Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bullies - The start of domestic violence

Posted by Hannah at 1:07 PM

Has anyone seen that video of the Australian boy named 'Casey' in the news recently?  Casey was a large fellow, and a target of teasing and tormenting for years.  This week he finally lashed back, and basically body smashed his bully to the ground.

This was huge news this week, because the bullies friends video taped this.  You could hear the encouragement that the bully was getting from his bully friends.  You could see Casey's attitude of not wanting to fight at first.  Casey finally had enough as children looking on did nothing, and he took his bully and picked him up - slammed him down on the concrete. Casey then walked away from the circumstance.  I noticed one of the bully's bigger friends wanted to take out after him, but a girl stepped in and told him THAT'S Enough!

There are conflicting reports about the discipline that happened. 
  • Both boys got 4 days suspension
  • Casey got 4 and the bully got 21 days
  • Casey was the only one disciplined
The injury to the bully is in question as well.  Some state he has a scuffed knee, and others have pictures with him on crutches.  I heard the smash, and to me the crutches would make sense.  I have bad knees, and I was rubbing them as I watched.

People are questioning if this is a good example of anti bullying.  Why?  Casey had enough, and did he do the wrong thing by pushing back finally?  Most people I think remember being bullied as a child, and really understood where Casey was at that point.  "Good for HIM!" they stated.  Then you have others that wondered if he took the easy way out.

Didn't look like an easy out to me.  They were not going to let him 'walk away' prior to this.  He protected himself, because no one was there to do that for him.

If he gained any power it would have been in the dignity department.  He took it back from what I saw.   The way he stood, and took the blows?  I don't think his attitude towards the bully was the same as the bully towards him.  He told them - leave me alone.  He enforced the boundary the way kids have to at times.  Sadly, of course.

I think the big question we need to ask is about the bully discipline procedure.  When a child is unprotected time and time again - what are we asking from them?  Being that the circumstance was known to everyone....what are we asking children to do exactly? 

The suspensions to me showed our societies silence on the matter.  What did it solve, and what did it teach?  Are not suspensions to serve a purpose?

Are we asking Casey to just TAKE the blows until help arrives?  He has done that for years, and the teachers can't be everywhere all the time.  Do we assign a teacher to follow him around?  Should we tell him to scream his head off so they come - and would that also remove his dignity?  I think it would.

I think most people understand the zero violence policy, but we seem to be missing something huge in this area as well.  Why are adults ignoring this, and not doing what adults are called to do - looking for solutions?  I'm sure there are not any good ones at times, but we should allow children to keep their dignity.  We would wish it for ourselves as adults wouldn't we?

I will admit I felt bad for the bully that got his knees smashed - are my bad knees prejudicing that a bit?  I suppose it could be, but I also don't like to see anyone hurt.  

What does this story tell us? For me personally it shows our lack of understanding.  Bullying is a form of domestic violence to me.  This child Casey was terrorized, and we truly hand them no tools to deal with this.

If you can't see video click here.

Go tell a teacher!  Okay.  Then what?  The teachers know already. 

Don't hit back otherwise you will be in trouble also!  If anyone saw the video?  He had no way of escaping, and what should he have done?

The children that watched should have done something!  Okay then.  Do people remember what happens to kids that tattle on bullies?  NOW they have bullies breathing down their necks.  If you can't protect Casey how are you going to protect them?

"But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."  How do you reconcile this?

To me this is a verse about someone that has the power to strike back, and choosing not to.  They are achieving a goal by NOT striking back.  If my enemy knows that I have the power and the right to respond to a blow, and I instead forgo my right and choose not to exercise my power, it's making a statement to my enemy- something like "I am above this violence."

This is NOT a caviler time in which one man strikes another in the face with his glove in order to dishonor him.  For me just like all scripture there is a time to discern.  This was not just someone striking you on the cheek, but a gang of boys wanting to scare and harm.  Does scripture not also speak of self defense with the proper attitude?

The bully doesn't acknowledge that Casey has power or rights, and often the victim doesn't believe that they have power or rights either.

It's about the bully taking out his own psychological problems on a victim. Just like any other types of bullying - in the schoolyard, at home, and within relationships.

Taking the punishment reinforces the behavior. Its fun for them to torment, and if the person will sit and take it?  Why not continue.  Where are the repercussions for them?  Where is the incentive to stop?  The "turn the cheek" strategy is about shaming or demonstrating love- I personally don't think most bullies have enough empathy to understand those concepts.  I do believe that is the purpose of the scripture mentioned!

The sad part is people SHOULD know this!

Casey's Father stated:

"There'll be reprisals from other kids in the school and he still has to go to school somewhere."
"He's not a violent kid, it's the first time he's lashed out and I don't want him to be victimized over that."
"He's always been taught never to hit. Apparently other people's parents don't teach their kids that."
His father doesn't want to say to much, because he knows what has happened so far is going to get him victimized more.   His child got punished for defending himself, and he knows the bullies aren't going to stop now either.

