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Dodge Ball Bully
(Orange County, California, USA)
My son started having problems with a particular kid in camp this spring break. I guess the kid singled out my son because my son is quiet and awkward. He's an outstanding student and extremely well behaved, but tends to be quiet and a loner (target). This kid was just being plain mean, mostly name-calling, so I told my son to stay away from him.
Then when school resumed, the kid taunted and name-called on rare occasion, but the two largely avoided one another. There was never cause enough for my son to even mention their interactions over the past months.
That is until a few days ago, when they were both playing dodge ball at lunchtime recess. They were both standing outside the circle very near one another. The bully tagged someone with the ball, so he was allowed to go into the circle. My son, who had the ball in his hand, quickly, and wisely tagged the bully with the ball just as he started to enter the circle. The kid was understandably upset at being tagged out so quickly with the ball, and when he saw it was my son who had tagged him out, he decided to take action. He went to tell the lunch-recess monitor, who took the bully at his word, did not do any fact finding, and simply told my son to behave himself and not throw the ball at people who were outside of the circle. My son simply acquiesced without admitting guilt, but I guess his fault was not to deny the charges. He did mention it to the bully afterward, and asked why he had told the teacher. The bully just called him a loser and elbowed him in the stomach, knocking the wind out. It hurt my son quite a bit, but my son tried to act tough on the playground and covered up the pain. He wanted to cry but fought back the tears. He was in pain for hours afterwards. He told us about what happened when he came home.
I mentioned it to the teacher the following morning, letting her know who it was and what he had done and under what circumstances. When I told her who it was, she said, "oh, I know that boy. It's no surprise that he would behave in that manner." She said that she would talk to the bully's teacher and the problem would be resolved. Later that evening, my son informed me that the same kid had hit him again in dodge ball because my son had gotten too close to him. The kid also went to tell a teacher that my son was bothering him, so the teacher told him that he could no longer play dodge ball. Again, my son did not want to challenge authority, and he reluctantly acquiesced.
When I informed the teacher that the bully had again physically attacked my son, she said that she had discussed the matter with the other teachers and it seemed that there was some sort of mutual conflict. Apparently they had spoken with the recess supervisors who had said that there had been complaints against my son. She did not go into much detail and did not seem to indicate that any further action would be taken. It almost seemed that she was saying that my son deserved to be hit and the whole thing would be a wash since both parties had a part in the wrongdoing. I protested, but she took advantage of the fact that she had to go meet her class at morning flag deck.
I then spoke with the principal a few hours later. He of course took a neutral, political stance and did not acknowledge much, and simply said that he knows all the kids in his school and they are all good. He said that he would investigate the matter further. I did not get a very good feeling, but perhaps, the principals are supposed to act in this neutral, almost indifferent manner until they are able to fully investigate the matter.
Just a little side note: this principal happens to be a huge hockey fan. I just hope that he does not think that a little playground violence is acceptable as it is in the hockey rink.