Bullying: pass the schoolyard

By Joe Cahill
September 29, 2010

A man in Florida was recently arrested for threatening bullies who had assaulted and teased his daughter.

As I’m sure anyone would agree, a parent has every right to protect his or her child from harm.  The danger comes when one takes that obligation too far.

According to the news report, the man climbed aboard a school bus after his daughter was injured and screamed expletives at the offenders, threatening to kill those responsible.

In all likelihood, the man in question said the aforementioned threats out of anger and had the best intentions of protecting his daughter at heart. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that he lost his temper and threatened the lives of other children.

Bullying is wrong. That is unquestionable.  It is unjust for anyone to harm someone else, let alone for sport.  I recall the case of Megan Meier, a 16 year old Missouri girl who committed suicide after being rejected by a boy on whom she had a crush on through an internet romance.

The “boy” turned out to be Meier’s neighbor, Lori Drew. Drew, 49, had orchestrated the faux romance which led to Megan’s tragic demise.  Drew was initially indicted and convicted but later acquitted of all charges in 2009.

How individuals directly and indirectly involved handle cases of bullying is oftentimes equally if not more important than the act itself.

The man from Florida has every right to defend his daughter but no right to take anger and physical action against the children who bullied her.

Put yourself in the situation of the child bully.  You might have been mean to the other kid, but now a physically intimidating giant man is screaming in your face threatening to physically harm you and kill you.

If anyone thinks that situation is alright or justifiable, they need a serious reality check.

The only thing that man accomplished by boarding the school bus is potentially giving the offending child more trauma and psychological issues to deal with for the remainder of his or her life.

The man should’ve realized that just as the girl who was injured was his own daughter, the kids he was screaming at belong to someone else.

He is, in many ways, no better than the bullies he was defending his daughter from.  He’s someone who thinks he’s big and tough as nails but just likes to pick on those smaller and weaker than him because they make easy targets.

In situations like these, and in particular the news story from Florida, talking things out is what solves problems. It feels cliché to say that “communication is key,” but part of the reason clichés exist is because they resonate accepted truths.

The father should have gotten the names of the offending students, found their parents, and talked it out with them instead of directing his anger towards the children themselves.  In all likelihood, the bullies would have been punished and not had to deal with a large man threatening their lives.

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Joe Cahill

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