My daughter used to come home from preschool every day with a report on her bully. "She didn't let us play with her today," I'd hear. She couldn't have made me feel more helpless if she'd tied my hands behind my back and shoved a dirty gym sock in my mouth. It's that memory of feeling like I was failing my kid that came straight to mind when I heard a dad was taking the controversial step of filing for a restraining order against his fourth grade son's bully.
Robert Casteel's methods are getting a lot of criticism today. After all, he went to court and convinced a judge that another kid should have to stay at least 20 feet away from his 10-year-old son. How you make that happen when two kids both go to school in the same building in the Jurupa Unified School District is anyone's guess.
I'm sure educators around the country are watching this case in horror.
But when I listen to Casteel talk to ABC News, I don't hear a dad who is just trying to make life hard on the staff at his kid's school. I hear a dad who knows what it's like to wake his kid up in the morning and have absolutely no choice but to send him to a place where he feels unsafe. Casteel says his son Christopher's bully brought a knife to school and threatened to kill him. No surprise the poor kid was terrified to go to school!
Part of sending our kids off to school every day is trusting that the adults we're entrusting to care for them will protect them from tormentors. It's not always easy for these surrogate parents. My daughter's bully used words, not her fists, and my daughter did not report it to her teacher. On loud buses, in crowded cafeterias, bullies have learned how to make their moves without being detected.
When it happens, we, the parents, don't have much recourse. We have to depend on the school to now make it stop. And if we're not satisfied with how they deal with it, what is there? We can call the other kid's parents, but often a kid is a bully because of what they're learning at home! We can't go to our kids' school every day to act as bodyguards, either.
So what else is there? In Casteel's case, the bully was given a five-day suspension, but he's back in the classroom, and who knows what he's got up his sleeve next. But at least this dad can feel like he's done everything he could to keep his little boy safe.
Have you had to take drastic measures against your child's bully?
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