Schools and parents who teach children to become chum for bullies

School-bully-001
One of my pet peeves is bullying.  I’m not talking about bullying amongst students, although I certainly don’t like that.  I’m talking about the bullying from school districts and Progressive parents who work overtime to ensure that children are brainwashed into fearing self-defense so much that they would rather be led as lambs to the slaughter than stand up for themselves.  The schools are dividing students into two classes:  the bullies and their institutionally created helpless victims.

I’m fulminating about this because of a story I found in the San Jose Mercury News.  There really was bullying going on — students attacked a 15-year-old classmate — but what makes me crazy is the fact that the mother ordered her child to take a beating, while the child celebrated the fact that it was better to get beaten up than to have problems with the school administrators (emphasis mine):

Ann Benediktsson, a 15-year-old Dougherty Valley High School student, was walking home on Thursday when a classmate approached her to say she would soon face a peer in a fight.

Ann’s mother, on the phone with her at the time, told her two things: Run home, and if a fight happens, do not fight back.

“It was the hardest thing I have ever had to say in my life,” Kate Benediktsson recalled. “I felt useless.”

[snip]

Minutes after speaking to her mother, Ann ran into her peer in a park along with over two dozen other students, waiting to witness the event. While Ann attempted to keep her attacker from pulling her hair and socking her jaw, the bystanders pulled out their phones and filmed. In a video Benediktsson obtained of the fight that she later posted to YouTube, students can be heard egging on the fight, sometimes cheering when Ann’s attacker made contact.

Ann never threw a punch.

“I am proud of how I handled it,” Ann said. “I’m glad I didn’t hit back because the principal and teachers would have just said it was a spat between teenagers.”

I cannot believe that a mother told her child to be a punching bag for bullies.  Moreover, I cannot believe that a mother told this to her girl child. One of the primary lessons women learn in every self-defense class is this:  if you fight back against someone who is assaulting you, you are likely to suffer physical injuries, but you are also much less likely than the passive victim to be raped or killed.

In the African savannah, when lions stalk wildebeests or gazelles, the lions do not like to have to work hard for their meal.  They want the lame and the weak stragglers, not the vigorous animals that put up a fight.  Human predators are the same.  A women who walks with an upright, energetic step, and who is aware of her surroundings, simply isn’t as appealing as the gal shuffling along with her head down.  And if that shuffling gal, when attacked, suddenly finds some gumption and fights back, the predator will often back off in any event and look for an easier victim.  (For more on the psychology of self-defense, I highly recommend Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence.)

The mother in the above news story essentially taught her daughter to be shark chum.  Moreover, while the mother ordered the “principled” stand, it was her daughter who ended up taking a beating.  The daughter was certainly an obedient child, but I do rather wonder if the mother would have stood there that passively if it was she, rather than her child, being attacked.

I wasn’t the only one thinking it’s a bad article that celebrates the next generation of victims.  Although the article garnered only eight comments, one of them was right on the mark as far as I was concerned:

ghosthunter007

sorry but I rather take a suspension and stand my ground than to be hit upon, that is the problem with parents these days oh don’t fight back, I taught my son how to defend himself and in doing so he is respected because those who tried to fight him lost. I hate bullies. Everyone should know how to defend themselves.

Ever since my kids hit school, I’ve given them a single message:  Never be the one to start a fight but, if someone else starts the fight, you make sure to end it.  And don’t worry about the school’s subsequent response.  If you had to use physical force to defend yourself, and if the school attempts to punish you, I will take the school on if I have to go all the way to the Supreme Court.  I’ve never had to make good on this promise, since no one has ever physically attacked my kids.  I suspect that, with my instruction ringing in their ears, they don’t walk around like shark bait.

By the way, I always back up this instruction to my kids by telling them that, had Jews not been conditioned by centuries of oppression to avoid arms, put their heads down, and try to appease authorities, its likely that the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened.  Please understand that I’m not blaming those victims.  First, no one could ever have imagined what the Germans intended to do.  Second, the Jews’ behavior wasn’t a conscious decision.  It was the result of a thousand years of conditioning.  Israel, thankfully, while not blaming the victims, nevertheless learned the lesson.  Like my children, Israel won’t start a fight, but she will finish it.

