I get it, but no: Fourth grader sued for bullying


I’m talking current events today. Well, current events from last week. But still! I am culturally relevant a little bit!

There was a time during this past school year where I suspected one of my children was being bullied. Let me try to describe to you exactly where on the rage chart that put me: somewhere between “why didn’t you figure out your order before you got to the front of the line,” and the injustice of the Holocaust.

I have a large capacity for rage.

Luckily, it turned out that my child wasn’t being bullied and I could put the jack back in the trunk, but it made me understand how helpless and angry parents feel when their children are being hurt by another child. It’s hard to talk to the teacher without wondering if you’re overprotective, it’s hard to talk to the other parent without worrying that you’re insane, and you can’t talk to the other child because that’s usually frowned on. By the law.

So when I read this articlemedium_2500644518 about a fourth grade student who is being sued for bullying one of his classmates, I initially thought, “YES! Git ‘im, Pa!” Then I thought, “Wait. Hold on a second, Pa. Isn’t he nine?”

The victim’s parents are suing the nine-year-old bully, his parents, the school district, and the school principal, for $50,000. I’m not much into suing people, but I can see the reasoning behind naming the parents and the school in the suit. But the kid? That’s where you lose me. In fact, their attorney says that if they win the lawsuit they might be able to garnish the future wages of the fourth-grade defendant. Yeah. That’s right. All of that kid’s earnings from McDonald’s would go straight into this other kid’s piggy bank. And that kid is going to buy hundreds of cupcakes. And then he’s going to sit in front of the first kid’s house and eat them all. Slowly.

All in all, the victim’s parents haven’t been doing him a whole lot of favors, here, including releasing his name and photo to the press. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but let me tell you what isn’t going to help this boy – putting his picture on the news and telling everyone the details of his humiliations.

Here’s what I think helps: conversations with other parents that begin with “Ha ha ha I know that science project was nuts right so anyway about your boy Manson…I mean…Mason.” I believe in sideways stares at the offending child, stares that say, “I know what you’re doing you little f***er, and the only reason you’re getting away with this is that I value my freedom.”

But more than anything, I believe in fighting battles for our kids without making them front line casualties. I believe in not bringing a child into adult arguments and grievances. I believe in treating children as children and parents like the responsible, adult guardians they are supposed to be. That means holding them accountable separately, and preferably, privately.


Author: admin

Meredith likes to write the funny at her blog, Pile of Babies (http://www.pileofbabies.com).


  1. Well put. I hear you on the rage spectrum as well. Bullying is awful. Awful in that life-altering, spirit-crushing sort of way.
    I knew these loving parents that stood up for their kid after he got ‘in trouble’ for ‘being disruptive and counterproductive’. It would’ve been commendable had the kid not been in his early 20s fired from his job and the parents in their mid-forties.
    We parents can pave the road to hell with our best intentions.
    It’s a fine line figuring these things out. And so hard not to let our emotions get in the way.

  2. Bullying is an unfortunate fact of life. While I admire the anti-bullying stance taken at schools, there isn’t a no tolerance policy on bullying in real life. I want my kids to be free of bullying but I accept that this isn’t likely, so instead I’m working to give them the strength to cope if it’s happening to them, the courage to stand up and make changes if it’s happening in front of them and the conscience to recognize and make amends if it IS them. We’ll see how that goes…

    • Hear hear! I agree completely. Parents these days spend so much time trying to shield their children from everything and anything that could possibly hurt them, which does nothing to prepare their children for all the pain that comes with adulthood. I think Americans are sue-happy, and I wonder just how far this specific case of bullying went. Death threats? Bad, and actionable. Calling someone “fatty fatty two by four, can’t fit through the kitchen door”? Eh, suck it up sweetheart & learn how to ignore them and find your own happiness. (Note: I say this as someone who was tortured by bullies all the way up until high school when I moved to a new school in a new state.) Bullying is, unfortunately, a natural part of the human condition. When you’re young you get bullied at school & at home, when you’re grown up you get bullied at your job & when you’re out running errands or sitting at the pub innocently drinking a beer, and when you get old you’re bullied by the nursing home workers and the lady who shares your room and keeps trying to steal the tv remote.
      You can’t sue it out of the world, you can only learn mechanisms for dealing with it. That’s your job as parents.

  3. Beautiful Meredith. I just heard something on the radio about changing some school rule so first and second graders can’t get suspended. Really? Theres some big trouble afoot if first and second graders are getting suspended from school.

  4. Well said. Also amusingly said. I esp loved the line about the victim eating cupcakes, slowly, in front of the other kid’s house. Haha.
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