Monday, March 21, 2011

Sometimes You Have To Stop Running.

Getting picked on. Tormented. Harrassed. Bullied. I'm sure its happened to all of us, in varying degrees. Its certainly not a new phenomena, and nor do i see it being phased out anytime soon. In fact, i'm pretty sure bullies will still exist when Flynn makes it to kindergarten ( 4 years from now ... ). So - just how do i raise my child to deal with childhood bullies?

Of course, i bring this up now because, like most people out there, i've seen the video posted on YouTube last week of a Sydney teenager fighting back against a bully. I only watched it the once and, yes - it made me wince. The young boy that got thrown to the ground did not look too well when he tried to get up. Did i sympathise with him though? Umm, no, not really. Its hard to sympathise with a kid you just watched taunting and punching another kid, even if he did get body-slammed in the end. In fact, i'd even go so far as to say he deserved it.

I dont want to offend anyone, or start some huge parenting argument but.... i think its ok to defend yourself when someone is hurting you. Even if that means you have to hurt them back. Shock horror! I'm not talking about little children - if Flynn ( now 15 months old ) hits another kid at mothers group or at the park, even if they pushed him first , then i tell him we dont hit, its not nice. I'm talking about children and especially teenagers, who are old enough to know better. I'm also not talking about a one-off school yard fight - you can be the bigger person and walk away from those.

I'm talking about long-term, systemic belittling and physical violence. I'm talking about having to go to school everyday knowing that some kid is going to walk up and punch you for no reason, or dak you in the playground just because he can, or who is going to yell things at you on your way to the canteen. You shouldnt have to put up with that. And its all well and good for some parents to say " just tell the teacher " but really, in todays society, what will ( can ) the teachers do? Give the bully a warning? A detention ? A suspension in the worst cases? All of which just results in the bully getting a holiday and the victim getting " Dobbers wear nappies! " from ever other kid in the school yard.

So Mick and I are going to teach our children that if someone is constantly harrassing them, teasing them everyday, kicking and punching and bashing them up.... then its ok for them to fight back. Its ok for them to be the better man and walk away time and time again but, if, eventually they implode and they've taken all they can take then yes.... its ok for them to get a punch or two in, just to give the bully some of their own medecine. To show that they have strength too, and that they arent afraid. Walking away is the nicer option, but some people just wont let up until theyve been stood up to. I know that if it came down to my child body-slamming their tormentor in a moment of rage, or bottling it all up until he killed himself, just to escape....well, a school yard punch up doesnt look so bad, does it?


  1. Good Post Amy, as you know, this whole incident I have found very troubling. I do agree with teaching our kids to defend themselves - but my quandry is where is the line and when is it crossed?

  2. I am a teacher at a High School on the Gold Coast and I see bullying and fighting way to much. One of our students got suspended for trying to break up a fight (one kid accidentally got hurt in the process). The National anti-bullying campaign against violence was last week and it states that yo should not be a bystander but when you try and stop a fight the consequences are not treating those trying not to be bystanders fair.

    I was bullied at school and I hear you say "Oh so was I that's just a part of teenage life!"

    Well when it affects you in EVERY class, your belongings get stolen, broken shredded, your taunted, teased, shunned and have food and various other gross things thrown at you. So you report it but, no one sees or does anything. It affects you deeply.

    Luckily I had a great group of friends who wouldn't let this happen as soon as they found out. I changed classes (all of them), I had even changed schools to get away from bullies. Today I am still friends with every single one of those friends from school.

    I am not a bystander; I do not put up with bullying in my classes. There should be harsher consequences for bullying as it affects everyone differently. One of my Year 12 friends killed himself over bullying. I SAY NO TO BULLYING!

  3. I remember a soap opera we used to have here where a young boy was bullied by a girl, and in the end he snapped and ended up accidentally killing her. I suppose that's an example (albeit a fictional one) of the line being crossed, as Polly mentioned in her comment above.

    I would like to see more kids who are bullied stand up for themselves though. I think if the bullies realise they AREN'T intimidating the person they are trying to bully then they might realise they need to stop. Oh, and a dose of humiliation (ie a youtube video of the episode) may also help take them down a peg or two.

  4. Well said Adalita - i wish there were more teachers like you. Like i said, there isnt much your allowed to do to the bullies anymore - from what i can see, it just comes to a point of either the victim fights back, or they give up the fight entirely, which crushes them for life...

  5. I totally agree! I never want my son to be a bully but at the same time I want him to have the confidence not to put up with crap! It's a fine line I know and to be honest I dread the whole schooling process.

  6. Fantastic post!

    My children go to self defense classes.

    So far we have not experienced any bulling, my son is in year 5 and my daughter is in year 2.
    Lets hope it stays that way..

  7. I tend to agree. I can totally understand that after being victimised this way for so long, the boy finally retalliated. I just wish there was more we could do to help kids realise that their actions always have consequences. Good post!

  8. This is a hard one and I don't really know where I stand. I don't think that being hit calls for hitting back. Then again, I don't have to decide - I have a girl, not boys, and I think it is different (not that girls bullying girls is any better, in fact I think it is more vicious and underhanded than punch-ups, frankly).

    I wish parents of bullies were more proactive in working with schools and teachers to improve the attitude of all school kids.

  9. This is a really tough one!

    I have four boys, and at one time or another, with the older two, I'm turned a blind eye when the one being repeatedly taunted turns around a biffs the other one - and these are my own children!

    I would love to be a pacifist, I really would! I would love to have compassion for the bully and to understand that bullies usually bully because they've been bullied but... But, there has to be a point when the person being bullied says "Enough!" and makes sure they're heard.

    A friend of mine is having her novel YA published soon and it is on this very subject, I suspect it might do very well!

  10. This is such a tough one, isn't it? I watched the video, too, and felt physically sick. Did I feel bad for the boy who had trouble getting up afterwards? Um, no. I felt bad that it had gotten so out of hand that there were kids hitting kids, and filming it so that they could boast about their fantastic fun later. It is sickening.

    I really have no idea where I stand on the issue of fighting back. I would hope that my son was able to walk away but if he hit back I don't think I would blame him.