KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox Parents concerned about day-camp bully
Dear Annie: Several of our children, along with other children from our neighborhood, will be going back to their regular day camp this summer. There is one problem -- "Willie," the son of the groundskeeper.
This lad is a vile-tongued, sadistic monster who teaches our kids vulgar language, tortures animals, steals, bullies and, in one instance, dumped liquid soap all over a kid's gym bag while the boys were changing clothes. In short, Willie is filth, and he learns it from his father.
Because Willie's father is an employee, the boy gets to do activities with the campers. When one camper came home in tears after Willie's treatment, we called the camp director. We were told Willie is unhappy because his grandfather (the only affectionate relative he had) died recently, and his father hits him a lot if he gets into trouble. The director is reluctant to tell his father to "straighten him out."
Are our children obligated to put up with this? I don't understand why this emotionally disturbed little trash bag has to be around my children. And please don't tell me I should ask my kids to show Willie love and kindness, because my children are not mental health professionals.
Can I legally force the camp director to do something? If I report this to the authorities, I know I could have Willie taken from his abusive father. I don't want to resort to that, but I don't want to put my kids in danger. Other than this one problem, the camp is a wonderful place. But is it worth it to send my kids there? Unsure
Dear Unsure: You have more than one issue going on here. If Willie is being abused by his father, you have an obligation to report it to the authorities. If the camp is not protecting your child from an abusive campmate, you should not send your child there, and the director should know why. If Willie is torturing animals, he has some serious psychopathic tendencies and should be seen by a therapist before he starts torturing little children the same way. It's time to speak up.
Dear Annie: I am writing about the letter from "Ex-Law Enforcement Civilian in Sacramento, Calif.," who was bullied at work by two women. Believe me, this is not an isolated case. Our son took his life after many months of harassment at his place of employment. No one knew how bad it was.
Shortly after his death, another employee took his life. We later found out that our son's death was the fifth suicide in 25 years for this company and that there also were many nervous breakdowns. Although your writer lost a nice pension, she escaped with her life intact. Unfortunately, our son did not. A Wisconsinite
Dear Wisconsinite: How horrible for you that this situation wasn't discovered and rectified before it was too late. Our readers were very concerned about workplace bullying, and a few offered some helpful suggestions. Read on:
Dear Annie: Please refer "Ex-Law Enforcement" to www.bullyonline.org. Although based in the U.K., this Web site is an excellent resource. It includes advice for documenting bullying incidents, a concise listing of the possible psychological effects of bullying, profiles of a typical serial bully, tips on recovering from bullying, and much more. Studies show that up to half of all workers face bullying at their jobs, and in certain professions the percentage is higher. Bully Magnet
Dear Annie: I had to let victims of workplace bullies know about bullyinginstitute.org. I left a job after 26 years of service as a result of bullying by a supervisor. I complained, only to be told that this individual "knows how to play the game." No one should have to deal with this issue alone, and this Web site provides a lot of information. We definitely need explicit laws to address this issue. P.M.