The Need to Fight Bullies: Non Violence is not the Answer, Empowerment is

The worst advice I’ve ever gotten was to turn the other cheek when hit. It opened me up to be prey for bullies in elementary school. Being larger than the other kids until 6th grade, I was not bullied because I was physically weaker but because they knew I would not hit them.  But one day, just exhausted with this one particular bully I started to grapple him. Eventually, I put the kid in the headlock. The substitute teacher sent me to the principal office to talk with the other kid, but generally my saintly reputation at the time, kept me from trouble. Though I can never be sure, I think they  were relieved. I had to talk to the vice-principal to explain what happened. Then I was asked to go back to the classroom while the other student remained.

Still I was guilt ridden for what I had done as I was being raised to be a saintly victim. All of this was connected to being raised Catholic and a particularly strong sense of shame of myself and my sinfulness.

But yet, as well,  that kid never bothered me again. In fact, nobody ever touched me again in elementary school. After years of being harrassed by little psychos, I was free for the time. I slipped back again into my non-violent resistance in later years and the cycle started again. The bullies never went away, and I have always had to be willing to stand up to them. Slowly recognizing this has taught me the difference between when it is necessary to fight and when it isn’t necessary to fight. Sometimes, just a push back is enough. Sometimes a stare, but I have always had to stand my ground.

Non-violence as a concept is an abstraction related to a higher cause. Bullies do not care about what is morally good and need to be handled differently. Following non-violence in all situations, makes you a victim for those who do not follow your code. You need to kill that code and you need to defend yourself.

Bullies generally pick on the weaker kids. Bullies will not pick on kids who will hit them. We need to allow kids to defend themselves from bullies, not train them to turn the other cheek. Non-violence is not the answer, particularly for boys who need to fight for the respect of others. Empowerment is the answer.



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