Incidentally, reading this news report about a school district’s institutional hostility to self-defense effectively bullying a child into victimhood, a behavior the child’s mother reinforced, reminded me of a post that America’s Sgt. Major wrote a couple of years ago at Castra Praetoria, explaining how to deal with bullies.  I highly recommend it, because it’s both enjoyable and instructive.

Ben Shapiro just shot to the top of my reading list

One of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in I don’t know how long is Ben Shapiro’s Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.  The book’s beauty rests on two solid pillars.  The first is that Ben, who is so sweet-faced he looks as if he couldn’t hurt a fly, got liberal TV producers, writers, and directors to speak openly about the fact that they intended their TV shows — all of which were sold to the public as entertainment and all of which were, indeed, entertaining — to be propaganda vehicles for Leftist ideology.

By getting these detailed quotations, Shapiro ensures that his book cannot be dismissed as the ranting of a conspiracy theorist who sees Communism’s evil hand in Hollywood’s every move.  There’s no conspiracy here.  Instead, there’s a smiling confession from Hollywood power brokers who detail their goals and the way in which they used our television sets to achieve those goals.

Benjamin Shapiro, from his Facebook page

The second pillar on which the book rests is Shapiro’s own writing style:  he’s easy to read.  His writing style is utterly straight-forward, although never boring.  Reading the book, I had the sense that I was a participant in a delightful conversation with an informed, witty friend who was fleshing out for me something I’d only noted vaguely before.

My only problem with Shapiro’s writing — and this reflects badly on me, not on him — is that I’m incredibly jealous that someone so young has such a mature, informed world view, and that he is able to convey it so well to others.  Despite having a few decades on him, I’m still a work-in-progress, but he’s a precociously sophisticated, intelligent voice.

I just purchased Shapiro’s latest book, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans.  The title, of course, is self-explanatory.  I suspect that it will be a perfect companion piece to Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.  Intellectual bullying and cheating are, after all, the yin and yang of Leftist discourse.

I have some other books I’ve been meaning to read, so I’d originally put Bullies in the middle of my reading list.  I’ve shuffled my list around, though, thanks to Shapiro’s masterful engagement with CNN’s resident bully, Piers Morgan.  Currently, the video is one of those autoplay videos, so I won’t include it here.  However, now that you’re warned about that autoplay, you can go here to see Shapiro reduce a bully to a quivering mass of incoherence.

Shapiro facing down Morgan

Shapiro’s ability to reduce Morgan so completely matters, not just because it’s gratifying to see a bully beaten at his own game, but also because it helps shift the discourse.  At Shapiro’s own Breitbart, Joel Pollak articulates Shapiro’s significant victory:

Ben Shapiro’s confident, fact-packed demolition of CNN’s Piers Morgan last night marks the turning point in the gun control debate. Ben showed that when they cannot exploit the deaths of children, gun control advocates are forced to defend their views, which are based on faulty premises. That timely reminder has given new energy and enthusiasm to defenders of the Second Amendment, who are preparing for the mother of all battles.

[snip]

Ben put into practice something that Andrew Breitbart preached throughout his career of battling the mainstream media: Question the premise, whether it’s an assertion that you don’t care about the victims of Sandy Hook, or a faulty definition of Critical Race Theory, or that Barack Obama is a nice guy who only wants America to succeed. Ben destroyed the faulty premise of the gun control debate last night. And the debate is now changed.

Question the premise.  What a great idea.  I took that tack in an earlier post I did today challenging the phrase “gun control,” which presupposes that guns should be controlled, and leaves the scope of that control as the only question.  The correct premise after Sandy Hook is to examine what steps we can take to make our country safer — and the data shows that depriving law-abiding citizens of their constitutional access to arms not only doesn’t make our country safer, it makes it more dangerous.  If you operate from the correct premise, you are able to use the correct information, and reach an accurate conclusion.

Right now, the only problem is that the Left fully understands that Shapiro is a lethal weapon aimed at the heart of shoddy Leftist thinking.  They’ve responded in predictable fashion, by burying Shapiro’s appearance on Morgan’s show.  They might have celebrated Alex Jones (“Can you believe how unstable this gun advocate is?”), but Shapiro has achieved Voldemortian status, by becoming he who shall not be named.  As Rush Limbaugh said just today during the few minutes I was able to catch his show, the media’s overriding ethos is that it’s only news if it harms Republicans.  No other news is fit to print.

The fact that Shapiro is not only willing to take on a bully, but also perfectly equipped to do so means that, rather than merely looking forward to reading his book, I’m positively lusting after it (in a purely intellectual way, of course).  I suspect that, if it’s as easily accessible as Primetime Propaganda, I’ll be able to read it quickly and review it soon.

Is the rise of bullying at schools tied to Progressive education policies?

There are a couple of things about modern life that are hard to understand.  The first is why so many more children have potentially fatal peanut allergies than did in my youth.  I have no idea why this is so, and probably never will.

The second thing that’s been mysterious to me is why bullying in school has suddenly become so epidemic.  When I was young, there was certainly bullying (and I, being small, near-sighted, and socially awkward, came in for more than my fair share), but bullying really wasn’t a big deal the way it is now.  For one thing, I don’t recall a single instance of someone committing suicide in San Francisco due to bullying during my school years, and I was one of those wonkish kids who read the paper daily (explaining, no doubt, why I was targeted for harassment). Lately, though, I’ve come up with a couple of theories about the rise of bullying.

There’s no doubt that social media is responsible in part for bullying.  The fact that children can use Facebook and texting to bully from a distance makes the whole process so much easier.  It’s one thing to insult a person to her (or his) face.  That requires a certain amount of chutzpah.  It’s another thing entirely, though, to add your “like” to a derogatory comment on someone’s Facebook page.  That’s practically anonymous and gives one an emotionally safe distance from the emotional damage one is causing.

Even social media, though, doesn’t account for the atmosphere in schools that makes relentless bullying socially acceptable.  And really, when one considers the omnipresent anti-bullying campaigns that are an integral part of every schools curriculum, it seems odd that bullying is equally omnipresent.  Or does it?  Could those anti-bullying campaigns be part of the reason bullying is on the rise?  I think so.

The schools in my community perfectly exemplify the modern educational approach to bullying.  They certainly don’t ignore bullying.  To the contrary, they talk about it constantly.  They hire touchy-feely gurus to come in and have the kids “open up” about their feelings, apparently in the belief that doing so will increase the average 14-year old’s empathy.  They also have peer groups of “specially trained” students who walk around ordering other students not to engage in bullying and who are supposed to mediate school-yard quarrels.  I have it on the best authority — the kids’ themselves — that these peer advisers have all the warm, cuddly qualities of a member of Mao’s youth brigade.  Just as anti-bully campaigner Dan Savage turns out to be something of a bully himself, those teenagers vested with the power to stop bullying tend to let that power go to their heads.  (Not all of them, of course, but enough of them to make other kids sour about the peer advisers.)

Kids who are caught engaging in bullying are counseled, made to do “reparative” work, overseen by faculty members and peer advisers, and otherwise made the objects of a great deal of attention.  Unsurprisingly, when these bullies do get caught, they do not have warm and cuddly feelings towards those students who presumably ratted them out.

Oh, and here’s the really important thing to know about how schools deal with bullies:  self-defense is not an option.  The only recourse for a bullied child is to tell the school authorities.

In theory, this sounds lovely.  It does away with vigilante justice and minimizes the fights that used to be fairly common on school playgrounds.  That’s the theory.

In fact, making self-defense a crime is a bonanza for the bullies.  The alpha child with a mean streak quickly figures out that, if he acts first to create a reign of terror, the other children are powerless to stop him.  He’s figured out that it takes two to tangle sufficiently to get the authorities’ attention.  As long as he’s dishing out the bullying, but no one is fighting back, the bullying is virtually invisible at the adult level.

Schools will tell you that they also counsel children how about how to avoid becoming victims.  This is a semantic gimmick.  To the extent the schools “teach” children how to avoid bullying, it doesn’t involve basic physical self-defense (which includes things as simple as walking in a confident way) or verbal self-defense (ways to take control of and deflect a potentially hostile interaction).  Instead, it’s all about “feelings.”  Well, the only “feeling” the bullied child knows well is fear.  Being told to “express” that feeling doesn’t prevent the bullying. Nor does all this “feeling” talk defer the alpha child who’s intent on doing a bit of no good.

The enterprising bully is also unfazed by the fact that the schools have rules against punishing whistle-blowers.  After all, the schools also have rules against bullying in the first place, but that’s clearly not stopping anyone.

In the old days, school yards meted out a form of rough justice: fist fights.  They weren’t common in my day, but they happened.  Two boys would hit the ground in a tangle of fists and feet, all the other children would gather around hollering “Fight!”, and, after a few minutes, a teacher would come along and break it up.  That was usually the end of it.  Fighting wasn’t encouraged, but it was tolerated up to a certain point, because it constituted community policing.  The kids took care of things themselves and, along the way, they learned how to be responsible for their own safety, rather than dependent on others.  (Please note that I’m not advocating kids beating each other up, nor am I confusing the rather innocent fist fights in my middle class schools with the brutal knife, gun, etc., gang fights that take place in America’s more dangerous schools.)

There is a perfect analogy for what’s going on in the schools:  gun control laws.  Those communities that have banned guns, and that have made even home defense a criminal act, blithely expected crime to go down.  Instead, of course, it went up.  Knowing that potential victims were helpless didn’t make criminals feel a sudden gush of compassion.  Instead, it heightened their hunting instincts.  Even the most thick-headed amongst them was able to figure out that the home robbery situation, rather than representing a risk, suddenly had all the fun and profit of hunting fish in a barrel.

On the street, the saying is that, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.  The same is true in the schoolyard, only it’s worse.  When seconds count, the school authorities aren’t there at all and, if a brave child tattles on the bully, either by telling his parents or by telling a school official, the bully suddenly becomes the center of the kind of attention that can only make the victim quite nervous about subsequent repercussions.

The best way to prevent violence is to have a population that can defend itself.  While Progressives think that everyone who knows how to fight is a potential bully, I believe that everyone who knows how to fight and who is taught about justice, morals, and decency, is a bulwark against bullying, because he can protect not only himself but also those smaller and weaker than he is.

War is not, and should not be, sporting

I’ve been thinking today about unmatched combatants and a combatant’s willingness to take hits in order to win a fight.  I think about the former often because, when I do jujitsu, I am an unmatched combatant.  I’m usually the only woman in the adult classes, which means that the people (i.e., men) with whom I’m rolling are 8 to 14 inches taller than I am, and outweigh me by 40 to 90 pounds.

Interestingly, these men, all of whom are nice, thoughtful people, are more scared of me than I am scared of them.  When we face each other before rolling, I look them in the eye and say, “Remember to give only about 50%” and, with those words, some of them just collapse in front of me.  They are so afraid that any move they do will hurt me that they do nothing at all.  Instead, they just kind of lie there, which isn’t fun for me or for them.  It’s only the strongest black belts who have sufficient control to give me a run for my money without hurting me.  I optimistically assume that the black belts have some fun with this careful grappling, because they get to focus on skill, rather than strength.

I had the same experience of being an unmatched combatant back in the day when I used to play tag football.  My specialty was sacking the quarterback.  After the snap, I’d just charge him.  (It was always a him.)  Invariably, the quarterback in these informal games would react as if a mosquito was attacking him — he’d back off quickly.  Had I been bigger, I know he would have gone forward, because he wouldn’t have worried about hurting me.  As it was, seeing me buzz around, the guy’s instinct (and this was true for whichever guy was quarterback) was to retreat, not attack.

Interestingly, I’m also an unmatched combatant when I end up in a class with teenagers — boys or girls — who are much closer to me in weight and overall size.  While the grown men are over-controlled, the teenagers are under-controlled, especially the girls.  I’m strong, agile and reasonably skilled, but I also have the slowness and slight rigidity of someone several decades older than these teenagers.  These kids don’t understand slow, their joints feel no pain, and they have cat-like flexibility.  I’m much more frightened of a 110 pound 15-year old girl than I am of a 180 pound 40-year old man.

There’s actually a point to these ruminations about unmatched combatants.  In the examples I’m giving, I am talking about sports combat.  People want to win, but they want to have fun, and it’s no fun when you hurt your friends.  Even the teenagers don’t want to hurt me.  They just have a very limited understanding of what will hurt me.

Problems arise when foolish people (by which I mean Lefties) try to apply the rules of sportsmanship to war.  War is not about winning for fun, it’s just about winning.  The fact that a war may be asymmetrical doesn’t mean that the larger power has to handicap itself to give the other side a fair chance.  Certainly, the winning side shouldn’t engage in sadistic massacres, but that’s not because sadism and overkill are unsportsmanlike.  It’s because they are (a) an unnecessary waste of resources and (b) morally bad for the bigger army.

