Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Big Kid

 Today, I walked up to meet William after school. I wait at the intersection of Water and Third, at the end of the bridge. His school is across the river at the other end of the bridge. 

He normally walks with two other boys. One is a great hulk of a boy. The other boy has black hair that completely covers his eyes. They are a noisy bunch and I can hear them before I can see them in the mix of other students walking. 

Much to my shock, today, I watched the big kid grab the black haired boy, lean him over the bridge and dry hump him. 

The victim was laughing and did not seem unduly disturbed by this behavior, at least no where near as disturbed as I was. 

The boys crossed the street to where I was and said their goodbyes. They went their way, we went ours. 

"So, William. I have a question. Has that boy ever done that to you?" 

His cheeks got very red. "Done what?"

Me: "Simulated sex, as he did with that other boy?" 

William was blushing furiously. "No," he said. "He doesn't do that with me." 

"Well," I said, "I was a bit shocked that you laughed while it was happening. That isn't funny actually. What if he was bullying another kid? What if he did that to embarrass another boy? What if he did that to a girl?"

Brilliant red cheeks, no reply.

"William, let's be very clear here. What happened was inappropriate at best. At worst, it could be considered a sexual assault, and that boy could be in more trouble than he's ever been in, in his whole life." 

Brilliant red cheeks, silence. Nervous glances trying to insure no one was in earshot. (No one was.)

Continuing on, I said, "You need to know, if this boy does this to someone who doesn't want to be touched like that, and you stand there laughing, you become part of the humiliation of another human being. If there are legal ramifications, you'll be interviewed by the police as well. Do you understand this?"

"Yes," he said, red faced.

We walked the rest of the way home in silence. 

I hope to God that the big kid has someone that will speak bluntly to him too, before he winds up in big trouble. 


37 comments:

  1. You made it quite clear to William that it was inappropriate at best, but it can be a fine line to cross from being horseplay to something serious. I can't ever remember anything like that happening in my school years.

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  2. Your writing is beautiful. I hope you continue to write about these things for a long, long time.

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    1. I hope I never have to write about this again as long as I live.

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  3. Have you thought about talking to Big Kid's parents? Because this is a serious situation.

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    1. I don't know this kid. I did drop an email to the principal. It happened off school property so I am pretty sure they won't get involved. I suggested that the parents be notified.

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  4. Another valuable lesson for William. I wonder if he will have the courage to repeat it among his friends.

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    1. I think because it was disguised as horseplay, he did not recognize it as inappropriate touching.

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  5. I have never heard of boys acting like that in play.

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    1. It was a shock to me. I have questions. First and most importantly that William recognize it for what it is.

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  6. Wow! What a pity. I'd be stunned too. You are a really good parenting person to explain this to William. If the administration does contact the big kid's folks, that may unfortunately end the friendship. Better to learn in life now than experience a tragedy later. Whew! Linda in Kansas

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    1. What freaks me out, after a night of considering this...what if this is predatory behavior on the part of the big kid. He is only in 6th grade, but it is not unheard of.

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  7. It may just be horseplay for now but what else are they learning, probably online, that could lead to something more serious?

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    1. After a night to think on it, I wonder about early predatory behavior. I also wonder what is happening in his home.

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  8. Good to know that you let the school know. At. the very least they might keep an eye on the kid !
    Some years ago 2 boys were playing " chicken" on a crossing as I drove up to them......I phoned the school when I got to work, but no idea if they stopped the boys doing it again. They were probably Year 5/6.

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    1. I wonder if it shouldn't be looked at a bit more closely. If this is early predatory behavior, something may be going on in his home.

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  9. To be fair, when I was a boy, going to a couple friends sleepovers with other boys, Cub scout camp etc, there was always a lot of wrestling, pinning other guys to the ground.. just saying I think that happens a lot more than people realize.

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    1. My son was a wrestler who went to states x 2. There is a huge difference between that and leaning another kid against the side of a bridge and thrusting your hips vigorously against his backside.

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  10. How old are the boys in question? I'm of two minds about this. Boys DO harmlessly horse around, but you're right -- they should be taught to think about what they're doing and how it degrades the other people involved. (And could become assault under certain circumstances.)

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  11. William is 12. I would guess that these boys are from his same grade. He's in middle school so they could go from 5-8th grade.

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    1. Definitely old enough to nip this behavior in the bud! Good for you for communicating with the school, and with William.

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  12. Good that you met this situation head on. Kids quite often will be silent because as you said fear of bullying.

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    1. It will be interesting to see how it is handled. The school has not responded. I would expect if they speak to William about the situation (and I advised him they might) that he be truthful and identify the kids involved, and trust that the adults would keep him and his name out of it. His first question was why would I tell on the boy. It could be something going on at home. It might be nothing. But the behavior should be addressed.

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  13. Good for you to pass on a lesson that can be a hard one to learn later on in life. William is better for it.

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    1. He about died of embarrassment. For my part, I will always be a little surprised that it had to be.

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  14. Great you notified the school, even if they won't address that incident, they might keep an eye on the kid.

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  15. Debby, you did a brave thing. I'd like to think I'd be that brave, but I'm not sure. There must be so many confusing external/worldly and personal physical/bodily messages to boys at that age, that I'm glad you were so clear about not crossing a line. Your honesty builds your trustworthiness. Bonnie in Minneapolis.

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    1. Once when my son was a teenager, he said, "I don't know what it is, but when I consider doing something I know I shouldn't, I hear your voice in my head telling me not to do it." I said, "Well, then, my work here is finished." And now there is William.

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  16. Well done, the school needs to be aware of that kid's behavior. Boys can be pretty rambunctious but in my judgement this behavior crosses the line. Hopefully William listened to you and understands that kind of behavior is wrong and cannot be tolerated.

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    1. I sent an email to the principal. William hasn't been spoken to. I haven't received any response. I would hope that the proper people are notified.

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  17. Well said Debby. I made sure that my son was crystal clear around what consent was from his teenage years onwards. Arilx

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    1. They need to know these things to protect themselves as well as the people they meet.

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  18. Nicely done, Debby. Making that a teachable moment for William is going to benefit him tremendously for the rest of his life.

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  19. I am the anonymous person who complimented your writing earlier. Perhaps I should have meant how much I enjoy reading what you write.
    As a former middle and high school teacher, I have seen more than my share of goofy behaviors, good and bad. The words you used to speak with William about this incident is what I would hope all adults would say to teens, both male and female.

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    1. Thank you. I understand that. Your words took me by surprise.

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