When it comes to schools of Eastern Philosophy I realise I am less Gandhi and more Samurai.
As much as we would love to live in a Marxist idyll, we don’t. We are an aggressive species, more hunter than hunted. Life is not about fairness. Life is about survival.
As my father-in-law once said to me, “Withhold food and water from people for 48 hours and watch how thin the veneer of humanity really is”.
He should know, having survived four years in Dachau.
Just like any animal, we prey on the weak and nowhere is this more prevalent than on the playground. As a parent, I believe in making sure that my children have the moral strength to not start a fight, but are equipped the skills to end one.
As much as teachers would like kids to come running to them every time they get bullied, kids aren’t stupid. They know it just gets worse. In life there really is only person you can count on to fight your battles and it is yourself.
My first year law lecture started like this, “”There is right and wrong, justice and the law, and they are not the same.”
My son has been a victim of bullying. His quiet nature and gentle approach seems to be a red flag. They mistake his quietness for weakness, when in reality he is anything but.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, he stood up for himself. He got in trouble and that’s right. But that child won’t make the mistake of bullying him again.
It was wrong of my child to punch another, but after enduring months of verbal taunting and physical abuse, it was just.
He knows he has to accept the punishment for breaking the rules, but he also knows that sometimes you have to have the strength to stand up for yourself.
Maybe we can have a week where his face doesn’t crumple when he gets in the car and I know how long he’s been holding in the tears because he’s been struck or called an idiot or stupid by another pupil or a teacher.
I believe in discipline and I believe that you have the right to make a stand against abuse of any kind and you have the right to act to protect yourself.
To quote my son’s Sensei, “You may not use the skills I teach you to hurt or harm another, but you may use them wisely to protect yourself.”
I am not a doormat and I won’t raise my children to be either. You get three chances, third strike and I strike back.
I believe that children need discipline and that bad behaviour and a lax approach to bullying cannot be cuddled away or brushed under the carpet as a result of a broken home, a bad childhood or some other tenuous excuse.
I won’t fight my children’s battle for them, but I will damn sure they can win them. And have the strength to take the discipline that will result.