Standing up to bullies necessary
BY JUNE STRAIGHT World Staff Writer
Monday, January 07, 2013
1/07/13 at 6:44 AM
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We are "hit them back," parents.
I know, I know, this theology will probably make my daughters' teachers groan, but my children will always have permission to fight fire with fire.
Yes, I am aware I'm giving them permission to go against the "tell a grown-up"-touting teachers.
But I have my reasons.
First, I've seen what happens when my daughter turns the other cheek. She's a pretty timid kid and does not like confrontation. She's come home with bruises, cuts and scrapes, all courtesy of her classroom bully.
Once she was punched in the stomach, another time she was slapped in the face.
Each time the bully got put in a corner, free a few minutes later to continue reigning terror on my baby, while my daughter got no reassurance that she'd be safe from that kind of violence again.
She'd come home every day whining about the same kid.
"Did you tell your teacher?"
"What did she do?"
"Well, she just told him to stop."
Each of my girls will probably spend her primary school careers as one of 25 to 30 faces in a class with one adult - one adult who's hearing "teacher, teacher, he hit me!" all day, everyday.
That teacher only has the authority to take away privileges, publicly shame and express disappointment, which might help the bully eventually learn to behave appropriately - maybe - but does nothing to ensure the safety of the victim.
At some point, I had to let my daughter know it was OK to stand up for herself. So, yeah, I'm teaching my kids to hit back.
OK, maybe not actually hit, but I am teaching them to assert themselves when they find themselves head to head with a bully.
We have a system.
It starts with low-level bullying:
Ignore name calling, stop playing with the mean kids and tell them you won't play with them while they're mistreating you or others.
For the boundary pushers, we encourage a little more aggression:
If someone takes your toy, take it back. If they're trying to push you into doing something you don't want to do, tell them "no." If you feel like someone is being unfair, say so.
And for the personal-space intruders, we warn, report, then retaliate:
1. Let them know it is not OK to put their hands/feet on you.
2. Go ahead and tell the teacher; maybe they'll stop.
3. But if they put their hands on you again, it is OK to remove them and it's OK to defend yourself.
So am I suggesting classroom anarchy? No. But a girl can't always wait for someone else to come to the rescue, and my girls know that.