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Dad Claims Non-Masked Kids In School Are Coughing On His Daughter — Mask Bullying May Be A New Threat

Photo: Shutterstock / Drazen Zigic
Mask in school

Hell hath no fury like a parent scorned. This week, a livid father tweeted that his high school-aged daughter was getting coughed on at school by classmates.

Roberto Oeste’s daughter is vaccinated and wore a mask to school but the other kids were unmasked.

This comes about as school begins while Covid-19 still runs rampant, especially with the emergence of new and more dangerous variants.

For months, schools have been grappling with new mask mandates, questioning if they should have students come in masked or unmasked.

Parents are concerned children may be bullied over masks. 

Parents find themselves trying to make the best decision for their own children while also dealing with a new bullying trend — dubbed “mask bullying” — of kids making fun of other kids for wearing or not wearing a mask. In some instances, unmasked kids coughing on masked kids, like in the case of Oeste’s daughter.

RELATED: 700 Kids Quarantined Just One Week After School Starts — Now Arkansas Governor Regrets Mask Mandate Ban

In Lee County in Southwest Florida, around 12% of students opted out of wearing masks to school. Mask bullying is now one of parents' concerns, especially at a time when kids should be excited to return to school to see their friends and learn in-person. 

Life coach, Keya Murthy, says that this new trend affects both the bully and the bullied.

"It affects learning for all. The bully arrives at school to pick on someone who is not like them," she says. "The bullied live in fear of the bully and focus part of their energy is avoiding confrontation instead of focusing all their energy on education in peace and harmony."

There are various reasons why parents choose not to mask their kids. For some, it’s due to their child having special needs and can’t focus. Or, simply because the child has trouble breathing with the mask on.

Although it's been called a bullying trend, some people question whether the behavior can be taken a step further and be grounds for assault.

RELATED: Why Tucker Carlson Thinks You Should Call Child Protective Services On Parents Of Kids Wearing Masks

Is it assault to cough on someone in the time of Covid?

This issue came up in Texas last year, according to a local news report. Someone who was arrested on drug charges coughed at a deputy, claimed to have the coronavirus, and said, "Now you have it, too." 

The Bexar County Sheriff's office filed a terroristic threat charge against the person. 

Also last year, in New York City, a maskless woman coughed at another customer at a bagel shop. Although she never said she had Covid and even claimed to have antibodies, the customer she coughed on still considered pressing charges. 

"If spitting or slapping someone is abuse/assault then coughing on someone’s face is absolute assault," says Murthy. 'This coughing was done with the intention to harm."

Meanwhile, Oeste says he has lawyered up, spoken to the school, and may even be considering taking them to court. 

His daughter has also stood firm and continued wearing her mask to school along with her friends

How can parents respond to mask bullying?

If you're a parent with a child who's experiencing mask bullying, Murthy suggests approaching it in the same way you would for any other type of bullying.

Take up the issue with your child's teacher if it happened within the classroom, or to the Principal and Vice Principal, if it happened outside of the classroom. And if the bullying persists, consider homeschooling as an option or enrolling your child in self-defense classes to give them confidence.

Back-to-school time is already stressful enough for both parents and kids. Going back during a pandemic, even more so.

Right now, it's more important than ever to not only protect our children but also remind them to be considerate and kind to their classmates. Emphasize that, whether it's a joke, kids just being kids, or outright bullying, it's never OK to risk your peers' health and safety.

RELATED: How To Stay Strong As A Parent During Crisis

Caithlin Pena is a writer and editor for YourTango who enjoys books, movies, and writing fictional short stories as a hobby.