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The third grade is having a hard time getting their groove. The boys are punching to play, but then the punches hurt too. Some of the kids are feeling bullied, and some parents were surprised to find that their kids were the ones hitting too hard.

It’s crushing to think your child has been hit. My son was kicked by a little girl playing with him. He was kicked repeatedly, and then he hit back. I had to talk to him, and tell him that he’s not allowed to hit a girl, even in self defense. His only defense from a girl is to hold his hand out so she can’t reach him. That is all.

Really, what I wanted to be able to tell my son is, “good grief just kick her back, teach her a lesson. Don’t let anyone hurt you.”

But I couldn’t do that. Because that wouldn’t be right.

And then I had to talk to him about not playing too rough. That not all kids will tell you when you’re hurting them so you can’t be pulling on people’s arms, or punching for fun. I think he was mystified, but accepting. It’s a lot for an eight year old to understand.

It was a lot for me to discuss, and it made me cry. These are good kids, they don’t want to hurt each other, but they’re just not aware of the world outside of themselves. All of them. They’re growing and changing, and we’re entering a new phase of childhood. Frankly, it’s terrifying.

20 thoughts on “Bullies”

  1. Sign him up for Karate. My son only took it for a year in 2nd grade, but he learned honor, respect, patience and enough self defense that the next time the bully approached him he was confident enough to self defend. He felt good. The bully left him alone. All was well. I highly recommend it! PS. My 21 year old was a victim this summer of a random act of violence while we were on a family vacation. He spent days in ICU and although thankfully he will be okay, it could have been alot different. I think we will still worry and cry when they 40. We are lucky :) I can’t imagine life any other way. Hug him lots and lots while it’s still cool to do so :)

  2. My son was choked from behind by an older boy at school while in the bathroom. He didn’t fight back, he just tried to get away. When we talked to him about it later, we told him that in that situation, it was okay to break the rules and use some of his self defense (love martial arts!). We showed him how to step back into the person and throw an elbow then come around with a punch.

    There are times when I just don’t care what the rules are.

  3. Screw that. Why is it okay to hit a guy, but girls are somehow off-limits? No, really. Explain that one to me, please. Why do girls get special treatment?

    (Sexism! Sexism, I say!)

  4. My kids have been taking Krav Maga for several years. They have a special program for kids that teaches them how to deal with all sorts of different life situations including bullying.

    The Valley location has some great instructors and it has made a world of difference not just for my kids but for friends as well. On a related note my son was bullied a bit this past summer and his time in class played a big role in defusing a bad situation.

  5. You did good talking to your son.
    I agree that martial arts can impart important lessons to kids about body awareness, safety, violence, etc…
    You’re right, Jessica, this is a new phase for kid this age. It’s like the middle-age of childhood and seems to have it’s own mid-life crisis stuff attached to it doesn’t it?
    At my daughter’s middle school they have a “never fight back” policy. They just had an assembly where the VP stood up and told the student body that they would be expelled for fighting back. The kids stood up and boo’d her and she (the VP) got really rattled – cried and left the stage. (WTF?)
    We told our daughter that parental authority usurps school authority and she has full permission to defend herself if she is ever .physically attacked.

  6. Wow Annica, I ‘get” the no tolerance policies and sometimes they can be wrong, but the “never fight back”? are you kidding me? To actually put that on paper as a policy is amazing. I would think that there is a law suit wrapped up in that one… Nothing like giving more power to the assailant. Just crazy.

  7. DDG,
    My husband & I were thinking the same thing.
    Lots of parents have gotten together to protest/question the policy.
    Being boo’d off the stage by the student body should be a clue too.

  8. I think you said exactly the right thing, but for one bit. If he can’t hit girls back, doesn’t that mean he CAN hit boys who hit him? I get that you’re probably trying to teach him not to hit people weaker than him, but for God’s sake, say THAT, instead of reinforcing the idea that girls are somehow pathetic/precious and to be specially protected.

  9. Great job with a tough situation but I was alarmed at you advising your son not to fight back when it’s a girl. I don’t know if you have seen little girls lately, but some of them are not exactly sugar, spice, and everything nice. You may change your mind about the “no defending yourself against girls” when your son gets severely injured by some “defenseless” little girl. I have a little girl (well she’s thirty now). I taught her both restraint and avoidance BEFORE striking back but if she felt she had no other recourse, she was to defend herself.

    1. I understand. He can defend himself, but he cannot hit. I showed him how he is allowed to keep his arm up to keep a girl at bay, but under no circumstances is he to strike a girl.

      My daughter has permission to hit back at anyone.

      I know, it’s unpopular, but these are my kids to screw up.

      1. I agree to a point and have had the discussion with my son. He understands that he is to begin by removing himself from the situation. If she tries to hit or kick he is to block them and remove himself.

        If he cannot get out of the situation then he is allowed to punch her in the nose/mouth whatever and then leave the situation.

        The rules for boys are similar except he is allowed to go after them immediately. No one is allowed to smack around my children. I won’t lose a minute of sleep over that.

        1. The only problem here is by immediately jumping in to the fight, the fight is not always fair. In our day, a fight was a fight of hands. In this day…you run a huge risk that there is a weapon involved. Jack, something about your rules and “tone” bother me, I can’t put a finger on it..I hope you put enough emphasis on the “try to walk away” part…

          1. DishonDesignGal,

            My children (my son in particular) have been taught that it is preferable to avoid any sort of physical confrontation. I don’t want them to have to fight. I don’t want them to be in fights. You don’t need a weapon to seriously hurt someone. Trust me, I know.

            They are good at communicating and have no problem expressing their thoughts. They also know that their parents don’t care if someone calls them names or says bad things about mom and dad. Walk away.

            But they understand that if they are forced to protect themselves they have our support. No one has the right to bully my children verbally or physically. The kids understand the difference and they know that we’ll work with them to come up with a solution.

  10. okay, last comment, I have to work today…haha! While I am all for treating boys and girls equal, I do think we need to continue to teach our boys to treat girls with respect and of course vice versa… so I agree with that conversation. That said, I have a lovelygrown up daughter whom I adore and through her eyes, saw over the years some really ugly things from girls. Girls, particuarly in middle school can be mean – down right vicious. The bottom line to me is to have a meaningful talk, walk the talk, but make sure that if they are being attacked they know it’s okay to protect themselves. Standing up for yourself is just as important when you are in 3rd grade and as when you are in corporate america. I trust my kids to make the right choices and they know I have their back if they have to stand up to someone…even if that means hitting someone back. If that’s not PC, then it’s not the first time I have disagreed with the PC crowd…who are they anyway? Sometimes I think they’re a little bullyish…oh but that’s another topic. And…for the record, I usually am a PCer, just not apparently when it comes down to a rule like “don’t fight back”. Sometimes you just have to refer to common sense.

  11. Jessica, you’re doing a good job as a momma but it seems to me the school isn’t doing their part. Are they even aware of what’s going on? If not, they should be. That being said, this too shall pass and before you know it you’ll be telling your son “when a girl says no she means NO!”

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