Bullies Target 5th-Grader With Special Needs—Plan Backfires When He Forms a “Gang” of His Own

After seeing one of their classmates being bullied for his learning disability, five fifth-grade boys took it upon themselves to “have his back.”

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Jack Pemble, Jake Burgess, Gus Gartzke, Tyler Jones and Landon Kopischke noticed other kids in their class at Franklin Elementary teasing a boy named James Willmert.

James has special needs and learns differently than others, but, the boys were quick to argue, that’s no reason to make fun of him.

“They were like, using him and taking advantage of him,” Jake told USA Today. “Because he’s easier to pick on, and it’s just not right,” Jack adds.

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The boys decided they’d start inviting James to eat lunch with them, and come to his defense should anyone try to bully him when they’re around.

The defenders of the innocent have affectionately become known as the “The James Gang.”

The routine has launched an incredible bond in which the five friends have now become six, and all of the boys have learned new things about each other.

James’ mom says the boys have totally changed her son’s social behaviors. “He used to not want to go out for recess or anything,” she says. “It would be like a struggle.”

But now, James has a pack. He has friends who make lunch and recess so fun, he can hardly eat fast enough to get outside and play with the boys.

All the praise for this troop of trusty fifth graders who are shining examples of the true gift of friendship.

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Bri is an outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure. She lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese in between capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras.