Girl's beating girls

Julie P. Clark  StopRA@gmail.com

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Girl's beating girls...

In early April, six cheerleaders (with 2 male lookouts), viciously and violently attacked a friend for about 30 minutes. At one point, Victoria "Tori" Lindsay was unconscious. News reports a month later are saying that she still cannot see well out of one eye and cannot hear well in one ear.

Since the news broke, as well as news of another vicious girl fight, I've received a good number of emails from parents and teachers. I've also heard from many girls who experienced violent physical attacks. Nearly all ask me "why? and "what can we do about it?"

There are many answers to why, depending on whom you ask. But asking why almost always gives excuses to the criminals...they were victims of someone else, they came from a broken home, they'd broken up with a boyfriend, they were mad about something...and so on.

What to do about it is the better question. You can psychologize forever but is it accomplishing anything?

Most, if not all, cases of physical violence begin with words. It gets ignored, or brushed aside as no big deal. Teachers often report that they don't see it happening so they can't do anything. The victim is often blamed for not telling but, when she does, she either isn't belived, is told to stop tattling, told to grow up, grow a thicker skin, and so on. That gives the bullies all the permission they need to keep on bullying.

I've heard from teachers that it starts with the parents, that they are powerless to do anything. When a child is on your watch, you better darned well do something about it. When a child is a cheerleader or in any kind of activity and engages in violence or repeated acts of bullying and relational aggression, that child should be removed from her activity. She should pay the consequences for her behavior, not the victim. Too often it is the victom who has to leave school, drop activities or change schools.

There are things that can be done. Enforcing an anti-bullyiing policy is one (having the policy to begin with is the first step). Removal of privileges, including sports, is another. Community service (the school community in which she lives). Suspension from school for repeat or violent incidents. In fact, if one is violent toward another, she should not be allowed back into regular school...it should be incumbent upon the parents to find education for their violent child, if they cannot convince their child that violence is not acceptable. The school system--funded by taxpayers--should not have to be the ones to find or create special schools for violent kids. The parents should have to take on that responsibility. Maybe then they would get more involved in seeing to it that their children were model citizens.

Much of it is up to the parents, no doubt about it. When a child is a bully and becomes violent toward others, send them home. Too many schools do not do that because they would lose funding when that child is not in school. Schools are often afraid of the stigma of being thought of as a violent school, hence the under-reporting of assaults and other crimes which take place on school grounds. As long as that continues, there will be violence in schools.

Parents should teach their children early on that bullying and violence are wrong, and discipline their children for bullying others. It should be discipline of nature in which the child learns their lesson, that lets the child know that the parents mean business. And I am not referring to corporal punishment. There may be no right discipline...all kids are different. It could be losing privileges until the bullying has stopped. It may take grounding and losing privileges. It may take losing cell phones, computer time, driving privileges, and so on.

Some parents give up and shrug their shoulders, biding their time until the child graduates from high school and isn't their problem anymore. Parenting is not an armchair sport. It takes action. It takes involvement. It takes making your child unhappy sometimes when you'd rather have peace. But when we become parents, we are obligated to the child and to society to raise a productive citizen who is an asset to themselves and to society.

Obligations and responsibility...words that seem to have gone out of fashion these days. But it is what is needed...getting back to common sense, manners, the Golden Rule and living up to our obligations and responsibilities.

Copyright Julie P. Clark 2008

To learn more about what can be done about Relational Aggression and bullying, click here Purchase Guide to read about my guide on RA and what to do about it.