Parenting Dilemna

My second grade son got in a fight on the school bus yesterday. He threw the first punch at a sixth grader who had been picking on him for a few months now. He came out with a big lump on his forehead and a very bloody nose.

I had to go to school and watch him being interviewed by the police. And the police had to fill out a police report. Its friggin’ weird, the times we live in now. He’s only 7, and now there’s a police report out there where he’s mentioned as engaging in disorderly conduct.

Some good came out of it. We found out that there was a group of sixth grade boys who were picking on the younger ones in the back of the bus. The kids have assigned seats, and they mixed all the grades up. Now they’re having the little ones sit up front near the bus driver, so that he can keep an eye on the situation.

I feel very stuck, because I can’t condone violence, and my son did throw the first punch. But he only did that because he’d had enough. He told the big kid three times to get out of his face, and the kid didn’t. So I’m kinda proud that my kid stood up for himself in a bad situation. All the same I have to punish him, because I don’t want to ignore agressive behavior.

So I’ve grounded him from all computer/tv activities for two weeks. All the same, there’s a huge part of me that says “way to go!”. I think violent behavior is necessary sometimes, but I’m afraid to condone what he did.

Did he tell anyone (like you, a teacher or the bus driver) that he was being picked on before he escalated the situation? If so, they probably would have at least attempted to deal with the situation before it exploded. You should make sure he understands that he needs to try to get help from adults, when possible, and that violence is only to be used in response to violent aggression.

Don’t condone what he did, just say that he shouldn’t throw the first punch unless he’s certain the other person intends to hurt him. Violence is generally unnecesary, but sometimes you just have to defend yourself.

Y’know, my gut response would be “Son, I’m proud of you for not taking any s@#$. and the folks from your school who called the cops are just covering their a$$. You’ll end up in similar situations througout your life, and it doesn’t get any easier.” Of course, my wife would have none of that…

You wouldn’t happen to be GWB, would you? :smiley:

Wow. I’d have a tough time with this. (Just like you are, duh.) I think I would be (a little) proud of him for being brave enough to stand up to a SIXTH GRADER. eep I mean aren’t sixth graders twice his size? I’m not sure I would’ve grounded him. He probably got enough punishment in the scuffle to begin with and was scared enough by the police coming by the school.

I would definitely explain the right and wrong things in the situation (on both sides), and at least make sure he realizes that I’m on his side and that I believe him.

As an aside, since they made your son fill out a report to the police, if you wanted to be difficult, could you get a restraining order or file harrassment paperwork? Since they’re going to be ridiculous about this, there’s no reason why you can’t as well.

I think I’d sit the kid down and lay it all out for him. Being proud that he’s willing to stand up for himself, understnading he’s been pushed to the end of his rope, all the stuff that’s making you feel conflicted. Then explain that hitting people is still a bad thing to do, especially if they haven’t hit you first, and that there were better ways to have dealt with the situation. Then give him a greatly reduced punishment with the caveat that if it happens again his ass is grass.

Considering the luck I had as a kid getting the appropriate adults to help when I was being bullied, while he SHOULD let them know stuff is going on, they’re as likely to ignore it as “kids will be kids” as otherwise.

I think under the given circumstances this is completely understandable. Violence is generally a bad thing, but I remember the utter and total frustration of being bullied. Good for him. I’d reduce the punishment this time, but see that if he hits another kid without being in actual physical danger he’d be in SERIOUS trouble.

Personally, I think you should ground the school personnel who allowed the situation to develop to the point it did. They’re the ones who are most at fault here.

Why is this group of sixth graders who pick on younger kids getting away with it? Why aren’t they being suspended? Rearranging the bus seating doesn’t punish them for their wrongful conduct, and they’ll just find other means and other venues to continue it. Schools need to deal with people who create conflict directly rather than trying to insulate other students from the troublemakers.

