Ella asked the eager parents in the class; your child is entering an institution, how would you teach your child to respond to a bully?
Adam immediately responded. He didn’t need to think. My parents didn’t teach me what to do when I went to school. I was a small child and I got beat up by a group of older boys for no reason. They were just having fun. I will never forget that experience. I still remember how I felt after all these years. I have already taught my son that he has to stand up for himself no matter what!
There is a valid point here, self -defense is essential and honoring. It is our primary responsibility to do our best for our wellbeing and protect our physical, emotional and spiritual boundaries. Let me share a concern I have. What if your child come home with a major injury, a broken nose, a black eye or a broken bone. I have seen a case in which the child lost an eye, a trauma for life. Ella looked at everyone.
There was silence. The parents were trying to imagine the scenario.
Adam spoke again. I see your point, yet I still believe one has to defend self no matter what the cost, otherwise will live in fear daily. I don’t know what happened to that child, children’s fights is about pushing and shoving, not serious.
Adam’s childhood trauma was well and alive, denying, minimizing the risks of physical fights.
To me, responding to aggression with aggression only results in more intense violent behaviors. I do not wish my son to fight. As Gandhi wisely said an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.
A mother from India spoke softly, gently and firmly. She got the attention of all the parents with an honoring silence.
Ella, the facilitator asked; please share with us what would you do as a parent if your child comes home with a bloody nose or a broken tooth?
Part of parenting responsibility is to protect our children and teach them how to protect themselves. I registered for this class to learn about effective parenting when the culture of the home and the host culture are different. No parent wants to see their children hurt.
A Latina mother raised her hand.
I’d like to learn what are the contributing factors to aggressive/bully behaviors? We have taught our son to ignore and walk away when children tease him about wearing glasses or other things. Now, I am having a second thoughts if this would be effective way. I don’t want our son to come home with a black eye or worse hurt feelings.
An African American grandfather who attended with his wife spoke. Yes, I think walking away is an effective strategy. We are taking care of our grandson. Time has changed, yet bullies like before seek attention and want an audience. At least walking away worked for me.
A Caucasian young mother who seemed tired and stressed jumped in. I’m a single mother, raising a daughter. I don’t have time or energy for drama, being called to the principal’s office. To me, it is simple! If anyone in anyway bothered my child, I have taught her to nip it in the butt whatever it takes. She is going to have to learn to fight as an adults. The sooner they learn the reality of life, the better chances of survival in an aggressive world.
A young mother spoke; I can see where you are coming from. We also have a daughter and we don’t want her to be pushed around by boys or anyone for that matter. Yet, we don’t want her to get into fights with every little matter. We wish for her to make friends, and enjoy school .We would like her to learn the value of cooperation, doing projects with other children, team work and trust the education system that would provide a safe environment for all children. We would like her to relay on the teachers, educators and mentors to teach them problem solving and conflict resolution skills.
That to me seems unreasonable and unrealistic expectation. Each teacher has thirty or more students in the class, and an extensive curriculum to complete by the district. They don’t have the time, energy or skill to intervene. When two students are in conflict/fight, they are both sent to the principal’s office.
Yes, that is the primary concern for me as a parent. Our daughter wants to be a good student, wants to go to the principal’s office to receive an award. When kids are sent to the principal’s office, it means they are in trouble and she avoids standing up for herself to avoid being in trouble. She doesn’t even want to share with me about the challenges she faces at school. I am concerned.
I have our children in Marshal Arts classes to learn self –defense and feel confident. I’d like them to be able to defend themselves and have the necessary skills if they are in a situation of possible harm.
That sounds like a great idea. Besides the self- defense, they learn self-control and respect. It is much more than throwing punches and kicks. It is a way of life and values.
An Asian parent joined in; yes, in our culture, respect is essential. We wish our children to be respectful and well behaved both at home and at school. Children must be respectful to teachers, educators and adults.
A Middle Eastern mother spoke; I was raised to be an obedient and compliant child. It meant that children were expected to be fearful and quiet. I don’t wish our children to be like that. Respecting children is just as important as respecting adults. When I was growing up, children were hit in the school assembly in front of all the children to shame them. That is abuse by adults. Children should not be hit for any reason and respect must be mutual.
I am a school counselor and I have witnessed the impact of bullying on children. As the grandfather wisely pointed out, the bully seeks attention and needs an audience. In this time and era with the smart phones, students record the bully and put it on the internet in a second. The issue is highly sensitive and critical. I am sure you have read about suicide cases as young as ten years old. As counselors, we attend regular trainings on the subject matter and the cases are heart wrenching.
Ella was quietly observing. They were out of time.
I’d like to congratulate all of you for your awareness, honesty and authenticity. We have so much responsibility as parents and educators. Our primary responsibility is to educate and teach skills to our children during this critical years. Awareness opens the channels of communication and learning from one another, honoring differences. Naturally, this conversations will continue with the goal of each one of us examine our personal values, assess the effective tools, educate ourselves and choose mindfully. It is like preparing for an earthquake. When we already have a well thought plan of action it gives us an opportunity to respond wisely, rather than react in the moment.
I’d like to know how many of you would like to come back to continue our dialogue.
Everyone raised their hands.