Should children be encouraged to fight back when bullied?
Recently I was chatting with a teacher who shocked me by saying that she encourages the children in her class to hit back whenever physically tackled by a classmate. She was of the opinion that hitting back is absolutely necessary in teaching a child how to stand up for him/herself. So for example, if one of her 3-year old pupils came to report that another child pinched her, under her supervised watch she would ask the ‘victim’ to pinch the ‘attacker’ back.
Though I appreciated her blunt honesty, I could not help but wonder at her ‘methods’. So I sampled her theory amongst parents and again, I again surprised to discover that many of them were actually in agreement with this teacher’s ‘methods’. I also went online to get the views of the larger audience out there and again, I discovered that many parents are indeed encouraging and preparing their children to hit back. Interestingly, this preparation begins at home when for example, a crying child reports her attacker who happens to be a sibling this time around. Her parents tell her to stop crying and then chip in, ‘If he beat you, why didn’t you beat him back?’
So my question to you parents is this –
Is retaliation ever going to be the answer? When it’s a matter of self defence, should retaliation be equated to stooping down to the level of the ‘attacker’?
Can ‘hitting back’ end in a messy fight? If yes, can hitting back be prevented from ending in a messy fight? Are you going to be fine with your child getting suspended for ‘standing up for himself’?
Does hitting back instil confidence in the ‘victim’ and shield him from future attack? Are there alternatives to hitting back? Are there alternatives that actually work? Besides retaliation, how else can we teach our children to stand up for themselves? How can we teach them to stand up for their rights?
Can bullying be curbed? If yes, what role can parents and the school play in curbing it?
Please share your children’s own experiences with us and let us in on your own opinion on the matter.
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