Office. What Is Your Opinion on This Situation with the School?

Updated on December 07, 2010
M.M. asks from Mission Hills, CA
24 answers

My friend called me last night very upset. She said her son was sent to the Principal’s office for kicking another boy. Her DS is small for his age, 6. The other boy is rather tall for his age and known to be a bully. Apparently what happened is that both boys picked up a safety cone at the same time. The boy pushed her son hard, down to the ground and took the cone. The teacher saw this and as she was heading over, my friend’s son stood up and kicked this boy in the shin because the boy was standing over him. Well this did not go over well with the teacher. She grabbed my friend’s son by the arm and marched him straight to the Principal’s office as she was reprimanding him. This is how the teacher explained it all to my friend when she got to the school.

My friend argued that her son was defending himself against this boy who is much bigger than him. The Principal said that kicking is unacceptable. The teacher said that after the boy pushed her son to the ground he should have come and told the teacher and not “retaliated”.

My friend was very upset and they would not accept her defense for her DS.

When she called me to ask my opinion because she planned on taking this further, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, but I definitely agreed with her. I don’t know the rules at her school. It really had me thinking about if this happened to my DS and another boy, how would I handle this.

What would you do and is the school being unfair in your opinion?

ADDED: The other boy was NOT taken to the Principal's office. It was made clear that my friend's son was in trouble.

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answers from Boca Raton on

The other moms had great suggestions - just wanted to add that it always amazes me how some children are so very clever about bullying other kids - yet they know how to "read" the teacher and stay off his/her radar screen. Less savvy children (generally more innocent) finally get pushed to their limit and retaliate or defend themselves in full vision of the teacher (and then get in trouble).

Angers me, and I wish more teachers would be more aware of how frequently that goes on.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I agree. If one gets punished, they both should get punished. If it hadn't been for the push, there wouldn't have been a kick.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Let's say she was the mother of the son who got kicked and the school did nothing to the other kid. That sends the message that kicking (or other acts of physical violence) is okay.

The big bully kid may have deserved it and had it coming but the "an eye for an eye" mentality does not fly at school. In my opinion both kids should get in trouble for choosing to use physical violence to solve a problem. The retaliating kid had a choice - assert himself by using violence, conflict management through words, or informing a trusted adult. Each choice has benefits and consequences. He chose to retaliate with physical violence which, at school, isn't acceptable so he, too, must be held accountable for his actions.

The school is not being unfair; they're doing what they should be doing. How to handle this? Have a conversation with the kid to work on conflict management tactics that allow him to stand up for himself in a non-violent way.

(But, if the big bully kid doesn't get any consequences for starting the whole shebang then there'd be a SERIOUS problem!)

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answers from Washington DC on

I believe both boys were in the wrong and both should have been punished.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I think both boys should be punished for their actions. The bully had no right to push at all and should certainly go to the principal's office for that. However, two wrongs don't make a right and your friend's little boy should not have kicked. That doesn't fix anything. If it were actually self defense, that's one thing but this really sounds like retalliation. It's not like the bully pushed him down and then sat on him to pin him down or anything & your friends son kicked to get him off. This was simply you hit me, I hit you back.

Good luck to your friend!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

The schools have a no hitting policy which is stupid. I would rather my daughter kick a child in that situation than be a punching bag for another child. My rule for my kids is if you are hit or think you will be then you have my permission to defend yourself. It is usually the kids protecting themselves that get into trouble. The school doesn't make any sense half the time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You aren't clear about what the teacher actually saw vs. what the child reported and the mother translated. It's possible that what the teacher saw was the bigger child pulling the cone and the smaller one kicking him. This version is likely your friend's interpretation of what she heard the teacher say, not what the teacher actually said. No teacher would say "I grabbed your child and dragged them to the office while reprimanding him". Sorry, just doesn't happen.

The bottom line here is that your friend is excusing her child's behavior, which was not acceptable. He should have gone to the teacher, not kicked the other boy. By focusing on the other child's role she is minimizing the fact that her son kicked another child b/c he didn't get what he wanted. If she continues to deflect his responsibility in a situation, she's going to have a long road ahead. It's okay to acknowledge the other child's role in the situation while still applying a consequence for her child and relaying the message that fighting is NOT OK and that he should "use his words" and find an adult in the future.

