My son had only been in middle school a few days when I got a call from his teacher, telling me what had happened the afternoon beforehand on the playground.

It was my son’s birthday, and three boys had been giving him “birthday punches” at recess. The teacher saw it happening and immediately reprimanded the boys who had been punching him.

My son shrugged off the occurrence. Although the punches were painful, he never said anything to me that night. At the time, he thought it was “no big deal.”

I congratulate the teacher for a number of reasons. First, he was present and saw this taking place. He immediately intervened, took action and followed up with a personal phone call to me.

And here’s what I found most important: The teacher told me it was important that my son knew this was not acceptable behavior.

There’s so much talk about ethical interventions, and the importance of creating an atmosphere where bad behavior is not tolerated. To me, this was a perfect example where the school sent a clear and decisive message.

That set the tone for a very good school year. The behavior bar was set high … and that teacher made sure every kid knew it.

Kathy Mangold
Former editor of metroparent magazine in Milwaukee, WI
Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor (
Mom of kids ages 12, 10 and 7