School Discipline Issue

So my wife gets a call from the school principal yesterday saying my son will have to serve a three day in school suspension because he punched some kid. When he got home I spoke to him about it and he said that the other kid, who is bigger and a grade ahead of my son, was putting his hand behind his neck and his foot in front of his leg and pushing him face first into the ground while playing soccer. He did this to him two or three times, so my son stood up for himself and hit him. ( For the last two years he was picked on in school for being small and quiet, and was getting beat up and pushed around regularly by a big kid in grade six, my son was in grade three. He was afraid to go to school and would not get on the bus anymore. I told the principal last year that at some point my son was going to defend himself and that I would take the side of my son because I thought this was the right thing to do.)

I called the school this morning and spoke to the principal. I told her (new principal this year) that I disagreed with the punishment because he was defending himself. She said that the rules say no violence and that he has to learn that there are consequences to breaking the rules. I tried to explain that he was defending himself and that I told him I would stand behind him. She went so far as to say that if he was 15 and the police were involved that he would have to pay the price and would not listen to reason when I said " not if he was defending himself".

I am now torn on what to do. I have taught my kids that violence is wrong and should be avoided, but you have to stand up for yourself and protect yourself. I have to admit that as a parent, I am proud of my son for standing up to someone who was pushing him around, but I am disappointed in the system for punishing him for what I told him to do. I am worried as to how he will perceive this. I know I will have to talk to him when he gets home, but I am really not sure what to tell him. He is only ten years old. I have to either tell him what he did was wrong and that he has to accept the punishment or tell him that the system is wrong and…I am literally at a loss for words… If I go with the latter, and figure out something to say, I’m not sure how he will interpret that.

What do you guys think?
ETA: I am in a rush to get out the door so this is not as well written as it could be, but I think you get my point.

I’m not a parent…

He’s being punished, but he still stuck up for himself. Just because he’s going to be suspended doesn’t mean this bully will pick on him again. Your son showed this kid what he’s made of and, by taking the suspension, showed that he’s not afraid of the consequences of sticking up for himself. That all seems very mature to me.

I’m with the school on the “totally no violence is tolerated” thing. You gotta be like that when you’re a school. The principal was a bit rude to you but still, rules are rules.

You can still stand behind him and tell him it’s ok to defend himself. You can tell him he can do it again and you’re not mad at him. So he has to sit in a special room for 3 days. So what? Not like he’s being punished in a more horrible way.

You need to find out who else witnessed what was being done to your son. You need to discuss what is being done to punish the other child.

I say accept the unfair punishment and explain to your son, that sometimes life is just unfair, but he should always stand up for himself.

Your support for your son is the most important part of this.

Bullying is a more serious issue and the school MUST address it.

I agree with this. You can’t control the school, and your son will have to accept his punishment from them, but you can still support your son.

I think this is good. I don’t think it’s right that he’s getting punished for defending himself, but it might open up a bigger can of worms if you push to have no punishment.

What about the bully, though? I’d think shoving a kid into the ground and holding him there counts as violence, when you’re playing a game that doesn’t involve that sort of contact. Is he getting punished, too?

I understand you completely backing up your kid, btdt

But it matters greatly to the institution that you accept and sound like you agree with their punishment. Believe me not all the staff who know your son will agree that he deserves to be suspendedso severely . Its the way it is. But you have to go further here and advocate for your child at the same time.

make the time to speak personally to the Principal, let them know you care and that your son is not a threat but you believe he’s running out of options short of self defense. Really I have found schools don’t want to spend that much time rehashing playground fights. They want to see parents on the same page and feel their authority is intact. But its important to me that they know all the events that lead to the crime, esp if they are so hasty as to send a kid home for three days. Reactionary imo, totally unwarranted.

Ask them how they would like him to handle mean teasing or foul play on the playground or in class. Tell them when he returns to class you want a smooth transition, you don’t want him labled a trouble maker, and that you don’t expect to hear anymore reports of your sons getttign his head slam dunked on the playground or you will back…

Put a little pressure on them.

So your son will do his time, it will go on his record, most everyone will forget about it, and you will feel bitter forever… lol jjust kidding good luck!

I agree, the faceplant thing is certainly not allowed in soccer and it seems unjust that only your son is punished.

Is the other child being punished?

bolding mine

So where were they when the violence was being committed by the bigger kid? Funny how they only manage to hop in when the littler one finally has had enough, and since no one else is stopping it, takes care of it himself.

I’ve seen it happen before. You go to the teacher and it’s “don’t be a tattletale” and “you need to learn to work it out yourself,” and when you have to defend yourself because the adults WON’T, they cream YOU for it. I’ve actually heard teachers, when told that bullying is going on, say, “It takes two to tango. Just ignore it and it’ll go away.” Then when it doesn’t and you strike back, they punish YOU, and when you protest that another started it, say, “Well, it wasn’t really a FIGHT till YOU hit back.”

Bullies have a talent for hiding their misdeeds from teachers. There are never any witnesses. But fight back, and suddenly a teacher is looking. Bullies really know how to exploit that.

Let the kid take his punishment. Then buy him a new bicycle.

Thanks for the input folks.

They said that since he was such a good kid and they have never had any trouble with him before that this would be an in-school suspension. He is not allowed to go outside for recess or lunch and when he gets off the bus in the morning he has to go right in the school. Apparently the other kid got the same.


