OK, so picketing your kid's school after they get themselves suspended isn't what most parents would do. But Randy Duke doesn't sound like most parents. He's a Navy veteran who came home from Afghanistan to find out his 14-year-old was being bullied big time at school. And when the eighth grader finally had enough and fought back against his long-time bully, the school came down hard ... on Duke's son.
Suddenly a dad standing outside his son's school with a giant sign starts to sound less like crap parenting and more like the kind of chutzpah we all need to show for our kids, doesn't it?
According to Randy, his son Max has been a victim of bullying for quite some time. But it all came to a head recently when another kid took the paper airplane he'd crafted for a special needs child in art class and stomped on it. In true kid fashion, Max's response was "What the hell?" Which is when the bully got physical. And the frustrated Max got physical back.
Now the kid who was picked on has been treated to two days suspension, and he's been sent to an alternative school, which also means he can't take part in the extracurriculars he's involved in like the school marching band.
It sounds wildly unfair to this kid and incredibly frustrating for a parent.
No wonder Randy Duke's picketing the school with a sign that says, "Bullying victims are punished here."
We spend a lot of time in my house debating how to talk to our daughter about bullies, how she should respond. Usually I've told her to walk away, and it's worked for the most part. No one has gotten physical in second grade. Thank goodness!
But I don't know how much longer we can get by with the "walk away" response. It's not always possible to walk away. I remember being stuck on a bus, where I couldn't move, where I couldn't escape the bullies stealing my headbands and playing monkey in the middle with them (you can guess the identity of the monkey).
I felt helpless.
I don't want my kid to feel helpless.
Randy Duke doesn't want his son to feel helpless.
His decision to picket doesn't just come across as a support of his son's decision to fight back. To me it's a sign that this dad realizes you don't give up after one battle, you keep fighting until you win the war.
Pardon the military references here, but when you consider dad's background, how can you not look at it that way? This Navy vet is trying to show his son that there is honor in standing up for yourself and what you believe in, even when the odds are against you. Lesser parents might just throw up their hands, rant about the school at home, but ultimately let it lie. I'd rather parent like Randy Duke, wouldn't you?
What do you think of Duke's decision?