When a Texas mother found out that her fifth grade son had been bullying other students at his elementary school, she decided to teach him a lesson the “old-school” way.
The mother, who only wanted to be referred to by her first name, Star, told local ABC affiliate KTRK that she learned her son was calling other Greenleaf Elementary students names like “stupid” and “idiots,” so she decided to make him wear a shirt with the message, “I am a bully,” to school last week to make sure he understood what it felt like and "why he can't do those things."
"I'm a very old-school parent," Star said. "I don't coddle my children. I don't sugarcoat the world to them."
Star even posted pictures of her son wearing the shirt on Facebook as a way to offer the bullied kids' parents "a personal apology."
"I posted it to reach out to the parents of any of the kids my son may have bullied so that each one of them could get a personal apology," said Star.
She removed the post after receiving backlash for her arguably harsh form of discipline but stands by her decision to make her son wear the t-shirt.
"I did what I had to do to stop it from progressing," Star said.
"I wanted to know what he learned from it and he said, 'I learned that I didn't like the way that that felt and I don't want anybody else to feel that way because of me,'" she told ABC13. "That's exactly what I wanted him to take from it."
She even consulted with her son’s school counselor and teachers at the elementary school before he walked into his home classroom.
"They all were 100 percent on board," said Star. "They understood why I was doing it and that, for my son, this is what works."
Amid criticism and concerns that wearing the shirt could do psychological damage to the boy, the Splendora Independent School District sent ABC13 a statement, saying "the counselor, parent, and student met with all three of the student's teachers prior to entering the classroom" and that the counselor "checked on the child throughout the day on Friday" to ensure "a safe, physical, emotional, and social environment" at the school:
Parents have the rights to make important decisions and take certain actions on behalf of their child. This parent met with our counselor at Greenleaf Elementary School to discuss the student wearing the 'I am a Bully' t-shirt. The counselor, parent, and student met with all three of the student's teachers prior to entering the classroom. The parent explained her rationale for the student wearing the shirt to the teachers and counselor.
Ensuring a safe, physical, emotional, and social environment is one of Splendora ISD's Core Principles. With that in mind, our counselor checked on the child throughout the day on Friday and plans to follow up with the student and the parent early this week.
Splendora ISD also said that the counselor plans to follow up with Star's son, but his mother says "he'll survive."
"He'll survive. And he's already been treating his sisters better. He's already been treating his cousins better. He learned from it. That's all that matters," Star said.
What do you think of the “The-Scarlett-Letter”-type punishment? Let us know in the comments section below.