More On Bullying

02.4.10


To be clear on a few things, my son hit another boy. It broke my heart. He says he was playing, and I believe him. Eight year olds are still learning where play wrestling ends and violence begins. None of that really matters to the other little boy, he felt bullied.

As his mother I am crushed. I am weepy at the fact that my son hurt someone else’s son. Every part of it is upsetting. He didn’t mean to hurt someone else, but he did, and sometimes your intentions simply do not matter. Only your actions do. Some days are easy, some days are not. This week has not been easy on either of us, but it’s been important.

As for hitting girls. He is never allowed to. Ever. You can tell me how big some of the girls are, how bitchy… any of it. I fully expect that at some point in childhood my son will have a fistfight, little boys and young men experience that. We will cross that bridge when we get there.

I know you’ll find this upsetting, but were someone to raise their hand to my daughter, we would call the police. Jane is far from helpless. It is a double standard. Boys and girls are different.

That’s just my reality. That’s the way the world works, and I’m okay with it.

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19 responses to “More On Bullying”

  1. mrspop says:

    There are martial arts classes that focus solely on grappling and getting out of situations and defending oneself without hitting. I’d allow my son, were he being physically attacked by a girl, to use these methods of subduing her. That way, she doesn’t get hit and he doesn’t get beat up by a girl.

    I’m all about raising up a gentleman and not someone who would dare hit a girl.

  2. “It is a double standard. Boys and girls are different.”

    *head nod* agreed. you’re doin good, mama.

  3. Annica says:

    I don’t have boys – just 2 girls. So I honestly don’t know how I’d feel in your situation.
    I do agree that boys & girls are different and I can tell you that if anyone hit my girls the shitstorm that would ensue would be epic.
    Still, I ‘m not comfortable w/ absolutes. Life is messy and unpredictbable.
    When I imagine having a boy and some big thug of a she-beast jumping him at the bus stop???
    Where girls are concerned, does taking the high road *always* mean taking a beating?

  4. BodyForWife says:

    Political correctness continues to run amok, I see.

    You really shouldn’t feel bad. This seems like a pretty clear case of two boys whose rough housing got a bit out of hand. One says “I’m sorry.” The other says, “It’s okay.” They shake hands. The end.

    I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it (no pun intended). There is clear bullying with an intent to humiliate and hurt that is very wrong and must be stopped at all turns, but this is not that.

    The girl kicking your son was being a bully and this needs to be reported to teachers and parents, but the fact that this other boy felt bullied because he was wrestling and got hit just shows how sensitive political correctness has made everyone to the smallest slight. The kid is eight. Stuff like this happens. He didn’t mean to hurt him. An apology should be the end of it.

    Political correctness pisses me off.

    James

  5. Caroline says:

    Whether your son gets hit or your daughter gets hit, it is still an assault and battery.

    Whether your son hits someone or your daughter hits someone, it is still an assault and battery.

    The police might not be called, and we might want to say it’s different when boys are involved, but it doesn’t change that it is an assault and battery.

    But this post reminds me of your post about Tiger and Elin . . . how we shouldn’t excuse her for beating up on Tiger simply because she is a woman? To me, this post kinda sounds like you saying that if your boy gets in a fight, it might just be “boys being boys,” but if your daughter is involved, it’s a matter for the police. How do you reconcile this post with your previous post about Tiger and Elin, other than the obvious “no golf clubs were involved?”

    • oh the lawyers!

      My son is 8, I don’t imagine anyone will come after him with a golf club.

      Both of my children have been instructed to “hit back twice as hard” but at this point Alexander stands a full head taller than any of the girls in his class, his world is small and supervised. He is absolutely not to hit a girl, no matter what. Not even to hit back.

      I want to raise a mensch, but I’m just muddling through the week right now.

  6. traci says:

    Oh Gawd. I am so okay with double standards. My daughter is tough as nails. Chances are, nobody will cross her. My son is a sweet heart boy. Probably will be the exception to the rule of those who fight. But lemme tell you-should someone come after my son, I will totally send his sister in to kick ass.

    Cliches all around, I don’t care. You send in the man for the job.

  7. Aaron says:

    I’m about to have a boy… well, to be honest, my wife is about to give birth to our first child, our son.

    I am going to teach him what I was taught by my grandma: You don’t physically hurt girls. You only fight when it is an absolute last resort (you can not run or talk your way out of it) or in defense of someone else (especially girls). You never willfully hurt someone emotionally and/or psychologically… ever. No matter what, you treat women with respect and dignity that is befitting a lady. Treat men with respect and dignity befitting a gentleman.

    Teaching my son these things (and more) is going to (I hope) make him into the kind of man that I am constantly trying to be, a man of peace and strength who will champion for the bullied and the weak, seeking to treat all humans with respect and dignity (even when they may not deserve it).

    It’s ok to have a “double standard” for girls and boys. It’s right in some why… at least it rings true in my chest.

