So during my strenuous work avoidance regimen this morning, I came across this article on CNN.com about bullying and its effects on children:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 30 percent of all children in grades six through 10 have been bullied or have bullied other children during a school year.
Clinical psychologist Mark Crawford of Roswell, Georgia, called the statistics unacceptable. “Bullying is not a rite of passage,” he said. “It always has a bad outcome.”
I notice there was no positive mention in there of the single most effective anti-bullying medicine: A good stiff right to their nose.
But be judicious, she urged. Some parents can inflame the situation. “You will encounter situations where parents will tell their kids, ‘If you are hit, I want you to hit back.’ ”
Experts point out it is important for parents to keep emotions in check and to not encourage a child to hit back or retaliate.
Instead, (parenting expert Stacy) DeBroff suggested parents become strategic advisers to their child and help them avoid bullying situations.
I was bullied extensively all through school. I was an easy mark–promoted two grades in elementary school, I was 11 when I started junior high, 13 in high school. I was pudgy, soft, squishy, shy, uncoordinated, and worst of all, known all through our small town as “that smart kid.” In short, I was perfect bully bait. So I got flung headfirst into the girls’ bathroom in eighth grade, shoved into a trash can in 11th grade, shoulder-checked into the walls in the hallway, cheap-shotted on the football field in elementary school…the usual litany. And never once did I hit back.
I should have.
My parents tried to enroll me in a karate class when I was 9, as bully preventative. Trouble was, I didn’t want to do it. Well, that, and the school they picked was an inner-city school in Lynchburg full of tough older kids that proceeded to–wait for it–bully me! And to top it off, the school moved to another location after a few months…without telling many of its clients, us included. (The sensei later got busted for drug possession, and later on got shot when he “tried to break up” a drug buy. Uh-huh.)
Bad choices in martial arts training notwithstanding, it’s a simple fact: The most proven way to stop a bully is to stand up to them. Bullies are cowards. They pick on the weak and the easy, and don’t have the sack to stand up to somebody who actually might give them a second’s worth of trouble. Bullies thrive under schools’ modern idiotic “zero-tolerance” policies that remove the opportunity for self-defense, and punish a child for defending themselves just as much or even more as the bully for starting things.
We’re tentatively planning to homeschool Nublet, but should she be sent to a private or public school, my advice to her will be simple. You never hit first. You never bully (if you do, it’s Wrath of God time at home). But if you are bullied, you stand up to them, and if somebody starts a fight with you, you finish it by whatever means necessary, dirty or clean. And if you were fighting in self-defense, then we will back you up against the school if it comes to that.
Sometimes I think What Might Have Been if I’d actually applied myself in that karate class and stuck with it. Maybe I wouldn’t be the slug I am now, and maybe I wouldn’t have had to deal with as much shit as I did later on. But then I remember that the dude who slung me into the girls’ bathroom in eighth grade is now doing life in prison for shooting someone after they honked their horn at him at a stoplight, and think maybe things didn’t turn out that bad…