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Turn the Other Cheek?

It's been a little tricky and difficult to find the right thing to tell my children when it comes to being bullied. In the one hand, I want them to be a wonderful Christian example and take what is dished out and stand up for themselves with prayer and kindness.  However, I come from the Bronx.  I know that this is not realistic and doesn't always work.  Where I come from, you put a stop to negative behavior ASAP.  If you show fear they will continue to pick on you.  If you have to knock someone out, you do that to protect yourself and to put a stop to something that may otherwise continue for many years.  If a bully sees fear in you, they will always pick on you - it's not until you stand up for yourself and put a little fear into them that they stop.

I, unfortunately, learned this first hand.  I was bullied beyond belief in the sixth grade.  It was the first time that this had ever happened to me and I didn't know how to deal with it.  At first I tried ignoring it and hoping it will go away, it didn't.  Then I tried telling my teacher, it made it worst. I tried my mother's sweet-nice-Jesuslovesyou-approach and I got laughed at and then picked on even more.  I was pushed, shoved, kicked, mushed, and worst, told the most degrading things on a daily basis.  It was relentless and more kids joined in as time went on.  It was horrible.  I faked illness in order to miss school and went into a deep depression.  My sister who is older than me, overheard me talking to a friend about what was going on in school and she told me, "Don't listen to mom.  You need to stop this.  You better go to school tomorrow and kick someone's (donkey).  If you don't, I will beat you down."  Ummm,  I was scared of my sister when she was serious and so the next time they picked on me I turned around and punched one of them.  I remember being so scared.  I fought the fattest black girl of the group at Poe Park after school on a Spring day with a bunch of kids watching and screaming "fight, fight, fight."  I was a skinny girl, so she could have demolished me.  I guess I was so scared of losing that I gave it my all and won.  Let's just say that there were hair extensions everywhere and I was never EVER picked on after that.  As a matter a fact, we became friends after that fight.  After that day I NEVER allowed anyone to pick on me.  The minute I saw it happening I put the person in their place.  Sometimes it was with stern words, a killer look, and at times I had to fight.  Growing up in the Bronx was awesome, and it wasn't as bad as people think, but I did run into some very tough people and very tough situations and I was happy that I had street smarts when I did.

With my own children I have struggled with what to say.  Finally, I have been telling them to ALWAYS use kind words first, if that doesn't work, use stern words with a stern tone, for example, "Please, don't put your hands on me."  If that doesn't work tell a grown up.  If it continues, you do what you have to do to defend yourself.  If you have to get tough and they hit you, you hit them back.  You will never get in trouble with me or your Papa if you tried all the nice / right things and it didn't work.  So, far this is working out.  I don't know if this is the right thing for everyone, but in my world it is.  I have very sweet children who can be easily picked on and I don't want them to ever be the victim of any punk.

I know many of my friends and family will disagree with me, and I am sorry.  My children are great kids who would never pick on anyone or make anyone feel poorly.  They have been taught to treat everyone with kindness, and to stick up for those who cannot stick up for themselves.  They will always use kindness first, but if that doesn't work..."Let's get ready to RUMMMMMMBLE"


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