Ask Amy for March 15
Dear Amy: I am in seventh grade. I am Jewish. I have a Native American friend in the same grade. We have a lot of classes together, and his locker is right next to mine. We have fun together, and he makes me laugh a lot, but he makes fun of me a lot too.
Sometimes he says that I'm fat, but most of the time he makes fun of me because I'm Jewish.
For example, today we were goofing around, and a friend of his said, "What's going on?" and he said, "She was being Jewish." This really hurt my feelings.
He has said that kind of stuff before, and I hate it when he does it. I have tried to get him to stop. Sometimes when I tell him to stop making fun of me, he says stuff like, "But you make fun of me, too." I don't make fun of him like that.
I told him I didn't like it when he made fun of me for being Jewish, and he stopped for about a day. My mom knows that he has made fun of my religion a few times, but I haven't told her that he does it almost every day.
I would feel safe telling a teacher, but I'm afraid that if I do so I will lose him as a friend, and I don't want that to happen. We have almost all of our classes together.
I can also imagine that it might make things worse if I tell. But sometimes I want to cry when he makes fun of me. I don't know what to do.
There is a difference between having fun and "making fun of." Friends goof around and occasionally tease each other. But it's never okay to criticize someone's ethnicity or religion, even if you're joking.
That's not friendly teasing, that's bullying. And if you're afraid to tell an adult because you think it might make things worse, then that's a sign that this kid is a bully-in-training.
You can say to him, "I want you to stop making fun of my religion. I don't make fun of your being a Native American. What you're doing is mean, and I don't think you're really a mean person, so I want you to stop."
Give him another chance to change. And then, depending on what he says or does next, you should definitely take your concern to your mother and to a teacher.