Dear Annie

Nipping bullying in bud

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: My son is 7 years old and is attending a soccer camp this summer. He is an average player and loves the game, and he has made friends at the camp. The problem is that one of the boys is a bully, and he targets my son all the time, calling him “a bad player” and kicking the soccer ball right in his face. This has gone on for more than three days. Each day, my son comes home and says the kid was meaner than he was the day before.

I left a voicemail for the coach asking if he would do something about this, but he did not reply. That infuriated me. I thought bullying was a thing of the past and that administrators of schools and camps did everything possible to prevent it.

My husband took off early from work one day so he could observe the practice and talk to the coach. The coach assured him that he was “handling it,” but I don’t have a great feeling about this. The fact that he ignored my phone call says that he does not take this seriously. The fact that he allowed it to happen in the first place is a really bad sign.

Bullying is terrible. I realize that some people will say that it is human nature, that it’s always been this way and that it can sometimes teach kids lessons about how to interact with each other. But I say no way. In 2019, there is no excuse for bullying at a summer camp. I’m not sure what we should do at this point and am turning to you for advice. — Anti-Bullying Mom

Dear Anti-Bullying Mom: It sounds like you took the necessary steps to help be an advocate for your son. There is a difference between a kid being mean or making an insensitive comment and consistent bullying. The reality is that kids can say mean things, sometimes not even on purpose, and they usually can sort it out themselves. In this case, it sounds like it was bullying and not just a rude comment.

Bullying is usually consistent and persistent, so you took the right steps by having your husband make the coach aware of the situation.

Hopefully, that is the end of it. If the bully persists, and the coach does nothing, I would complain to the director of the camp and keep an open dialogue with your son about steps he can take to defend himself.

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.