This incident happened about a week back and frustrated me immensely. I waited to cool down substantially before penning it down. Let me give a little background first. The community where I live has boys and girls of all ages. Most of the elder boys play games like football and cricket. This motley group has older teens, tweens and some younger children who form a mixed group. Abuses fly thick and fast, as older kids find them cool and hip. Since I usually take my evening walks around that time, I can hear the choicest of cuss words flying between these boys who look tall and menacing. They have an attitude that says, "Don't mess with me!" Call me old fashioned, but I prefer my children not to pepper their sentences with cuss words when they are speaking to me.
So, my younger son all of 8 often plays in this group tagging along with his elder brother. Last week, a boy aged 14 found a word that was used by him offensive. No, it was not a cuss word just a female variation of his own name (like Manisha instead of Manish). This boy was so angered that he beat up my son while restraining his hands so that he could not protect himself. Leaving the child scared and whimpering, he got into verbal duel with my elder son who had rushed to his rescue. My younger son came crying to me. I have a rule in my home. I don't let my children beat anyone, and I don't tolerate it when someone raises a hand on my kids. Otherwise, I never interfere in their daily tiffs with other children. I know that parents turn a blind eye to their children cussing and ill-treating other kids. I don't.
So, I approached this boy's parents by going to their home. I spoke very calmly explaining to his mother what had transpired. This boy then came and started speaking to me in harsh tones. He was rude and overbearing and even to me he seemed very intimidating. Either he was making it up or he had delusions of a perceived provocation that did not exist to cover up his own act of cowardice. He justified to his mother that the younger boy (my son) who is at least a feet shorter and 20 kilos lighter had 'bullied' him by calling him a name (not abuse but a name which is a female equivalent of his name). His mother took up his side saying that my son should not have done that. Wow! Okay, I said. What about him raising his hand on a younger boy? If he had found the word offensive, he could have reached out to me and I would have pulled up my child? He had no answer to that, but he was extremely cocky. I told him firmly that he had no right to touch a younger child and hit him. He could have hurt him. The boy had no iota of shame or contrition (even manufactured). He was somehow trying to justify his aggressive behavior of hitting. His mother was a mute spectator. His father also came intermittently and did not speak a word.
His mother never admonished him or showed any sign of remorse. I wondered what kind of people I was speaking with. No wonder their son was such a bully! His parents supported his behavior no matter what. Frustrated, I went away expressing my disgust at the way the parents were reacting (not reacting). I later found out that he had tried to strangle a friend's younger son for some perceived insult.
All I could say to my children is to stay away from that boy. How he turns out is his parents' prerogative. But, I felt frustrated that such bullies cross the path of others and make them victims of their aggression. Sadly, parents are so caught up with "my laadla" syndrome that they end up doing immense harm to their own children but also to the society at large.
What do you make of this behavior? Do you think his parents should have reacted differently? How do you react when your child is beaten up by other children?
This post first appeared on Rachna says.