Just my opinion here, but your friend doesn't have a leg to stand on. Her son kicked another child and was reprimanded for the behavior. If the other child is bullying her son then she should address that issue separately, but from what you have written it sounds like this is not the case.

If the consquence isn't way out of line, then he needs to deal with the fall-out of his choice and next time maybe he'll stop and think before he kicks or hits another child.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Both of them should be in the principals office. Your friend's son could only retaliate if thre was something done to him first, or it would be simple agression, not retaliation. Retaliation is a bad thing in terms of bullying, but that is reserved for children who initiate more bullying behaviors in retailiation for someone reporting earlier bullying. This teacher only understood part of the cycle.

Tell your freind to contact the principal by email, copy the superintendent, and the teacher, and request that the schools bullying and harrasment policy be sent to her within ten school days. She should also say that she intends to pursue a claim agains the boy who pushed her son under that policy, and was giving them fair notice that she intended to file that complaint, dispite her son's inappropriate response, she holds the other child fully responsible for begining the bullying behavior. She should also request that the entire incident be documented such that the first bully be provided with coaching and that her son be provided with coaching to find better responses to being bullied, rather than resorting to self help.

She should begin her email by recording the entire event, as it was told to her, by the teacher, and state that if she is not corrected in writing within ten school days, she will assume that all the events happened exactly as she has writen.

This will get their attention.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

This is a tough one. I completely understand fighting back if someone hits, pushes, etc., but schools can't condone kids retaliating because then every scuffle would end in an all out brawl. I think the bully should have been punished for starting it and the other boy should have simply been repermanded for kicking. I don't think her son was defending himself as much as he was mad and it felt good to kick the other kid in retaliation, but I don't think he should be punished. You didn't mention if he had a consequence other than talking to the principal. Also, your friend doesn't know what actually happened to the other student. His parents may have been called or he might have been called to the office the following day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think this is a good time to learn several lessons:

1. Life isn't always fair. It's not fair that "little boy" got in trouble when "big boy" didn't. But that doesn't mean that little boy didn't deserve to get in trouble.

2. Different rules apply in different situations. Do I object to someone kicking to defend themselves? Not generally. But violence is never ever going to be acceptable in school, retaliatory or not.

3. Figure out how to move on and create strategies for the future. If the mom gets hung up on how "not fair" this is, she's not really helping her son learn what to do better the next time. She now knows that retaliatory violence is never going to be acceptable, so they'll have to come up with other ways to handle the "bully."

My opinion is that the mom, and her son, should "lump it," because her son _did_ do something wrong. It would be a much better use of everyone's energy to figure out how to help her son deal with this kind of situation in the future.

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Although both boys should have been in trouble, the way I see it the boy was not defending himself. The bigger boy had the cone, he was not trying to hurt the boy further, so the kick was out of retaliation, and that is never ok. I would push for the other child to be in the same trouble, but she should not push to get hers out of trouble, she should use this as a chance to teach him that violence in never the answer.

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answers from Chicago on

Both kids should have been called in to the principal's office- but the big question is did the teacher SEE the other kid push your friend's son? Have your friend find that out first.

If the teacher saw what happened, clearly the other kid started it. If not, it's your friend's son's word against the other kid, which is trickier. If I was your friend, I would make it VERY clear to both the principal and the teacher that they will not tolerate their son being bullied at school- make sure they use the word 'bullied'.

If they have actual proof of other incidents where this other kid has bullied or gotten physical, I would contact those parents and ask if they can mention it to the principal, just to back up their son's story.

They should talk to their son- was this just a random thing that only happened because both kids wanted the cone at the same time- or has this other boy been seeking out your friend's son and bullying him?

There is a HUGE difference- and honestly, the other boy doesn't sound like he was a whimpering puddle of terror- he stuck up for himself and gave as good as he got. I am not saying it is GOOD to kick someone- but at least it sounds like he wasn't too intimidated to do anything!

