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Menace on the Playground

C. B. Gavant

Suddenly, he’s quiet and withdrawn. It’s a battle to get him out the door each morning. He comes home with ripped pants and a sullen face. What’s happening to your little boy? The class bully may be responsible for this sorry transformation.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Third-grader Michoel Barenbaum* has a problem. His car pool drops him off at school twenty minutes before the bell rings. There aren’t any teachers on the playground at that hour, but there are other kids, including hulking Heshy Stein. And Heshy has a nasty habit of picking up younger and smaller kids and sticking them upside down into the huge garbage can near the school’s front doors.

It’s already happened to Michoel more than once. He tells his mother his glasses broke at recess. He cleans his jacket and yarmulke as best he can. But he can’t do anything about the bruised feelings and the increasing sense of isolation that overwhelm him.

Michoel is alone in his suffering, but he’s not the only child suffering from such experiences. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 10 percent of children in the United States are bullied on a regular basis, and the statistics are unfortunately not much better in frum schools. What is bullying, and what can a parent or child facing such a situation do about it?


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