Monday, September 13, 2010

Kids need strength not candles

I just got invited to a facebook group: “Vi tenner et lys for alle mobbeoffere hver søndag kl 21.00” . Which translates into; We light a candle for all bullied kids every Sunday at 21.00. Most of the comments were in Norsk, so I can’t understand a damn thing (yet), but this is ridiculous! Lighting candles for bullied kids, this is some ineffectual nonsense. Maybe you were bullied as a kid, and appreciate the sentiment, Are you being bullied now? If you are you haven’t learned a damn thing. These kids are alive, and without serious health complications, they don’t need remembrance candles burned for them, they need to be taught how to stand up for themselves.

When I was a kid there were a couple bullies at my school that did their best to terrorize the other kids. A couple of these kids came from seriously messed up family’s, and even at my age I recognized that, so I tried to smooth things over so situations didn’t escalate. Sometimes this worked sometimes these bullyies thought I was a good target, or god help them, my friends. That never ended well for the bullies. My Dad taught me to never start a fight, but by god if I was in one I was to be the one who finished it. I took this to heart, Fighting had its appeal, but I never liked hurting other people, being a farm raised kid I was strong and able to cause some damage if I wanted to. My Dad also taught me that the best way to win a fight is to not get into one, but to be prepared if it came to that.

I got into some fights when kids would pick on me or my buddies, sometimes the bullies would go after the mentally handicapped kids, a couple of guys never did that again. I never suffered bullying or threats, and I don’t see why kids today need to. A lot of school systems advocate talking to the bully, sure talk first (if you can), but if it comes to violence beat the piss out of the bully, he won’t come after you again, believe me, he won’t. Western society has become too soft, too weak, some people only respond to force, in those situations one needs to be equipped to handle themselves. So don’t light your silly little candles and ‘hope’ things will get better. Teach children to be secure in themselves, this will reduce the number of bullies and kids that look like good targets. Teach kids to stand up for themselves, no one else will, and if they are a doormat that early they will be a doormat their entire lives unless something is done. Don’t be a doormat, don’t teach others to be one, if you think you are one, don’t worry, there are ways to fix that.


  1. Obviously my parents are a bit different from yours, and yet on this particular point they were in complete agreement. When I was in a fight (Only one serious one of my early days in schools), I got two very different talking tos. The principal of the school needed to know if I had thrown a SINGLE PUNCH in self-defense (because I would be punished for it) (I lied and told him no, because he was a decent fellow and I think he thought this was stupid and was hoping I would get the hint and say no) and my parents told me that next time someone attacked me I shouldn't worry about fighting fair.

    That said, there's a part of me that needs to play Devil's Advocate here. What if, and I'll grant this is a rather big "what-if", but what if you consider this "light-a-candle" nonsense as an outlet for those who WERE bullied a long time ago. Obviously its too late to directly stand up for themselves... it would be better if that was what they did originally, but it's too late. But maybe any symbolic expression of resistance, even if it's... let's be honest, meaningless... can help those who have already been tread on, to heal and, well... take a step towards not being a doormat.

  2. If your "what-if" is a symbolic expression it is a pretty weak one. Granted it could be a step on the path to self assurance, but bullying does not stop on the playground. Unless there has been a turn around most people who didn't stick up for themselves when they were young, continue to do the same thing now. If a candle lighting is the spark that some people need to find their steel, I say go for it. However, it seems to be a mostly hollow gesture that is serving to make people feel like they are contributing to a cause without actually investing anything in it. I can light all the candles I want, for all the causes I want, that doesn't mean I am changing anything for the better, or actually helping to pave a path to brighter future...or whatever platitude may fit. If someone has been bullied and has never really stuck up for themselves, lighting a candle for some kid that is the younger mirror of themselves is not going to do anything. What might help is sitting the kid down, and telling him what a shitty life the adult has because he never took a stand for himself, then the adult could offer some ways for the kid to start taking charge of his own life.

    I do dig what your parents said; "Don't worry about fighting fair".