For the love of god, leave us alone.
January 16, 2009 5:21 PM   Subscribe

How can I deal with a group of neighborhood punks intent on making my kids' lives miserable? Most of the information online tells parents to involve the school administration, but this is happening right in my neighborhood -- on my very street -- not in an school setting.

I recently moved into a new house with my elementary school-aged children and am frustrated that a pack of obnoxious kids bully my children every chance they get.

Since the punks are roughly the same age as mine, we initially we tried befriending them when we first moved in. I invited them over often handed out sodas, and so on, but apparently they prefer harassment over playing with the Wii and Rock Band.

In addition to yelling obscenities and verbal threats daily, they also get physical with my children -- pushing, shoving, tripping, throwing things at them, etc. I rarely let my kids venture around the neighborhood anymore, though they're old enough to do so, and instead have them play in the front or back yard. Still and yet, the kids give my children a ration of shit every chance they get, even in our own yard.

The one time I tried saying something to the kids (nicely, I didn't holler), they threw things at my house when I went back inside.

In desperation, I videotaped my kids playing in our driveway and caught the group of brats stealing their baseball equipment and even threatening my oldest boy with a bat. Through all of this, my kids kept to themselves and ignored the little cretins as I've told them to do (they don't yell back, get physical, or do anything else that might inflame the situation).

I took the tape to the parents of two different children. One claims she's reprimanding her son (though he continues to swat my kids as they walk down the street, and scream names at them). The other parent told me it wasn't his problem and he just didn't give a damn.

Out of desperation, I went to the homeowners association (I live in a fairly affluent gated community). They told me it wasn't their problem and that I could call the police if I didn't like it.

I'm literally at a loss for what to do next. I moved from my last house because the neighborhood was overrun with bullies, so I know what involving the cops will be like (they will try their best to do what they can but they won't be able to catch anyone in action, and therefore nothing will get better.)

I supervise my children, I make sure they're not up to no good when my back is turned, I've tried being nice to the bullies, I've tried going to the parents, and for the last few days we've just been ignoring them, but it's getting worse. Ignoring the situation isn't helping, and I can't stand letting my kids get screamed at and/or threatened every single freaking day.

This is really becoming a huge problem and I'm desperate for suggestions and ideas.
posted by _Mona_ to Human Relations (85 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
What about calling the Police? Sounds like these kids have broken multiple laws and you have the evidence to prove it.
posted by Zebtron at 5:28 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

In desperation, I videotaped my kids playing in our driveway and caught the group of brats stealing their baseball equipment and even threatening my oldest boy with a bat.


I know what involving the cops will be like (they will try their best to do what they can but they won't be able to catch anyone in action, and therefore nothing will get better.)

eh? you have evidence. give it to the police.
posted by desjardins at 5:28 PM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

Go out and shout at them regularly when they harass your children. Walk indoors, pick up the camera, and when they start throwing things at your house film them. Call the police, show them the tape, and point out where the parents live.
posted by fire&wings at 5:30 PM on January 16, 2009 [6 favorites]

Call the cops. repeatedly. get restraining orders. then maybe the miserable parents will discipline their kids. If there is a school resource officer start there. how old are these little Angles?
posted by patnok at 5:31 PM on January 16, 2009

Call the non-911 number for your local police precinct and ask speak to an officer. Explain the situation. If the situation is not resolved, consult counsel.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:32 PM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: desjardins -- Hm, yeah, I see what you mean. That didn't come out right. What I meant was that it will be hard to prove the shoving or yelling when I call them to come give me a hand. Although I have the tape, I'm scared to give it to the cops for fear of retaliation from the kids or their parents. Yes, I see the irony. (Oddly, I'm not a shrinking violet about most things. This has really rattled my cage, though).

patnok -- Incredibly, these kids range in age from 7 - 10 years old.
posted by _Mona_ at 5:37 PM on January 16, 2009

Well, they might retaliate no matter what action you take, police or otherwise. On the other hand, what's going to happen if you don't do anything else?

Seems to me you've tried to deal with the parents directly and have met with no success. I think it makes sense to have a neutral third party involved. Police sometimes have "community policing officers", something like that, who do mediation-type things to prevent situations where neighbors don't get along from escalating. Maybe instead of trying to have the kids arrested, say, talk with the community policing officer and show them the tape, tell them it's an example of what happens all the time, and you need some help making sure the kids and the other parents understand that it needs to stop.

Not surprised at all that kids 7-10 are acting this way. Social standing and peer esteem become hugely important at these ages and really picking on kids outside of (or at the bottom of) the pecking order can get really intense and cruel.
posted by Sublimity at 5:56 PM on January 16, 2009

Another thought--do these kids go to the same school as your kids? Because if it's happening in the neighborhood it's probably also going on in school, and administrators should know about it.

My last suggestion--if your kids are elementary aged too, consider enrolling them in martial arts to build up their confidence and sense that they can defend themselves. Good programs will stress that what they teach shouldn't be used as offense, but it sounds like your kids will have a lot of chance to surprise the little b*stards in defensive situations.
posted by Sublimity at 6:00 PM on January 16, 2009

Call the freaking police already. These are your KIDS.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:00 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Your. Kid. Was. Threatened. With. A. Bat.

Do you really want to wait until he gets hit with it? Call the cops.
posted by desjardins at 6:03 PM on January 16, 2009 [9 favorites]

Most cops find it very entertaining scaring the shit out of kids, I'd call them immediately.
posted by dead cousin ted at 6:06 PM on January 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

I'm with the people suggesting you call the police. I can only imagine they'd appreciate the opportunity to intervene before anything really, really horribly gnarly happens. I sympathize and hope things get better.
posted by Neofelis at 6:09 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ya at that age if they get away with it by 14 they will be breaking into your house & stealing your car,etc. Get some good video . call the cops. It doesn't get fixed over night. start today.
posted by patnok at 6:11 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sublimity -- These kids all go to the local school together, yes. The same one I pulled my kids out of last year because of the bullying that went on there. This whole situation is a level of insanity that I can't really wrap my head around.

