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US: School bans 9-year-old boy from wearing My Little Pony bag

  • p

    Good lord, I would have been banned in this day and age for having a he-man lunch box – Absolutely pathetic. grrrrrr!!!!!!

    • Steven Gregory

      Your comment brought to mind my own childhood: I liked to play with my sister’s Barbie dolls, and she liked playing with me since there were just the two of us most afternoons. My uncle gave me a GI Joe doll and I didn’t skip a beat: have it your way, I’ll play with the muscle man (I still like to play with men today). Back then GI Joe would drive Barbie and her friends to the beach where he would lie out shirtless and in cutoffs I made from his camo uniform.

      • Christopher in Canada

        But he wasn’t biologically correct! (I looked!!) My fave is the Billy doll from the Tom of Finland company. (I don’t own one, I just like it!)

  • Brett Gibson

    That’s an interesting strategy, don’t change the bullies behaviour, change the victims behaviour.

    “We sentence you to a ban on revealing clothes because we don’t want you to get raped again, but you sir can get off with a slapped wrist”

    Don’t think so somehow.

  • Clivejw

    What a pathetic administration this school has. I’d take my child out of it immediately.

    • p

      Me too, it really is pathetic kids are just kids and they can enjoy anything they want. Can the school be sued on a discrimination charge because they should be.

  • Jones

    Why does society feel the need to persecute the victim more than the offenders?

    • Serkan M

      You have hit the nail on the head. No matter whether it’s the law, education or otherwise, it seems that the victim in todays society is always the one who suffers from being ignored.

    • marshlander

      The answer to that seems clear – it’s easier.

    • Steven Gregory

      I think a sad number of adults are bullies or buy into bullying mentality. If bigger and more popular students pick on students who might be weaker, less able, perhaps a little annoying, some adults can’t see the situation, but gravitate to one personality or another.

      It has been proven that many adults favor children who are taller, stronger and more attractive. In 1993 a father volunteered to videotape his son’s soccer league in Southern California. What he was actually doing was documenting the behavior of the coach, assistant coach and three volunteer assistants as they humiliated his son and other less athletic players, and allowed boys who were stronger players to bully them. What he captured were two teammates who called off the bullies and tried to encourage the weaker players after the coaching staff had humiliated them.

      It was a special episode of the Phil Donohue Show. During the broadcast, several members of the coaching staff walked off the set. The parents of the two encouraging boys attended the show. On tape, both boys simply said, “I wouldn’t want to be treated like that. It made me feel good to cheer them up.” When asked if they thought those other boys might make the team lose games, they responded, “We lose games all the time. How is it their fault?”

  • Steve_R

    There is more than one way to view this situation, whilst an outright
    ban would appear extreme… surely it seems logical to initially address the cause whilst one finds a resolution. Consider that less than a month ago Michael Marones was bullied into a suicide attempt because of the same “my little pony” article.

    A school board has the responsibility to respond to complaints of bullying, the cause, symptoms, source, and solution. No school board wants to experience a repeat of the situation Micheal’s parents experienced. Perhaps in their defense they thought it prudent to immediately and initially limit their liability by perhaps

    suggesting to his parents “not use the little pony lunch pail” not permanently…but temporarily with the intent of buying them time to address the “problem” without the child being caused further distress, thus a simple logical request becomes misconstrued as a permanent ban to which people become reactionary.

    I understand that this may have appeared to penalize the victim and not
    the culprits responsible. How ever the mother, the school and it’s district board need acknowledge and to limit their personal liability after previous events, and deal with the reality of the problem. For example leaving a time bomb to tick… makes no sense without a defensive action plan. Why allow this child to become more of a victim of bullying whilst a more permanent long term resolution is developed.

    • Cal

      BECAUSE – a school is a place of education. If this little boy is brave enough to carry his lunchbox the school should be defending his right to do so and making a big noise about it too. There is an important lesson here. The school have sent the very opposite message by appeasing the bullies.

