Maybe this WWII poster was in the inspiration for Mother A???

Maybe this WWII poster was in the inspiration for Mother A???



A dance...or a fight?  Art illustration from a Musical Baby segment.

A dance…or a fight? Art illustration from a Musical Baby segment.




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.

Some families prefer not to weigh in on this issue unless they can hide behind disguises like these mustaches.

Some of you might prefer not to weigh in on this issue unless you can hide behind disguises like these mustaches and be anonymous.    😉



Filed under autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, just doing the best we can, Kansas, lessons about life, life questions, making a difference, memories for grandchildren

53 responses to “BULLY BULLY

  1. riainthecity

    Intriguing post. I think they are both wrong. Mother A couldn’t just get her child to hit another child. Child B shouldn’t have bullied in the first place :/ We should be teaching our kids to be assertive not violent.

    • Several called in with a similar answer, Ria, but one also added that the principal and the police officer should have battled it out since each one was connected to a side of the battle. So in the end, that solution probably wouldn’t have been a good example about violence.
      Too much sugar, maybe? (Your post on giving up sugar is great!)

  2. juliabarrett

    Whoa, small town drama. A whole range of bullying. I can imagine the discussion. Would have stressed me out as well. I think I’d rather listen to the debate…

    • Actually, I got back in time to hear part of the debate, Julia. And strangely, since I was still thinking about the bullying discussion on the radio, I saw some vague parallels on how some of the candidates treated each other in previous interviews and appearances.

  3. That was a pretty jaw-dropping story, Marylin! I am interested in your follow up.

  4. Whoa, what a mess.I think Mother A should have taken it up with Uncle Principal B since there was no proof that child B took the backpack but did take yesterday’s lunch. I hate fighting but leaving the girls to fight might have got child B to stop bullying in future, BUT what Mother A did to child B’s brother was disgusting and I’d be surprised if she wasn’t charged with assault.
    Father A did a very poor job since he should have broken things up straight away as though one was not his daughter.
    What standards to set as an example for the other children.
    Have a Wonderful Weekend
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • I think your bullying story mirrors to some degree the dynamics of the debates, from what I can tell. For the record, I like David’s take on the topic. The mustache photo is adorable!

      • Our family is still cringing over the mustache photo, but we had a lot of fun posing. I agree about the dynamics of the debates, Marian, and also the overall campaigning behaviors. David makes really good points, doesn’t he?

    • There is so much wrong going on all the way around, David. I can’t find anyone who was making a positive difference. From the sounds of it, even the bus driver (who stayed in the bus to keep the kids under control) didn’t stop them them from cheering on all the bad behaviors when the boy cursed and jumped out of the bus, and Mother A swung him around until he had an asthma attack! Talk about a comedy of dangerous errors.
      You have a wonderful weekend, too, and stay away from bullies! 😉

  5. Hmm, interesting. I’ve been bullied and didn’t tell my parents. If I had, they certainly wouldn’t have done what Mother A did – and nor should they. It’s a difficult one when all of the authority figures are related too. Knowing what I know now, I think bullying should always be reported, but part of the problem is the fear that it will then get worse. It’s never a simple situation.

    • Those who have been bullied seem to really understand the dynamics of the situation, Andrea, and the complexities of all the responses. When I was growing up, no one reported bullying. Parents usually counseled their kids, and then maybe called the parents, and sometimes the parents would get together with the kids and work things out. Now all acts of bullying must be reported, documented, and dealt with. I’m very curious about what happened legally with this mess I heard about on the radio.

  6. Wow, that’s quite a story, Marylin. It sounds as though everyone involved played a part in the situation spiraling out of control, much like the debate.
    I love that photo!

    • Thanks, Jill. I was almost tempted to park the car and listen all the way to the end of the radio commentator’s program just to see how it turned out. But I had a long way to drive, and driving on a back road…but still I was tempted.

  7. Molly

    Mom, this is one of those “stranger than fiction” type stories. If you put this in a story or movie, people would think, really – we are supposed to believe this could happen?

    I think I may share this story with my classes, and get their take on who the bully is…their answers may be very insightful!

    Great blog, momma!

    • It will be very interesting to see what your students say, Molly, especially if any of them have been bullied or bullied someone else. And you’re right, this is one of those stranger-than-fiction things. See what Trevor says, especially about the police officer who called for back up because his wife was involved!

