"Is it bullying or is it not?" a young boy asked himself during a recent interview, explaining why he was afraid to tell his father that he was getting picked on at school. His father's response was a Facebook post that has reached thousands online.
Nearly 1 million people have been drawn to Mathew Bent's message on Facebook. "I stand behind my son in the fight against bullying," the father's post began. His stance is a response to his son getting physically abused at school. Officials allegedly did nothing to intervene.
A school police officer and the principal at a Kaukauna, Wisc. school both failed to address Bent's concerns after a three bullies stole his son's shoes during gym glass. One of the bullies threw a shoe at the boy's groin, knocking Bent's son to the ground, Bent said during a Huffington Post interview. Once the young boy was down, a second bully came over and "body slammed" the child multiple times.
A school police officer later interviewed all four boys and then dismissed the incident as "horseplay," The Post reported. Bent called the school principal to question the officer's decision; his calls were not returned.
Recalling his former days of dealing with school bullying and being told to turn the other cheek, Bent said during an interview on the "Today Show" that he wanted to do something different.
"I wanted him to remember that I was always standing behind him and that I had his back at all times," Bent said of his Facebook post.
The post shows a picture of Bent standing behind his son, who is holding a sign:
With the photo Bent commented: "Please share and send a message to every school district that protecting bullies and doing nothing about their actions is wrong!! My son has been bullied all school year by this group of thugs, and not 1 teacher, administrator, councillor or officer will do anything to make it stop, they only offer excuses and blame the victims!!! Please help me in the effort to stop bullying!!!"
Kaukauna District Administrator Mark Duerwaechter insisted that that the district does not support bullying.
"I want to be clear, Kaukauna Area School District does not protect bullies," he told Green Bay News. "I think that we all would prefer this to be handled without social media."
Bent said his son had been bullied the entire school year. But is stealing someone's shoe or throwing it at them bullying?
"I worry about that question," Bent's son said on Today.