Walking a child through relentless bullying is one of the most difficult challenges a parent may face.
A mob of 12-13 year old kids fueled by status-mongering energy is one of the most diabolical forces to populate the earth.
So what is a parent's move when a child's rare friendship slides into only more bullying right under their nose?
One Reddit-cruising father found himself in uncharted parenting territory when his son not only finally felt some breathing room away from near-constant teasing, but struck up his first real friendship.
But the friendship went south quickly and forced dad's hand.
throwawayAct145 walked Reddit through the context, how the situation unfolded, and the emotional fallout.
He begins the post by offering some clarity on his son' regular experience as a long-time target of bullies.
"Our 13 year old son has a disability from birth. He uses crutches to walk and has a speech impediment."
"He's been home-schooled for the last two years because of how severe the bullying got."
But a new family on the block brought a shining new opportunity for the kid.
"Seven months ago, we got new neighbors. My son and their son were the same age and they started hanging out."
"My wife and I were happy beyond words. My son was also extremely happy to finally have a friend his own age."
The new friend, however, had some unkind motivations. His interest in the narrator's son was primarily a means toward ridicule rather than friendship.
"Last month, we were made aware of videos the boy was making of my son and sending them to children from his school. Very cruel words were used in the video, including the 'r' slur."
Things grew even more complicated when the father discovered that despite the abuse, his victimized son gamed out some heart-rending cost-benefit analysis.
"We were heartbroken to find out that our son was aware of the videos and was allowing his 'friend' to make fun of him just so they could hang out."
For dad, this was the last straw. He pulled the trigger and swooped in, ignoring his son's protests, confident that he knew the best course.
"I brought up the videos with the boy's parents. I was furious."
"To their credit, they were extremely apologetic and the mother was so upset she cried. The boy was very embarrassed and was made to apologize to my son."
Unfortunately, his son's predictions turned out spot on, something this father undoubtedly considered possible, but unable to fully consider in his previous rage.
"But he's now refusing to become friends with my son again, which has devastated him."
Now simmered and humbled by both the fallout and his son's melancholy, dad is in the throes of guilty regret.
"I'm now second guessing all my actions and I'm wondering if I should have just reached out to the boy in private. My son didn't want me to involve the parents but I did it anyway."
"My son won't even talk to me anymore."
Which brings us to the Reddit community response, typically a wild west of unhinged, often aggressive support or criticism.
But throwawayAct145's post aroused some tenderness from the anonymous sea of two cents offerings.
"We have to protect our children, even from themselves. You're son may not appreciate it now, but he'll understand when he gets older." PooPulls
"You're teaching your son that part of friendship involves respect, self respect." CaliforniaJade
"That's not a friend. That's a bully." grumpyspudgal
"With friends like that, who needs enemies?" WVPrepper
Some took the inverse approach, describing how much worse things would be if this dad didn't step in.
"However upset your son is at you in the short term, the long term damage to his mental health and self image from having a 'friend' like that would be far worse." SeePerspectives
One Redditor gave some advice for the future.
"So far, the message you've unintentionally sent him, from both this encounter and from pulling him completely out of the education system, is that his only option is to isolate himself."
"If not counteracted by giving him opportunities for socialization, this could lead to one of two things."
"1. An adult who is so desperate for friendship he will open himself to abuse to buy favor"
"2. An adult who will be too frightened and socially challenged that they live miserably isolated" SeePerspectives
"Don't ever teach your kid that trashy 'friends' are better than no friends. In the long run, it will hurt him more to be in toxic friendships than alone." greywings1
Others merely gave some well-needed emotional support.
"I just want to say that you're a wonderful parent." andytandreou
"He'll come around. Just keep being the good parent you are." spamisnotham
Here lays proof that nobody can ever be fully prepared for the challenges parenthood throws their way.