"The notion that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply a flight from fact. As I have said, it is only possible to people who have money and guns between themselves and reality."
--attributed to George Orwell
Yesterday I was talking to a man who is pretty involved at my son's school. We were talking about the school principal and he relayed the following story.
He and she were talking about fighting, and he said that if his son were attacked, he'd expect the boy to defend himself. She replied that the boy would be suspended or perhaps expelled if he did; rather, he should curl up on the ground in a ball and hope someone else runs to get help.
I have no reason to doubt the veracity of this story.
Dear gawd, when did common sense leave our schools? In exactly what year did we decide that, in instances of fighting, we'd completely take leave of our senses and begin to perform internal inspections of our belly buttons?
I've had several conversations about fighting with one of my vice principals. He said that he does not want to get involved in making value judgements concerning fights because there's too much "he said, she said" involved. To him, both the initiator and the victim were fighting and they get the same punishment of a few days' worth of suspension. He acknowledges that if he were the victim, he'd defend himself and accept the suspension. Why anyone would "accept" an unjust punishment is far beyond me.
I think we hold our students in school to a higher standard than we do adults in public. Self defense is a legitimate and very real defense in the adult legal world. Yet, my son's principal expects students to curl up on the ground in a ball and my own school's administration expects students to just turn the other cheek (I thought religion had to be kept out of schools!) and walk away. Neither of those actions is realistic, and neither serves to prevent fighting. Both serve to treat a victim as a scofflaw.
I don't want to hear about lawsuits from parents who say their kid was treated worse because he supposedly started a fight when he really didn't. I'm tired of these lawsuits. Perhaps Orwell's quote above applies equally well to lawsuits. They aren't going to go away if you keep giving in to them. Stand up to a few and people will see how useless they are. And you'd have the added benefit that people would actually be able to respect the school's rules and the application of those rules, rather than the current situation of seeing stupid rules and having a school district try to defend those stupid rules.
Incidentally, this man also told me that a child who brought a small pair of nail clippers to school had them confiscated and his/her parents were called and asked to come retrieve the "weapon" immediately. Stupidity. Scissors and pencils, tools ubiquitous in our classrooms, are much more easily used as weapons than a pair of freakin' nail clippers. Again I ask, when did we take leave of our senses? "I'm going to fight you by poking you with these nail clippers! Take that!" Such a child shouldn't be suspended for fighting with a weapon, but for being too stupid to attend even the public schools.
But we have to treat everyone equally, victim and aggressor alike. Amazing.