When I got a message on my phone at work to immediately call the principal of my oldest son’s school, I was worried. Did Wyatt get hurt? What was going on? I called back as soon as I could. Unfortunately, I was shocked to hear the principal tell me that after work, I had to attend a school meeting to address a bullying problem. Bullying? My son wasn’t getting bullied. He was fine. And there was no way my son is a bully.
I told the principal there must be a mistake, but he said that there wasn’t. My son wasn’t getting bullied – he was the bully. I almost dropped the phone in surprise. I agreed to be at the meeting and hung up. But the rest of the day, my mind was racing.
The Shocking Realization
How could my son be a bully? We raised him to have compassion and empathy. We raised him to be kind to others. How did this happen? And didn’t I see it? I really wanted to call my son and immediately demand some answers but I didn’t. I knew I had to talk to the principal first. Instead, I just texted my son and told him to meet me at the school’s cafeteria instead of waiting for me outside.
He knew he was in trouble when I told him we had to go talk to the principal. He got visibly more uncomfortable the closer we got to the school office. When we got there, another child and a parent were waiting. My son was squirming at this point.
I was too embarrassed to meet the other parent’s eyes. How do you face someone when your son is a bully? I didn’t make eye contact because I didn’t know what else to do. When the principal was ready for us, we all went into a conference room.
I asked the principal about what my son had done. He handed me stacks of papers – printouts of screen shots of threatening and offensive messages belittling, berating and humiliating the other boy. All of them were traced to his social media accounts and phone number. Dumbfounded and upset, I asked my son if he sent these messages and made these posts. At first, he tried to deny it. But when I pointed out that I knew they were his social media accounts because I set them up, he broke down and told the truth. He did it.
I was bitterly disappointed in my son. And horrified that he had done such terrible things. I promised the principal and the other parent that we’d take care of the situation. I apologized to the other parent and their boy. But I know an apology can’t make up for what that child had to go through.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I feel like a failure as a parent because my son is a bully. But my wife and I are committed to fixing this problem, instead of pretending it didn’t happen. If you find out that your child is a bully, the best thing you can do is acknowledge the problem and fix it. Don’t make excuses and don’t let your child off the hook. Fix the problem.