After adjusting for necessary force and moral decency, the bigger army should do whatever is necessary to win, and it should do so without regard to the other side’s weaknesses.  When Lord Wellington reputedly said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, he wasn’t talking about fair play.  He was talking about the brutal field sports public school students used to play, in which no quarter was asked or given.

Part of this willingness to do whatever it takes to win in true combat means a willingness to take the hit.  One of my favorite mil bloggers, America’s 1st Sergeant, wrote a wonderful post about dealing with bullies, a necessary life lesson for him because his father’s military career meant that, as a boy, Am’s 1st Sgt, was repeatedly tested by the bullies at a series of new schools.  He learned, very quickly, that you’re going to get hurt taking on the bullies, but you’ll get hurt worse if you immediately acquiesce.  Bullies do not believe in sportsmanship.  Or, if they do, the only sports that interest them are blood sports — with you being the one who bleeds.

Gunnery Sergeant Ryan P. Shane shot while trying to rescue fatally wounded Marine at Fallujah

What the Leftists conveniently ignore or forget is that it’s not size, but intention, that makes the bully.  They believe that because America is the biggest force, it is the bullying-est force, and that it must yield to smaller forces in asymmetrical warfare.  That Americans fight to win in a legitimate defensive war against a culture dedicated to world conquest, and do not fight simply to destroy, torture or convert, is a subtlety that eludes the Leftist elites, who root for the smaller, more brutal Al Qaeda or Taliban forces.  At the same time, the Leftists cannot stomach the fact that our troops, recognizing the nature of a fight with a bully, are willing to engage, even if it means taking very painful hits, because that’s the only way to win.

Leftists are bullies, that goes without saying.  But the American elite believe in a bloodless bullying that involves hectoring, embarrassing, humiliating and disempowering those who are ready, willing and able to take the real fight to the real enemy.  It’s rather sad that the Leftists reserve their savagery for their first defenders, while demanding that these same defenders hew to completely irrelevant rules of sportsmanship that have no place on the field of battle.

The schizophrenia of modern public (i.e., Progressive) schools

We spend a lot of time talking here about the way our Progressive culture infantilizes young people.  Just think about the way the whole liberal world had a collective head explosion when Newt suggested that young people get jobs to learn the value of discipline and achieve the satisfaction of wages.  But all is not perpetual babying of our youth when it comes to the Progressive education establishment.  Woe betide the child, even a 7-year-old, who dares to transgress political correctness.  Under those circumstances, no consequences is too severe, both to punish the malfeasor and to stand as a warning to all other children tempted to violate Progressive norms.

I speak, of course, of the child who punched a bully in the crotch (something, by the way, that we are all taught in self-defense classes is the best way to disable a predator) and was charged with sexual harassment.  The story would be a non-story had the incident been treated the old-fashioned way, with both bully and victim hauled off to the principal’s office, to get proportionate punishments (with, I hope, more serious punishment going to the bully).  In my day, those punishments included staying after school, missing recess, perhaps a one- or two-day suspension and the dreaded “I’m going to have to tell your parents about this.”

Mark Steyn summarizes perfectly the horror unfolding here, and I do mean horror.  This is not just a silly joke about an over-reactive school administration.  This is a life-long sentence for the 7-year-old:

There may be “another side” to this story, but it’s hard to foresee any version of events in which a First Grader can plausibly be guilty of “sexual assault”. Nevertheless, if found guilty, Mark Curran when he turns 18 will be placed on a “sex offender registry”, and his life will be ruined. If officials of the Boston public schools system genuinely believe that when a seven-year old kicks another seven-year old in the crotch that that is an act of “sexual harassment”, then they are too stupid to be entrusted with the care of the city’s children. If, on the other hand, they retain enough residual humanity to understand that a seven-year-old groin-kick is not a sexual assault but have concluded that regulatory compliance obliges them to investigate it as such, then they are colluding in an act of great evil.

Sometimes societies become too stupid to survive. If you’re wondering how a candidate’s presidential campaign can be derailed by allegations of “gestures” of “a non-sexual nature” that made women “uncomfortable” two decades ago rather than by his total ignorance of foreign policy and national security, well, this stuff starts in kindergarten. The loss of proportion and of basic human judgment in the American education system ought to be an unnerving indicator.

Yeah, you got that right.