Can we, and should we, try to help this bullied kid?
June 10, 2009 3:25 PM Subscribe
My 8-year-old neighbor is being bullied and his parents aren't helping -- is there anything I can do?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! to human relations (44 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The kid next door is shy, has a speech impediment (can't say "r") and has some learning disabilities. Other kids are terribly cruel to him. Some examples:
1. He is being brutally bullied by other kids in the neighborhood, often within earshot of my wife and I. The things they say shock even my wife, who is a mid school teacher. They also encourage him to do stupid stuff like throw rocks at neighborhood pets or houses, and he is desperate to oblige.
2. A girl in the neighborhood who attends his school gleefully informed us last week that "he gets his ass kicked at school all the time because he doesn't fight back" -- this was right in front of him. I've seen him scuffed up and bruised a few times, and kind of figured this was what was going on.
3. Yesterday, three older kids wandering through the neighborhood pushed him off his bike and stole it.
His parents spend most of their time drinking in front of the teevee, and pay little attention other than to occasionally yell or swear at him. I don't think they're abusive, just sort of oblivious. Talking to them about this probably isn't going to make a difference.
Though I don't encourage it, this kid tags along when I walk the dogs, rollerskates in our driveway and comes over when we're in the front yard, so we've sort of gotten to know him over the years. Sometimes I help him air up his bike tires or footballs, that sort of thing. I think he trusts us, though he doesn't talk much -- something I attribute to shyness and his attempts to avoid words he can't pronounce.
Our concern here is twofold -- we feel pretty bad for the little guy, and we also are afraid he will grow up to be an angry, alienated monster living right next door.
Recently I've considered perhaps trying to help him stand up to this bullying, but I don't really know what I would say. For instance, what do you tell a kid to do when another kid at school challenges him to a fight? Fight back? Walk away? I'm not much of a "kid" person, so I don't really know how to address any of this.
Another thing both of us have considered is going out to have a talk with the bullies when they're being mean to him, but I seem to recall from my own childhood that having someone "go to bat" for you just makes things worse.
Alternatively, since this is technically none of my business, should I just leave it alone and watch this poor kid get angrier and weirder? What would you do?