When I was a kid, I was pretty handy with my fists – a fact I’m not particularly proud of. I can remember a couple of brawls on the playground that I walked away from with some sense of justification and satisfaction, leaving behind a bloody nose. I like to think I’ve matured some since then.
I had one obvious problem. My mother was a schoolteacher which made me a prospective target to the uninformed. But behind all the schoolyard dynamics, I certainly didn’t want to leave the impression I was a sissy. The worst epithet anybody could hurl was “you fight like a girl”. And so, in a rigid and harsh time, I overcompensated for the nagging suspicion that I wasn’t like everybody else, that it kind of made sense to me being a girl. I believed in preemptive strikes.
You and I live in an entrenched system of great American myths. Right at the top of the heap – the myth that being bullied toughens you up. Social Darwinism is responsible for American supremacy…that is, male American supremacy. It was all a myth steeped in Western legends and it was never true. I survived but none of it was ever right, it never helped me or anybody else become a more caring, patriotic citizen or a responsible parent.
So stop saying it. Stop insisting that kids fight back with their fists. Stop telling kids (or anybody else, for that matter) “you get exactly what you deserve because you’re nothing but a [fill in the blank]”. Be a responsible adult and intervene on the playground, actual or cyber, and make it stop. If it’s your kids doing the bullying, find out what the problem is (maybe you know what it is when you look in the mirror) and make it stop. Insist that teachers not only stop it but work to prevent it. If you don’t want anti-bullying laws, then YOU make it stop. Unless you maybe think bullying is personally a good idea? Fair warning. You’re picking on the wrong person.