  8. Claudia

    I suppose such extreme things have occured before (think Hatfields and McCoys) but it seems that it is more often these days. People are angry, ready to fight at drop of a hat instead of thinking things through. Civility seems to be a thing of the past. Everyone thinks THEY are the right one, the entitled one, the justified one. I’m pulling away from TV and radio more these days, not wanting to have my world upset by things I can’t change. Maybe that is wrong too. The air is cool here this morning after a rain…mums are freshened…autumn whispers that she is coming. Happy Saturday.

    • On a long drive, these little radio stations certainly seem to report and respond to the strangest things, Claudia. This one kept me interested for quite a while, and even now I can’t shake the many things that could have escalated into a really serious brawl.
      It’s much cooler here, too, and tonight we’re supposed to get rain. Fall is on the way!

  9. Wow, what a story! Certainly everyone in that story could have decided to ACT rather that REACT. ACT being ‘Accept’ the situation, ‘Choose’ a valued response, and ‘Act’ with respect and compassion.
    Oh dear. The lives some people live.

  10. I agree with David and Marian.

    • So do I, Gerlinde, but I’ll give you a hint: the majority of the call-ins to the radio commentator did not. Some of their comments (I’ll post the ones I heard on Wednesday evening) were as outrageous as the incident itself!

  11. There is just way too much bully going on, Marylin. I wrote a post a long while back on how bullying touched my daughter-in-law’s sister’s child, and it was a horrific experience!

    • I remember that post, Tracy. I don’t know if your family would find this outrageous example humorous or seriously dangerous. It could have escalated into a horrible situation, and even if it didn’t, all the children involved and observing have obviously been affected by this.

  12. Tough call, Marylin. I was bullied when I was in grade school – maybe 4th or 5th grade. I wrote about this some time ago.

    I told my parents about it. The last straw came after the Bully was waiting with a friend for me to come home from school. He took the rubber off his shoe and hit me in the face with it. That never happened again. Mom said I beat him up and that’s why it stopped. I suspect, however, from a comment she once made that my parents went to talk with his parents about it. End of story.

    What was needed in the situation you heard was for an “adult” to intervene and consequences meted out without any physical intervention.

    • My parents would have done what yours did, Judy, and had a private talk with the parents of the bully. And back then, that would have changed things, but not now. Things are very different, I’m afraid.
      I’m cheering for the 4th grade you who beat him up! Good for you. Sometimes we just have to act. 😉

      • Marylin … I think that if I had beat up that Bully that that’s a moment I would remember fondly forever. I think my Mom told me that to puff me up (give me confidence). 😉

        I agree that times have changed. That parent yanking the kid off the school bus … no! no! no!

      • Brava for your mother for puffing you up, even if it gave you confidence for even just awhile, Judy. An hour of confidence is better than ten minutes of fear, or something like that. 🙂

  13. Well, this doesn’t sound like too much of a calm ride! I definitely do not condone bullying and it’s a hot subject these days. I think I might have handled things differently- gone to the principal or something else- rather than hold another child while my own takes a few punches.
    I give you credit for listening to this Marylin. I probably would have changed the station. 🙂
    xo Joanne

    • It wasn’t a calm, relaxing drive through the lovely hills, Joanne, but I have to admit that it kept me awake…and kind of upset, too. And once the radio commentator got started, I couldn’t make myself change stations. For awhile I thought maybe it was a joke, but it wasn’t. People can set in motion such unbelievable things. Actually, I think that teachers everywhere should play this account and get their students to talk about what was happening and how things should have been handled.

  14. What a story! My guess is that girl B probably has things going on at home that have influenced her poor choices, if indeed she even took the back pack. Sounds like girl A and mother A have a conspiracy against girl B and I would be interested in knowing the history behind the relationship of girl A and girl B in addition to the the relationship between mother A and mother B. Such a shame that any child had to experience this scenario and that other children had to witness it. And shame on the police officer and husband of mother A. He should absolutely have intervened and stopped his wife from ever laying her hands on a child. So unfortunate that she didn’t keep her composure and try to resolve the situation in a positive way so that the children could have observed a positive example on how to problem solve without causing additional pain. Thanks for sharing. This will definitely be dinner conversation with my children and husband tonight. Have a great weekend!