Thanks for all the comments so far. I think in my heart of hearts, I know getting the cops involved is the right thing to do but they've got me so nervous that I'm probably here because I'm A) making sure I've exhausted all other options, and B) looking for permission to make the call.
posted by _Mona_ at 6:12 PM on January 16, 2009

In my curmudgeonly opinion, one should not tolerate bullies. You should give your kids permission to defend themselves. If they are outmatched, then either do as Sublimity suggests and enroll them in Martial Arts training, or defend them yourself. If you see them abusing your children you have every right to defend them by giving the miscreants a swat, or at least a good shake of the shoulders and your most aggressive attitude. They're 10 years old fer crissakes!

And if you worry about complaints of child abuse, well, would there be proof of that, especially in comparison to your documented evidence of their misbehavior?
posted by TDIpod at 6:13 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Call the police. You have my permission.

Setting boundaries is uncomfortable, but that's what you have to do. It's not going to get any easier as all the kids get older.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:15 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Definitely go to the cops. Bullies operate where they aren't scrutinized and can get away with it, because they are cowards. Escalation to a higher level of authority and consequent exposure generally dissuades bullies.

On a similar note - a suggestion that I offer without knowing the relative size of the involved parties and suspecting it runs contrary to your instincts as a parent - bullies are also dissuaded by either being outmatched or given a taste of their own medicine. Maybe you could give your kids a little wiggle room to hit back.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:19 PM on January 16, 2009

Call the police, and ask if there is a "Youth Officer" or the equivalent that you could talk to. Some departments have a go-to-guy or -gal who deal with wayward kid types and he/she may be willing to handle things in the most low-key manner that is effective, but be ready to amp things up if there is no response. Good luck.
posted by mmf at 6:19 PM on January 16, 2009

Yes, police. You have exhausted all of the other sensible options (talking to the kids directly, talking to their parents, talking to the home owners association). You've gone steadily up the authority ladder. The next step is the police. It's not too soon and it's not too severe.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:29 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Absolutely nthing the advice above. Get the police involved (and call the precinct, not 911), but also prepare your kids for retaliation. Let them know that it is OK to defend themselves if someone is trying to hurt them. Whether it's enrolling them in karate or putting a punching bag in your house (like my dad did), make sure they have the confidence to stand up to people who are giving them crap.

But oh my gosh, yes, call the police and stop this now before they get old enough to really be dangerous.
posted by phunniemee at 6:33 PM on January 16, 2009

I also think you need to give your kids a lot more leeway in how they respond to the bullies. it's their peer group and they are going to be around these kids for a very long time and they need to establish their own boundaries with them. I went to a lot of rough schools as a kid and in my experience bullies give up pretty quick once it's clear that you are a) happy to throw down or b) able to say something to make them look stupid in front of their friends (my Dad was happy to coach us on put downs as needed). It's called being childish for a reason!
posted by fshgrl at 7:04 PM on January 16, 2009 [10 favorites]

You moved from your last home because of terrible bullies and it's happening again? That's either incredibly bad luck or a sign of something (I have no idea what). Do you have any idea at all of what is causing the bullying?

Note that I'm not at all blaming you - I was bullied for years when I was a kid. I'm just really curious what is causing you and your kids to stand out.
posted by letitrain at 7:12 PM on January 16, 2009

The same one I pulled my kids out of last year because of the bullying that went on there. This whole situation is a level of insanity that I can't really wrap my head around.

It sounds like you must be in a fairly unretractable situation here - you've bought a new house in an affluent gated community.

But your community is lousy (uncooperative parents, nasty kids, bullying, defensiveness, lack of neighborliness) and the school sounds awful. Having to pull your kids out because of bullying is truly extreme.

If I were you I'd be reconsidering my decisions about where I'm living. The place may look nice on the outside, but it sounds absolutely miserable. I can't help but wonder if you'd be happier in a different neighborhood in a different school district. All places aren't alike, and the culture you and your kids seem to immersed in sounds absolutely miserable. The way you describe it you have no real recourse - neighborhood is bad, school is bad, police are unlikely to be helpful. What do you have left? Why live there? What are your options?

Not all places are alike in how their school-age family community has developed. Chances are you could all be a lot happier and more comfortable elsewhere.

I understand that it's easy for an outsider to say that glibly and that upheaving your life is no small matter, especially if you've already done it recently. But it sounds like your family wants qualities in a community that your present community, however nice-appearing, doesn't satisfy.
posted by Miko at 7:12 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster:
"You moved from your last home because of terrible bullies and it's happening again? That's either incredibly bad luck or a sign of something (I have no idea what). Do you have any idea at all of what is causing the bullying?"

Fair question, I probably should have specified: I live in a large community of several hundred homes and moved from one section (non-gated) to another (gated). I love this area and really don't want to leave. I'd assumed (hoped?) that moving from one section of the community that's full of foreclosures and renters to the new one that's got an HOA, less turnover, fewer renters, and (so I thought) more pride of ownership, things would be different.

I was hoping that the fact that it costs more to live here would bring a better class of people or, at the very least, was hoping there would be more stay-at-home moms monitoring their kids. In retrospect, I should have realized the many errors in that logic.

I also agree with the comments that my kids would benefit from martial arts and a boost in self-confidence. They've been resistant to local karate classes, preferring baseball and football instead. I think it's time I overrule their preferences.

BTW, did I tell you, you all rock? Thanks so much.
posted by _Mona_ at 7:25 PM on January 16, 2009

You're talking jungle and caveman behavior, and as someone who is bullied and never did anything about it, you may just have to fight fire with fire. Martial arts or boxing or whatever for your kids, and a willingness to cause police cars to show up in front of your neighbors' houses. Let me tell you, also from experience, this will ostracize the bad parents very quickly. No neighborhood likes to think of themselves as a high-crime area, especially in upscale gated communities. Use your tools, and give your kids some while you're at it.

P.S. HOAs are typically lazy.
posted by rhizome at 7:32 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Although I have the tape, I'm scared to give it to the cops for fear of retaliation from the kids or their parents.

If the parents retaliate, you need to make their lives hellish enough (through legal means) that they either control their damn kids or move out. Make them pay for everything their kids do, and for everything they do.

Ensure that your own nose is clean first, though.
posted by oaf at 7:33 PM on January 16, 2009

How about reaching out to other parents in your neighborhood- parents of children who are NOT bullies. There have to be some nice people somewhere with whom you can build a network that will shame, force, convince, whatever it takes, these do-nothing bully parents to take action. Also- If these kids are bullying your kids- they are probably victimizing someone else's children, too. Find support in your community for you and your kids.

