Mocha Dad and Moms: Dealing With Bullies

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Parents Must Teach Kids That it is Okay to Defend Themselves

I’ve come across some reading material lately that has seriously disappointed me.  Everyone has become so seemingly progressive and passive in their thinking, that they fail to take into account any amount of common sense.

I read of a middle school child who was both physically and emotionally bullied for three years.  His parents addressed this on many occasions with the school and nothing was ever done about it, much to the parents dismay.  The child never defended himself, nor did the parents want him too.  The parents taught their son never to hit and were proud that he remained non violent.  After three years of their son’s enduring daily bullying and the schools lack of action, the parents hired a lawyer, in part, because of a fear that their son would commit suicide before the bullying stopped.

Bullying is wrong.  Schools should not tolerate it on their grounds.  This child should have had trusted adults to ensure his safety while at school.  I completely agree.  I am not a violent person, however that child should have been defending himself and should have been encouraged by his parents to do so.  IT IS NEVER WRONG TO DEFEND YOURSELF!  It’s called self defense.  The parents relied on the school and the district to protect their son and when they failed their son, it still took the parents three years of the poor kid tolerating this, to the point of parents fearing for his life, before they decided to look to the law to defend him?  Seriously?

I personally would have insisted that my child defend them self and in fact I have done so in the past.  I do not advocate violence, but I do advocate self defense.  I teach my children to always defend themselves and anyone smaller or weaker than themselves.  Bullies like easy targets, because bullies are in fact cowards.  Standing up for yourself, win or lose, sends a message that you will not be an easy target.  Also, you walk away with your self-esteem in tact knowing that you stood up instead of just having it beat out of you.

As a mother, I would have not waited three years to take some sort of action when the school/district wouldn’t.  I would not care about other peoples impressions of me or possible labels when it came to the protection of one of my children.

What’s going to happen to that poor kid when he runs into a violent situation in real life, when he doesn’t have a lawyer, a teacher, or a mommy holding his hand?

The first and only person to ever try to mug me wound up with his arm broken at the shoulder.  My parents taught me to defend myself.  I was 17.

Barb S. (aka Weasel Momma) writes the blog World of Weasels and  co-hosts the online talk show Suburban Wow! She is mother to five children and enjoys the sweet taste of high fructose corn syrup.

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Using My Experiences With Bullying to Teach My Kids

When I was a kid, bullying was easily defined. A kid or a group of kids would beat you up, call you names, and/or steal your lunch money. Today’s kids not only have to deal with these things, but they must also cope with people’s defacing their character and intimidating them online.

Growing up, I was bullied and did my fair share of bullying. I use my experiences on both sides to teach my kids how to deal with any threats they may face and that bullying is wrong.

I remember one episode when I was in 4th grade and went on a class trip to NASA. We were misbehaving because our chaperone was not a strict disciplinarian. This lack of adult supervision emboldened our class bully, Derrick, to smack us around throughout the day. As he punched me, I defended myself the only way I knew how: by attacking him with stinging insults. My retaliation caused the other kids to laugh at Derrick which of course made him punch me harder. But the harder he punched, the more I insulted him, and the more the kids laughed. It was a vicious cycle and neither one of us was willing to give up. Thankfully, the teacher intervened and we were both able to walk away with a shred of dignity.

In middle school, I was a small and a prime target for bullies. It didn’t help that I couldn’t afford the Jordache jeans and Izod shirts that the other kids had. My clothes were obviously cheap and out of style. Kids would often pick on me on the schoolbus. I would fight back, but sometimes there were too many of them. Fortunately, some older kids from my neighborhood would intervene when they thought the bullying was out of line.

As a result of my experiences with bullying, I turned into a bully myself. My main target was a boy named Troy. I made his life a living hell. In science class, I called him Trashman Troy and wrote elaborate songs about him. In fact, I still remember one that I set to the tune of John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses”: Well there’s a trash man/with a trash truck/living in a trashy neighborhood…I would hum that song in our other classes just to watch Troy’s face turn red.

During P.E., I would torture him with well-placed kidney punches. He got fed up one day and told the gym teacher. The teacher looked at Troy, who was significantly bigger than me, looked at me and chuckled. After assessing the situation, the teacher essentially told Troy to man-up and deal with it himself. That only emboldened me to taunt him more.

I finally stopped bullying Troy when a girl, who I liked, confronted me. She told me that my treatment of Troy was reprehensible and that she wouldn’t be my friend anymore if I continued. Her words caused me to think about the times I was bullied and I realized that she was right.

My 7-year-old son, N, is very much like that girl. He has no problem confronting bullies. I get regular reports of how he stood up for someone on the bus or playground. But he also knows that I expect him to stand up for himself also. I’ve taught my kids to follow the proper protocols if another kid is threatening them. First they must directly confront the kid and let him/her know that their behavior is unacceptable. If that doesn’t work, they should tell the responsible adult about the situation; if that doesn’t work, they should defend themselves. My kids know that I don’t condone starting fights, but I definitely condone finishing them. They also know that they can talk to their mom and me about any situation and we will work diligently to resolve it in the appropriate manner.

Stay Strong,

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Join the conversation: How do you help your kids deal with bullies? How did you deal with bullies when you were growing up?

Mocha Dad and Moms is a regular column where I discuss parenting topics with moms. If you’d like to be one of the featured moms, send me a message with your idea to fjgoodall@mochadad.com.

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About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad