Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 


Should Kids Be Taught To Fight Back?

Press Release – Should Kids Be Taught To Fight Back?

Another comment on the scissor attack

Opinion from John Cowan, The Parenting Place

It sounds like the boy who stabbed another student with scissors this week had been the victim of bullying. I don’t know, but maybe he was also the victim of bad adult advice: “Fight back!”

From The Chuck Norris School of Parenting comes the advice, “If you’re bullied, just hit him back!” It’s the heroic scene in a thousand stories: the plucky little kid bloodies the nose of the cowardly big bully who never troubles him again. Who can argue with Winston Churchill or the Karate Kid? Well, actually, I’d like to argue with them… but please don’t hit me.

There are no magic bullets to fix bullying, but there are some strategies that give good results: treating bullying seriously, supportive schools and parents, inspiring a better culture amongst children and giving skills to kids to avoid bullying. Good bully-bouncing strategy means being assertive, able to refuse pressure and carrying yourself with dignity. It also helps to have a teflon coated ego, to deflect taunts with courageous humour and to have the confidence to walk away – these are great strategies. But if escape is not an option then self-defence is perfectly logical – fight if you are attacked and cannot get away. I support that. What I don’t support is when adults coach their kids not to get away from the bully and instead encourage them to fight, even to attack first.

The advice to ‘make your stand’ is based on the anecdotal evidence that kids who fight back don’t get bullied again. The trouble with anecdotes is ‘confirmation bias’: you hear of the successes but not the failures and it only works when someone has enough size and confidence to fight back. I would argue, if they can match the bully then that’s not bullying, that’s just a fight. In real bullying the victim is outnumbered or smaller, lacks confidence and is unlikely to have the support of his peers. For those kids, telling them that they should fight back is going to be beyond their ability and just add to their sense of shame. A boy I know who was told to fight back by his father – which wasn’t an option for him – he said it just made him feel bullied by his Dad as well.

In stories, ‘good guys’ always win fights. Reality is different. There is no justice in fighting. The best fighter wins fights, and bullies usually have the edge. There are plenty of stories where fighting back leads to them getting injured more and also stories where fighting back goes wrong. A now famous Australian viral video shows Casey Heynes retaliating against his aggressor by slamming him onto concrete in a move that could have seriously injured his attacker which would have blighted the lives of both kids; as it is, both got into a lot of trouble. And maybe the whole idea is flawed anyway: Australian psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg also cites research that shows kids who retaliate get victimised more in the long run. Revenge escalates.

So fighting back probably won’t work, and in the process it will get them injured and in trouble with schools and the law. But… isn’t meeting violence with violence just human nature? Of course, but what’s so great about this aspect of human nature? ‘Lord of the Flies’ is a scary book precisely because we KNOW we are seeing human nature portrayed. Without adult supervision and adult rules, childhood is savage. Kids deserve to be defended by mature authority. The ‘Law of the Jungle’ is for jungles and our school playgrounds shouldn’t be jungles. Our responsibility is to provide a decent society for our kids – bullying nearly always takes place when kids are outside of adult protection and care.

As I said, there no quick-fix solutions to bullies, but a scan of anti-bullying websites and experts working with bullied kids shows a solid consensus in opposition to fighting back. What these experts and sites do offer is a range of strategies to eliminate bullying culture in schools, to give resilience and skills to kids to deflect bullying. They have proven effectiveness, but they certainly don’t have the dramatic appeal of “…and so I punched him in the mouth and he never bothered me again!”

Ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 
Ray Columbus: NZ Music Icon Passes Away

60s New Zealand music Icon Ray Columbus has passed away peacefully at his home north of Auckland... Ray Columbus enjoyed more than three decades at the top of NZ entertainment as a singer, songwriter, bandleader, music manager and TV star. More>>

Review: Bernard Herrmann's Scores For 'Vertigo' & 'Psycho'

Howard Davis: The NZSO's adventurousness was richly-rewarded, as the deeply appreciative Wellington audience was given the opportunity not only to see a couple of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, but also to hear fine renditions of two of Bernard Herrmann's most accomplished film scores. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Leonard Cohen

If Bob Dylan owned the 1960s, Leonard Cohen was an inescapable presence during the early 1970s period, pre-disco and pre-punk. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Pick And Camera

Through the eyes of a miner – the photography of Joseph Divis: The occupations of miner and photographer are seldom combined. The conjunction must have been very rare indeed in the era before hand-held cameras, high-speed film and flashlights More>>


Howard Davis: Review - The Cosmic Dance Of 'String Theory'

Fly My Pretties sixth album is quite possibly their best yet - a concept album in the best sense, with superb arrangements, funky grooves, and some great vocalizing, all organized around the lyrical leitmotif of string theory. More>>

Non-Natural History: Dinosaur Eggs 'Discovered' At Auckland Gardens

Auckland Botanic Gardens plant curators have unearthed what are thought to be prehistoric dinosaur eggs in the Gondwana Forest section of the expansive garden in Manurewa... In fact, the “dinosaur eggs” are part of an innovative, larger-than-life dinosaur performance and display featuring a raptor, a crested therapod and a towering Tyrannosaurus Rex. More>>

For The Birds: Kōkako Crowned Bird Of The Year

The Kōkako has been crowned New Zealand's Bird of the Year after two weeks of close competition and heated campaigning. More>>

ALSO:

  • Greening the Red Zone - Bird of the year heats up: kōtare concedes, backs kea
  • Image Out-Link - Giselle Clarkson on Twitter
  • Get More From Scoop

     
     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
    Culture
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news