I recall his name, even though I won’t write it here. I was 11 years old, big for my age, but lacking in social ease and confidence.
He picked up on my timidity immediately and made my sixth-grade experience a living hell. Frequent verbal jibes that left me tongue-tied and not-so-subtle public mockery made me want to avoid him at every opportunity.
We all know what to call such kids: bullies. And at the time, I so wished that someone had stood up to my tormentor, because I simply wasn’t able to.
Well, a mother in Texas did just that when she learned there was bullying at her son’s school. But there was a catch.
The bully in question turned out to be none other than her son! Yet that didn’t stop her from taking swift action.
The mother, who asked KTRK to only use her first name of Star, said that her son bullied others verbally rather than physically. “He was calling other boys ‘stupid,’ calling them idiots,” she said.
So Star decided a direct approach was best. She got a plain gray T-shirt for her son.
Then she took out a marker and wrote on both sides in all caps, “I AM A BULLY.” Below the final word, she drew an ASCII-style sad-face emoticon. Then she had him wear it to school on Friday.
“I did what I had to do to stop if from progressing,” she told KTRK. “I wanted to do something that would teach him why he can’t do those things.”
Star added, “I wanted to know what he learned from it, and he said, ‘I learned that I didn’t like the way that that felt, and I don’t want anybody else to feel that way because of me.’ That’s exactly what I wanted him to take from it.”
What’s more, Star didn’t just do this on a whim. She reached out to faculty and administration at Greenleaf Elementary in Splendora, Texas, to get their agreement.
And you know what? They said she could do it.
“Parents have the rights to make important decisions and take certain actions on behalf of their child,” the school wrote in a statement. “The parent explained her rationale for the student wearing the shirt to the teachers and counselor.
“Ensuring a safe, physical, emotional, and social environment is one of Splendora [Independent School District]’s Core Principles. With that in mind, our counselor checked on the child throughout the day on Friday and plans to follow up with the student and the parent early this week.”
But not everyone thought that Star had made a wise choice. She had initially posted a picture of the shirt on Facebook, but she took it down after receiving numerous negative contents.
Child psychiatrist Dr. Richard Pesikoff of Baylor College of Medicine told KTRK that, “I don’t think it requires the scarlet letter, searing the letter ‘B’ on his forehead. … Not a good idea to embarrass your child and solidify a negative identity in an elementary school child.”
And on social media, the story caused a controversy, with some commenters stating the boy’s punishment went so far it almost constituted a kind of bullying itself.
Star, though, told the station she’d already seen better behavior from her boy. “He’ll survive, and he’s already been treating his sisters better.”
What do you think, Liftable readers? Did this mom make a wise decision or is she way out of line?
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