February 04, 2004

Dealing with a bully at school

Michele is going through it. Paul is too. Some kid at school is picking on your kid, and how do you handle it if the teacher/principal/school system won't?

My solution was simple, although it took a long time before I finally implemented it. I tried the reasonable parent approach, talking to the various authority figures involved and giving the system time to work.

It didn't work.

One afternoon I got a call from the principal. She was a nice lady and we got along well enough, although in this matter she'd been ineffective. I'll never forget her first words:

"You can't teach your child that!"

I knew exactly what I she was talking about. She was upset. My son had informed his 3rd grade teacher that his new policy was "massive retaliation". When the startled teacher asked what he meant, TJ gave her the whole littany that I'd drilled into his head over the weekend.

"The next time (bully) picks on me, I'm going to hurt him. I will kick him in the groin. I will hit him with a book, or I will hit him with a chair. I will hit him with anything I can find. And I will keep hitting him until a teacher pulls me off of him."

The teacher was horrified and immediately called the principal. TJ repeated it to her, and that's when she called me. I also let her know that it applied to my daughters as well. If any of my children witnessed a sib having trouble, they were to immediately jump in with "massive retaliation". The crap was going to stop, once and for all. I figured once or twice would be all it took. It worked even better than that, because the school staff decided to do what should have happend in the first place, namely deal with the bully instead of blaming the victim.

Interestingly enough, a year later my son did get into a fight with a different kid that cut into line ahead of him. The kid outweighed my son by 30 lbs, but was so surprised when TJ fought back that it never happened again. They all thought my son was crazy.

Posted by Ted at February 4, 2004 07:33 AM
Category: Boring Stories


It's the only thing that works.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 4, 2004 10:22 AM

That story is so typical of the liberal school establishment. They won't do anything to protect kids if they are being bullied, but they will punish you if you fight back.

I, like you Ted, say bring it on. The punishment the school dishes out will always be far less than the punishment a kid recieves from the bullying.

Posted by: Rocket Man Blog at February 4, 2004 04:05 PM

Excellent tip. I was wondering what to do about that very problem. The best bit is telling the teacher how it will be handled because that gets them to solve the main problem.

Posted by: Ozguru at February 4, 2004 06:22 PM

I'll have to remember that - I have a nine month old son. I especially like the phrasing of your policy. "Massive Retaliation." Heh. If it was good enough for us in the cold war, it's good enough for me and my son.

Posted by: buckethead at February 4, 2004 06:49 PM

"You can't teach your child that!" Now there's a classic quote.

Posted by: TL Hines at February 5, 2004 04:05 PM

Nice work!

Posted by: Mr. Green at February 5, 2004 10:39 PM

i love it Ted. That's the only way to get those administrators to do their job, i guess.

Posted by: annika at February 5, 2004 10:53 PM

a long time ago-

i was set upon by 3 bullies while doing my paper route. they pretty much kicked my ass.

long story short, my dad was pissed, and ordered me to resolve the matter regardless.

at school the next day, i caught bully #1 and pretty much hammered him.

result: suspended 1 week.

upon returning to school i caught bully # 2 in the hall. same action, same result, another 1 week vacation.

same story with bully # 3. this time the principal told me i would not be coming back if it happened again. i related the whole story to him and said i doubt there will need to be an encore.

no one EVER bothered me in school again.


Posted by: coyote at February 6, 2004 01:28 PM

Sometimes, there's just no education like a good a$$ whipping.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at February 6, 2004 04:48 PM

IMO, it is a mistake to verbalize threats. You lose the element of surprise and make yourself a target for lawsuits and/or CPS home invasion. My kids were taught to defend themselves and they had the occasion to do that a couple times. Saturday school and suspensions were served with pride. If you raise kids to be healthy, strong, smart and happy, they will take care of themselves.

Posted by: Horst Graben at February 7, 2004 01:08 PM

I had to work out the massive retaliation bit for myself (my father told me about it, but I was too timid to try it for a long time). I was the youngest in the class and small for my age. I got bullied a lot. One day one of the principal bullies pushed in front of me in the queue for lunch. I smacked him in the face and gave him a huge black eye. He squealed like a stick pig. Not once was I touched at that school after that.

When I changed schools at age fourteen I took this lesson with me. I was yet to experience my growth spurt and a larger boy in my year decided he was going to rough me up. I kneed him in the balls: collapse of stout party. Word got round that I was a psycho and was not to be messed with. Funny thing is, I got to be pretty good friends with the guy whose nuts I kicked. These days I look like a thug so no-one messes with me anyway...

Posted by: David Gillies at February 10, 2004 07:20 PM

go to www.straightblastgym.net and learn the difference between "functional" martial art and "show" or "traditional" martial art.
Boxers are the second toughest kids in school next to the wrestlers. Fighting ends on the ground, but a person needs to know how to control the other man's weight and his distance at all times. These two are the essences of boxing, greco roman wrestling, and brazilian jiujitsu. One must have a "coach" not a "teacher", "sensei" "guru" or "sifu". A coach teaches performance athletes to make the most of their inherent abilities. Read "street vs. sport" article on the site, and the other articles, and make your own decision.

This knowledge will make it so your children will be safe for the rest of their lives. More often than not they will make the cool-minded, intelligent decision in all situations if they TRULY know how to defend themselves. Standard martial arts school do not give this knowledge. "Self-defense" classes for your daughters will NOT keep her from getting assaulted or beaten. Susie must work out and train just as hard as Johnny if she is to one day defend herself from Johnny's attacks.

To some parents this sort of talk may sound extreme. You are fortunate. A child must learn while young to hold his/her head high, because the world will tear it down. Because the child feels they could not adequately defend themselves (should it go that far, and in school, it can always go that far)they will take many insults and put downs.

No child should do this. All children should respond with courage (not necessarily aggrssiveness). But to have courage, one must know they can represent themselves well.

It is heartening to see the number of parents that are behind their children, empowering them. On the other hand, the level of violence that could be influenced could be regrettable. However, I tend to think the bully has it coming.

I just wanted to add my two cents.

Posted by: answer quietly at November 4, 2004 09:01 PM
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