“Nothing hurts like a punch in the nose.” That’s what my father always told us whenever we encountered a bully. My brother swore by them and used this method whenever possible. Eventually he became the bully himself. He is in his mid-forties and still jokes about it.
The other day his son came home and told him that kids at school were teasing him about his eyes. I should mention that he’s half Filipino and half white. He is in a small private school that actually has quite a few students of Asian decent. But my nephew is both White and Asian, so apparently that is something to be teased.
He is also 7 years old. He’s in first grade. He is dealing with bullies and race issues. Now what did my brother tell his sad little boy? “Nothing hurts like a punch in the nose.”
I reminded my so encouraging brother that this isn’t the 70s anymore and most schools have a “No violence” policy. He just laughed it off saying, “it’ll only take once, and no one will bother him again.”
That’s true. Expulsion usually ends school yard problems, but I started thinking about my brother’s reaction. I started thinking about how much things have changed. Now I am in no way condoning children hitting one another, but I do think that we have to teach children to stick up for themselves.
Today we are all about protecting our children from anything that may hurt them or disturb them. We have no tolerance policies. We have safe spaces. We have therapy in colleges for grown adult children who are offended by Halloween costumes… that was a real thing. College students are grown adults. They are over 18 and they needed therapy for Halloween costumes.
I have some friends who are teachers and they tell me that parents come in and argue with teachers about why “they gave their child a bad grade”. They expect the teacher to change the grade because obviously the student is special and brilliant and deserves As… even if they don’t actually do their homework. Even if they don’t pass the test.
Millennials are looking at increasing numbers of overdoses, suicides, and different forms of emotional disabilities. There has been a whole generation of children who were raised on medications, ADHD, anxiety, and depression are common place among kids and teens. Instead of being taught to be self sufficient and stand up for themselves, they are being taught that it’s always someone else’s fault.
School yard bullies have been around for as long as there have been school yards, but the difference is that we’re no longer teaching our children how to deal with the bullies. Now I don’t mean a punch in the nose, but we have rapes in schools that aren’t reported because women are afraid to come forward. We have a first lady saying that she’s taking on internet bullying while her family tweets insults everyone they deem not important.
We can’t change the bullies. Bullies breed new bullies. We have to start teaching our children to be strong. To stand up to bullies. To protect themselves and others. Not with a punch in the nose. But with grace and respect. That’s the only way we can stop bullying.