I REALLY sorry you are facing this. I would be out of my tree completely. I would probably get myself arrested.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 7:34 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, have the courage of your convictions that the standard of behavior on your street should be as high as you want it to be. Don't be shy about talking smack about the bad families to your neighbors. "Can you believe how wild their kids are?" "No, kids are NOT just being kids when they steal. They're being young criminals. What are you going to say when they take something out of your garage?" This is your living situation, don't fuck around.
posted by rhizome at 7:35 PM on January 16, 2009

you need to make their lives hellish enough (through legal means) that they either control their damn kids or move out

I mean you need to make them move out, not that you would need to move out.

posted by oaf at 7:36 PM on January 16, 2009

Amusing answer: Hire an old guy to sit on your front porch with a lawn chair and a shotgun and yell at the kids to get off the lawn.

Actual answer: Let the cops know. Make a copy of your tapes before you give it to them. Also, you might consider getting a family dog. Even the sloppiest, friendliest golden-retriever-labrador will bark and act aggressive at an outsider who is obviously threatening his pack/family.

And if the bullies start acting out against the dog, trying to hit IT with sticks and bats, oh-ho-ho...If you have THAT on tape, that can result in juvenile hall.

Speculative comment: It may be BECAUSE youre in an affluent community that this is happening. The kids are spoiled, aren't supervised, parents dont care, etc etc. I grew up in an upper-middle-class environment and saw this all the time.
posted by CTORourke at 7:51 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Call the police, show them the tape. Doing nothing changes nothing about your situation.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:56 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

If your kids are resistant to martial arts, let them know that they one hard punch to the nose will usually freak out someone attacking you. I learned that when I was young. Their eyes will tear up and it will cause them to bleed from their nose. It looks way worse than it is and can be pretty effective.
posted by aburd at 8:03 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

What's the consensus in the neighborhood? Have you talked to other parents, neighbors or your kids' teachers? Maybe their kids are dealing with it too. Maybe the bullies are always in trouble at school. Furthermore, a lot of bullies have crappy home lives too, which is supported by the fact that the one parent stuck it to you when you said something. You can figure that he probably doesn't give a lot more effort for his kid.

Definitely go to the cops with any and all evidence you have. If another neighbor or two has evidence -even anecdotal- that will help. The cops won't arrest the kid or the parent, mind you. But they might have a word with the parent or bully on your behalf, letting them know that the authorities are "aware of the situation". That might be enough. Let's hope so.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 8:04 PM on January 16, 2009

Call the police.

Right now, you are teaching your children to cower to bullies - stay in the yard, let them curse at you and hand out sodas.

That shit doesn't work with bullies.
posted by 26.2 at 8:07 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

We had a situation where the boy down the street was a problem--we tried, as you did, to befriend him, but it didn't work, and his Mom was clueless about how serious it was.

Here's what worked for us:

He vandalized our van (and others) on Halloween night, not just with raw eggs but with paint, nasty stuff like that. We knew it was him (there simply wasn't anyone else we knew who would do anything like that), and my husband was hesitant to point fingers, but we called the police for insurance purposes.

The police were fabulous. They went down to his house and found the paint cans in the boy's garage, had him dead to rights (as you do with your videotaped evidence), and they scared the bejeebus out of him. They knocked on the door, talked to his Mom, brought him out to the police car for a private talk, the whole deal.

They basically said, 'Lucky for you, you have nice neighbors, and they are on the fence about pressing charges, though we advised them they should. As far as the police are concerned, we are going to have our eyes on YOU for ANYTHING bad that happens from now on in this neighborhood..."

We ended up looking pretty good for not pressing charges, and he was scared enough to tow the line after that. Plus, Mom got a wake-up call when she realized he could have ended up in juvenile detention.

So, yeah, definitely call the police about this!
posted by misha at 8:17 PM on January 16, 2009 [9 favorites]

You should give your kids permission to defend themselves. If they are outmatched, then either do as Sublimity suggests and enroll them in Martial Arts training, or defend them yourself. If you see them abusing your children you have every right to defend them by giving the miscreants a swat, or at least a good shake of the shoulders and your most aggressive attitude.

Your children have the right to physically defend themselves if physically attacked. Just as you do. Just as everyone does.

Sometimes the solution to violence is violence, despite what the Quakers and Gandhi would have you believe. Not usually at the organized, national level--i.e. war. But very frequently on the personal level. Nonviolent resistance is all well and good for making a point when the media cameras are pointed at you and you can gain sympathy from other people. But, this isn't political. This is about your children's personal wellbeing. And if some asshole's bloody nose ensures their wellbeing, that sounds like a very cheap price to pay.

That said, you probably shouldn't go out there and hit them yourself. Their parents will just press charges, and you'll have trouble convincing a jury that you acted reasonably. On the other hand, it seems pretty unlikely that your children will be prosecuted for defending themselves, given the evidence you have.

But, as for actually solving this problem permanently. Yeah, the police are the right answer here. If they retaliate, call the police again. If they keep escalating, at some point, there will be a criminal offense that results in jail time. (But, in case you're trying to feel good about a non-violent solution... the police are state-sanctioned users of violence, and their mere presence is the threat of violence. After all, if you keep resisting arrest, at some point they hurt you.)
posted by Netzapper at 8:34 PM on January 16, 2009

If the parents retaliate, you need to make their lives hellish enough (through legal means) that they either control their damn kids or move out. Make them pay for everything their kids do, and for everything they do.

I think this is exactly right. Bullies are little terrorists. They (both the parents and the children) are controlling you and your children through fear, and the way to change the power balance is to show them that you are not afraid. (You know how they say that when you walk through a bad neighborhood, you should walk confidently, like you're not scared and have every right to be there? Same idea.) This doesn't mean that you should retaliate - just calmly, firmly, confidently assure them that this behavior is unacceptable and you are not to be fucked with. Then enforce it through whatever legal means are necessary.

You mentioned that you went to two sets of parents, with lackluster results. Go back, again and again. Go to the parents you haven't approached yet. Don't be apologetic when you do - you have the moral high ground here, and they're the ones who should be apologizing. Just be firm. Even if inside you're completely terrified, don't let them know it. YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT, and you have all of us behind you - so act like it.
posted by granted at 8:41 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree with a lot of the above, calling the cops, talking to other neighbors, letting your kids know it's OK to respond in kind, martial arts classes (think boxing instead though) etc.

