Say there are two thirteen year old boys.

One boy bullies the other.

The incident does not take place during school or an organized event such as town provided youth sports.

Should the bully be allowed to participate in youth sports provided by the town/county?

What other information do you need to make a decision?

Here are some possible “what if’s”

  1. The bully has recently suffered a tragedy in his life
  2. The bully has been bullied by someone else in real life
  3. The bully has been bullied by someone else on line
  4. The bully is a victim of child abuse
  5. The bully is a victim of sexual abuse by someone he knows
  6. The bully is a victim of sexual abuse by someone he doesn’t know
  7. The bully’s parents are getting divorced
  8. The bully has a diagnosed disorder
  9. The bully has learning issues

Do any of the above scenarios, or any that you have thought of, affect the lens with which you view this question?

Here are some possible options for the Bully:

  1. Bully formally apologizes to the victim using a letter or a video
  2. Bully attends anger management classes
  3. Bully attends counseling
  4. Bully agrees to do community service
  5. Family of Bully monetarily compensates the victim of bullying

Now let’s switch back to the original question:

Should someone who has bullied someone else be allowed to play town/county sponsored youth sports?

Is this a hard YES?

Is it a hard NO?

What are the pros and cons of allowing the boy/bully to play youth sports? Or not allowing him?

If someone has made a mistake in the past, do we deny them the right to move on, or do we take a chance that they have amended their ways?

What do you think?

How do you make the decision? What do you consider important information?


49 thoughts on “Bullying and Punishment

    1. That’s where I side on this issue. I figure that maybe youth sports is the outlet the kid needs. But I wanted to throw this up the flagpole to see what others thought

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I agree. This needs to stay within the lens of where the action took place. (Which, by the way, is something I feel about schools in general. Yes, every adult needs to be aware of situations like abuse and I am in favor of government-paid entities that step in to remove or assist in that case -but we are putting way too much responsibility on teachers in expecting them to counsel or feed abused children.)

      Liked by 3 people

  1. My son has coached youth soccer and basketball. Unless the child acts inappropriately during practice or in a game, you cannot exclude him or her from participating. I believe that’s in the coaches handbook.
    What my son has noticed, however, is that most often it’s not the children who act as bullies, but inappropriate parents.

    Most kids are thrilled to be part of a team and listen to their coaches. However, sometimes, you have parents who will have to be banned from interfering with the games for their aggressive behavior. It’s pretty crazy how inappropriate some parents behave. The kids are usually great. Before the pandemic when I’d watch my grandchildren play sports, I would be stunned at the behavior of the parents who don’t want to give all children an opportunity to learn. Some of these folks are out for blood. They are teaching their children to grow up to be bullies! My oldest son was a great athlete and I remember as a single parent having to stand up to a few dads who sat on the sidelines yelling at kids. Now more moms are involved than back in the day, but the bad parent behavior still is a problem in sports. Crazy, right?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Parents and youth sports are not a good combo. I’m glad my daughter played youth athletics but There was no way I was going to go crazy about it. I used to watch the softball,parents. Every single one thought there kid was getting a softball scholarship…the behavior! Crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know! I mean my oldest son was a really great athlete but truth be told so few get to play for the pros. What are these parents thinking? My son figured out early on that while he was a very good athlete, he wasn’t a great athlete . So he figured out his best talent. He received a scholarship in high school as the highest scholar athlete in our entire district. I was so proud of him but then he honestly stated, “ Mom, the truth is I could have sat the bench all year and received this award because of my GPA. “ He learned to use what he was really gifted in. His brains, so he majored in sports management in college, Interned for two major pro teams, then worked a decade for the Miami Dolphins. He even received an NFL award for the Media relations. Now he’s the executive director for a football hall of fame athlete’s charity foundation and helps the community plus writes sports articles and has several podcasts for a pro team. So he’s remained in sports, just using his brains, not his Brawn. I thought he was a great athlete but he knew he wasn’t a super star.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Parents need to not live their failed athletic dreams through their kids. I think so many of the parents are living vicariously through their kids on the field

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not really bothered what problems the bully has – it doesn’t give them the right to bully. Full stop. Sorry, I’m not very enlightened on this subject.

    I coached at a number of youth sports teams and would never exclude a kid for something he did outside the club. I’d hesitate to exclude them for something they did inside the club. For some of them it’s the only time they are treated properly and encouraged to make the most of themselves.

