Parenting, Bullies and The Bully Movie

Thanks to The Bully Project for sponsoring my writing. Visit their website to join the movement and learn more.

It wasn’t too many months ago, we found our son digging in his money jar for some cash. When my husband asked him what it was for, he mumbled and since we were rushed, didn’t think too much about it. However, I knew something was off and after school, took him out for ice cream, knowing he would spill like a drainage ditch during a summer storm. What was the reason for his cash needs?

He had been extorted and bullied.

The conversation started out over why he needed the cash. He told me he’d made a bet on the football game and lost $15 dollars. That is what showed me that he was not being honest. To be quite frank, he’s a cheapskate and wouldn’t bet more than 50 cents on a sure thing. So, then I asked him which team he’d placed his money on and he named the wrong team as loser. I knew then it was time for an extremely difficult conversation.

Bullying is a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.

I started driving towards his school. Peanut wanted to know why we were going and I explained that I needed to talk to the Principal about gambling at school and explained why gambling was wrong.

That’s when he cracked.

It wasn’t a lost bet. It was my son being terrified of the social  consequences an innocent video being spread around the school would  do to him.

How innocent?

He was sitting on the sofa in one of his library classes, with one of his female friends, goofing off. Another girl in his class took a video on her mobile phone and told him after class she had it and was going to send to all of their friends. Peanut was horrified. It’s okay to hang out with your female friends, it’s not okay for others to think you might have a crush on them. It’s the middle school code of cool or something. When he asked the little girl what it would take for her NOT to send the video out, she responded $15 dollars.

And that’s how we found ourselves with our son extorted and bullied…over an innocent video.

Some people might not say that’s bullying, but it is. He was the first, what if there was one after and another after that? A continuous cycle. But that’s how it starts. One innocent act.

How does your school handle bullying?

We spent that evening talk to him about bullying and why we’d never be mad, nor ruin his reputation but things had to be taken care of as what had happened wasn’t acceptable. One of our best friends is also an educator, who taught the same grade, and she talked to him as well. It eased his mind and ours. But this was my baby. While my mind was in a better place, sleep didn’t come that night.

peanut age one

Peanut on his first birthday.

Next morning, we were off to the school to see the Principal. We’re very lucky we have a zero-tolerance policy. Our Vice-Principal said if Facebook and mobile phones didn’t exist, he would have more time to focus on the greater needs in the school.

What happened? Well, Peanut got his money back, the girl was removed from the class they are in (a special higher ed competition class), and I’m not sure what else. A few days later, there was a letter for Peanut. She was writing to apologize.

Even bullies realize they can be wrong.

She learned that even though she thought she was doing something in innocent fun; in all actuality she had become a bully and told him she never meant to bully him and hoped they could be friends in the future.

It’s my hope they can too.

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Find showings in your area for The Bully Project and buy tickets here.


  1. Great post – how terrifying for your son and for me as a parent! I think you handled it really well and I hope the girl realized how not-so-innocent her actions were.


  1. […] privacy, but it’s even more difficult for parents to track down and prevent. After Peanut’s experience with bullying earlier this year, I was keen to jump on this chat to learn more and share my […]

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