Also, consider placing a small video camera at the front of your house like those you see at the front door of some retail stores. Instead of aiming at the area in front of your door, try to capture as much of the front yard as possible. If you do this, schedule the installation for a time when no kids will be around. That way if you accumulate more footage to show to police, parents, neighbors, whomever, it can be a surprise.
posted by BigSky at 9:08 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Misha's story about the boy who painted her car reminds me of an incident on our street.

An elementary-school-aged boy was shooting BBs at people from the apartment building across the street. My husband had come home a few times knowing that someone was shooting BBs toward him, but not knowing which apartment it was coming from. Eventually our housemate got shot at and he *did* see which apartment it was coming from, and he did the sensible thing: called the cops.

The police went to the door armed and on high alert, since after all someone was shooting at people. This scared the shit out of the little boy and his grandfather, who lived in the apartment. The police lectured the kid sternly and confiscated the gun.

When I learned who'd done it, I went over to talk to the grandfather. We had been across-the-street neighbors for years and up to that point had a fairly friendly relationship, but he was clearly upset that the police had been called, and--to my continuing amazement--maintained that the little boy wasn't shooting at people, only at birds. I told him about my husband's previous experience but he didn't seem to believe it.

I still sort of boggle at the grandfather's response; if my kid were shooting at people, I'd lock her up my own damn self. But he didn't seem willing to entertain the notion that his grandkid would do that, so I doubt he would have addressed the situation if we'd come to him first. Bottom line, I think calling the police was the most effective way to make sure that the situation stopped, period.

Relations with the grandfather definitely were affected, but there was no retaliation or anything.
posted by Sublimity at 9:10 PM on January 16, 2009

Stupid back alley taunts are one thing... but your child was physically threatened with a bat. A solid shot to the head with a bat can be the end of you at worst and a nasty head injury at best.

I'm also going to say something that isn't particularly gentle and fluffy but may be the truth... if your kids are still being bullied you're being too nice and may as well be being bullied by the parents yourself.

I won't advocate you do anything directly to the kids, that certainly won't stand up well in court... but they -are- your kids. I'd pull a boy's soul right out through his god damn eye socket if he tried to hit my kid with baseball bat. Just the fact that I would feel perfectly comfortable doing that, sends out a certain vibe that most people aren't willing to test. Be fierce.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 9:11 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Please, please, please let your kids fight back. I have a similar story to fshgrl. They are bullying your kids because they know your kids will not fight back. Sometimes it is simple as that. Oh and yes, I got the shit beaten out of me, but the bullies stopped, and I got respect at school. I wish I had done it sooner and my parents hadn't been so insistent on pacifism.
posted by geoff. at 9:11 PM on January 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

And note that a similar dynamic is happening with the parents - they're essentially saying they don't think you'll take it very far, that they think you'll back down. The law's on your side, and ethics are, too. As said above, you're in the right and shouldn't have anything to fear. If they do retaliate - it'll be illegal.

You might want to keep a log or record of events as they happen. Somewhere easy to update.
posted by Miko at 9:17 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

You're all going to hate me for saying this, but some kids act in such a way that they become targets of bullies regardless of what their parents do. In many many situations, their parents' actions encourages more bullying.

Are your kids assertive? Do they have friends? Are they popular (are they UNpopular)?

Parental/police intervention, in my experience, can make thinks even worse for your kids. The bullying steps up, but they stop telling you about it.

Martial arts can be an answer - but the goodly outcome is that they have better self esteem and the benefits arise from that rather than the kids' ability to fight. Do you really want your kids getting into scraps? Depending on the neighbourhood, scraps can turn into machete-swinging BS.

I think that you have very "good" kids who respect and adore you as their parents. Having said that, I think that your children could do better for themselves if they were felt free to express themselves, adult-consequences-be-damned. I'm not saying fisticuffs (they don't sound like they'd be capable) but rather, in words "yeah, so Mrs H says that your mom snorts meth and your dad's fucking some prostitute." It helps if that's the truth/there's-some-semblence-of-truth-about-it.

That is when martial arts might be useful.
posted by porpoise at 9:21 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check with other parents in the area and see what they think / how they feel about these kids.

The best suggestion I have heard which I will repeat: enable and empower your kids to respond to the bullies. WORST thing my father ever did was to restrict this with me without exception from responding to bullies. It put a huge target on my back for the majority of my childhood years resulting in a time that I would not wish on my worst enemies.

Bullies are like thieves - they like easy targets. Car thieves, for example, will move on to another car if your car has "the club" (even though they know they can saw through it pretty quickly). Your son/daughter(s) put up persistent resistance (and maybe even do a little damage) and they will move on to other targets.

Before the cops, etc. (which I agree with) get the ball rolling w/ your kids - enroll them in a place that teaches discipline, constraint, etc. but also real contact (not just kata, etc.). Getting punched in the face freaks you out the first few times and they need to get comfortable with it (it will really freak the bullies). I recommend Jujitsu It will be several months before their training is usable, but it is best to have them start asap.

The best satisfaction you will get are the parents who come knocking at your door because your kid popped theirs in the face and you say, "not my concern" (this said, it really isnt because kids have to sort this out for themselves).

In any case it will still be fun for you.
posted by gnash at 9:23 PM on January 16, 2009

Call the police. Also, CPS. If the parents aren't stopping these children from stealing and bullying, that's neglect. These kids aren't being done any favours being allowed to run wild like that.

Watch out for letting your kids get physically involved, especially if they're naturally meek. Kids who don't follow rules fight dirty. Also: parents with kids who don't follow rules tend to like to sue.
posted by batmonkey at 9:29 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

May I gently suggest that there is something more going on? You've already been through this and have had to move. I'm in no way condoning bullying; it can make kids' lives miserable living hells. And threatening with a bat is way way way over the line and certainly sounds like a situation for the police. But since this has happened before the common element is you and your children. Some kids seem to be magnets for bullying and it looks like the ignore ignore ignore approach is working. Martial arts has been suggested but if they aren't interested other physical activities, football and baseball included, I think would be good. While you absolutely should step in when the situation is serious, as it has become, your kids need to develop the confidence to stand up for themselves. Without that it seems like the situation will continue much as it has, even if you move again to a completely new area.
posted by 6550 at 9:46 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

isn't working
posted by 6550 at 9:47 PM on January 16, 2009

I'd call the police and give them a reasonable amount of time to respond to the situation. I'd also n'th the advice about letting your kids figure out how to respond on their own (within reason).

