I’m going to state my opinion about something and I have a feeling some of you may not agree with me. But that’s okay because I think it’s about opening up a dialogue.
About a month or so ago, I wrote a post about Jack and an episode of bullying he endured in transitional kindergarten called “In the End, Our Kids Will Still End Up In Therapy”. I talked about how I felt like I dropped the ball when it came to looking out for Jack’s emotional well-being and how I felt I needed to be more aware.
Today I got a call from the school nurse at about 12:30 p.m. Jack was crying hysterically in the clinic because two boys bullied him on the playground during recess. One aggressor and one sidekick. The Aggressor slammed Jack up against the corner of the steel monkey bars while the Sidekick chanted “push him! push him!” They left a giant purple welt on the back of his left shoulder.
I ended up speaking with the Vice Principal of the school who assured me that administrative action would be taken against the children as there is a zero tolerance for bullying in our school system. Fine. Just as long as it never happens again. I will trust in Jack’s school until they have given me a reason not to. So if they say the kids will be severely punished (they would not tell me how though), I will believe them. But I will be watching and making a plan B in the meantime.
So here’s where I may get a tad controversial.
Jack handled everything correctly. The incident happened quickly and he ran immediately to his teacher on the playground and told her what happened. He spoke out. Good job. I’m proud of him for that. But what happens when there isn’t a teacher around or the incident doesn’t end quickly or they aren’t on school grounds where someone is bound to see what’s happening?
There is a rule in the Steele house. “You are never allowed to throw the first punch.” In theory this means that nobody at any time is allowed to lay their hands on anyone else. They just have to stand there with their dukes up, waiting and hoping that the other throws a fist. Know what the second part of that rule is? “But if someone does throw the first punch….swing away!”
I believe that it would have been well within Jack’s right to fight back today. Physically fight back. And I would have supported him tooth and nail if he had chosen to do so. In fact, if Jack (or any of my children) are in a situation where they are being physically attacked, I hope they DO fight back. I hope they beat the hell out of the person(s) trying to hurt them. And after Jack and I talked about everything else concerning this incident, that’s EXACTLY what I told him to do.
Bullying has become a hot topic lately and I’m happy about that. The “It Gets Better” campaigns came out (they’re a good start) and I appreciate the efforts the schools are making to eliminate the problem. But I don’t think there is enough being said about fighting back. Maybe a little “It Gets Better” added with “But until it does, stand up for yourself and for what you believe in. We got your back.”
Is this generation teaching our children to be too pacifistic? Should we be asking our children to “wait it out” until they are old enough, mature enough to gain more self-confidence or should we be asking them to “wax on, wax off” and “paint the fence ” in a little self-defense ? What are they supposed to do in the meantime? Curl up into a ball, emotionally and physically and wait until the pain subsides?
Today I told Jack that next time someone lays a hand on him, he should swing away. “Knock their lights out, Jack. You have my permission. And feel free to fight dirty. Go for the privates, use your fingernails, bite until they bleed.” And you may disagree with me that I told my kid that but I’m okay with that too.
Because the next time my kid is being slammed against a wall, I don’t want him to wait until “it gets better”. That hopefully someone will show up and put a stop to the fight. Or The Aggressor will realize s/he went too far or get tired enough to stop. I want my children to have the inner and outer strength to stop it NOW.
At least try. You always have to try.