A father in Alabama was dumbfounded this past month when his third-grade son came home with a stamp on his arm of a smiley face with text underneath it.
Initially, the Dad thought it was some kind of a reward from a teacher or perhaps a joke by another kid, but the truth was very alarming.
When he finally realized what he was looking at, the father, Jon Bivens, reached out to the local news, The Huntsville Times, to share his alarming complaint.
This is the same as with the story of a girl who had been forced to cover up because she was wearing a tank top, but Bivens’ son had been called out and publicly humiliated for a very minor violation – something that he personally had little control over.
Ultimately, kids in grade school, mainly aged between 5 and 11, can’t really be held to a very high level of accountability, and certainly don’t deserve to be bullied by their teachers and even the school administration.
And what precisely was this little boy’s huge mistake? Read on below to find out the details behind the story.
At first look, Jon Bivens thought his son received a reward for being good with a smiley face stamp on his arm. Then, he figured out what the writing underneath was. His third grader had been stamped with the words, “I Need Lunch Money.”
Startled at first, he didn’t think of the consequences of the stamp. As it turns out, the elementary school that Bivens’ son attends, Gardendale Elementary in Gardendale, AL, operates its cafeteria with refillable charge cards. Students who buy their lunch at school swipe the card to pay for their lunch. Parents kept the food coming by topping up the cards with money every time, and they are notified if the balance gets low.
Bivens understood the card system, but was surprised by the method of delivery. His little boy always took a packed lunch to school almost each and every day, and rarely needed lunch money, unless he wanted to buy a special treat from the cafeteria.
As a result, he almost never had to use his school lunch card and his parents had decided not to top it up so close to the end of the school year.
Still, Jon Bivens shared The Huntsville Times that he was shocked by the way that the school had chosen to send the message to him as a parent. He says that, back then, the school would call or send emails or letters to remind parents of the balance.
The stamp, which he calls a “brand,” looks like a communication of last resort for the school.
Bivens said that he didn’t get any direct contact, and added, “When you start stamping a message on a child’s body instead of calling… it’s not okay.”
He also called the stamp “a form of bullying.”
From his perspective as a parent, it was totally an offensive behavior from the school.
He also noted that the timing was really hard to understand. His son was just a few days away from finishing the third grade, with school finishing up before the end of the month of June.
He absolutely had no reason to think that his son would need more money on his card before the end of the year, and feels that the school should definitely rethink how they communicate with the kids and their parents.
Do you agree with Bivens about how the school handled this situation?
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