And if the cops didn't help resolve the situation right quickly, I'd buy a power sprayer and go to friggin town on the punks next time they show up. And if you get any concern from their parents, just respond in kind.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:10 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

My experience was similar to gnash's, which is why I always advocate children being taught how to fight. Those of you implying a "blame the victim" mentality do not know of which you speak.

Martial arts do not train you to get in "scraps," they teach you how to avoid them and, barring that, to end them. Nobody's saying the children should bully the bullies, or continue a cycle of harassment or anything like that, but it will help in the long run if the kids can be confident in their abilities to handle their own business and eliminate the stress from their lives. It will follow them if they can't.
posted by rhizome at 10:13 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing thoughts about going to the police; this has gone waaaaaaaaaay beyond a kid or two being a bit of a jerk, kids having harmless scuffles over which basketball team is better--most assuredly to include the parents being indifferent.

As much as dont-fight-back may be ideal in theory, as others have said, it's probably not so viable in the real world. The suggestions of martial arts? That may be a relatively long-term solution. Possible shorter-term prospect: look around for a boxing/UFC gym and see if someone will teach the kids some basic moves/tactics.

Another potential prospect, which worked for me when I was in your kids' age ranges and relatively small and nerdy, got some abuse from other kids, though nothing like what you're talking about--your kids befriend, "cut deals" with bigger kids. I got to be good friends with a kid who was huge (and not aggressive) and, uh, not nerdy. I helped him in the classrooms, he helped me outside the classrooms. Once it was clear that I was friends with Robin Maxwell, there were no problems. None.

To think about it, that experience was probably among the most valuable lessons I ever learned in school.
posted by ambient2 at 10:31 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Through all of this, my kids kept to themselves and ignored the little cretins as I've told them to do (they don't yell back, get physical, or do anything else that might inflame the situation).

I was bullied as a kid, and my mom told me to "ignore them and they will go away."

No. That's not how it works. You can call the cops, you can bring in the homeowners association, but until you let your kids deal with this on their own terms (and yes, this might mean a fight), then it will never be resolved. No one likes a narc - even kids - and what you are proposing -while logical for an adult, will never fly in kid-land.

Let. them. fight. it. out.

They might lose the fight, but it will stop the bullying. Bringing in the authorities will guarantee that your kids will have no peace until they leave high school. Really.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:53 PM on January 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

They might lose the fight, but it will stop the bullying. Bringing in the authorities will guarantee that your kids will have no peace until they leave high school. Really.

This is really fucking true. I should have mentioned it.

I was a pretty constant target for all sorts of assholes throughout middle school.

And then I started hitting them in the face instead of just "ignoring it". I did it off of school grounds, on the way home (which is where I was being attacked anyway). And that stopped all the terror immediately--nobody fucked with me from there on in. I also felt a lot better about myself in general when I was allowed to react naturally instead of kowtowing to my mother's "turn the other cheek, deary, they'll stop when they don't get a rise out of you" mentality. Because she was wrong.

In the adult world, this doesn't work. Because basically any fight can be avoided. But, it still applies when, say, you're being raped or kidnapped or queerbashed. In none of those situations is the right course of action just to take it. In every one of those situations, assuming that it's a tactically sound decision, you're better off trying your goddamn best to incapacitate your attacker.

This is the kid-sized, kid-motivated version of queerbashing.
posted by Netzapper at 11:11 PM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

Tell your kids that the next time they see any of the bullies, kick him/her in the crotch as hard as they can. Out of nowhere. Just walk up to them and do it. Bam. No words, no other actions, just let the kid have it. Just pick one, preferably the ringleader.

Then you can go to the cops.
posted by mark242 at 11:17 PM on January 16, 2009

I like the idea of finding bigger, sympathetic kids to befriend. (I was gonna suggest either asking Chuck Norris for advice, or locating a friendly biker gang to watch over the kids.)

The fact that one parent said "it wasn't his problem" sounds like a red flag, and his apparent lack of concern is likely correlated with the bullying in the first place. All the more so if it goes beyond just mere teasing. If they don't know about the bullying, who knows what worse things those kids could be doing?

Even if your kids find a way to assert or protect themselves, those little punks could just end up finding someone else to hassle, and then then their parents will pop up here a couple months later with the same problem. And the bullies in your previous neighborhood are probably harassing some other poor kids as we speak.

Surely there must be some root cause for the bullies' behavior in the first place that someone here can address? If the kids are that screwed up, notifying authorities could just make them act even worse, out of defiance. They may very well be miserable at home and feel they have nothing better to live for, so who cares if they end up in juvenile hall? Maybe I'm being too altruistic, but in some weird way, I'd be almost as worried about the bullies as I would my own kids. At least yours have parents who care.

Fighting back may not work either. Maybe they'll back off. Or maybe they'll want to save face, and get more of their friends to help beat the living daylights out of your kids. Or who knows what else... It could just be opening a pandora's box.

Oh, and the last thing you should do is move again. Don't let some miserable little brats control your life like that.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:33 PM on January 16, 2009

I was a scrapper growing up, but it's not the '70s/'80s anymore. We should keep that in mind.
posted by batmonkey at 11:56 PM on January 16, 2009

I hate to say this, as I have kids and spend a lot of time teaching them not to punch each other (twins, 3 years old.)


Please, please, please let your kids fight back. I have a similar story to fshgrl. They are bullying your kids because they know your kids will not fight back. Sometimes it is simple as that. Oh and yes, I got the shit beaten out of me, but the bullies stopped, and I got respect at school. I wish I had done it sooner and my parents hadn't been so insistent on pacifism.


I was a meek kid, and didn't stand up for myself. I was shy, insecure, and physically weak (at first) so made a good target. My parents taught me not to fight back, and so I got beat up a lot, even after I had a growth spurt and was suddenly taller and stronger than the bullies.

I still remember two of 'em trying to beat me up, and I walked across the street -- twice, to get kitty-corner -- with the two of them hanging on me and beating on me, but me standing up and dragging them with me to the front door of a neighbor I knew well. I rang the bell and the kids bailed, but I had been planning to politely ask the parent at the house to please make them stop. When the parent answered the door, I just apologized for bothering them and went on my merry way.