    • David Greensmith

      “surely it seems logical to initially address the cause” – and that cause would be the bullies, not the victim of the bullying. What if they were bullying him because he was black, or Jewish? Would “you should wear make up to disguise yourself as a white person/don’t wear your yarmulke whilst we sort out the root issue”? Of course not, that’s ridiculous. Not only does it send the message that the victim has to change behaviour to avoid persecution, it sends the message to the victim that is it something he should be ashamed of and to the bullies that they were in some way justified in their behaviour. It’s called appeasement, and it never works with bullies. I can only hope that with advice like this, you are not on any school board.

      • Steve_R

        David, I would like to point out I did not give advice. I didn’t agree with the situation. My own reaction to this story was it was an unacceptable and pathetic solution to a problem.

        I then reflected on the “What if” possibilities of the situation of what might be the best course of action to stop the bullying immediately whilst the necessary time frame allowed to get the bullies, their parents or required board members together and address the situation.

        Perhaps if I said “It’s okay” to any parent to allow a my little pony bag or lunch pail to school “knowing” there was an ongoing bulling problem people were trying to deal in the interim with I surely would be contributing to the problem of bullying by allowing the source of it to continue.

        If for one or few days the child is spared the teasing, torment or bullying whilst the problem is resolved is it not best for the child? The child has rights, I don’t deny that… but is it right for you, me or anyone to say continue to bring the object… we’ll observe the bulling, determine the bullies and after we have been able to assess the situation we’ll deal with the bullies. Surely that only contributes to the problem and the child is hurt more in the interim. Perhaps that would incorrectly convey I am not dealing this the problem? that I justifying or endorse bullying because I want to observe it and justify it to find a solution.

        In no way did I want to double talk the situation, I wanted to present a “what if” situation for different perspective in this discussion of putting the child’s immediate well being first so his long term his long term rights can be protected.

        • David Greensmith

          Your “what if” scenario is based on the deeply flawed premise described in your third paragraph. The boy taking his My Little Pony bag to school is not the cause of the problem. The “source” of this problem is not the boy’s bag, it is the bullies. Allowing your child to go to school with their favourite bag is not contributing to the problem. What’s contributing to the problem is the school’s failure to act in such a way that the perpetrators of bad behaviour are punished rather than the victim. Rather than tell this child he brought it on himself, they should be suspending the bullies. To assume that the child would be spared teasing by not taking his bag to school is naive. The kid now has a target painted on his back. He will continue to be bullied whether he takes the bag or not. Although he won’t be The Kid with the My Little Pony bag, he’ll be The Kid who used to have a My Little Pony bag and got made to leave it at home. All that is achieved by preventing him taking the bag he loves is that he will be given the message that he should submit to the will of bullies. Worse, the message to the bullies is that they can carry on victimising whomever they please. The child’s mother makes a valid comparison with rape. We shouldn’t be teaching our daughters not to dress provocatively, we should be teaching our sons not to rape. It’s exactly the same here. We shouldn’t be teaching a young boy that he should only like what others find acceptable. We should be teaching the other children not to be bullies – and the best way to do that is to make sure they and their parents are aware their negative behaviour has negative consequences.

    • Paul J

      The initial step taken “to immediately address a situation that had created a disruption” should have been to make it clear that bullying would not be tolerated. If the school was concerned about “it’s liability”, then does it ban fat or ginger children in case they get bullied and sue?
      Cal and David Greensmith are spot on. This is a school. It is supposed to be teaching children that violence and intimidation, (which is what bullying is) are not acceptable.

      • Steve_R

        Paul, this is not a situation which involves race, religion, weight or gender bigotry… it is a situation of ignorance over an inanimate object.
        A. Bullies
        B. Inanimate object “little Pony bag”
        C. Parent presenting case as “rights”

        First and foremost it is shameful that any school district in this day and age has not already developed or instituted a plan of zero tolerance on bullying.

