Life Advice



Ask Amy: Classmate’s bullying is unacceptable

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

A Seventh-grader

Dear Seventh-grader: There is a difference between having fun and "making fun of." Friends goof around and occasionally tease each other. But it's never OK to criticize someone's body, race, ethnicity, or religion, even as a joke. That's not friendly teasing that's bullying. If you're afraid to tell an adult because you think it might make things worse, then that's a sign that this kid is a bully-in-training.

You can say to him, "Stop making fun of me and my religion. What you're doing is mean, and I want you to stop. It’s NOT funny."

Give him another chance to change, and then you really should go to a teacher. He needs to know that this is offensive, and NOT OK. You could help to protect yourself – and another student – by standing up to him.

(March 2011)

Dear Amy: My 10-year-old son does well in groups such as Scouts and team sports, but he doesn't have any friends.


He's reluctant to invite people over and has started to pull away from the few boys who want to hang out with him.

If this is bothering him, he's not showing it, and he won't discuss it with me. He's a bit of an odd duck, and I'm afraid he'll be picked on in middle school if he doesn't have friends.

Should I leave him to figure this out on his own, or is this something to be concerned about?

– Concerned Mom


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