I’ve been watching a subtitled Swedish mystery series, “Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter,” in which the feisty protagonist is a crime reporter for a major newspaper. In the episode I watched last night, Annika is upset because her sweet 8-year-old son is being bullied and the school refuses to act even after the bully pushes her son off the monkey bars and seriously injures him.
So, Annika strides onto the school playground, confronts the bully as he terrorizes another child and warns him that she will kill him if he touches her son again. The threat sounds even more ominous in Swedish.
I have to admit rooting for Annika, who takes heat for making the threat. But she’s not arrested.
A Clayton woman who did the same thing to protect her child was not so lucky. Marvis Renae Henry was charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting school operations and released today on $5,000 bond.
You cannot help but feel for the 59-year-old Sunday schoolteacher who believed that her great-nephew, whom she adopted and calls her son, was being terrorized at his school. Yes, Henry did wrong in threatening the alleged bully in a school hallway, but I cannot honestly say that I would convict if put on her jury.
If a classmate attempted to push her son down the stairs as Henry alleges, that child represents a danger and the school must intervene. We don’t know the other side of this story, but it’s alarming that Henry’s son was so fearful that she felt she had to protect him. The school owes it to the child to do a full and thorough investigation.
In the tradition of “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail,” 59-year-old Marvis Renae Henry was arrested earlier this week for delivering what police described as an expletive-laced threat to a Forest Park Middle School student she said was bullying her great-nephew.
Henry claims she didn’t curse at the boy, but she admitted she would do what she needed to do to protect the 11-year-old she has adopted and calls “son.”
“I did say, ‘If you put your hands on my child, I will mess you up, your momma and your whole generation,’ ” Henry told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via phone early Thursday evening.
“The boy is 12 years old and my son is 11, and he looks like a man over my son. They’re letting him run the whole school.”
She was charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting school operations, and released Thursday on $5,000 bond.
According to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office arrest record, on March 19, Henry went to the school and asked her son to point out the boy who had been bullying him. She was supposed to leave the building, but instead confronted the alleged bully in the hallway, making a promise to him similar to the one she admitted, deputies said, but with a vulgar term in place of “mess you up.”
The 12-year-old told sheriff’s deputies her actions and statement made him fear for his safety, according to the arrest warrant.
Henry said she was appalled with what was happening to her son, noting that the bully allegedly tried to push her son down a flight of stairs and worse. Henry said her son had begun being bullied more and more when he began losing sight in one of his eyes, and her complaints to the school officials fielded no response or change.
“Until I went up to the school, they weren’t going to do anything,” she said. “I had to bring it out so somebody would do something.”
The Atlanta Technical College student and Sunday school teacher said she fears her son’s deteriorating vision is leading him to depression, and the bullying isn’t helping. But she refused to stand by and do nothing, she said. “I’ll sit outside that school and give him my phone and make him call me whenever there’s a problem, if I have to,” Henry said. “I’ll go to jail again.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog