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Speak to friends about boy's bully behavior before it's too late

Speak up about 10-year-old's behavior before it is too late

Q: My husband and I are good friends with a couple whose 10-year-old son appears to be a bully in training. This boy and our son were once good friends, but have thankfully drifted apart as the other boy grew meaner. I'm talking shoots-rabbits-in-his-backyard mean. Hitting-and-taunting mean. Think Voldemort without the snake.

This isn't just our opinion. Other parents have shared their thoughts with us about the boy. The problem: We still value the friendship of his parents, who are oblivious to their child's ways. Can we maintain a relationship with these people without tormenting our son?


A: The question is, can you maintain a relationship with these people while you remain part of the reason they're oblivious?

Granted, they may have heard plenty from their son's schools/camps/teams and simply chosen not to discuss his problems with friends. But there's a moral element to your silence. Voldemort's someday freshman roommate/girlfriend/cubemate will not see preserving your friendship as a legitimate priority here.

Plus: You are not uninformed bystanders; your son was on the receiving end of their son's cruelty. Please tell them what you know. That includes the hitting and taunting you've witnessed, and especially any animal cruelty, a known predictor of serious crime (shooting rabbits can go either way — hunting or hurting).

Also note how it pains you to have this conversation with any parent, much less parents you value as friends.

If you lose your nerve, remember how much you rely on the cooperation of fellow parents yourself. While it usually comes in palatable forms, like carpools, no doubt there are times you've been grateful your peers risked offending you by butting in.

Credit should go to the one who absorbed the punishment

Q: A group of my best guy friends goes out to eat. The waiter brings us another round and accidentally drenches one of the guys by spilling a beer. She apologizes and brings another drink. The waiter then brings a restaurant T-shirt along with the check and apologizes again. The waiter had credited the check a decent amount because of the spill, without removing specific items.

Fighting over payment ensues. Should the beer-drenched friend get a free pass? Or should he pay his fraction of the bill?

The guys who wanted to spread the discount argued that the victim was only a bystander; the victim's meal was not specifically removed. The table's check was simply credited an amount.

The victim, without anyone on his side, argued that he should be compensated, as he was the only one physically affected.


A: "Only a bystander"? When a beer lands in my lap, I feel I've graduated to participant.

I can't see any arrangement that's fair except allowing the drenched one to get the credit. Any remaining credit after that can be divided evenly among the others. That I (and Mr. Hoppy Pants) came to this conclusion alone has me wondering what these friends do by day. Run charities that apply 90 percent of donations to "office expenses"?

Speak to friends about boy's bully behavior before it's too late 08/02/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 4:30am]
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