    • You have excellent insights and comments on this, Robyn. I wish somehow we could hear the behind-the-scenes conversations between the husband and wife, the parents and the principal, the bus driver and the students, and between the girls themselves (with supervision, but it would have to be objective supervision), and then between the two mothers (but maybe with a sheriff’s deputy present 😉 ) You’re so right; this will definitely be a good conversation to have with your children. On Wed. evening I’ll post in a comment box the call-in responses I heard made before I drove out of radio range.

  15. Violence begets violence as we see everyday in current affairs. No wonder the world is in such a mess.

  16. I agree, Darlene. This incident is actually an under-the-microscope study of why there is so much violence in the world. It seems humorous on the surface, but it’s not a sit-com on TV. It’s an out-of-control free for all.

  17. Could Child A possibly be lying about the stolen items and bullying? With a mother like that, I don’t doubt that Child A is having problems at home, and she may be trying to get attention at school in an unhealthy way. Even if she was bullied, Mother A handled it the wrong way. It’s like she was using her daughter to convey her own anger. Awful.

    • I wondered about that, too, Darla. Lies are part of the bullyiing scenario on both the giving and receiving end. But I was driving and listening to the radio, and the commentator didn’t respond to any of my shouted comments and questions! 😉
      I was thinking that both mothers–and pretty much all the adults, too–were adding to the ongoing problem.

  18. Don

    I think, Marylin, there are ways of dealing with issues like this in an assertive and constructive way without resorting to violence. I’m sure it could have been handled differently. Very interesting post.

    • I agree, Don. And I also wonder how long the undercurrent had been flowing between these families…and throughout the school and town, too. It seems like there was a great deal of thoughtless anger, and so many children learning the behaviors as they watched from the bus!

  19. Jim

    “Who are the adults here?” asked the TV news anchor during a video report of a melee between irate parents of opposing teams during a little league baseball game. It is not a pretty sight for children, or for anyone, when adults behave badly, no matter the situation.

    • The adults were pretty much in charge of the poor decisions and the bad influences on the next generation watching from the bus, honey. I wish you’d been riding along listening to this with me; I would have loved your responses to everything the commentator was saying. This could become the plot for a TV series, like Children of the Corn, only called Adults of the Corn. 😉

  20. Hmm, sadly this story reminds me of similar scenarios I have experienced within school. Bullying is learned behaviour in many cases – and often the bullied becomes the bully-er. The mother should not have resorted to violence in front of those children – what kind of message is she sending out? A quiet or not so quiet words with the other parents may have helped and for the incidences to have been reported to the school. Parents who act like that will perpetuate the behaviour in the very people they are trying to protect. We had an horrendous example of appalling parenting when one mother took it upon herself to troll a child on Facebook, using threatening language to teach another kid a lesson. She ended up with a visit from the police. What is the world coming to…

    • I wondered about that, Jenny, as I listened to this radio commentator’s account. I’m surprised that no on on the bus or the sidelines captured this on a smart phone and sent it viral. And if either mother had trolled a child on Facebook. So much damage can be done, and it seems to happen more and more. I’m not sure what the answer is.

  21. Wow. Peyton Place. Clearly no one in this story was taught how to de-escalate instead of attack. My alma mater is training teachers and students in practices like these: http://www.sbbh.pitt.edu/files/Powerpoint%20Presentations%202524%20Spring%202010/Karp_Barbara_Verbal_DeEscalation.pdf

    • What a great link, Shirley. Thank you. Yes, this could have been an excellent exercise in listening, talking, and resolving conflicts…IF this group could have be present in the same room at the same time. I think it would have been like herding cats–feral cats intent on fighting each other–but it would have been worth a try!

  22. And now, as promised when I first posted “Bully Bully”–here are some of the call-in responses I heard before I drove out of the radio’s airwaves.

    Two I heard were adamant: One man called in and said that both women, Mother A and Mother B, were both lousy moms for raising one brat bully and one whimpy coward, and their husbands should have stepped in and straightened them out.
    By the time he was finished, another caller was waiting. She asked which man he was in the scenario: the biased principal, the policeman who was afraid of his wife, or the bus driver who wouldn’t get involved but also couldn’t keep the kids on the bus quiet.
    Then three other callers expressed similar thoughts to those posted in this comment section: None of the adults passed as good role models, and this was a situation that should be discussed and used as a teaching tool in classrooms and also around the family dinner table.
    Thank you all for your participation and feedback.

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