Pre-teen fight, knife was pulled, how to handle it?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Briefly... the story after speaking to both sides and the sitter... my 12 year old son was at his friend's house. They start to argue over a video game, and the friend says something that makes my son really angry. My son shoved his friend to the floor, and then the friend gets up and runs off and grabs a kitchen knife. He said it was because he didn't want my son to jump at him again. I happened to drive by right at that moment to pick my son up, and so the argument ended there. The babysitter was upstairs apparently not hearing any of this.

 

I spoke to my son after we got home about how it is NEVER appropriate to use violence outside of defending yourself, that he should have either walked out and went home or upstairs to tell the adult in the house what was going on.

 

I also spoke to the friend and the sitter (who I think is a family friend of theirs) and made it clear to her that while it was totally not acceptable for a knife to be pulled, that it wasn't entirely this kid's fault. He felt threatened after my son pushed him down. She said she would be speaking to the kid's dad about the knife and I told her that they should call me if they need anything at all.

 

Now I don't know what I should do. I already told my son that he wont be going over there again. I understand that friends fight, but I don't feel like it's a safe place for him to go. I also want to help my son learn the gravity of the situation and how to curb his own anger so that he doesn't react violently again. It should also be said that my son has dealt with bullying over the last 2+ years and we've been working very hard to help him cope with it.

 

I don't know if I should call the dad later when he gets home or not. I kindof want to talk to him, and at least let him hear it from me personally that it wasn't all his kid's fault. On the other hand I'm kindof dreading the idea and hoping he doesn't call because I don't really like the guy very much, he was never all that nice to my son. So I'm a little concerned that he will either be too hard on his kid or blame it all on mine.

 

What should I do? :(

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#2 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 02:53 PM
 
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I'm afraid you may be sending a bad message to everyone, by seeming so focused on blaming your kid and taking heat off the other one.

 

I know you're upset that your kid was violent and "started it".  But think about it from a different perspective:

 

> If, after being shoved, it was reasonable self-protection for the other kid to pull a knife, then if your kid gets bullied, will it be reasonable/justifiable/understandable for HIM to react by threatening someone with a knife?  Would it "not be his fault", if he did?

 

> If your kid was threatened with a knife, and your reaction is to tell him - and the other adults concerned - that it was his own fault, how likely will he be, to come to you for support and be honest with you about his own faults (i.e., pushing the other kid), in the future?

 

If your kid had threatened his "friend" with a deadly weapon, or beat him to the point that the other kid feared for his life and ended up in the hospital, THEN it would have been reasonable self-protection for the friend to pull a knife.

 

Sure, we are trying to be an enlightened society with a zero-tolerance policy for violence.  I'm not arguing with that ideal.  But being shoved to the ground does not make your fear for your life, like being threatened with a deadly weapon.  It does not.  Plenty of boys shove each other to the ground in play.  At worst, it's insulting and moderately uncomfortable.  

 

Yes, keep working to teach your son impulse control and nonviolent conflict resolution.  He's not a grown man, he's still learning.  But he did nothing for which he should be threatened with a knife.  Nothing

 

The other boy exhibited a whole different level of impulse-control problems.  He did something that could have wound up ending someone's life.  Even if it wasn't his intent to attack your son with the knife, your son could have walked around the corner wrong and gotten stabbed.  You don't pick up sharp weapons and hold them in a threatening way.  Kids impulsive enough to shove a friend in anger are still capable of refraining from grabbing a knife.  

 

The other kid has a serious problem and is potentially dangerous to others in a way your son is not (at least, based on this incident).  The other kid's parents need to recognize and address his problem, not be tempted by the "out" of your assurance that it "wasn't really his fault".  The disagreement wasn't, but his criminally inappropriate overreaction was his fault.  It was 100% his fault.

 

Not having your son and this other kid around each other is obviously right.

 

Sometimes, when I am frightened by my lack of control over a scary situation, I hold myself inappropriately accountable for it.  Subconsciously, if it's my fault or my responsibility, then I can "fix" it.  Admitting to myself that it's out of my control makes it more frightening.  I think you may be doing a bit of that, here.  If the big problem here is your son's behavior and his poor friend was just trying to defend himself...well, there's hope you can correct your son.  Admitting that your son was insufficiently supervised around a kid who's dangerously out of control and will pull a deadly weapon with minimal provocation...and there was nothing you could do about it, at the moment... is frightening and hard to accept.


