I just said goodnight to my 12 year-old son. He's in tears right now. He's going to the principal's office with his father and I to face the accusation that he threatened to bring a gun to school and shoot people.

The big problem is, it's a lie.

My son is the new "usual suspect" on the scene: The Bullied Child. The three bully boys who accused him had planned it for two days. On Thursday, the teacher showed cable TV's Channel One in his class about the shootings in California, and the teacher lectured the class on threats and the consequences. I had spoken to both my boys about the new school climate and made sure they knew never to joke about weapons, death or killing. (Not that they ever had...but you have to let them know where things stand.) But after class, these bullies (who punch, push, and berate my son, calling him "gay" and "queer" all the time) started mocking him. "Sorry we teased you, Jon. DON'T KILL US!"

He told me about this the second he got home. I told him to continue ignoring them and explained what I suspected might happen and told him I'd handle it. I called the principal the next day and told her about what these bullies had said and warned her she better do some serious rumor control, because I suspected these kids were trying to start something.

Would you believe that the principal called me after school to say she wanted to question my son on Monday under their "Zero Tolerance" policy? It seems the boys went to the teacher saying Jon had told them he was bringing a gun to school to kill them, precisely as I predicted would happen. But the principal said it was their word against his.

My son isn't violent. He's a cupcake. Tough as a buttered muffin. Not dark or morose, not anti-social. He is a straight-A student who just won $100 for an essay contest. He wants to go to Paris and study to be a chef at the Cordon Bleu. Our family is close; he is loved and cherished by both his father and I, and his little brother worships him. He's never been a discipline problem. In fact, he gets upset if he hears cussing, and he likes Oldies music.

This kid is not a potential serial killer. What he is is a bullied child. Two weeks ago, I confronted the school office about the fact that his repeated reports about his abuse (which culminated with his head being shoved in a urinal) had never been passed on to me: More than 7 separate reports, and I was never informed of anything! For the longest time, he didn't tell me himself because he was too embarrassed by what they called him.

Obviously, the school's "Zero Tolerance" policy doesn't include bullying. But it does give students the "right" to make false accusations without fear.

In the same class, my son wrote in his journal about being happy because we were going putt-putt. He was going to watch "Doctor Who" and go to Pokemon League. He also spoke of his joy that Friday night meant a new episode of Iron Chef. These are strange thoughts to jot down when he's supposedly busy issuing death threats without the teacher hearing. Considering that he spent the rest of the class in a corner doing SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) and grading papers, wouldn't his supposed talking stand out?

These bullies spent their weekend being praised by mom and dad for stopping a massacre. My innocent son spent it wondering if he'll even be allowed in the class on Tuesday.

I don't dare share my fear with him that even after we prove this lie and obtain a written apology read to the class (I'll settle for nothing less), chances are the rumor will haunt him for the rest of his school days.

I don't know what to do. We're getting a lawyer. I want these kids to receive the same punishment that a child who phoned in a false bomb threat would receive, and I'll sue the parents in small claims court for slander and emotional distress. A nice college fund might make the future brighter, considering these parents' children tried their best to destroy this chance for him with their lie.

Zero Tolerance must extend to those who bully or be scrapped. Prayer in schools won't solve a dang thing. The main bully in this group ignores the WWJD bracelet he wears. Schools and parents must impress on their children that victimizing others is wrong. The 60% of students who aren't bullied must be taught that they can stop bullying if they only open their mouths, instead of shutting their eyes and ears and walking away.

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