I hate to say I saw this coming, but I did. A 10-year-old boy has been arrested for bringing a BB gun to elementary school. But this is not some hardened criminal, folks. This is a little boy who wears ankle braces and has been a victim of bullying because he's "different" from his peers.
It doesn't make up for what the child, who hails from the Cincinnati area of Ohio, did. But it certainly explains it, doesn't it? When kids feel the best recourse they have for being bullied is to fight fire with fire, we have scared little kids bringing guns to school.
Ever since my kid started mixing with kids I didn't pick for her (as in, went beyond the mom-planned playdate), we've had to deal with bullies. Whether it's a mean girl picking on her or another mom lamenting her child's battle with some butthead on the playground, I've heard enough stories to fit in a novella at least. And yes, my daughter is only 6.
Along with the tales of what exactly the bullies are doing are the parents -- me included -- wringing their hands over what to do to fight it. And a fair amount have settled for the old-fashioned "hit 'em back." I can't blame them, exactly. In my daughter's school, they've got all sorts of programs meant to fight bullying, and it's still going on. The gentle approach isn't working.
But what are we teaching our kids when we actually suggest they sink to the level of the little scumbuckets who are making their lives a living hell? For every story of a bully who learned his lesson "but good," there is a kid like this 10-year-old in Ohio, who brought his BB gun to school not to shoot anyone but merely to "intimidate" the kids who have intimidated him for so long. He admitted to cops that his uncle broke off the orange tip of the gun meant to signal how harmless it was, to make it easier to scare the other kids.
He has been a victim for so long that it would be easy to give him a pass. As a mom of a kid who has been bullied, my heart breaks for him. But the fact is, what he did was seriously wrong, and the victim mentality doesn't really make up for it. He has become the aggressor. He has become his own worst nightmare. And now he's headed to juvenile court to boot.
This is what happens when we go for the obvious answer to bullying. We make our kids into bullies themselves.
What do you think should happen to this little boy for what he did?
Image via zappledot/Flickr