Ask An Expert / Bullying

My son is being bullied on the football team, and the coach ignores it. Should I talk to him?

Kids need role models who draw the line on bullying

Ron J. Steingard, MD
Ron J. Steingard, MD

Associate Medical Director; Senior Pediatric Psychopharmacologist

Child Mind Institute

My son is 14 and has joined the school football team. He is a big boy and is exercising more, which makes me happy, but my concern is the bullying he endures. Every day he comes home telling me about incidents of children harassing him or making fun of his race. My son says that the coach seems to be ignoring the behavior. I expressed my concerns to his guidance counselor, but it didn't help. I don't want to come across as the overbearing mother and make my son's life more complicated. I just want the nonsense to stop. Do you have any suggestions?

I think you have to be willing to be the “overbearing mother” if that’s what it takes to make this stop. You should talk to the coach. This kind of bullying isn’t good for your son’s self-esteem, even if he is willing to endure it, and it isn’t good for the kids doing the bullying, either, to have this sort of behavior allowed by the adults around them. The coach’s ignoring it teaches them exactly the wrong message; what they need is authority figures who make it clear that a culture of bullying is not acceptable in their classrooms or on their teams.