Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Man of Action

Perhaps you have not yet heard about Matthew Bent.  He’s the father of boy who’s been bullied for over a year now, and he’s gotten the runaround from the Kaukauna School District, the cops, everybody.  The picture above, from Matt’s Facebook page, tells part of the story.

Everybody has an excuse for not doing something about the bully that’s been hounding Matt’s son. The school administrator Matt was told to call wouldn’t even take his call – until Matt’s story went viral and everybody in the Fox Valley knew about it.  The cops told Matt it’s up to the school police officer to deal with it.  The school police officer first told Matt it was his son’s own fault, for going into an area of the school where the bully was known to hang out.  When Matt asked the school cop about a certain piece of jewelry Matt gave his son after a successful Little League season, a piece of jewelry the bully stole from the boy, the cop said the bully denied stealing it and said that piece of jewelry was available at such-and-such a store.  That was a “good enough excuse” for him.

Meanwhile, Matt’s story continues to explode on the internet, garnering support and encouragement from parents of kids who’ve been bullied and adults who were bullied as kids.

As hard as it must be, Matt is doing the right thing.  He’s “going through the appropriate channels”. And I hope eventually, sooner rather than later, the people who comprise “the appropriate channels” will do the right thing by Matt’s son.  Matt could easily have gone the vigilante route, taken justice into his own hands, and meted out the sort of retribution that ends the bullying in short order, but often begins a serious involvement with the law enforcement system.

I have little faith in the “appropriate channels”, because they’ve failed us so many times. Too often they turn a blind eye to the problem, hoping it will go away; too often when confronted with it, they weasel out using mealy-mouthed excuses about “policy” and “established procedure” – the kind of politically-correct group-think that brought us asinine crap like “zero tolerance” and has us taking off our shoes at airports.

And a certain small percentage of those who were bullied explode in a rage that makes headlines all over the world.

I hope Matt can hold on long enough for the wave of common sense that’s building in the form of a viral media storm to force the foot-draggers to do their job, and directly and effectively address the bullying.

If it seems from my tone like I have personal feelings about this, you’re right.  I’m the tall, scrawny, uncoordinated geek who wore glasses and liked science and wasn’t “cool” and got picked on, and then a few short years later was the six-foot-three 225-pound man-child who meted out vengeful justice in spades.  And learned the truth that bullies are cowards.  And then made a promise to himself to intervene any time anyone was being bullied.

Hang in there, Matt.  Help is on the way – in one form or another.


  1. What is the source of the mixed messages, the blame-shifting and the calculated inaction by school officials? Ambiguity at the top? Career fear? After all these years (I, too, remember them), can there really still be no clearly articulated policy for dealing with bullies?

    Ignoring bullying in schools can ruin or even end lives. It is foolish and very dangerous.

    1. ...not to mention being picked on because his best friend's dad was Chief of Police... It sure does seem unreal that in 2013, any school system would not know how to swiftly deal with a bully.

  2. Outstanding post, Tim. That school cop is incompetent and should be fired. I hope Matt is naming the names of the clowns on his Facebook who are responsible for this lack of action. Those assholes work for the taxpayers and should be held accountable.

    And you are spot on about zero tolerance policies, too.

    1. Thanks, Anony. I've always said zero tolerance means zero judgment, and the people we put in positions of authority are supposed to have superior judgment.

  3. I just watched the movie Bully and it really took me back to the past (tall, skinny, sickly, geek) and it sure sounds like the same story line in that movie. Maybe if we can get the irresponsible adults fired that would be a start. Interesting that this is a school with armed security, who according to the NRA will make everyone safe when they can't protect one child from a bully.

  4. The only cogent comment I've seen about bullying here is yours, Colonel: that you meted out your own form of retribution and discovered that bullies are cowards.

    When you -- or anyone else -- say, "...directly and effectively address the bullying," I've given up waiting for a meaningful suggestion. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up to him. We certainly won't stop him by putting up cute "Bully-free Zone" signs in school hallways.

    But I guess the same "zero judgment" policies that suspend grade schoolers for drawing pictures of guns has similar trouble with bullies...who generally don't do their thing where adults can see.

    That's the trouble: if no adult witnesses it, the bully is pretty much untouchable...unless the bullyee gives the bullyer a punch in the schnozzola.

    The Town Crank

    1. That is what I was told and it worked right up to the point where they hit back and I was the one in trouble. It did work out for me because I was suspended from recess for the rest of the year. Safety in the office.