My 12 year old son is fighting at school...
In the last week, I have received a call from my son's principal at his middle school twice. My son is 12 and is in the sixth grade. The first call was to inform me that another sixth grade child punched my son in his side from behind while in the hallway. My son's reaction was to turn around and punch the child in his face, which gave him a bloody nose. Apparently both of them had been "horse playing" the last couple of weeks in good fun, but both agreed it had become more aggressive as of late. They both received in-school suspension and are getting along okay now (5 days later). I wasn't too hard on him because it has never happened before and I felt he was right for defending himself. I did however lecture him on how his actions could severely harm another child and that he should really think before he acts. He insisted that he is not starting fights at school and that the other kid "just wouldn't stop" messing with him and that he had "had enough".
Three days later, I received another call that my son had been in a serious fight on the school bus with a kid who is 15 and is a freshman in high school. Our school system has both middle and high school students sharing buses. In this instance, the ninth grader waited for his stop and proceeded to hit my son on the back of his head and then put him in a head lock. My son was able to get out of the head lock and according to the bus driver and principal, he stood up and punched the ninth grader three times when a 12th grader finally pulled him away from the ninth grader. The principal stated that several boys were picking on the ninth grader who is from Yemen, and were calling him a terrorist. The bus driver stated that my son asked out loud "What is a terrorist?" and that the ninth grader mistook him for calling him a terrorist as well. They proceeded to argue and the bus driver told them to stop, which they did. It was about 5 minutes later that the bus stopped at the older boys home to let him off when the fight occurred. Again, my son was adamant that he had not partaken in making fun of this other child and that he knows better than to bully or hurt others feelings. This is so unlike him to fight.
I worry about this because I do not understand where this is originating from and neither does my son (or so he says). I am not blind to the fact that kids will lie to their parents to cover up their wrong doings. I do not know what the truth really is. I can only go by the principals words and my sons words.
What is (IF ANY) a proper punishment for my son? What should I do other than the major lecturing that has already taken place twice now?
I thought about counseling as well but would like to think on it a bit more. I don't want my tween son to start feeling like he really has some issues because his mother has forced counseling on him if it really isn't necessary. But I am really trying to figure that one out. The last thing I want is to be naïve mother.
I totally agree that one of those two scenarios is happening and am very concerned about both.
If he is a victim, then he is clearly not communicating with me about problems at school. While it isn't shocking that him not opening up could totally be the case, I feel like he would have dropped some hints by now.
If on the other hand he's running toward them, I have mixed feelings. I think it's possible since he is very much into working out and has been since the third grade. He absolutely loves to exercise. He is very fit. He is normal in size but is very serious about his work outs and is a strong boy. I have even consulted with his physician about it twice because I wanted to make sure he did not do anything to stunt his growth. If his strength is a motivator for starting fights or provoking others to start a fight with him, then this is a serious problem where I will have to work with him on his ego.
My other feelings bring me to feel he would never act out this way based on the type of child he has always been. He has always been very sensitive to other peoples feelings and has always been caring and helpful. He has a huge heart. He's always befriended everyone. Excellent conduct every year, even now (except for this last week).
His father has never been present, but it has never bothered him because of the huge role his step-father, his grandfather, and his 2 uncles have played in his life. He has never wanted to even know about his real dad and wisely refers to it as "his loss". I have seen my son in many emotional situation regarding his feelings throughout his life, but his fathers absence has never been one of them.
I do also want to say that his strength concerns me for liability purposes. I am afraid hat my son is actually capable of hurting others, including ninth graders. He has muscles everywhere. Perhaps I was wrong to allow him to work out so much? I am not sure. He looks like a regular lean kid until he takes his shirt off and then you can tell how strong he is. He has never been allowed to life more than half his own body weight, which I was told he could actually lift up to his full body weight but I will not allow it. He mainly does repetitions of exercises that don't require equipment. He even does his own research and has off days, upper body days, and lower body days. As I said, he is really into it.
I don't know what to do. Or what to think.
Its funny because we were just explaining that to my son regarding karate and how one is not taught to attack just because they have the skill. I hope I am not coming off as a mother with an ego problem because on the contrary, I am actually very concerned about all of this. This is definitely a first for me.
This morning, I drove my son to school and met with his principal. She stated that 3 other witnesses were interviewed Friday afternoon and gave their account. They stated that the ninth grader from Yemen called my son a little B**** three times and that my son ignored it. He then told the other children on the bus that "Americans deserve to have terrorists acts done to them". Then my son was dared to call the ninth grader a terrorist, which all three boys stated he did NOT do but that he asked "What is a terrorist anyway?".
While I was there meeting with the principal, she reviewed the video footage from the bus that was sent over to her office this morning. While I was not allowed to watch the video myself, the principal stated that the video captured other children laughing and talking to my son who was faced forward on the third seat. The other kids were behind him in the next two rows. Then the older boy in the ninth grade who was two rows back on the opposite side of the aisle stood up over my son and seemed to be threatening him or inviting him to enter into a fight. My son looked down. The boy then sat back in his seat and was shouting at my son. My son shouted back. (There is no audio so we can only go by what the bus driver said and the body language of both of them and the other kids). Then as the older boy got up to get off at his stop, he slapped my son in the back of his head and choked him with both of his hands. My son told me originally that he had put him in a headlock. Clearly he was mistaken or did not want me to know the severity of it. My son was choked and when the older boy let go, my son hit him three times. On the third punch, a much taller and older looking boy pulled my son away. Then the ninth grader proceeded off the bus and was not hurt.
According to the other students, the ninth grade boy has been taunting my son since December. My son has never mentioned this before. No hints at all. I'm very concerned that he is not communicating with me. When the principal asked the boys if they knew why the older boy has been treating my son this way, they said it is not just him but several other students on the bus that the older boy picks on.
It seems that my son did not actually start a fight and in my opinion was right to defend himself while being choked. He could have been severely hurt or even killed by this other boy.
I did ask the principal if she felt he should go through counseling and she feels that he was caught up in a situation provoked by older kids and that he fell into their trap.
So for now I am going to keep encouraging him to treat others with respect and to mind his own business. I took away some of his privileges and will keep that in effect for the remainder of the two weeks I punished him for and we'll just hope this kind of occurrence never happens again. Thank you for your advice.
Are there any charities near you that could get your son a mentor? Sometimes it helps to have someone older with training to help young people understand their feelings and to have an impartial ear listen.