    Completely agree with the comments above that it’s the parents who are the problem. We actually had to have one banned from all junior rugby union games and premises in England. His son had done nothing wrong apart from having an idiot for a father so we ensured he was still made welcome.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree with you that sports may be the outlet the bully needs. There are so many life lessons for kids to learn on a team, with a good coach and parents who are supportive not judgmental. Things like perseverance, good sportsmanship, teamwork, time management. On my kids’ swim team there was a kid who was on the autism spectrum and he had to be removed for hitting two girls while they were swimming. However, the girls were picking on him before practice — so they were all out of practice for a week when the coach found out the background story. Of course, all that happened DURING practice time.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You know, I always hated team sports. I always hated working on Team projects at school. Working as a Team never seemed to work in work situations either. I have always been a Team player but you can’t make, shape or form, everyone to be so. Someone is always a star, someone doesn’t pull their weight, someone pushes the others around. I guess that’s why I would have to say that although the concept of sport being good for bullies sounds good, it isn’t necessarily so. Indeed, when we start talking professional sport it is often the bullies that are applauded. Whatever the history a bully is a bully is a bully.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate your feelings about team sports and projects, Brizzy. However, team activities have proven to build cooperative skills at least according to educational data. It really helps shy children learn to interact, it helps demonstrative children to give others a turn, and helps special needs children focus on a task. *The key is who is guiding the group. As a retired educator I can tell you cooperative learning is one of the best way for students to develop good skills in class. Mainly because they are watched by a trained instructor who can be their to encourage those who need help and curb any aggressive behavior. That’s the beauty of the classroom. I have seen first hand reserved students become leaders and good public speakers using cooperative learning. In a sports situation it,of course, depends on who is coaching. If the coach is not adequately trained it can be a brutal experience. And that can be true in the work place as well.
      As always, it depends on the group leader. My grandson was/ is extremely shy and not particularly athletic but group activities helped him immensely. He’s a wiz kid at chess and the computers but he learned to interact better through being on teams. He’s still not a great athlete but happens to be good at shooting hoops so that worked out and we discovered he loved cub scouts. His gifted brain figures out better ways to build tents, forts etc. and he has become a leader in his troop. It’s a great experience and my son, who never thought he’d go camping (Not the usual thing for nice a Jewish boy lol). But we now laugh because my son and grandson now camp, hike, and deliver food to the underprivileged in the community through scouts. They even learned how to change a tire and jump a car) all in groups. My grand daughter is very social but wanted to do sports because her older brother did. Turns out my little princess is the natural athlete in the Family. Who knew? But one year a parent from another soccer team yelled at her and she cried and couldn’t go back in the game because she kept sobbing. Poor little thing is so sensitive. My son was the coach and was fuming but stayed professional and spoke to the woman firmly, but politely and then let the refs remove the parent after she did the same thing to another child on his team . I know my grand daughter was crushed. She’s like the perfect student, perfect everything, and nobody has ever had to yell at her because she’s always following the rules. It was soccer and you are allowed to kick the ball away from the opposing team. So she was following the rules that she was taught by the two coaches. And I’m holding back wanting to say something to this ride mom but I let my son handle it. (Other than letting my grand daughter cuddle with me and cry. Which broke my heart when she asked me why the lady yelled at her. I had to honestly say that some adults lack self control and don’t always make good choices). Seriously, some parents can be nutty bullies. I mean Who yells at someone else’s kids especially when they are following the rules? The next year she didn’t want to return to soccer and decided to be a brownie instead. Her brownie group did a rock climbing adventure and my grand daughter got an award for the best climber. She’s a little monkey, that one. I sure hope that crazy soccer parent didn’t ruin her future sports adventures, but who knows! Sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Totally agree that the key to Team interaction is good leadership. My experience has tended to lack this. Even as a school child, although my perception may be off, I don’t remember much guidance when it came to working in Teams. Did large class sizes play a part in this? Your Little People sound like they like to “have a go”. They’ll do just fine becoming independent and resilient individuals.
        Nice chatting with you, Lesley.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I would say yes he should be allowed to participate on the team.

    However would want to know more about what the bullying involved. Who defines what is bullying?

    Having once had a 13 year old boy sometimes some of these kids can simultaneously be the bully and be bullied by others.

    My son loved being involved in sports. They aren’t for everyone though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good point: what is actual bullying? I know of a person who said she was being bullied because she wasn’t invited to a sleepover. The girl wasn’t the only one excluded from the slumber party…the slumber party was small, maybe four girls. Is that being bullied?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, that isn’t bullying. Just the sad reality of being a kid.
        I used to be a girl scout leader. One of the girls in the troop lived down the street and was my daughter’s sort of friend. I also used to do a lot of carpooling for this girl, more than her mother ever did. I used to have the girl over on snow days when her mom had to work.
        The girl definitely had bullying tendencies.
        One day her mom called me up and told me her daughter was quitting girl scouts because she was being bullied. I almost laughed. Maybe she was being bullied but I never saw it. I thought it was funny the mom was completely oblivious to her daughter’s behavior.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve studied and written about this a lot. There’s no easy, one-size-fits-all answer here. Adult bullies usually started out as either child bullies or children who were bullied. Very often, it’s the only behavior they see at home and they don’t know any other way to be. Sometimes, they have a parent who not only bullies, but who conveys the belief that not bullying is a sign of weakness. We need to help these kids learn that there are other ways to respond if they don’t get what they want, if they crave attention, if they want to feel strong. These alternate behaviors are skills that can be taught. At the same time, we need to protect other kids from being bullied. Adults need to take bullying seriously and understand its devastating effects, and not blow it off as something “kids just need to learn to deal with.” Far too many kids have dealt with it by suicide.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I don’t like bullies. I don’t like the rate of suicide either. But, life is tough. Kids have to learn rejection and need to learn that things don’t always go their way. I remember when my daughter played softball one of the mothers complained that the softball teams used names of real sports teams. Her kid was upset that he was on the Phillies instead of the Yankees but only because of the name. She petitioned the league to change the names of the teams to team 1, team 2, etc so that kids wouldn’t be upset. I think coddling is also damaging to self esteem. Also, if we want to talk about suicide we have to discuss our relaxed attitude about drug and alcohol use. The addiction rate and OD rate is ridiculous. But, to your main point bullying is bad

