Sticks & Stones & …Words?!Articles of Interest . For Kids . Politics . Questions . State of Mind . Training notes
I got this notice in a Barnes & Noble advertisement (along with links to anti-bullying books).
OK, I know as a Martial Arts instructor and Self-Defense advocate I should be totally on board with the new Politically Correct drive to stop bullying, but this just goes to far. I am very against this type of campaign. I have never been afraid of words, haven’t met one yet that could do me any real physical damage. Today our children are taught to treat words as dangerous tools, weapons capable of causing great personal injury (minus the bruising). Though in fairness I should note that the term bully is being used interchangeably with bullying and picking on.
We are officially living the in Bizarro word of Seinfeld, Up is officially down, hot is now cold, sticks and stones won’t hurt you, and Men are the new Women. Hmmm…. As a society we are failing our youth by …wimpifying them! Some prefer the Pu..ification term but this is a family blog so will stick to Wimpification. How far can we turn away from reality before we are forced to face that which we pretend can be solved with a slogan. What is the point of this new campaign against bullies? Bullies exist and will continue to exist forever…period. Maybe tomorrow they will just speak in a nicer tone. So what is the point?
Perhaps a better campaign would be ‘Sticks and Stones Will Break Your Bones and Names Will Never Hurt You‘. Some moron forgot the Never and no one called him or her on it. I know I am being harsh and probably ruffling a few feathers, to bad. What we should be teaching our children is threefold; believe in yourself, stand up for yourself, and; keep things in perspective. I know some are saying…Huh? Let me explain.
Believe in yourself – Have some confidence in yourself. You do this by knowing who you are. Unfortunately many kids are brought up in such a void of morals and beliefs that they are encouraged to discover who they are, like they are lost?! So what is a child to do who is given no direction or sense of self? That’s right, listen to their peers. If their peers tell them they are great, well then they must be. If their peers tell them they are a loser, well they must be. The PC (politically correct) crowd like the former but not the later situation. The problem is not everyone can be great. Perhaps it would be better to raise our children know who they are so that others will not have that much effect on them. (Notice I said ‘that much’ as I understand it is impossible to completely unaffected). But if the child (or adult) knows who they are and has a sense of their worth, they can knuckle down and get through this unpleasant chapter in their life (being bullied/picked on).
Stand up for yourself – But what if the person doesn’t back down?! Good question. We all win and lose some fights, the important thing is how we walk out of the room (chin up or head down). I can speak from personal experience here; at a certain point it is much better to stand up for yourself. I advocate defending yourself anytime someone touches you in a threatening way, no hesitations, you take control of the situation. I am not advocating fighting over an insult or comment, take the source and ignore it. That leads us to the final point…
Keep things in perspective – I always ask my students this question “do you value this persons opinion?” they invariably say No! If you react to words then you must really value the opinion of the Bully’s opinion. Though if you do not believe in yourself (see the first point) you might just hold anything anyone says about you as a possible truth. But if you stand up for yourself by not being affected by mean spirited words you can walk out with your head held high, chin up. There are to many techniques to cover now on deflecting insults and such.
Bullying and ‘Picking-on’ each other is a normal part of growing up. It is the ugly truth. Should we step in and engage kids when we can, yes but not at the risk of making them a bunch of wimps. There is an old movie, The Bells of St. Mary’s, that shows the differences of how things have changed. In the movie Father O’Malley and Sister Benedict differ on how to handle the school wimp and the school bully. The Sister adopts Father O’Malley’s approach, she helps the wimp stand up for himself. If we simply correct the Bully, the wimp is still just a wimp without a bully.
Perhaps that is something you will think about when (if) you listen to what your children are being taught the school of political correctness.
And let’s not forget to place the blame where it really belongs for raising abusive bully’s…their parents…bully’s don’t just happen, they are raised. Regardless we have to learn to deal with real Bully’s…
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