  8. BodyForWife says:

    Time for a quote from Robert Heinlein:

    “All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly which can, and must, be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a “perfect society” on any foundation other than “Women and children first!” is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal.”

    Yes, there is a double standard; it was created by natural selection. We shouldn’t mess with it.

  9. Kate says:

    Well, I think you’re woefully off-base with the “girls are to be protected” thing, but I do think you were exactly right when you said that they’re your kids to raise. Maybe it’s cliche….but even though I would try pretty darn hard to convince your daughter that she’s worth more than a double standard, I’d also fight for your right to tell her the opposite.

  10. Green says:

    See what James said? I agree with all of it. BTW, I used to work in a school district in New York, and elementary school kids were often bringing me “S/he hit me!” problems. I certainly never punished boys more harshly if they were in an altercation with a girl as opposed to a boy. It’s great that you want to raise a mensch, but not everyone around you is raising their girls to be proper young ladies.

  11. Brandi Sorensen says:

    I have an 11yr old son. And I totally agree with Jessica on this one. I tell my son he is never ever to hit a girl no matter what even if she hits him first! It may be a cliche but it is the way it has been for all of time and the way it should be. If I don’t teach him to be a gentlemen now then I will not be doing him any favors when he gets married. I understand girls are different now and sometimes they can be downright mean but that doesn’t change the rules.
    And though girls and boys may be somewhat equal in strength now, they are normally not equal as adults. A man is most generally stronger than a women. So what if I teach him to hit back whether it be a boy or girl as some of you suggest……and what if one day his wife gets really upset and smacks him in the arm or something, his first response would be to hit her back and then he would be a wife beater. I know that is probably taking the thought a little far, but I fully believe that what we teach our children now will most definitely affect their thinking process in the future.

  12. Jack says:

    So what if I teach him to hit back whether it be a boy or girl as some of you suggest……and what if one day his wife gets really upset and smacks him in the arm or something, his first response would be to hit her back and then he would be a wife beater.

    That is a bit simplistic isn’t it. I should think that as an adult he’ll have the benefit of life experience and common sense and that makes a huge difference.

  13. Oh Traci, you made me laugh out loud…Jessica give yourself a hug and some chocolate. You are a great mom, you have a great son. Shit happens, it’s not always fair, but it opened up a great conversation. My son stole a candy bar one time. I had to march him back the store to return. I was mortified, he was mortified. I got over it. He never did it again. On the whole He/She thing… I guess I wouldn’t have done well in the whole burn your bra era. I am all for equal pay, equal rights, but I embrace the differences between men and women. We have different hormones, different strenths, and we treat our sons and daughter differently sometimes because they grow up and generally have different responsibilities. I think that’s okay.

  14. Preston says:

    Boy, what a tough subject. You certainly know how to get a group all worked up, Jessica. Regardless of what we all say, you do what you think is right for your kids. You’ve always seemed to have a good head on your shoulders and hopefully that would rub off on your children.

    • I’m all worked up Preston. I think our decisions vary depending on the day. Parenting my 8 year old has been very different than when he was 7, and I’m sure when he’s 9 this will all change too.

      We’re just doing the best we can, and loving them every step of the way.

  15. Well, I’m okay with the double standard if only because I think that the emotional bullying inflicted by girls is about 1,000 time worse than being smacked in the head by anyone. What’s even worse is that in many schools (from what I ken from this extended conversation I’ve been having online for many years now), “boys will be boys” is dealt with more strictly and with greater speed than “girls will be girls” because, duh, they aren’t hitting each other.

    Meanwhile, girls are very astute when it comes to ripping each other – and boys – to shreds from the inside out. But because it doesn’t leave a black and blue, the schools pass it along to middle school to deal with, and by then, of course, it’s too late.

    I find that a clear cut “If you don’t want someone to touch you, tell them to back off” and “If someone tells you to back off, don’t touch them” works best for humans of all shapes and sizes, no matter how rough the rough-housing or the gender. It’s simple. It’s easy to remember. Apologies for crossing any lines are always due.

    If it’s truly an incident of bullying and not just the process of learning where people’s personal space beings and end and when they are giving signs that the game is over – that is, if this is behavior (smacking or not) that indicates that a child is feeling out of control and low on self-esteem, shaky on self-confidence (i.e. a bully), then it’s time for some hard thinking and talking and getting People Who Really Know About How Kids Tick involved in figuring out why said child is feeling so miserable about him/herself that he/she is resorting to physical/emotional striking out. However, the situation you described doesn’t sound like this at all; it sounds like the “learning when enough is enough” thing. I’d be loathe to toss around the bully label, even in your own head.

  16. I like this line…

    “I’d be loathe to toss around the bully label, even in your own head.”

    Sometimes, in the spirit of being a good parent, we are too hard on our kids. He wasn’t a bully. He needs to know that you know he wasn’t a bully. He needs to see your confidence in him, to know that you believe in him and trust him. Like you said he is 9. :) Give him a hug, give yourself a hug. Time to go have fun with your kids.

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