Friday, March 18, 2011
When "Turning the other cheek" is not the answer......
When I was younger, I was constantly bullied by the kids I went to school with. For the longest time, I just impotently screamed and yelled back at my torturers, because I had no idea how else to combat them. I tried to conceal things from my parents, but after one too many times coming home and heading straight to my bedroom to cry, my mother figured out what was going on. She really did not know what to do either.... she had been convinced for many years that fighting was not the answer, and that the best way to deal with a bully was with words, or by walking away and being "the better person". Of course, being "the better person" often caused anxiety and depression, because it left me feeling impotent when it came to protecting myself.
One day, my grandmother found out that some boys on the school bus were sexually harassing me (which I consider a form of bullying) I was 11 or 12 years old, and had gotten to the point where I was afraid to even take the bus home. My grandmother had a simple solution.... "punch 'em in the eye" Needless to say, I was shocked. This was the exact opposite of the "turn the other cheek" message I had been getting for so many years from my parents, my teachers, and the media. So, I just kind of shoved it into the back of my mind.
Well, within the next few days, the harassment was escalating in severity. So, I punched one of the kids dead in his face. I had no idea how to throw a punch, but it must have been pretty effective, because these two boys never bothered me again. One of them approached me the next day, but instead of bullying me, he asked me where I learning to fight like that!
Anyway, the whole point is that sometimes I believe we are so intent on teaching children to be nonviolent that we deny the fact that there are certain times when it is perfectly correct, and in fact preferable, to physically defend yourself from attack. Take the video above for example.
The older boy in the video is being punched by the younger child. The younger kid is acting as if it is a game to him, in fact, his friends are the ones videotaping the incident. He obviously believes that the older boy is not going to do anything in retaliation, so he feels like he has an easy victim. In fact, other children in the school have come out to say that the older boy had been bullied over a long period of time by the younger boy in the video, and by other children.
So, he finally got sick and tired of being a victim. He basically picked up his tormentor and slammed him into the ground. He got suspended for his actions, but I am sure, to him, it was well worth it. Because I am pretty damn sure that bullies will think twice before they mess with him now.
Psychologists have come out to say that they are disturbed by this video... but not so much by the actions of the bully, but those of the boy who was DEFENDING HIMSELF! They say that the boy should have handled it in some other manner. I would love to know how they believe he could have gotten this child to stop harassing him. By telling a teacher?? Believe me, that does not work. Teachers ignore complaints related to bullying because they see it as "kids being kids", and think that the children should be left to "work it out" on their own. Should the kid being bullied have begged and pleaded with the bully to leave him alone? Yeah, I am sure that would have worked. As if he had not tried that a million and one times already.
I think it is damaging to children who are being bullied to give them the impression that they should just "take it". Being the "better man" is damaging to the self esteem when the bullying continues day after day, year after year. I applaud this kid for fighting back. Maybe that young bully will think twice before he harasses another "easy target".