        Second, unlike any prejudice I just alluded to, the inanimate object is or can by discretion be removed like the fuse in a bomb to disarm the situation. I did not say I agree with doing this I said it “might help” temporarily. It would lend time to the school to “hopefully” inform and educate the bullies on zero tolerance and acceptance and then reintroduce the “little Pony bag”

        Some how the premise of caving to the bullies has become an issue of rights. I never said cave to the bullies, I said because it is an inanimate object which can temporarily be removed and might help the situation in the short term. In the long term zero Tolerance should still prevail! the mother”s argument however has changed the context of the argument and insist a “right issue” prevails. in the interim she would be happy to send her son to school as a right with his “Little pony bag” where is is subjected to bullying because in the interim she see’s this as the school boards lack of cooperation where as they “perhaps” recognize they need both time and opportunity to address the issue of bullies to her satisfaction.

        I applaud the mother for her determination! but please don’t subject your child to being bullied in the interim as an issue of rights, whilst the authorities are trying to adequately and responsibly redress opportunity to address your concerns. I don’t see this as caving to the bullies, I see it as a way of “temporarily” disarming them which in the case of bullies is rare!

        • Paul J

          I, like many gay men I suspect am an expert on being bullied at school. If children are told to stop bullying and believe that if they carry on they will be punished in effective manner, they will stop, unless they are very disturbed. The bullying may appear in another form or may reappear later, but this school’s weak response has sent a message

          (a) that bullying is not taken seriously
          (b) that carrying a My Little Pony bag is deviant behaviour that needs to be stopped, not the bullying.The school has handed the bullies the argument: “If a My Little Pony bag is so cool, why did Sir/Miss tell you not to bring it? Sir/Miss thinks its stupid too”.

          As you say, in many schools bullying is something that children thankfully don’t experience. I suspect there is a whole can of worms here that explains why this mother has gone public about this issue.

        • James Campbell

          “what might be the best course of action to stop the bullying immediately whilst the necessary time frame allowed to get the bullies, their parents or required board members together and address the situation.”

          Penalising the victim (in this case by banning him from bringing his bag to school) will not work. This sends a message to the other pupils that the victim was somehow partially to blame. The direction of any action must be aimed at the perpetrator(s).

          The way to deal with bullying (in the UK) is as follows:

          1) the school must have drawn up and published anti-bullying policy;
          2) anyone displaying behaviour which runs counter to the policy is given one warning. If the behaviour is repeated, the perpetrator is immediately taken out of class (or brought in from the playground) and interviewed by the head teacher (or in his/her absence, the Deputy);
          3) Following the interview, the bully/bullies are required to write an apology addressed to the victim. If they refuse, they are sent to work in a room away from their usual classroom;
          4) Contact is made with the bullies’ parents by letter in which they (the parents) are asked to attend a meeting with senior staff. In this meeting, the parents are advised that unless their child’s behaviour improves, then s/he will be suspended.
          5) If the parents will not agree or their child continues to bully other children, they will receive a written notification from the education authority that their child will be referred for further assessment.
          6) My telephone rings ……

    • NowAnAgnostic

      Get real. This is a school in the southern US State of North Carolina. There will be NO “permanent long term resolution” developed to combat bullying.

  • Serkan M

    With the schools logic, you should ban anything that causes a child to bully someone else. Where does it end? Ban fat kids, ban pink shoes, ban long hair and so on.

    If this is the case, you’d end up with a monotone of children all looking, talking and acting the same. Just a monotone bunch of robots.

    • James Campbell

      The vintage film “Village of the Damned” comes to mind.

    • Steven Gregory

      I think you might end up with bullies running the school. If they are constantly accommodated, where will it stop?

  • Truth

    So instead of protecting this child’s right to Freedom of Expression, the school protects the rights of the bullies? Yet another example of how religious brainwashing and its consequent gender stereotyping can skew rationality. Come on, people: grow the fu*k up! Continued deference to religion is detrimental to human rights.

  • Janson Smithers

    As someone who got bullied myself, this was taking it too far. The bullies and ONLY the bullies actions should have been addressed.

    I remember I was bullied back in high school for being a “poser” because I was “fake when I was being polite.”

    If the people in charge at this kid’s school were at the one I was at, would they have said “Mark, stop being polite… it’s for your own good.” ?

