What people tend to call bullying in childhood, we call harassment or assault when adults do it. (Sometimes even sexual assault or sexual harassment! I know this from experience.) But it's not treated with the same seriousness when kids do it. Bullying is viewed as just kids being kids, even though it damages the victims for life. The schools do nothing to try to stop it, or else they try to stop it with tactics that would never work in a million years, so the problem never gets any better. Telling adults what's happening usually ends with the bullying getting worse as punishment for snitching. Put a bully in a jail cell for a night or two, I bet it'd scare most of them straight. But no, we don't do that. We basically, as a society, do nothing useful or helpful against it. Suspension? At best the bully gets a vacation from school; at worst, you're sending an abused child to spend more time with their abuser. Which just gives them more reason to retaliate against the snitch.
The only thing that the bullies respect, the only thing that generally makes them back off, is the victim fighting back. Bullying is about power, about wielding fear over another. They want their victims afraid. If they can't succeed, they try harder, with the general exception of the victim fighting back. It's not a guarantee, because bullies also tend to be really stupid, and can have back up. But until society starts taking these crimes as seriously among kids as we do among adults, then it's the best option.
If I ever have kids and they get in trouble for fighting back against a bully, I will press assault charges against the bully, or help my kids do the same thing, I'm not really sure how that works. I don't know for sure what that would accomplish, but I would really like to try it because nobody seems to want to try it or has ever apparently attempted it so it might be useful, if only to get the case to the Supreme Court and get more attention to the problem. A problem we have let fester for far too long.
So no, it isn't wrong to tell kids to fight back against bullies, so long as society keeps trying to ignore or downplay the problem. After all, even among adults, self-defense is still allowed. So why is it so often that when people fight back against bullies, the school punishes them for fighting back? Why can't people realize that when this happens we're teaching the victims that we don't care about their struggle at all? Which is what we're doing. When we punish both the bully and the bullying victim for fighting, we're basically telling the victim that we don't care that they're being bullied, and that we consider them fighting back to be just as bad as them being attacked for no good reason. Which is the same kind of idiotic attitude that leads to people defending Nazis who justly get punched out by people who would be their victims.
So far from being the wrong thing to do, the only just thing to do in this circumstance is to fight back, or to encourage your kids to do the same thing if they need to. At least until society pulls its collective head out of its collective backside, and starts treating these crimes with the seriousness they deserve, anyway. Until bullying among kids is viewed as seriously as assault or harassment among adults, then fighting back is the only option.
(Just to clarify, I'm not saying that we should give the bullies the same sentences for these crimes as their adult counterparts. I don't know what the total solution is, but we need to at least start taking this seriously for once; to start a serious conversation on what needs to happen. Up to this point, we've been pretending that we've been taking it seriously but we haven't.)
This was cross-posted from https://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1411735.html
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