After visiting my mom this month, I decided not to take the return interstate route, but to drive the blue highways. When you need time to yourself, with the peace of clear skies above open pastures and farm land, nothing beats taking the low-traffic back roads on a clear September day. It was exactly what I needed…until I turned on the radio. I skipped the big stations and talk-radio commentaries all revving up for that evening’s Republican debates, and then I found a small station covering a recent story on bullying. Real life, multi-level bullying. Without revealing names or the location, here’s the story.
Mom A picked up her 3rd-grade daughter after school. Child A was carrying her books, and when her mother asked where the girl’s backpack was, the answer was a sad whisper: it was stolen out of her locker, probably by Child B, who had taken Child A’s lunch the day before. The girl had gone to the principal—Child B’s uncle—but didn’t have any real proof.
The mother made a quick U-turn, drove back to the school and parked at an angle in front of the school bus. Child B quickly got onto the bus when she saw Child A’s mother jump out of the car. Mom A grabbed Child B, pulled her off the bus and told her daughter to take charge and teach the bully a lesson. She even held Child B so Child A could hit and slap the girl to make her tell where the backpack was.
Child B’s older brother cursed loudly, got off the bus and jumped in to break it up. Mother A grabbed the boy and began swinging him around. He got so upset his asthma flared up and the kids on the bus alternately cheered for angry Mother A and wheezing Boy B. The bus driver honked the horn but stayed in the bus to control the other students. The school resource officer—a policeman assigned to the school—did not intervene but called for backup because he wasn’t objective. His wife was Mother A.
The talk-show host on the little radio station told this all in a dramatic theatrical voice, and then he paused. Finally he said: “The lines are open, folks. Give us a call and tell us who are the bullies in this scenario, and what should be their punishment?”
If you called in to the station that day, how would you have answered his questions?
I’ll share some of the audiences’ personal, emotional, legal and professional responses in the comment section later this week. I listened to a surprising assortment of answers until I drove out of the station’s airwaves and everything became staticky. Gone was my calm, relaxed travel, to say the least.
September is Self-Improvement Month, Superior Relationships Month, and National Pediculosis Month. I couldn’t resist including the last one; Head Lice Prevention and Treatment are important issues, and certainly safer than discussing Bullying Run Amuck.