I know how upsetting things like this are- BUT- this is kindergarten. Boys get overexcited and out of line - even good kids. Sometimes bullies do grow out of things- I say this because a kid my son had an incident with when he was that age, has really changed and is very well-behaved now.

You don't want to go crazy over this- but they should make it clear to the principal and teacher that they expect the situation to be monitored and that if there is one more incident, they will go to the District and the school board.

Last but not least- call up the other kid's mom! She may not be surprised to hear what happened- or she might be appalled! She may just think another boy kicked her son for no good reason! Without communication, you can't make good decisions. Maybe if the two boys had some one on one time at each other's houses, they would become friends and the situation will end on its own. Don't discount that kind of solution without trying it!

Good luck to your friend!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Unfortunately hitting, kicking, etc. is something that is not tolerated in most schools. So, ok fine he got in trouble for doing that, it doesn't mean she has to discipline her kid just talk to him about what he should do next time. What I would be making a stink about is the kid being the bully. Why is hitting, kicking a no tolerance, but bullying is tolerated. That is what needs to be brought up to the principal and if he won't do anything about it, then take it to the higher ups.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Your friend's son should be in trouble, he retaliated by kicking. The other boy should also be in trouble especially since the teacher did see it.

If the other boy was doing something else once your friend's son was down (like kicking or further pushing etc) then the kick is self defense but not as described. This is true regarless of size.

Your friend's son did escalate a situation that may have been minimized by the teacher's intervention or by him telling the teacher. Instead, he chose to fight back when doing so was avoidable...they call that "mutual combatants" and both parties can/should be in trouble. If they were older (and in some cases even at this young age are) they can be arrested.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I believe that the hardest punishment should be handed out to the "instigator" not the "retaliator"!

How are we supposed to teach our kids to stand up for them selves against bullies?

To answer your question, YES, I think the school is being unfair!

I do not care what any of the "politically correct" rules are at this point...if someone lays a hand on my child I will always back them up if they defend themselves...and sadly in this day and age "defending themselves" is now considered "retaliation"???

Both boys were punished correct? The bigger kid better have been....or I would be making a HUGE STINK!

You hit me?...your damn straight I will hit you back!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I guess if the little boy was my child, I would be focusing on addressing my own child's bad choice. No, it is never OK to kick someone because they have "wronged" you. It is an unfortunate fact that the little boy will come across people his whole life that will cheat, lie, play dirty, compete unfairly, and be unkind. There is a right and a wrong way to deal with that. Not OK to kick anyone in the shins, unless in true self defense. It doesn't sound like the other boy was physically restraining him and actually threatening or hurting him at the time of the kick, so it does not sound like a self defense situation. An adult witnessed the incident, and you have to give that person the benefit of the doubt that they are using their best professional judgment, even if that means your own kid was seen behaving badly. Your friend should work with the school staff, and be on the same page as them, supporting the rules to help her son make a better choice next time while in the company of a badly behaving classmate. And let it go regarding the other boys punishment or lack thereof.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

If both boys were in trouble, I'd be fine with that. Really the one who kicked was out of line as well. But, the bully who was the initial attacker was left unpunished and that is what gets me upset here, all that teaches children is to take the bullying without complaining. I've seen this so many times.

I would talk to the school like how Elizabeth and Jen suggested, agree to the punishment for her son, but also demand the other boy who initially attacked him have equal punishment..

My dad told me when I was a kid, that if I ever got bullied, he'd pay me $10 if I taught the kid a lesson... but before I did that, I would have to try and find a non-violent way out of the situation.

We teach our kid the same thing, if you are bullied, you have permission to fight back, but you first must go to the teacher immediately for help. Only in dire situations are you to fight back.

I was and still am very petite, about 1 foot shorter than most kids in my classes. In any case, I'm a black belt and national jr olympic champion in fighting, and so I take self defense very seriously.