But still I was bullied, and it took an emotional toll, even though it did not take a physical one by then. Hitting them back didn't even enter into my mind as an option.

Finally, in seventh grade, I had been acting friendly towards a very unhappy kid who was obviously miserable at home, trying to make him feel better. This made me the perfect target, and I became his enemy number one. After a ridiculous level of abuse and harassment from one kid in particular, my teacher pulled me aside at recess and said something to me. I don't remember most of it, but these words will never leave my brain: "the next time he bothers you, just turn around and punch him in the face, and everything will be fine."

So, they lined us up to re-enter the building, he started messing with me, and (being the trusting sole that I was -- a teacher told me what to do, after all!) I turned around and punched him straight between the eyes as hard as I could. Which, as it happens, wasn't particularly hard; I had a glove on (it was cold out), I'd never hit anyone before, so it was a glancing blow, and I had a strong back but weak arms. If he'd been anything other than a coward, I likely would have gotten my ass handed to me.

What actually happened, though, was this: he fell back a few steps, looking shocked, covered his nose with his hands, and that was that; he shut his mouth, kept his hands to himself, got back in line, and never gave me any trouble after that. And, since I did this in front of everyone in my class, that was the end of all bullying, period.

Does this suck? Yeah, because nobody likes to admit that sometimes violence is necessary to stop violence. Think of it this way; you need to teach your kids to stand up for themselves when they're right, even if they might lose. I learned that lesson in seventh grade, and that was the day I stopped putting up with injustice and all-around crap -- in business, in my personal life, with strangers.

It also sucks because it might not solve the problem, and your kids might get hurt. However, sooner or later they'll get hurt by these other kids anyway. So try not to think of it as "stand up to them and they'll stop bothering you"; instead, try "stand up to them, because at some point you simply have to, and even though it may not stop, you have to be able to live with yourself by knowing you tried -- and doing nothing will do nothing to stop the problem."

Good luck to your kids, and to you.
posted by davejay at 1:15 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

level of abuse and harassment from that one kid in particular
posted by davejay at 1:17 AM on January 17, 2009

These kids are jerks because they were raised to be jerks. Talking to parents won't help. the ONLY answer is to call the police, get them involved in the system...

(from someone who has worked with these kids for about 30 years)
posted by HuronBob at 5:01 AM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: For those of you suggesting that my kids fight back, that's something I've considered and I'm actually okay with. So, here's a related question. This is a group of about 6 kids. I worry that if he decks one of them, the other 5 will beat him to a pulp or, worse yet, get one of their older brothers to do it for them.

Can the "fight back" principal work when there's a pack of kids?
posted by _Mona_ at 5:04 AM on January 17, 2009

I've been a martial artist for years, and have taught children's classes. Teaching your kids karate for 2-3 months won't do a damned thing against bat-swinging packs of ruffians; the level of skill required to handle a "real" fight, by a vicious and violent person who doesn't shy away from pain, takes years if not decades to learn.

Go ahead and tell them to hit back, and maybe enroll them in a class to start them down that path, but this isn't a problem where simply escalating the violence will end in anything other than your kids being hit with a bat.
posted by ellF at 5:46 AM on January 17, 2009

Fighting back may not work either. Maybe they'll back off. Or maybe they'll want to save face, and get more of their friends to help beat the living daylights out of your kids.

As someone who got her (yes) ass kicked a fair bit in early middle school, I think you're right about this. It's just as romantic to suggest that one well-placed punch or one incident of fighting back will end all the bullying as it is to suggest that ignoring or turning the other cheek will end it. Yes, bullies seek easy targets that won't stand up for themselves. But sometimes, when the easy targets start fighting back, the violence does escalate. I can recall any number of times when I or a friend got waylaid on the way home by three or four kids who the bully had pulled in to coordinate an ambush. There's not much even a really tough kid can do when outnumbered like that, and I think you're right that this situation is analogous. At that point, in the kids' minds, it has become some sort of war where anything goes, and the participants continue to keep returning with more force and more surprise until bad things really can happen.

At that point it can become easier to negotiate, oddly, because both the parents and kids may have seen enough to be genuinely scared - about injury or prosecution or potential cash costs for medical bills and damage.

So take the 'fight back' advice with a grain of salt, too. Yes, your kids should be empowered to defend themselves if attacked, but waylaying the bullies or encouraging your kids to attack them when no threat is present will be totally counterproductive - reason only for a worse retaliatory attack.

It seems to be important that your kids walk the line between doing nothing to escalate the incidents and yet defending themselves when attacked. But if there has developed a dynamic where, essentially, a gang has formed and will come to one another's aid on whatever missions they choose, that's not going to be enough to deter them. So you also need a plan B - and we're back to negotiating with the parents or bringing in the police. Keeping in mind that some of these kids undoubtedly have family issues that are not going to go away because of police intervention.
posted by Miko at 6:03 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

For everyone suggesting Mona go straight to the police: don't any of you remember what happened to tattletales when you were kids? I think TheLightFantasic is right: if the kids are attracting bullies for whatever reason, running to the cops is probably going to ostracize them more.

Mona: "fighting back" doesn't necessarily mean being physical right away. Bullies are pack animals; your kids just have to show dominance somehow. Ideally your kids would gain enough self-confidence to project don't-fuck-with-me energy to the bullies, but that's not going to happen overnight. Work on that, but in the meantime, give your kids permission (and maybe some ammunition) to talk back to these kids. And yeah, they should probably learn how to throw a punch.

Finally, I can't imagine how hard it must be to watch your kids go through this, but remember that you can only do so much: the kids whose parents fight all their battles for them will never learn to stand up for themselves and will continue to be targets for bullies.
posted by AV at 6:04 AM on January 17, 2009

I was bullied in elementary school, told my folks, who told the administration, who didn't/couldn't really do anything to stop it. One day I just had enough and hit the bully with my cello.

Looking back, that was pretty stupid. Not only did I break the cello, but if my swipe and been a bit more distant, I would have gouged the kid's eye out with the endpin.

But at the time, I felt like a fucking hero. I don't know if it was the increased confidence from fighting back or a reputation for hitting someone with a wooden object almost as big as me, but the bullying stopped pretty quickly.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:14 AM on January 17, 2009

Can the "fight back" principal work when there's a pack of kids?

