With great heartache, Randy and Karla Kinney went before the Peninsula Shool District board Thursday night, haunted by the images of what happened to their son last February.
The Kinneys said their son had been struggling with bullying issues before this incident. But they faulted the advice they gave their child.
Randy Kinney told the board he originally gave his son this advice: “’What a bully wants is reaction from a child. Put on a strong face, Son, no matter hard it hurts don’t cry or it will only magnify the situation.’”
They are words Kinney now regrets, after seeing a video in which his son endured bullying for at least 15 minutes.
“’If they hit you, smile, and walk away, cry in private.’ Terrible advice, terrible advice,” said Kinney. Kinney felt the reason his son went along with the behavior for so long was because he was doing what his dad said to do.
Experts say Kinney did not give bad advice, just that his advice may not have gone far enough.
Mike Donlin, the program supervisor for the School Safety Center at the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, said it’s not enough to teach kids how to react in the face of a bully.
“Know what to do next,” Donlin said he tells kids. “If something happens to you, report it to someone. Talk to someone about it.”
Donlin said parents need to start the conversation with their kids early. Parents should tell children not to make themselves a target and to avoid giving the bully what he or she wants -– a reaction. Kids should also be told to report bullying to an adult.
“Any of us needs to be that trusted adult and pick up that conversation and help that kid if need be,” he said. It’s most important that the child knows the line of communication is open, he said.
The OSPI has compiled a list of resources about bullying on the school safety center section of its website.