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#3 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 02:59 PM
 
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I don't think you are under any obligation to speak to the other parent about this, and I can see a variety of ways talking to the dad could go wrong.

 

I would make it clear to my child that they are NEVER to go near that house again - end of story.

 

Regarding your son -- I'm very sorry that he has been bullied for the last 2 years. That is not a good thing. Is there any way to get him out of the situation -- to a charter school, open enrollment at another public school, scholarship to a private school etc?   It sounds like the situation is wearing him down.

 

Have you considered getting him involved in a martial art? One of my DD's just started karate, and her class is more about self control than how to fight. It's about self defense and confidence. I'm loving her class and what she is getting out of it -- she is carrying her self differently. It's one thing to tell a kid they need to learn to curb their anger -- this class is like bi-weekly lessons on how to do that.  Just a thought......
 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#4 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I might have communicated how I feel about the situation badly, but in no way do I think it was my son's "own fault". I certainly didn't tell my son that he brought it upon himself, or anything even remotely similar. He didn't "start it", and I never said he did. That said, I still believe very strongly that my son could have reacted better by walking away or going to an adult instead of resorting to violence... which is what he and I talked about after we got home. I didn't punish him, I didn't yell at him, and I certainly didn't tell him that he brought it on himself.

 

I would never say in a million years that it was even the slightest bit acceptable or understandable that this kid pulled out a deadly weapon. At the same time though, I don't want to sugarcoat my own kid's behavior because the other kid happened to go way too far. The fact is, my son is about twice the size of this kid and much stronger... Up until this incident he has NEVER reacted violently towards any of the bullies at school or anyone outside of school. He has shown tremendous restraint when dealing with bullies. I worry though that once he realizes that he is bigger and stronger than the kids that pick on him (like he is compared to this friend) that he WONT restrain himself. I just worry that I am not doing enough to help him learn that self control, but then I don't know what else I can do.

 

And I do worry for this kid. His parents are divorced, like my son's father and I are, and I see the same pent up anger in this kid that I see my son struggle with. I honestly don't know the kid's dad very well, or what this kid is going through... but I agree that there must be some serious issues there for this kid to pull a knife on another kid like that. There is no way I would feel safe sending my son to play over there again, but my heart does go out to this boy.

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#5 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

Regarding your son -- I'm very sorry that he has been bullied for the last 2 years. That is not a good thing. Is there any way to get him out of the situation -- to a charter school, open enrollment at another public school, scholarship to a private school etc?   It sounds like the situation is wearing him down.

 

Have you considered getting him involved in a martial art? One of my DD's just started karate, and her class is more about self control than how to fight. It's about self defense and confidence. I'm loving her class and what she is getting out of it -- she is carrying her self differently. It's one thing to tell a kid they need to learn to curb their anger -- this class is like bi-weekly lessons on how to do that.  Just a thought......
 

Thanks for asking about this... he actually just graduated up to the middle school, and has been having a much better time. Unfortunately the kid that gave him the most trouble is in a lot of the same classes, and so it is still a problem. It's likely that I will end up going in to speak to someone about it, because TBH the elementary school didn't do enough to address the issue... so I feel like I need to go and speak to someone before it becomes a big problem again. The only difference is that my son has a lot more friends that support him that didn't go to the same elementary school, and he loves his new teachers and how he isn't stuck in the same classroom all day long.

 

He did do martial arts for about a month, and didn't love it. I've brought it up a few times since he's quit, and he just has no interest at all. He did join the football team at the middle school this year, and quit just this past week because he says the other kids on the team pick on him. I don't want to make him do a sport he isn't interested in doing, but I do feel like he could really use something active to do. He has issues with his weight and the exercise he was getting from football was having a really great impact on him... it just didn't work out. He does have a therapist he sees on a weekly basis that is really great and takes him on bike rides and whatnot.

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#6 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 10:01 PM
 
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Swim team is an individual sport that involves short interactions with team mates.  I think helping him find something that he likes enough to stick with is a great idea.

 

This is a very tough age. hug2.gif
 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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