I saw the article "Memoirs of a Bullied Kid" on the site Single Dad Laughing. It's written by a guy named Dan Pearce, and he seems like a hell of a guy. He's talking about raising his son, about accepting yourself, dealing with conflict, things like that. Pretty inspirational and good stuff.
The Memoirs of a Bullied Kid article must've taken a lot of guts to write, and I massively respect that. That said, I disagree with his conclusion on how to deal with violent bullies. So I want to send some praise and respect in his direction, but also some significant disagreement.
I originally wrote this as a comment for Hacker News, but it came out to about a normal post's length. Tone is more discussion site level than blog post level, but you'll get the gist of it -
"Son, as soon as someone puts their hands on you..."
This comment will be controversial, especially for North Americans and Western Europeans. I ask you to read it and think about it a moment before reacting, and comment if you disagree. I believe what I'm about to say is true, and I'm not trying to get a rise out of people - I want to fix some problems with society.
I feel for the author. I also moved around a lot as a kid. No, wasn't a military family. Just coincidences, reorganizations at work a few times in a row, changing jobs, family circumstances. Sometimes things went great and I fell into a group of good kids right away, sometimes they weren't so good. It's normal that sometimes the new kid gets shit. I understand.
A little teasing is nasty, but kids can cross the line. Something like this:
John and Mike never stopped. They never gave me a day off. And while their bullying hit maximum levels within a few days of school starting, the self loathing grew until I actually hated myself. ... they started in on new bullying tactics like sneaking up and cramming food from the floor into my mouth, knocking my lunch tray to the ground, throwing dangerous objects at me, tripping me, shoving me, and pushing me.
That's crossing the line. Those John and Mike kids are way past any acceptable teasing/jockeying line.
What's the author advise?
And so, I will ask you now to not hate the bullies. Experience tells me that hating them, or being angry with them, will always make it worse. Instead, put your arm around them. Love them. Tell them that they are valuable. Tell them that you expect great things from them. They will stop the bullying.
No, they won't.
This is where I'll offend polite society. I'm not doing it to get a rise out of you. I'll tell you - this is the mainstream advice you hear growing up these days. "Love the bullies, talk it out, and they'll stop."
No, that's false. That's how we got into this mess in the first place.
I remember I changed schools mid-year in seventh grade when we moved. I was born in August which is the cut-off date, so I was effectively a year younger than everyone else. I was 11 years old. The middle school I transferred to was 7th, 8th, and 9th grade. Just how that district was laid out.
A ninth grader - 14 or 15 years old, much bigger than me - pushed me into the lockers the third day at school. Hard.
He then laughed with his friends and started to walk off.
I ran after him, tackled him, and started hitting him in the face.
We both got suspended. No one caused problems with me after that. I found a nice group of friends and was respected. The older kid didn't cause me any problems after that either. He didn't really acknowledge me one way or the other, we were just strangers after that, which suited me fine.
And that's how you've got to do. This love the bullies thing - it's wrong. It ignores our animal nature.
I've got some sets of names I'd name my sons as they're born. They're unconventional names - Cosimo Marshall or Aurelius Marshall if the boy's mother was Italian, Zhuge Marshall if he was Chinese. The boy will likely get teased.
That's fine, tease back.
But son, as soon as someone puts their hands on you, they've crossed a line. Fuck them up. It's the only thing these vicious freaks understand. They're wild animals. They make violence on you, you need to show them that you're the stronger, bigger animal. When someone attacks you maliciously for no reason, you need to impose your will on them.
Even if you lose, lose swinging. They respect it. Be a tough fight.
This "talk it out" shit doesn't work... it's been the dogma for the last 30-50 years, it assumes the nobility of human nature will win out. It doesn't. It's nonsense. It just simply doesn't work.
If you're not strong enough to impose your will on someone making violence on you, then train and get stronger. If you're intelligent, it doesn't matter if the other guy is bigger than you. Take up boxing or martial arts. Brain beats brawn. Fight dirty if you have to. They shove food down your pants or whatever? As soon as he turns around, hit him in the back of the head as hard as you can. If you're much smaller, pick up a hard object and do it.
My Mom is awesome. She picked up from school when I was suspended. We sat in the principal's office and she was very serious, saying yes, my son is serious about school, he never gets into problems, I don't know what happened with the fight. After we left, she took me out to lunch and said good job.
I wished I'd learned that lesson earlier. Some people are animals. The ones that want to hurt you for no reason. Show them that you'll go to self-destructive lengths to defend yourself and avenge yourself upon them, and they'll stop. Also, protect others. I got into a shouting match protecting some McDonald's employees from a mob boss in Hong Kong. A riot cop came to break it up, I was almost in a fight with three mafia guys.
I had two guys try to mug me the other day in a dangerous area. Bad mistake, doubled one of them over with a kick the stomach and shouted at the other one, "YOU WANT TO DIE? BACK DOWN, STAY BACK." He did, he let me walk away while his criminal buddy was doubled over.
Should I have "talked" with them, "loved" them, these vicious criminals? No, they're animals. They don't understand.
Teach your kid to fight back and fight smart. Protect the weak. Be hell and misery to bad people. Pacifism only works if there's someone else that's strong around to keep things together - someone who'll stick up for you. If everyone goes pacifist except the bad people, eventually one bad person with no conscience winds up ruling.
No. It doesn't work. Teach your kids to fight back, fight smart, defend and assert themselves, and protect others in trouble. There's legitimately bad people in the world, barely above animals, and strength is the only thing they respect. Assert yourself.