Playground Drama: Calling the Cops on a Bully?

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (10)

bullyfree.jpgWho do you call when your kid gets bullied? The parents, the school, maybe even the cops? One day, we may be letting our pediatricians know, according to this week’s New York Times. Soon the American Academy of Pediatrics will publish an official policy stating the pediatrician’s role in youth violence. Doctors will be encouraged to get more involved.
On a local playground recently, a mom threatened to call the cops on a young bully, a consequence that might be more common. Recently, a 12-year-old in Montclair was arrested after bullying an 11-year-old on his bicycle.
On the playground, a 6-year-old has been rough with the others, and especially this one 4-year-old. After repeated encounters, the mom of the younger boy yelled at the bully, threatening to call the police if he didn’t cut it out. Of course, when the older boy’s mom found out, she was upset.
Shouldn’t calling the cops be a last resort? What about talking to the bully’s mom first? Or perhaps police involvement is the deterrent bullies–and their parents–need to put an end to kids picking on other kids. What would you do?
Photo by Eddie~S’


  1. POSTED BY MellonBrush  |  June 10, 2009 @ 11:01 am

    If I had kids, I’d make sure they were physically active and knew how to defend themselves. There are plenty of martial arts studios in Baristaville. Take the kids to a good one when they are around 7-8. Make sure they know what to do if they are physically attacked.
    The police should only be called when an actual assault or serious threat of assault takes place.

  2. POSTED BY OEH  |  June 10, 2009 @ 11:47 am

    I agree unless something seriously physical happens i would not call the police. However, I have no problem talking to the parent. In most cases i have found that the kids who bully in the playground, their parents are not in shouting distance. This is esp. true at brookdale.

  3. POSTED BY cathar  |  June 10, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

    To involve the cops in all but the most serious scrapes is to forever damn one’s child as a wimp. So don’t even think of it. This may be hard to conceive of at a time when people seriously bandy about the phrase “play date,” but still…
    The traditional reply to bullying of my generation was to teach kids boxing (which is what the Police Athletic League was particularly good for back when cops themselves could fight). Now, in a kinder, gentler socio-political atmosphere it’s probably karate classes.
    Hitting back at a bully in any manner, however, quite often helps. It just doesn’t usually work with someone much bigger, stronger and older. In that instance, I recommend instead piling on with at least two, maybe even three or four kids.

  4. POSTED BY Generically named Mike  |  June 10, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

    Agree with MB’s comment, but if a significantly older (at least a two year age difference) child is bullying mine and doesn’t respond to my telling him to knock it off, then you better believe I’m breaking off the bullying encounter… even if it means me having to explain to the cops why I was dragging a six-year-old around a park looking for his mom.

  5. POSTED BY Legalmomma  |  June 10, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

    Generically named Mike — that is exactly what happened. As the mom of the four year old in the story (how did the story reach baristanet by the way?), I only threatened to call the police after I could not find the older child’s parents on two separate occasions. On the first occasion several weeks prior, the boy put my preschooler in a chokehold. After asking the entire playground if anyone knew who the child belonged to (and after repeatedly telling him to back off), I learned that he was left at the playground with a slightly older brother.
    On the occasion prompting the threat to call the police, the boy ran up to my son and slammed him into playground equipment with both hands. My son was playing with another 4 year old at the time and was nowhere near the older boy. Upon witnessing the push heard around Montclair, I asked him where his parents were and was told that he didn’t have to tell me and too bad for me. I told him that if he was there alone and if he came near my son again, I would have to call the police.
    Much later the boy’s mother materialized at the playground and I spoke to her about the incident. She was not present for his antics, but according to playground chatter, his behavior was not atypical.
    On a better note, the 6 year old was urging the other elementary school children to call my son a “squirt” and “shrimp” after he pushed him. The other children told him he was being a bully and to leave the younger kids alone.

  6. POSTED BY banana split  |  June 10, 2009 @ 11:52 pm

    Chances are this bully will grow up to be a social outcast, tearing the wings off bugs and killing small animals. And we all know what happens next. Hope the parents get this kid some help.

  7. POSTED BY Right of Center™  |  June 11, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

    legalmomma, did you really think threatening a six-year old with calling the police was going to help him? Or you?

  8. POSTED BY Tellwho  |  June 11, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

    Right of Center – Buy a clue. It’s worth trying if it works. Get back in your hummer and head down to the gas station.
    I agree with Cathar. If the ages are close, its an excellent opportunity for your child to fight back, and learn in the process. Maybe he or she loses, but it’s still learning. Hopefully without being sued by ROC or something.
    If like Gen Mike brings up, the kids are not matched in age, then take your kid away. Move on.
    I’ve seen the parents at Brookdale. I’ve been with my kid on the payground and 85% of adults sitting around the area are on phones, have no idea if their kid is going to fall off something. They’re useless parents, totally disengaged in their kids playtime, but then again, they don’t work, and are products of the uppity base of montclair. Then there are the parents who just don’t care, and maybe are secretly hoping the child just disappears. I’ve seen them too – I rescued one of their kids from a 6 ft fall from a playground in clifton. No thanks from the parent – they didn’t even speak english.

  9. POSTED BY Aflarfin  |  June 12, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

    Bunch of dopes.
    Let them fight it out until somebody gets a gun. Even at 6 this can happen.
    It’s not like it used to be where you can just fight it out.

  10. POSTED BY Legalmomma  |  June 15, 2009 @ 8:51 am

    Right of Center, I think you missed the point — the kid was left at the playground alone during the first incident and his mother was M.I.A. for most of the second. Aside from the fact that this kid may possibly disappear, be injured without a parent etc., he was also hurting younger and smaller children, one of them mine.
    Trust me, I have a preschooler who thinks he is Superman and would have liked nothing more than to fight it out with the older child. However, my son weighs 42 lbs. and is less than 4 feet tall. The older child had an easy 30 lbs. on him and a good foot at least. AFter watching him strangle and slam my child on two separate occasions, I wasn’t going to wait for a third incident when he actually broke a bone, bloodied a nose or worse.
    I threatened the kid because he didn’t respond to warnings, had no parent present and was clearly “not right” to be picking on much smaller children. I don’t care if it helps me — it was helping my child.

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