negative.  
In Topics: Working with my child's teacher(s), Bullying and teasing
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
Jan 8, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

Hi Rendee,

It sounds like this is a very difficult time for you and your son. It must be very frustrating for your son to have suffered through the challenges of being bullied and now struggle with the consequences of an active, but aggressive response. My thoughts are with you and your son.

I imagine there are a variety of perspectives on the question of whether your son's actions were appropriate or not, but I personally believe aggression is not an appropriate response unless one is physically threatened or attacked. I understand that your son was responding to a verbal threat of violence, which is completely inappropriate, but it is important that your son learn non-violent strategies for managing conflict. Unfortunately, there will most likely be many situations in his life in which he is feeling stressed and threatened, and it is of the utmost importance that he develop more effective strategies.

That said, I believe that the punishment and response on the part of the school is pretty severe. Thus, I would suggest that you do some work to review the school's philosophy regarding bullying. Have they followed through on their words regarding your initial conversation with the principal? Also, you might suggest some alternative forms of punishment for your son that seem more consistent with the actions of a "first time offender." Perhaps, instead of losing his privileges to participate in sports and school functions, he could write a letter to the principal or other student explaining that he understands that his actions were inappropriate, and he will commit to community service at the school. Maybe, other parents have suggestions for alternative consequences?

It does seem like you will have to work hard to advocate for your son in this case. And, in the future, if your son continues to struggle with bullying, here is a nice article that details strategies for parents:
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_What_Parents_Can_Do/

Good luck!

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Additional Answers (5)

michaelbartone
michaelbart... writes:
Hey Rendee,<br />
<br />
I agree with Laura that your son's punishment was quite severe. Being bullied is never a good thing and standing up for ones' self is crucial. I agree with Laura that your son find alternative ways to channel his frustrations and deal with the bully. I do not believe in violence of any kind. I know I am the minority in this belief, but I always taught my children to use &quot;diplomacy&quot; instead of fists. I was taught to fight back, but I never did not even with words because I was too embarrassed.<br />
<br />
That being said I am going to share something with you. First, as a teacher we were always told that if nothing physical happens not much can be done. I know you are frustrated, but I see your situation as they relate to things that occurred in my classroom. It is unfortunate, but I always told my students if we don't see it we can't do much, it's one kid&acirc;
> 60 days ago

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Tyler&Harly
Tyler&Harly , Student writes:
I believe that the punishment he got was very unfair he was only standing up the Bully
> 60 days ago

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teachufu
teachufu writes:
As a martial arts expert I (humbly) am going to offer a different perspective…

The “Physical Action” is the result of something very – very wrong LONG BEFORE IT BECAME VIOLENT. There where signs; breathing patterns, facial expressions, body jesters, verbal attacks and so on. Most often a rattle snake warns you before they strike, most often bully’s do also.

These (warning signs) are sometimes ignored. For many reasons; negative media impression, violence in games, lack of training, lack of awareness, low self esteem (to trust their personal safety intuition). Perhaps?

I believe that “self-defense” is most effective if the MIND is defensive to these impressions that lead to potential crises. Strategies that are pre-planned so that are in alignment with family values, morals, and spiritual values. This protects the child's self-esteem, confidence while going through critical stages of personal discovery and development.

Although the consequences are harsh. Do not be a victim to the situation. Be honest, what have you learned? By taking responsibility you have control to change! We can not change the past or people (without time and opportunity). Show your child true personal power with love. Find out what other challenges he is facing, dig for them, (Car time usually works great). I encourage research as you are obviously doing!

Children face incredible challenges daily! They are forced to make choices. Some children are prepared (with LOVE and LOGIC) and some are not (they guess = 50% success ratio). Which would you prefer for your child prepared or guessing?

Just a thought to consider.
> 60 days ago

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Chekhov
Chekhov writes:
How much bullying does a kid have to take before he snaps? Why is the kid that throws the first punch the aggressor? How about who made the hostile situation? Why do bullies continue to get away with this? My daughter was in the same situation. After being called anorexic, a druggy, a crack whore, and then told they hope she overdoses and dies, over months and then being tormented for three hours in school by text, she couldn't keep her rage in and let this girl have it.  Should my daughter have committed suicide instead? Is that the only way these bullies get recognized? This is one messed up world we live in.
> 60 days ago

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hummingbyrd1
hummingbyrd1 writes:
you know what you should do, you should protest about it because no body should go through this. i went through this the beginning of the school year and it should not happen to innocent people. i understand you and what you are going through.
> 60 days ago

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