As far as where were the monitors, that is a good question. The same thing happened last year, nobody seen anything until I found out about it from his Aunt, who volunteers at the school. The punishment was pretty easy for this kid, who was almost a foot taller, thirty pounds heavier and three years older. They said they could not do anything because he has behavioral problems. Then it continued after he was punished, needless to say I was pissed. A few threats late, it was put to bed.

And you’re right about the attitudes of the adults, I think last year I got “They are just playing”, until I dug a little deeper. My biggest fear is my son getting seriously hurt, but then it’s too late. I think I will go with you guys and continue to support him and encourage him to not take any crap from anyone, and just suck up the punishment and realize that indeed sometimes life sucks. He can go on knowing that he has learned to stand up for himself and be happy knowing that that kid probably won’t bother him again.


He wants a motorcycle, so yeah, maybe it’s time.

Pretty much what was said above. Tell your son to accept the punishment, and then take steps to inform the school that you are not going to tolerate any additional bullying.

My kid was bullied throughout much of grade school. I told him to NEVER fight back. Nothing worked until one day in 7th grade or so when he finally reacted. I wish I had encouraged him to kick a little ass many years earlier.

I’m not sure I would call the punishment entirely “unfair.” Of course, so much zero-tolerance crap that goes on in schools is bullshit. But there is a plainly stated rule against fighting, and your kid should learn that if he chooses to break it he must bear the likely punishment.

If you get a chance you might want to search for some of the past “bullying” threads around here. Many folk have expressed a variety of opinions and experiences on the subject at length and somewhat eloquently.

Little late to the party here, but I think this is the right approach. If this were my son, I would say, yeah, you have to serve the detention, there are consequences to even the right thing to do sometimes, but I would make sure he knew I approved and was proud of him. Then I would give him a big reward outside of school. Big toy, special outing or privileges, whatever he would appreciate most.

Regarding the principal, the important thing is that she has been put on notice that your are going to stand up for your kid, and that the other kid has been punished. Even a token punishment is still a “conviction” in the courts of school discipline.

The important thing going forward is that any, no matter how trivial, incident of bullying by the other boy, or any other kid, be reported immediately by your son to the powers that be. If anything physical happens, the report should be followed-up in writing to the principal. Same if there are, say, three or more incidents of non-physical harassment. Every written report should state that you expect the principal to 1) take action 2) restore a “safe environment suitable for learning”. The point of this is to establish a paper trail that can be used to a) establish that your son is defending himself from a credible threat if this happens again and b) create some leverage over the principal buy building a solid case for a complaint that she/he isn’t doing their job of keeping your kid safe. You don’t have to file the complaint, you don’t even have to threaten it. The principal will realize this immediately when you start documenting. The one thing principals fear is the school board thinking they’ve screwed up.

Good luck, and well done to your boy.

I let the principal know this morning that I supported what my son did and that she may as well get used to it because he is not going to get beat up at school anymore, he will defend himself regardless of their rules. I agree that the punishment may not be entirely unfair, but it sends a mixed message to my son. He did what his dad told him to do and got in trouble for it. I said it was OK, they said it was not. I don’t want him to think defending himself is wrong, he put up with too much crap for the last two years.

Great advice, thanks.

And thanks to everyone else for the great advice also.

Schools, by law, must provide a physically safe environment for their students. If your son is being bullied, they have failed in that obligation.

While I would recommend going with what the others here have said - accept the consequences and support your son’s decision - there is a response you can give the principal that will make her sit up and pay attention:

If you choose to go this route, pick a lawyer, and have them draft a letter to the principal, the superintendent, and the school board, because you if you back down on it, you will loose all credibility.

I have a deep and abiding hatred for so-called “zero tolerance” policies, and I would love to see them dismantled for the ass-covering, brain-stifling, one-size-fits-none anti-solution they are.

I think you need to look at the big picture here - your son (and every other kid) will be bullied for the rest of his life occasionally, by employers, by lovers, by “friends,” by people in authority over him. He needs to learn what it takes to stop bullying, and when it is appropriate to stop it and when you just have to suck it up (see: boss, cops). Not letting the bully walk over you is almost always the correct answer. Tell him this isn’t fair, but it’s life; it won’t be fair when his boss is bullying him, either, but if he learns how to deal with it now, he’ll be set for life.

No kids here, but I do have a story to share:

When I was 15, one night I got into a shouting match with the kid who lived across the street. The next day at school he decided to pick up where we’d left off, and after a few barbs back and forth he socked me. The only thing running through my head was that I didn’t want to get suspended, so I walked away and found a teacher to tell. In the end, they suspended me anyway. Had I known that was going to be the outcome, I’d have given the dude as good as I got. But anyway…

My parents didn’t make any secret of the fact that they thought this was a bunch of bullshit. My mom argued with the discipline officer long and hard, but he wouldn’t budge. My uncle, who was a judge at the time, even offered to step in, but Mom drew the line there. Instead, she went behind the school’s back and contacted all of my teachers and explained the situation, and they were all happy to provide her with my assignments - which they weren’t supposed to do.

My point is, my parents always taught me that you have to accept the consequences for your actions, but in this case it was a load of crap. I never felt like they’d sent me a mixed message; the school was wrong, and everyone but them knew it. If anything, it was an early lesson that life isn’t always fair.