Do people stop to think that their 'bully' procedures, policies, and punishments aren't effective since bullies don't see them as a deterrent?

Some bullies grow up, and do away with their bully ways.  They will throw away their childhood activities, and realize they were wrong.  They can become responsible adults.

For those that don't?  They grow up and bully as adults.  They bully their spouse, and they bully their kids.  They bully at jobs, churches, and stores.

For a kid dealing with a bully, whats important is the victim learn that they do have a right to protect themselves and the strength to do so. If they develop these, then when they grow up, they'll be able to lay them down when the time is right, and when they have been led by Christ to do so.

They learn to discern.

Are we telling our children they have the right to protect themselves when school policies say they don't?

If they never learn how strong they are, or that they have a right to protection and self-defense, they will grow with an unhealthy view of themselves and I don't think they'll actually be able to correctly "turn the other cheek" if they try. If my enemy knows I'm afraid of him and will take whatever he dishes out, what surprise is it when I turn the cheek?  Do people actually think that was the principal behind that verse?  I would hope NOT!

Who is truly abdicating their responsibilities here?  When it's up to Casey and the concrete to teach the bully a hard truth- bullying is not a valid way to treat people?

We as a society truly need to take a good hard look at our messages.   Do they not see the emotional abuse of this child as well?  What are we teaching here anyway?  Should our policies state just to IGNORE bullies?  It certainly doesn't say use discernment.

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Waneta Dawn on 2:15 PM said...

I have heard an explanation about Jesus's statement to turn the other cheek, that shows He had an entirely different purpose from what is taught in our culture. Because sanitation was not readily available, the Jewish culture, just like others around them, had some strict rules about which hand to use for what. Apparently, the left hand was used for bathroom activities, and was not to be used for touching food or people. (I assume if a cook washed very well, he or she could use both hands to cut up food, or use the left hand to hold a tool to hold the food steady while cutting.) The right hand also had rules. If a person was beneath you and you wanted to hit them, you hit them with the back of your right hand. If the person was above you, you hit them with the palm of your hand. Therefore, if you were bullying someone, you would be saying they were beneath you and you would hit them with the back of your hand. If they turned the other cheek, if you hit them again, you would have to hit them with your palm, thereby saying they are above you. Just the action of your turning the other cheek and presenting it to be hit, says YOU think you are superior to him. If the bully hits you with the palm of his hand, he is agreeing with you. Any onlookers would likely lose respect for the bully and the victim would be vindicated.

Waneta Dawn on 3:11 PM said...

Very good points, Hannah. Why is society letting bullies get away with it and punishing those who protect themselves or protect others from bullies? Why was no one questioning the punches that Casey received? Don't they have a no violence policy? Why was the bully allowed to get away with bullying and punching for years?

Contrary to the statements of Casey's dad, I would expect the whole school to stop picking on and terrorizing Casey. They now know he can and will protect himself, that he is NOT available for being anyone's punching bag--neither physically or verbally.

Hannah on 3:15 PM said...

I think today people tend to read into things so they don't have to deal with them at all. Sigh.

They look for what he could have done, and don't see that he truly had nothing else.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am perturbed by the event and the implications. Everyone seems to recognize that the bully, if left to his own devices, will grow up making a habit of bullying others and become a perpetrator of domestic violence.

But what I couldn't get out of my mind is the insistence of my violent husband's mother that he was bullied as a kid. He was a bit of an upstart and very bright, but lacking in athleticism. He was an easy target and today bears scars of some bullying incidents. He was also an easy target for bullying at work because of his superior aptitude but low social skills.

I don't want to make excuses for him, because I can't understand why he has to perpetrate violence if he has been a victim, but I wonder if bullying victims are also at risk to grow up to be abusers? Maybe they feel so victimized and disempowered that the only way for them to feel in control is to take control by lashing out. Yet other victims don't. What's your opinion?

Hannah on 9:00 AM said...

I try not to go by formulas, because humans don't always follow them ya know? I was just hoping that parents that knowingly allow they children TO bully realize they may not grow out of it. Schools need to realize their formula for dealing with this? Its pretty much worthless.

In some sense it may make sense in the case of your husband. Remember abuse is about power for them. I'm talking irrational types of power here of course. They say that those that feel powerless as a child can decide once they become adults - they will refuse to feel that again. Its the principal they speak about when they said children that grow up in abusive homes can either grow to become abusers themselves - or victims.

There are consequences for people/children not having a healthy outlook about themselves. When you leave a circumstance 'as is' so the child grows UP feeling powerless? (Healthy type here) They either own that or go the extreme route.

Its human nature in some ways. Some recognize it, and change so they don't follow that cycle.

Anonymous said...

Some news reports stated that other children at the school claimed fights occurred on a daily basis and were often filmed and shared online, and that they felt unsafe every day.

Hannah on 1:19 AM said...

I read something like that as well.

You have to wonder if they will work on it. It certainly should be a red flag!

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