My son’s principal called me a few weeks ago to let me know my son had been in a fight at school. She warned me he’d been punched in the face and he didn’t look as good as he had that morning. He was okay, but she wanted to prepare me.
She also told me I had to come pick him right away. Not only was he in rough shape, but since he’d fought back by grabbing the kid (who is two years older than him) and drew blood, he was being punished. She’d reviewed the tapes and said it was clear my son was using self defense, but what he was supposed to do was run away from the boy who was attempting to punch his face in.
But according to my son, there’s no where to run in the hallway at school when someone approaches you and a fight breaks out. Kids gather around pretty fast, and you are lucky if you have some space, much less a path to run.
I realize this is the school policy, and it’s used to keep everyone as safe as possible. I also don’t think I’ve ever talked to a parent who said they’d be fine if their child stood there and took a beating until a teacher got there to break it up. I don’t know anyone who is okay with their child getting touched inappropriately and would encourage them to keep their hands to themselves in this situation, either.
Two teachers quickly stepped in when the fight broke out, and thankfully it was over pretty quickly. And while my son didn’t punch the kid back because he didn’t want to get in any more trouble, he said he was tempted to do so and I don’t blame him. This older guy had been telling everyone at school he was going to beat my son up, so for two days, my son was waiting for it, hoping it would just blow over. But it didn’t.
I know not everyone agrees with my stance on this (and I don’t actually care), but I don’t teach my kids to run away, to be used as a doormat, or not have boundaries. I don’t condone violence as a way to cope for not getting along with someone, not liking them or having a disagreement, but do I tell my kids to fight back if someone is hurting them?
You bet your ass I do.
Running away makes you more of a target in my eyes, and in theirs. Why wouldn’t someone come after you if they knew you’d just run and they could look like the hero, and you look like the wimp?
If I teach my kids to just stand there and take it, where does it end? When an older kid punches them before heading to French class? When someone snaps my daughters bra, lifts up her skirt, or calls her a whore? When someone put their hands on one of my kids in a way they don’t like and they say no but are ignored?
What is the limit? If their space is being invaded and their words aren’t working, if someone is using them as a punching bag, or has been bullying them for years, is it okay to hit them?
I say yes.
It’s important for our kids to have boundaries, and I want them to know how to defend themselves. Of course, that doesn’t mean I teach them to solve problems with physical force. There’s a difference between never using force, and relying on it as a last resort.
It gives my kids and I peace of mind to know they have a say, they can fight back, and that sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands if boundaries are crossed. So yeah, my kid might punch your kid if they feel threatened or scared — and I am so okay with that.