    What about people who’re overweight and have a difficult time losing the weight? Ah, just tell them to “lose the weight” and they won’t be bullied?

    The whole point of anti bullying measures should be to motivate the bullies to stop being bullies! What happened to this kid won’t change the motivation of the bullies. And knowing bullies as I do, they will always find something else to tease & harass about.

    I had pimples back in high school & got teased. I was upset that Metallica made what sounded like a country song (some kid teased me about them going country). On a Sunday, I remember, two batteries were thrown into my room (yes, I went away for high school).

    On that last one, I don’t even know what I did. Though looking back, they just wanted to get a reaction out of me. And for that, a kid can just show up to school and be teased. No real reason is needed other than they know what gets a reaction out of a kid.

    Nearly every day was a barrage of teasing that came down and metaphorically beat my face in, with nowhere to go and nobody to help

    What this kid went through was absolutely heartless/mindless… telling the kid to not bring in certain items won’t stop the bullying. Most times I didn’t bring in anything but me, myself & I yet I still got mercilessly harassed.

    This particular kid’s school apparently has some mindless fools working for them!

  • Christopher in Canada

    Gotta protect them bullies, after all, they will be the ones saving the human race by having lots of babies!! (sarcasm) We need to develop a sign or quote denoting sarcasm… how about the “~” before and after the sentence? I don’t know of it being used for anything else – why it’s on the keyboard is a mystery to me…

  • foxyfellowuk

    The cynical part of me thinks the school board’s response to this situation is a token gesture and a copout, aimed at the easiest target as they haven’t the spine or the conviction to do anything more meaningful or positive (remind you of any current goverments?).

    The more charitable part thinks them merely misguided, going for a quick fix without thinking through the potential side-effects or considering the messages they might be sending.

    A smaller, darker part quietly wonders if there isn’t a degree of subtle discrimination on the part of the board, here; that maybe they’re working on assumptions made from his choice of lunch box, built upon their own prejudices.

    No matter how you look at this, it’s the wrong action to have taken, and reflects badly on the board.

  • Daniel

    So instead of dealing with the bullies we go down the same route again of – it must be the victim flaunting something.
    My Godson is having to deal with bullies, where the school’s initial answer was “tell your son to play on the other side of the yard”. Heaven forbid these institutions should take a zero tolerance view to bullying and tackle the bully.

  • p

    Its a while since but I used to get the my little pony albums for Christmas. Am lucky in the situation that I used get he-man and thundercats albums too, in these circumstances I was/ am charmed in the fact that I had mature parents.

    Anyway with what I remember these people do know that My little pony does have a plethora of male characters including spike the dragon who was my favourite person in the show. In recent years the show itself has tried to become gender neutral. Here is a list of all the male characters
    :http://mlp.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Male_characters

    This person banning the bag is just as bad as the bullies themselves, perhaps they should be educated and watch the show themselves, who know they might learn something!!!!

  • Suzannah

    If this bothers you, you can totally send an email to the district’s superintendent. His contact information along with a ton of other administrators’ contact information can be found here:

    http://www.buncombe.k12.nc.us/Page/148

    These leaders have the ability to work toward restorative justice between the victim, the bullies, and the administration and this information gives you the opportunity to empower them to do so.

  • Susan Smith

    This school system should be sued for not protecting the victim. The bullies should be punished, not the victim. When did out country start giving the “criminals” more rights then the victim. This administration is copping out and it is disgraceful.

  • ronj1955

    If you’re so concerned about bullying, why are you joining the bullies in attacking this kid, Buncombe County Schools?

  • Steven Gregory

    The mother is absolutely correct in this situation. Schools are failing peaceable students who want to learn by accommodating bullies in any way. Bullies should be expelled — let them become their parent’s problem. Make schools safe places for students to learn.

    I grew up in a small town (800 people) and students who repeatedly misbehaved were first suspended for a week. If problems continued, they were expelled and turned back over to their parents. If the parent and student wanted to return to school, the parent had to sit with them for a week. Each year this would happen once or twice — usually to students who were new to our town and didn’t believe such rules would be carried out.

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