Friggin’ hamsters…

One more time, with feeling:

Reduce the sentence halfway through. It shows that you understand the situation, but won’t put up with it happening again. Your kid will have to think the next time “If I do this, I’d better have a good reason, otherwise…”


I agree with others: the punishment’s a tad too harsh, in my humble opinion.

I’m one of those moms who’d be just sick that someone had been picking on her widdle baby to the point that he felt he had to swing at someone so much older than he.

I’m with Tomcat on reducing the sentence. Two weeks is really long for a 7 year-old.

My son was bullied in school, too. He’s grown now and the bullying he took as a child affects him to this day. I saw a delightfully happy child turn into a frightened, guarded, angry child.

It took a lot of guts for your child to stand up to that sixth grader. I’m NOT condoning what he did but it’s certainly understandable. Go easy on him and go easy on yourself.

IMHO the police report was just a formality and won’t affect his “permanent record” so to speak.

Good luck, dear.

Are you sure that none of the 6th graders touched him? Sometimes the first punch is not the first physical contact or even the first physical violence.

Most administrators just have a “kids will be kids” attitude regarding bullying, or they did when I was in school. But the cops? Jesus, talk about a waste of my tax dollars. I can’t believe some of the shit I have to pay for.

When LilMiss was the eversosweet age of 4, she was picked on horrendously by a pre-school mate. The taunting was both verbal and physical, with the little boy pushing her, tripping her, grabbing her arm, etc.
We spoke with the preschool, but got an earful of “kids will be kids”. Bullpuckey. She had a hard time sleeping, didn’t want to go to preschool, had temper tantrums. No way was that “kids being kids”

I taught LilMiss how to make a fist and throw a pretty good right hook.

A week later, the little bully knocked LilMiss against the wall. Hard. So she broke little twerps nose.

Of course, all hell broke loose then. Never mind the bruises LilMiss had. Never mind the scratches. I was a bad parent for teaching my daughter how to defend herself. Feh. The other parent did threaten to press charges against me and LilMiss’s dad, but dropped the threat when the history between the two was revealed… guess what? Not ONCE when the discussions about the bullying were occurring was the boy’s mom alerted to the problem (or so she said. She hadn’t been in any of the meetings we were in).

I say GOOD ON YA! Little Ouisey! And I agree that two weeks punishment may be too much. Rather, check into self-defense classes, tai kwon do classes, etc. They will boost his self-esteem immeasurably and teach him which battles he should fight and which should be left alone.

When I was growing up, my father told me to only hit somebody after I gave them three chances to avoid the fight. Sounds like your kid did just that. I say good on him for standing up for himself, and good on you for trying to make him understand that violence is not always the answer. I would suggest a somewhat lighter punishment, though.

Believe me, when I came into the office and saw him sitting all little and scared with all that blood on his clothes, I nearly lost it. He certainly did. I had to hold him on my lap and tell him that I had it under control.

I think I will reduce the sentence. My main worry was whether or not I should treat him as if he were in disgrace and not keep our weekly lunch appointment, but after listening to all the advice here, I think we’ll have lunch.

Tough situation. My 7th grader got suspended for standing up to the class bully. We told him the suspension was punishment enough, and only forbade TV/vids for the length of the suspension.
For a 2d grader, I’d say having to go thru what he did was pretty severe punishment. Sounds like the events made a big impact on him already, such that I’m not sure additional punishment is needed. So IMO I’d lesson the punishment. But you are the parent closest to the situation and the kid in question, so I certainly would not say you were doing wrong.
Sounds like you are doing a good job with your kid and he’s turning out well. Don’t you wish there were a rulebook when this kinda crap happens?

The punishment is far too harsh. Two weeks of punishment is a long, long sentence for a 7-year-old.

I like CrazyCatLady’s idea. Sit down and lay it all out. It’s a good opportunity to learn a valuable life lesson here.

I’d be more pissed that a 12 year old hit my 7 year old back, hard enough to bloody his nose.