A grown man should know better

If your child is having problems with another child at school, there are several acceptable ways to deal with the situation.

You could meet with the teacher, explain what’s happening and talk about what can be done. If that doesn’t get results, if your child and another remain at odds, if bullying continues, you could request a meeting with the principal, outline the troubles your child is having, and ask for help to resolve any conflict. If those routes don’t lead to any kind of solution, you could contact the child’s parents, go over what’s been going on, and seek their assistance to create peace and harmony (we admit, it’s very uncomfortable to call parents you’ve likely never met and tell them their child is bothering your child).

Now, should none of those methods prove effective, what’s your next step? That’s a difficult call. Persistence. Keep the lines of communication open. Work with your child on what to do, how to respond.

But we don’t recommend an angry adult confront a child. We don’t recommend a grown man approach a 10-year-old boy on a school bus and threaten to punch him in the mouth if he doesn’t leave his kid alone, which is allegedly what happened Friday morning on Kauai.

Here’s a quick recap of that situation that resulted in the arrest and release of a Waimea man: A 51-year-old adult male reportedly walked onto a school bus at a bus stop in Anahola and threatened to punch a juvenile male if he bothered his children again. The youth was not injured during the incident. It was reported to police by Kapaa Elementary School officials. The suspect was located that afternoon and arrested for making a second-degree terroristic threat. An investigation continues. The mom of the boy who was threatened filed a police report. She said her son and the suspect’s 8-year-old son have a history of name calling. Her son was detained two years ago for striking the suspect’s son, she added. So, it’s clear there’s a bit of history of bad blood here.

We don’t know what was going on between the boys. We don’t know if this was a case of severe bullying and a frustrated parent finally deciding to take manners into his own hands after attempting to go through the proper channels. We don’t know if a boy came home in tears and his father became upset.

And while we agree bullying must not be allowed and parents certainly have the right to do what they can to be sure their child is safe, there’s no gray area here. No child should be threatened with physical violence by an adult. That can’t be a solution. For a grown man to threaten a boy is unacceptable. We’re not even talking about a belligerent teenager here. We’re talking about a child. For a man to track him down on a school bus is even worse. It wasn’t a heat of the moment decision. It was planned. Not exactly what anyone would call courageous, either. C’mon. A man confronts a small boy on a bus, in front of other students and likely frightens them? At least go to the kid’s dad or mom, go to their home and knock on the door. At least this grown man was smart enough to not actually hit the boy. Imagine if he made good on his threat. Imagine if he came on the bus and hit this boy. Horrifying thought.

We should add that we confirmed, through the county, the name of the suspect arrested in this case. We decided to leave his name out of the story unless he is officially charged in the court of law. We’ll give him the benefit of doubt, guess he just lost self control Friday morning and regrets it. But losing control wouldn’t be a defense in any court when explaining why a man almost punched a child.

As moms and dads, we know our actions, our words, our behaviors, are often emulated by our children. Not always. There comes a point when kids will be kids, do what they do, will make up their own mind, regardless of our best efforts to set good examples. Certainly, we as adults don’t want one of our examples to be offering to smack a child in the mouth. If abuse and violence are truly the best we’ve got, if we somehow find that acceptable is certain situations, we’re in more trouble than we thought.

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