We had an bullying incident on the playground recently and I am still worked up (and it's been three weeks). My 5-yr old son was at a neighborhood playground located next to an elementary school. The playground was busy with lots of kids, and there were a few older boys (2nd or 3rd grade I'm guessing), and my son was behind them in line for the slide. I wasn't really paying attention and all of a sudden my son is in front of me, telling me that one of the boys told him that if he didn't leave the slide, the boy was going to punch him in the face. I was mortified of course, but I asked my son what he wanted me to do - should I go talk to the boy or find his parents or.... and my son walked away. I thought, okay, he's not devastated by this, so I'll let it go. But I did keep an eye on that boy in the light blue shirt.
My son went off to play somewhere else, but eventually got back to the slide where, yes, those same boys were. On the way up to the slide, my son had to climb a rope ladder, and as he was reaching the top "rungs," that boy in the blue shirt pretended to stomp on my son's hands. My son saw it, but climbed up anyway. I don't know if my son knew what that boy was trying to do (scare him) because my son hasn't run into this obvious bullying behavior before, as far as I know.
I watched my son keep climbing up the playground to get in line for the slide. I heard one of the boys say, "okay, everyone hang on to each other." And then I heard another boy say, "Get out of here or I'll punch you in the face." Next my son starts walking back the way he came, and I waited for the boys to slide down. (I hoped my son would take his time coming down.) I waited for that boy to come out of the tube slide, and when he did I was all over him like stink on shit.
I asked him if he said that to my son. He looked at his friend and kinda smirked and said, "I was only joking." I asked him where his mom was; he said she wasn't there. I said that he probably went to the elementary school next door, and he said he didn't live in this town. Argh! I was running out of things to say! So I just told him to leave. Leave the playground now, and if I ever saw him there again, I would find out who he was and call his parents. On hindsight, I should have taken a photo of him with my iPhone ;) The boys started walking away and lo and behold, an adult starts walking up to them, asking what was happening. I walked up to her and told her what that kid said, and she said that she wasn't the boy's mom, but she'd let the mom know what happened.
I am actually scared to go back to that playground now and I'm scared for my son. I feel like there should be a bullying police that parents or kids can call in cases like this. It was so unacceptable that I was just caught off-guard. I am lucky that I'm not in jail for assaulting a minor.
What could I have done differently?