Eighth grade was a better year for Bud. He breezed through the first semester with good grades, a girlfriend and no troubles.
Then, on a Saturday in January 2008, Bud and a group of friends (boys and girls) were hanging out, talking, on the soccer field at their middle school. One of Bud’s former friends, approached the group with his “gang”. The “gang” started harassing one of the girls in Bud’s group. Bud stood up to the gang and told them to leave the girl alone. The gang threatened Bud and started to chase him and his group, but they ran to a nearby house, which frightened the bullies away.
The next week, this former friend challenged Bud to a fight off-grounds after school. Bud refused. He is trained in taekwondo, but had always been taught to only use his skills in self-defense. The bully told Bud that if he didn’t fight, the bully and his gang would “jump” Bud one day on his way home from school. Bud didn’t tell us any of what had happened, but having been jumped the previous year (see Part 1 of this series) he finally agreed to the fight.
They met at an abandoned lot about a half mile from the school the following week. Of course, the news had spread like wildfire amongst the middle school population, so there was a large crowd of teenagers there, many with cell phone cameras. Bud allowed the bully to throw the first punch and immediately threw the other boy off balance and took him to the ground. The bully didn’t even land one hit.
The next day I received a call at work from the principal’s office telling me that Bud and the other boy were both being suspended for 5 days for fighting. I found out the details behind the story (they had Bud in the principal’s office when they called me) and then proceeded to ask how he was being suspended when a) he had felt he had no choice but to fight and b) the fight was not on school property. I was told that the school considered that if the fight occured on the children’s “way home” from school then it was still a school fight and the school had a “zero-tolerance” policy on fighting. The vice-principal suggested that if Bud had informed the school office of the threats against him, he would have been protected. I told her there was no way they could have protected him off-grounds.
Fortunately, Bud’s teachers were extremely understanding of the circumstances, as he was a good student and well-liked and the other boy was a known troublemaker. Bud was allowed to make up all his schoolwork and we were so proud to watch his 8th grade promotion and have the teachers praise him for his academics and pleasant attitude.
We thought high school would only be better…