For kids who get picked on and pushed around, Mark Rivera's large presence in the hallways must be a welcome sight.
A football player at Elmwood Park High School, about 12 miles west of Chicago, Rivera told WBBM-TV that his is a "really small community so I really can’t stand for someone to be bullied..."
So when Rivera caught wind of a bullying situation, he told the station he sat and talked with the bully. When it was over, Rivera said he got up and started to walk away.
“He said some comments so I turned back and I took a step forward,” Rivera told WBBM.
And because of that action, which the school deemed "physical aggression," Rivera was suspended, the station reported.
The school’s principal James Jennings wouldn’t discuss the incident with WBBM but noted in regard to the anti-bullying policy, “Some students have good intentions of helping others but the way they go about it can become a problem if it involves threats and can escalate an incident.”
The principal offered the station an alternate approach: “You can say, 'Stop it or leave him alone,' but if that doesn’t help, you need to get an adult involved.”
That didn't cut it for Rivera.
"It would have been a bad thing if had waited," he told WBBM on camera, "so I feel like I did the right thing and took the right steps toward it."
His father couldn't agree more.
“He should have been given a medal, an award,” Cruz Rivera told WBBM.
And as you might expect, Rivera's friends said he did the right thing.
“He shouldn’t be getting in trouble for defending someone, so everyone was like, 'Good job Mark,'” Norberto Romero told the station.
Rivera is back from his suspension and has noticed that the bullied student is no longer getting picked on, WBBM noted.
No word from the station if the bully faced any disciplinary action in relation to the incident.