What to do (or perhaps not to do) when the school bully is your child
When stories of bullying hit the media, readers often wonder where the bully's parents are. Is it really the case that the bully's behavior reflects the values he or she is taught at home? Well, not always. When Terri Day Evans, a single mother from Shropshire, England, caught wind of a bullying incident involving her son as the antagonist, she decided to chastise him in a very public forum, one where teens and adults alike seek to present the best of themselves: Facebook. Gulp!
What she wrote has to be every pre-teen's nightmare:
"Absolutely disgusted that my 12 year old son saw fit to purposefully tread on a new girls foot at school and twist his foot with such force it broke her brand new shoes (causing the heel) to snap. I’ll tell you something Jacob, if you so much as breath in her or anyone's direction in a bullying manner I will personally hand you over to their parents for every demeaning chore they see fit for as long as they do… kiss goodbye to your birthday money as you will be buying the girl a new pair of shoes and a bunch of flowers! #iwillnothaveabullyinmyhouse"
More than 55,000 people liked her post. Though, as there often is, there was quite a heated debate in the comments section. One reader wrote, "Why extend the humiliation? Your poor son. This will haunt him forever. A mistake at 12, online now for all to see." Another was even more harsh: "To out your son like this on Facebook is also a kind of bullying. He probably learned it from you. Too bad you can't realize that."
Terri had initially just wanted her son to think about what he had done and expected that only he and his friends would see what she had written. But when the post took on a life of its own, she quickly updated it, removing her son's tag and adding this follow-up statement as a clarification:
"Update: To answer a few questions. Yes my son can see it, he was tagged in it before it went viral (which I didn't realise was going to happen) so his friends could see that his actions have consequences. He is not big, clever, hard, or funny. He's a 12-year-old boy answerable to his mam. I don't much care who doesn't agree with my parenting style. My son humiliated and embarrassed a girl, regardless of his reasoning (which was he didn’t expect to break the shoe he just thought she may step out of it or stumble) that little girl still cried, for anyone’s knowledge that girl may have left her old school because she was being bullied… then imagine how much worse my son's ridiculous act would have made her feel. So my so-called embarrassing him online is quite frankly nothing in comparison to the humiliation that little girl had to face walking round with a broken shoe and red eyes from crying when she is new."
She ended her controversial post on a hopeful note:
"Ps... of course I sat and spoke to him about his behaviour. I didn't just tag him in a post and he read it! I am wholly confident this was a single occurrence which won’t be repeated."
Jacob subsequently apologized to the girl whose shoe he had broken. Although not everyone would agree with his mother's approach to the situation, if even one bully is dissuaded from picking on others, perhaps Jacob's (temporary) humiliation was for a good cause.