This is a comment by Chris on the post “Open Thread: What Would You Do If Your Son Were Being Bullied?“
I got bullied more than once as a kid, and my parents were adamant in their advice. Don’t hit back. You’ll just make him angrier. There was probably a little lefty-Christian pacifism mixed in there. If I did come home scuffed up, my memory [probably tainted by my total impression of the situation] is they wanted first to make sure the other kid wasn’t hurt. Then, my father the social worker would go in to talk to the authorities involved. Ultimately, the bully ended up hating that a great deal more as it almost always brought the weight of several bureaucracies down on his head.
I now think that was a bad plan for a number of reasons, but mainly these two:
- Bullies like an easy victim. I don’t know if they back off someone who fights back, but there’s nothing more rewarding than a victim who confirms that the bully is bigger, stronger, and frightening.
- I developed an unconscious habit of expecting a savior, rather than taking responsibility for myself. I think that spread past the simple bullying problem of physical violence into a lot of other areas.
I want my sons and daughter to value themselves—and others—enough to never allow bullying to go on unchecked. I worry about ‘escalating force to a considerably higher level” at “any age level.” I have a hard time thinking about telling my 8 year old to “throw the other kid into the wall and give [him/her] a concussion,” but I do think standing up for oneself, including fighting back, is going to be a part of how I counsel my kids.
At the moment, it looks like my boys will both be quite large, having inherited height from both of us and solid shoulders from their mother’s side, and while I hope that will mean they never get picked on, I also hope they won’t shrink from sticking up for other kids. I don’t think we need to do real medical damage to children. But we should be making sure bullies know that they won’t just get away with that kind of behavior.
Photo credit: Flickr / Eddie~S