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Louis DeBroux / February 19, 2020

The Answer to Bullying Is Strength, Not Submission

Yet we teach children to never fight back, lest they be punished equal to the offender.

Our society has become a worried society. We worry about everything imaginable. Some worries are legitimate, like the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on families. Others, like “gun violence” or bullying, should concern us but also need to be put in proper context.

To watch the mainstream media, one would think we’re living in the most violent time in the history of America. In reality, gun-related murders in general, and school shootings in particular, are less frequent now than 30 years ago.

Another “epidemic” that causes anxiety for parents is bullying. But is it really an epidemic? Is bullying more common, or crueler, than in previous generations? Or are we simply raising a generation of victims, discouraged from standing up for themselves and incapable of dealing with the types of bullies that have been around forever?

“Many states have even passed anti-bullying laws, only to discover that the laws not only fail to fix the problem but probably make it worse,” notes The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh. “We have sent armies of psychologists into the schools, with the hope that medicalizing the problem might do the trick if legislating it didn’t work. And if all else fails, we have recourse to anti-bullying PSAs, anti-bullying seminars, anti-bullying websites, anti-bullying posters, and anti-bullying bumper stickers. But there is little evidence that any of these measures have made a significant impact.”

Many of today’s parents remember being told when they were children, “You better not start a fight, but if someone picks a fight with you, you’d better end it.” Not so now. Today, the bully and the victim are treated as moral equals if the victim has the temerity to actually fight back.

The idea that “it doesn’t matter who started it” is logically ludicrous and morally reprehensible. It absolutely does matter who started it. To say otherwise would be to argue that, if a rape victim fought back and killed her attacker, she and the rapist bear equal blame for the outcome. No sane person would take such an obviously idiotic position.

To say otherwise sends a horrible message to children, who should be taught that there is nothing laudable about being weak or cowardly. There is nothing praiseworthy about allowing evil to prevail uncontested.

Children are told that they should be the “bigger person” and walk away from bullies. That’s fine, to an extent. Certainly, we should not encourage children to throw punches if someone mocks their new haircut or criticizes their shirt. But what should the response be to relentless public humiliation? To being slapped, kicked, punched, or tripped? How many times should the victim walk away? And what message does it send to the bully when they are allowed to be school-aged tyrants who torment their peers without consequence?

Bullies thrive on power. They lust for the feeling of dominion they get over a submissive, terrified victim. Like a junkie, they get high on the feeling of dominating a weaker person. And like a junkie, over time it takes more and more to achieve that same high. The hateful, humiliating words get viler. The physical abuse gets more aggressive.

Even worse, when a child walks away from a bully out of fear rather than from a position of strength, no matter what lofty praise parents or teachers heap on the child, the child will still feel the shame and embarrassment of cowardice.

In the end, the only way to deal with bullies is for the victims to fight back. It can be frightening, but it will teach them the lesson that courage is not the absence of fear; rather, it is the willingness to persevere in the face of fear.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu so eloquently stated, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

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