You said upthread that all involved range in age from 7-10. Kids that age are pretty much made of rubber, right? And unless the bullies are like ex-child-soldiers or something I doubt they'd actually cause grievous harm. That said, Miko is right that fighting back could backfire. Or it might not. Older, bigger kids in my neighborhood demanded my candy money, and I meekly handed it over then cried to my dad about it. He told me that next time I should just reply with a solid "NO." It worked and no punches were thrown.

In your question you say Through all of this, my kids kept to themselves and ignored the little cretins as I've told them to do (they don't yell back, get physical, or do anything else that might inflame the situation). This is obviously not working. Fighting back doesn't necessarily mean jujistsu, but the little cretins are goading your kids into responding, and so far (it seems) their responses have been passive and, to the mind of the cretins, weak. Tell your kids to do whatever they need to do, they'll figure it out. (A good punch in the nose really does do wonders).

So nthing what a lot of people have already said, especially AV: the kids whose parents fight all their battles for them will never learn to stand up for themselves and will continue to be targets for bullies.
posted by generalist at 7:22 AM on January 17, 2009

I'll add here that the kid in our neighborhood was the one who didn't really fit in with the other kids, which is probably why I didn't have a problem with retaliation, etc.

Also, my youngest son is big for his age--bigger than the bully, who is at heart, I think, a coward, and my oldest son DOES have at least one friend who is huge and imposing, so that doesn't hurt!

So I really like the "befriending the bigger kid" strategy as well.
posted by misha at 8:11 AM on January 17, 2009

One of the best ways you can teach your kids to stick up for themselves is to lead by example. Kids deserve to feel safe and protected. Call the cops and show them the tape.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:15 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

At young ages like that, kids don't usually have a sense of pack mentality strong enough that they'll keep it up when it stops benefiting them. Chances are good that if your kid starts to really fight back, they'll get scared off. Even though it's a movie, this poor-quality clip from A Christmas Story (one of the best triumph over bullies scenes ever) is pretty accurate. And for what it's worth, my mom (who is a fourth grade teacher at a private school) always (every time she sees the scene, and we all know how often that movie plays during the holidays) says that's the best and only way to handle bullies.
posted by phunniemee at 9:20 AM on January 17, 2009

My son has always been a little different, a little quirky. He takes pride in that and I don't want him to change. His classmates didn't start caring about the differences until they were in third or fourth grade. Around that time, his friend at school started getting harassed by some other boys. He's very small for his age and was the perfect target. My son has been taking taekwondo since he was five, so he knows how to defend himself and how to finish a fight if it starts. So anyway, one day on the playground the harassment got physical. My son stepped in and shoved some kids around and basically said, "Bring it." The other boys left and none of the teachers saw what happened (which is more common than anyone would like to admit).

When my son was getting ready for bed that night, I noticed a huge bruise on his arm and he then explained to me what had happened. He hadn't told me earlier because he was afraid he would get in trouble. We had always told him the same things you tell your kids. Don't yell back, don't get physical, just ignore it. That stuff simply does not work. It doesn't. The other kids aren't playing by the same rules. I told my son then, and we repeat it to him now and again, "Don't start anything. But if you have to finish it, finish it. If you have to beat the crap out of someone, do it. You will get in trouble at school. You will NOT get in trouble at home. Period." Since that incident, none of the kids at school have ever gotten physical with my son or his friends. They're still little shits who try emotional bullying, but they know they'll get their asses handed to them if they try to get physical with him.

You might go around to some of your local martial arts schools and ask if any of the teachers are willing to give some private lessons in self defense. Tell them what's happening, tell them you want your kids to be able to hold their own in a fight. I'll bet you'll find some willing teachers. And then tell your kids to finish something if someone else starts it.

Good luck.
posted by cooker girl at 9:43 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

You should sue.
File a civil suit.
If every push and shove cost
these families money,
they will stop.

Right now they have
no reason to stop.

Also, chances are
that if they're bullying
your kids, they're bullying
other ones too.
Ask around.
Possibly you can
force these families
out of your neighbourhood
if enough people find them
a menace.
Alternately, it might
also scare them straight.

Don't accept this bullying.
You're only going to teach
your kids to accept it.

It's best to nip it in the
bud now.

I was bullied as a kid. I seriously
considered burning my
bully's house down.
That was the only way
I could see to fight back.
I never did do it.
But I remember at the time,
how it made a lot of sense.
And if everyone else in
the house died, they were
also to blame, for raising
the bully in the first place.

These things escalate.
Esp. as kids get older.
Stop it now.
posted by Sully at 9:51 AM on January 17, 2009

"Can the "fight back" principal work when there's a pack of kids?"

It can backfire horribly. Kids today are not the kids of 10, 20, 30 years ago. I wish the folks here advising yours to engage would understand that. If these bullies are in a pack, stealing, using weapons...your kids could become horribly injured, and there is no point of pride worth a broken jaw. The bullies could also decide to then go on a deeper offensive, slashing tires, messing with your house, injuring pets...the risks are great, and I don't think the possibilities are worth the minor point of pride one gets from one punch.

And, again, parents who deny their kids have problems and don't interfere when they're running wild like to sue or otherwise find ways to turn their problems into other people's nightmares. I wouldn't invite that, not for a hundred bullies on their backs.

I fought a lot growing up. I fought one on one, groups, boys and girls. That whole "no one likes a tattletale" thing? Who cares? Letting violent kids dictate the same for your kids is fruitless and counter-productive. Sure, get them into a martial art (I'm a fan of Hung Gar & Ba Gua Zhang, myself), but so that they know how to defend themselves appropriately if engaged without an adult around and to learn self-control and discipline. But "karate kids" backfire more often than not, and, again, bullies fight dirty. They aren't going to wait for the kata to finish.

You're the grown-up. They've got grown-ups who won't get involved, they're stealing from your kids, they're threatening them with weapons - this isn't a Wonder Years punch in the nose. This is reality. It could go horribly awry and there is very little worth the trouble and pain of a mob of kids with baseball bats going after your rules-following kids or your home.

And it's irresponsible to the rest of the community to let the bullies require everyone to live in silences. Tattletales?!? We're not five anymore. We understand implications of lack of action in these cases, and, in this case, that means endorsing the bully way of doing things and allowing them to go on to escalate their bad behaviour without intervention by appropriate system controls for such breakdowns in parenting.

