DEAR ABBY: I am a retired New York City police officer and a resource officer at two high schools in Brooklyn. I must comment on the letter you printed from "Worried About My Boy in Tulsa" (March 29), whose 7-year-old is bullied. If a child hits another child so hard that medical attention is required, it is an assault. The police should have been notified and appropriate law enforcement action taken.
The school then has cause to remove the violent child and have him/her placed in an education program better suited for violent children. The statute of limitations is not out, so the police can still be contacted as soon as possible by this parent. -- JIM C.
DEAR JIM: Many readers pointed out that this incident went beyond bullying into assault, and offered advice to "Worried" on this troubling but prevalent issue. Their comments:
DEAR ABBY: If "Worried's" son is injured at school again, she needs to take him to an emergency room and have the injuries documented. While there, she should call 911 and report the assault to the police. She should start the report with this sentence: "I'd like to report an assault on my child." If she says he is being "bullied," they may not take her as seriously. -- CONCERNED GRAN IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR ABBY: I am an attorney practicing law in California and have been involved in several bullying cases. The first step should be to ensure the child's safety. If the perpetrators are not being removed from the environment, the child needs to be. The cost of private schooling or the inconvenience of a school transfer would be part of a lawsuit for damages.
Second, the police should be notified. Third, they should get a lawyer who knows how to put the school on notice.
A lawsuit in this case is warranted if the school has known about the bullying but has done nothing about it. -- MIKE IN NEWPORT BEACH
DEAR ABBY: My son was bullied in elementary school. I spoke at length to his teachers and found out that he was exhibiting behaviors that triggered the bullying. He simply did not know how to interact with his peers. It wasn't my son's "fault"; he needed help with social skills.
It took several tries to find a counselor who connected -- a wonderful man who taught him how to be a friend. The bullying stopped. Now my son is graduating from high school with many good friends.
Kids can be cruel. They "smell" weakness and pick on those who are different. Sometimes the best we can do is help our children learn how to draw others to them, rather than be singled out as a victim or undesirable member of the team. -- BEEN THERE IN CHARLESTON, W.Va.
DEAR ABBY: Please tell "Worried in Tulsa" to call all of her local TV stations and ask for an interview. That will probably get some action. -- LOU ANN W.
DEAR ABBY: My son was bullied during his entire year of kindergarten. That summer we enrolled him in a tae kwon do program. After a few months he was a different person! The confidence and direction he learned were vital. He gained the inner strength to be sure of himself in the face of bullies.
Tae kwon do teaches perseverance, self-control, modesty and indomitable spirit -- qualities from which we can all benefit. I urge "Worried" to look around in her community for a tae kwon do program with an instructor who specializes in teaching this art to children. -- MONTANA MOM