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answers from San Francisco on

I agree with you that kids should be able to defend themselves, but my experience is that is not the case. The zero tolerance thing means zero thinking on the part of schools. My son in high school had the following situation - he and another boy knew each other since Jr High and would joke back and forth. That day at lunch my son did something to the other kids lunch (something benign like take a French fry). The other kid did something to my son's lunch. My son did something in return. At that point the other kid grabbed my son by the throat pick him up off the chair and hit him in the temple. My son was going to hit back but his friends held him back and the teachers got involved. The school "investigated" the incident to see if my son had been picking on this kid for years and he suddenly snapped. Not the case. All the boys who also went to Jr. High with them confirmed they were friends. The best the school came up with was the other boy had a bad day. Both kids got five days of detention. The school told me that if the other kid had drawn blood they were obligated by law to call the police. Why was my kid, the victim, punished? Because we have zero tolerance. I think your friend will get anywhere, unless she is willing to tackle the zero tolerance philosophy which is much bigger than her school.

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answers from Boise on

I wouldn't have a problem with the reprimand for kicking, if the other boy was reprimanded for pushing. I wouldn't accept a "defense" excuse, although I understand, but just be upset that they weren't treated similarly.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from McAllen on

Well, I do agree with the school up to a certain point. Your friend's son shouldn't have retaliated, and he should face consequences, but the other boy must face consequences too. (In theory)

In real life, I know for experience, mine and my son's that schools panic about bullying, but do nothing about it, so I would've been all high and mighty about my son's right to defend himself. if they are not going to do it. But mostly I would demand consequences for both my son and the bully, and would make sure they do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

It appears the teacher saw the whole thing go down and I'm not sure why she didn't tell the whole story to the principal, maybe we are not getting the whole story. I'd have a whale of a bigger problem with the teacher grabbing my child the way the teacher grabbed this child. I'd be marching myself to the school and confronting the teacher and the principal on the issue of the teacher grabbing my child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Glens Falls on

Things sure have changed a lot. In my day, both boys would have been in trouble but probably neither one would have gone to the principal's office, the teacher just would have handled it by making them both sit at their desks. But I guess these days most teachers are trained to zero tolerance for any kind of physical scuffle. I do think both boys should have gone to the office. But I would just explain to my son that even though I sort of understood what he did, he really needs to find a teacher or adult if anyone shows any physical behavior to him at school and even though he didn't initiate it, he just can't participate in it at all and that's all there is to it. If her son questions why the other boy didn't get in trouble too, I would just say, well maybe the teacher didn't see the whole thing clearly and sometimes "unfair" things like that happen, but it doesn't change that he can't kick anyone.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

At our school we have a "No Bully" policy, and they are very strict on it. I am all for this, and if that were to have happened here, both boys would have been punished in some way. My nephew is 9 y/o, last week a boy was in line behind him giving him flat tires and making jokes about him ( he is half Mexican). My nephew got angry and scraped the boy in the face with a plastic fork, right under the eye. Of coarse, my nephew got suspended, as he should for going that far, but the other kid was punished also, for bullying my nephew. This week, my nephew returned to school, apologized to the other boy, and played together in recess. I am not saying that they will be best friends, but the conflict is gone at this time. I say to you and your friend, go to the school board about the bully, push until they agree to punish both sides. There is alot of conflicts in schools these days and people don't know that they have a right to speak out. Other people don't know there is a problem unless they are informed, I say to all parents, be active in the schools. We need to know the environment we send our children into, and teachers and school boards need to know that we are paying attention. Things go alot smoother when the right people get involved.

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answers from Austin on

Hmmm, neither you nor your friend saw the push. It sounds like it occured in the context of P.E., and while pushing is unacceptable (and the other boy should be reprimanded for it), it's hard to say what may have happened within the parameters of a physical competition. What were the rules? In basketball and football, you're allowed to take the ball if someone holds the ball but doesn't have total control. Did one boy reach the cone seconds before the other, touch the cone but not necessarily have possession/control? Did what the teacher witnessed by the other boy have the possibility of not being entirely intentional?

In hockey, high sticking and tripping are minor penalties--but throwing a retaliatory punch to the guy who did it is deemed a worse offense (major penalty).

In any event, sounds like both boys (and perhaps the whole class?) needs a lesson in sportsmanship.

1 mom found this helpful
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