When my kids fight or call each other names, I confess that I rarely ask them to sit down and discuss their feelings. I may try to get down to the bottom of the problem by going on a "fact-finding mission" to discover who the guilty party is but usually, they are both just told to go to their rooms and not come out until they are capable of acting like human beings. Sometimes they need more encouragement--in the form of a firm hand on the posterior region of their anatomy.
Apparently, Ive been encouraging bullying. Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame) has put together a program that is now implemented in over 12,000 schools called Operation Respect: Dont Laugh at Me. Michelle Malkin has described it brilliantly here.
Just a question: What happened to all the adults in our schools? When I was a youngster in school there was nothing so vulnerable as a teacher or administrator who took our childish behavior seriously. We could not express it, but we sensed the problem with that. We knew we could not trust an adult who trusted children. Children should only be taken as seriously as they deserve to be taken. They have to earn respect. Children have to be taught how to act like adults. They have to be made to do it. They will resist. If they are naughty, they must be punished. If they are mean, they must be punished more vigorously. They must be taught to act nobly and defend the weak. They have to be taught about justice. How odd to have to say these things that should be clear to all parents. But weve tried to re-invent the wheel. Kids will not respond to hand-holding and coddling. Sure, you need to kiss their boo-boos when they fall down, but you can over-do that. You have to make them get up again. These lessons are hard. Folk-songs cannot supplant the school of hard knocks.
If teachers and administrators (not to mention parents) were empowered with the powers that teachers of old enjoyed, (e.g., paddling, prayer, discussion of morality in absolute terms) we probably would not have as many of these problems as we seem to have today. Doesnt anyone see that these kind of programs spawn precisely the behavior they seek to prevent?