Unless you're going to teach your kids to tribe up and carry an appropriate weapon of their own and have savings for the assault case the bully-parents are dying to bring to anyone with more sense than they have, handle this within the system and teach your kids some basic avoidance, defense, and call for help tactics.

I would also encourage you to involve the rest of your community. Perhaps start a "no bullying" group that patrols before and after school and keeps their eye out like a neighbourhood patrol. Knowing that responsible adults will get involved immediately and appropriately is good for your kids AND the bullies. Knowing that your community gives enough of a damn to have a transparent system for this kind of antisocial behaviour is a far better approach with wide-ranging positive implications.

Pardon the partial points and intensity. I just think there are a lot of folks here talking through a nostalgia-filter that isn't taking the current world into account.
posted by batmonkey at 10:18 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

You may want to have a brief conversation with the bullies (when nobody else is within earshot, because of what I'm about to say) where you explain, with a shit-eating grin on your face, that if they continue to fuck around with your kids, their bodies will never be found.
posted by oaf at 11:25 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

(Don't follow through, obviously, but make sure they have a nagging feeling that you might not have been kidding.)
posted by oaf at 11:26 AM on January 17, 2009

Most cops find it very entertaining scaring the shit out of kids, I'd call them immediately

Yes. Especially snotty rich kids who think they are above rules/law, which these kids seem to be.
posted by radioamy at 12:00 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

The advice you've been given can be broken down into two categories...

Go through the law - talk to police, officials, etc...
Go around the law - fight back, get self-defense training...

If you choose to work through official channels, then I think you need to be VERY careful about pursuing more physical options. Threats, physical retaliation could weaken your legal position should it come to things like pressing charges and getting restraining orders.

It's not clear if you've spoken to the parents of the bullies more than once. If you've only addressed this once, then I think you need to make one more attempt to get through to them. In this conversation you are not to ask for their help, try to come to some agreement, etc... You are to tell the parents that their kids' behavior is completely unacceptable and that you expect them to take immediate measures to discipline and control their children. If the bullying does not stop immediately, then you will be going to the authorities with your evidence.

Start documenting as many of the incidents as possible. Keep video tapping. Set up some cheapo video cameras around your house to capture any vandalism.

I would also nth the other suggestions to reach out to other neighbors, both with and without children, who are being affected by these people.

And finally, I know that you've tried unsuccessfully to deal with your Homeowner's Association, but I'm not sure you've reached the end of that road. What do the rules say governing grievances between neighbors. I live in a co-op and we have clear rules and grievance procedures. If the Homeowner's Association is not enforcing their own policy that might be another avenue. Not saying you should do this right away. Taking legal action with them would truly be a last resort kind of measure.
posted by brookeb at 12:08 PM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: UPDATE: First of all, I honestly can't thank this community enough. The suckiest part about being a parent is worrying how decisions you make will impact your kids and I appreciate all the perspective I got here.


I called the cops.

Wait, let me back up. My kids were playing outside this morning and some of the brats started harassing them again. I told my boys that they couldn't start trouble but they should definitely defend themselves if necessary and I was behind them 100%.

I popped outside with a video camera and caught the little bastards on tape as they punched, body slammed, and kicked one of my sons. I also caught the moments leading up to it where my kids were simply playing on their own and did nothing to provoke the situation.

I called the cops and a member of the gang task force came out to take the report. He went to each kid's house to put everyone on notice that there was now a paper trail, and told me exactly what I needed to do to build a case in the event this doesn't stop.

At this point, I'm not sure what to expect next from my neighbors or these kids, but I do know that I feel like I have a method in place to deal with any lingering crap.

Two interesting side notes: first, my son was able to land a couple of punches in self-defense and it did wonders for his confidence. Second, once he started sticking up for himself (and his brothers did too), the ringleader of this pack suddenly wasn't so tough anymore.

Thank you all so much for your help and advice. I wish that I could favorite every single comment because even though some of the suggested approaches conflicted with each other, I know all the advice was heartfelt and that means a lot.
posted by _Mona_ at 12:27 PM on January 17, 2009 [18 favorites]

I'm sorry your son was hurt but I'm glad you have taken steps to resolve this. Good luck!
posted by desjardins at 12:40 PM on January 17, 2009

I'm glad to hear your son got a confidence boost and knocked the bully ringleader down a peg, but mostly I'm happen you've gotten the law involved. This leaves your neighbors the choice of digging a deeper hole or backing off. You absolutely did the right thing here. Hope all goes well for you in the future.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:43 PM on January 17, 2009

Way to go mom. You handled it in a way that resolved the immediate situation, and gave you the most flexibility from which to move forward.
posted by mrmojoflying at 12:52 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

first, my son was able to land a couple of punches in self-defense and it did wonders for his confidence

You probably have no idea how much that single act will positively affect the rest of his life. Seriously. Good for you (and your son).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:15 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

first, my son was able to land a couple of punches in self-defense and it did wonders for his confidence.

You have, and I shit you not a tiny bit, brought a tear to my eye.

Righteous. Just absolutely righteous.

Good on you times a million.

Likewise, it's good that you called the cops and are working on properly removing these threats from the rest of the populace.

You're awesome.
posted by Netzapper at 9:15 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I feel like we should award an annual Marvelous Metafilter Mom Medal or something. I nominate _Mona_ to be the first recipient.
posted by phunniemee at 10:05 PM on January 17, 2009

OK, I know as a parent I should be all "Use your words!" and "Don't hit other kids!" but... I'm really glad your son hit back. Yeah!

It's great that the cops are taking it seriously, too. Your kids are learning all kinds of good lessons.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:11 AM on January 18, 2009

Mona, you landed both sides of a 1-2 punch. Well done. Don't take your eye off the ball, and congrats to your son as well; he's never going to forget that incident (as a positive thing) as long as he lives. His siblings won't, either. Odds are, when they're all adults and stupid bullying nonsense like this is long gone from their lives, they'll be sitting around the table at Thanksgiving talking about "that day mom told us to fight back, and we did, and wasn't that great?"
posted by davejay at 3:21 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you handled it in the best possible way. Great job and best of luck - keep us updated!
posted by letitrain at 11:25 AM on January 19, 2009

Nice work.

Also, I second the request to keep us updated.
posted by originalname37 at 10:31 AM on February 17, 2009

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