      Liked by 4 people

  7. I was bullied in elementary and middle school. And then I learned to box and that was that. I know this is going to sound awfully dated, and I’m not saying it’s the correct way for everyone but I considered it my responsibility to fight back, so to speak.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. This is entirely situational. My son played sports and was bullied his entire school life. Unfortunately, most of the bullies were athletic also and a few had parents who were bullies. Keeping the bully out of sports because of a transgression against another child sets that child up for more torment especially if the bullies were good at that sport. My husband coached and they chose teams (kind of like a draft) stupid for young kids, but he purposely chose kids that were not bullies, mainly because their parents were coaching. He did have to deal with a few over the years and you could see it came directly from the parents. I am so glad we are out of that age. I can say that my son, has lasting scars from that time in his life and is determined that when he has kids they will not bully under any circumstances.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I agree each instance is situational and “bullying” should be elaborated upon so everyone is on the same page. I can see where some children would benefit from the structure of organized sports, overseen by coaches that instill integrity, honesty and fair play in the players (and parents?). It could also be a safe outlet for frustration. I also agree parents can sometimes be the worst bullies in these situations. I’d say as long as the child is not displaying bully behavior in the sport environment or to a teammate outside of the game, they stay. A good coach will sense when there is something going on in a player’s life and will take steps to understand, guide and help a child through the challenges…perhaps outside of the coaching role. I’ve done that as a teacher and it’s always provided greater insight into the student’s behavior/issues in class. On the flip side…and just to play devil’s advocate….it seems the definition of bullying is becoming a catch-all phrase for the lack of life skills in dealing with difficult social challenges. Life is hard. And, life is not fair. Bullying does exist and should not be tolerated. We also need to raise resilient children that are able to constructively handle confrontation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You hit on something very important: how do we define bullying, and do we use the term indiscriminately. We want to guide kids through life with no obstacles or road blocks, which is nice, but it doesn’t allow them to learn how to navigate the hardships in life. That’s the real problem we face today

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hmmmm. Good question, LA. I think it is entirely dependent on the context. I actually did my master’s thesis on bullying, and one thing I found was that bullying prevention programs that provided all youth a safe context to develop themselves socially, psychologically, end emotionally did better than programs that did not. That stated, there does need to be consequences for actions that youth take. Generally, right now, in this country, accountability is an area we have an opportunity to grow in.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Kids need to learn that actions have consequences. If a kid is being disciplined at school for bullying and is suspended for it, I don’t think he/she should play rec league sports until he/she’s back in good standing. One week of skipping a game isn’t going to damage anyone psyche, and may just help stop the behavior.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The bully’s personal issues need to be addressed in the arena where they occurred. Absolutely must apologize. Some sort of punishment may be warranted and should be of the sort like restitution.

    My parents were quite fond of taking away “privileges” like participation in group activities having nothing to do with my transgressions. It made me very resentful and even more likely to act out in the future. I still feel they handled those situations very inappropriately. And I feel that way about this bully and his sports activities. Not right.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. If there isn’t some sort of legal record or physical evidence of the bullying (recording of the event for example), I’m not sure there would be any grounds to disallow a kid from participating in a sport, even if the organization had certain behavior clauses in the rules for participation because it would come down to one person’s word against another. Many organizations do have clauses that would allow them to turn away participants that would be problematic or create potential liability for the organization, but not all do, so that would be another factor. If there is a record, even to the extent of getting multiple complaints from different individuals, though this is a little iffy, and they have such a clause, they are well within their rights to deny someone the ability to participate. I can’t see that most any organization is going to take the time to deliberate the reasoning of or distance from bad behavior unless a strong appeal was made on behalf of the child in question and even then, if it opens the door to any kind of liability, they aren’t going to consider it. And it really all does come down to liability.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw this case on the news. I didn’t track the case, but thought it made for an interesting hypothetical. The liability issue is an interesting one. If the kid has a background of behavior, should it be reported. But then, Julie records are sealed because of the age, so theoretically someone else could be a greater risk and get to play…I’m going to overthink this

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Your followers really carried out this discussion to the nth degree. I guess my bottom line on this is as usual based only on my experience as both a parent of a child who may have been bullied and as a child who was bullied. I don’t really remember all the details of either situation but I do recall that both were resolved by adults doing what adults should do.

    Liked by 1 person

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