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Improve Self-Defense Against Bullies at School

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What would be the most appropriate respond to school bullies:

1] Put your head up high, ignore them and walk away. The idea here is that the bullies will eventually get tired with unresponsive victims and stop bullying. I doubt this often works, based on real life experience.

2] Fight back i.e.: find a flaw and use it to bully back, hands on fighting, tool assisted attacks (I have seen this happened during my school years). I don't think I would recommend this unless my children really know self defense mechanism i.e. expert on shooting targets (guns, archery, etc) or acquired black belt in martial arts.

3] Report to higher authority i.e.: headmaster, school teachers, parents, etc. I know there will be an argument about being a wimp or whiner so let me make it clear that the victims here are not adults but below 20 of age like teenagers, youngsters, toddlers, pre-teens etc. I think it is quite alright for young kids to report to adults since they still need adult assistance in living in this world or acquiring information about how to live accordingly. But then, how should adults react to this report?

4]Move out from school/city/state/country. I realize the argument this is not solving the problem but running away from it a.k.a. cowards UNLESS you and your children are the only rational people in town and in that case I think it will be stupid to stand and stay still.

Some of you might suggest to improve one self in the lacking aspects that made the bullying happened in the first place. But what if the bullying is about facts like body parts you were born with and that you did not find anything wrong with them, or that disorder eating gene that you have, or the fact that you did not know your real parents/mother/father. If my children were strong, they would probably keep quiet and acted to option#1. But I think I would be confused about my next steps if they decided to tell me according to option#3.

What would be the rational and logical explanation and reaction to the whole issue?

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The most appropriate response is typically for the victims to fight back. Killing the bullies would be satisfying but unwise. Bullies are cowards and will back away from those who fight back.

Personally I also think that the adults in charge of a school should summarily expel bullies, but there are probably legal issues with that in a public school - though in a private school, I think they'll bend over backwards to avoid expelling a paying customer (their parents).

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3] Report to higher authority i.e.: headmaster, school teachers, parents, etc. I know there will be an argument about being a wimp or whiner so let me make it clear that the victims here are not adults but below 20 of age like teenagers, youngsters, toddlers, pre-teens etc. I think it is quite alright for young kids to report to adults since they still need adult assistance in living in this world or acquiring information about how to live accordingly. But then, how should adults react to this report?

This is the option we told our son to exercise.

We advised him to run away from force-wielders and call the cops, appeal to school authorities, and especially to tell us as soon as possible so that we could exercise our adult options on his behalf. We told him that bullies are the lowest of the low, mentally and morally, and that people who act that way are criminals who are punished by civilized people. That's why we have cops and armies. When faced with force, he should try to avoid or escape it and report the evil-doers to us and to the professionals whose job it is to protect him.

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We advised him to run away from force-wielders and call the cops, appeal to school authorities, and especially to tell us as soon as possible so that we could exercise our adult options on his behalf. We told him that bullies are the lowest of the low, mentally and morally, and that people who act that way are criminals who are punished by civilized people. That's why we have cops and armies. When faced with force, he should try to avoid or escape it and report the evil-doers to us and to the professionals whose job it is to protect him.

I think that makes perfect sense - if the school administration cares (or the parents involved care enough to make them care.) In my personal experience, neither was true. Perhaps, hopefully, times have changed.

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I most probably will go with what Betsy Speicher has suggested, which is option# 3. Any responsible parents will want to love and protect their children so it is only one of their jobs to take action on behalf of their children, within acceptable limits of course. In my understanding to Betsy's response, not only the parents take actions but it is also important to educate and give them understanding about such immoral behavior and any steps to avoid it (to become a bully himself).

Also, I agree with PhilO's response to fight back but as PhilO has said bullies are cowards and they don't pick bigger and stronger kids. Also, they (bullies) will more probably form a gang in order to eliminate a single child's idea about fighting back. I read PhilO's "What forms of self defense could be a core subject in school?" thread and I agree there should be a choice for self defense learning activity in school.

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What would be the most appropriate respond to school bullies:

1] Put your head up high, ignore them and walk away. The idea here is that the bullies will eventually get tired with unresponsive victims and stop bullying. I doubt this often works, based on real life experience.

2] Fight back i.e.: find a flaw and use it to bully back, hands on fighting, tool assisted attacks (I have seen this happened during my school years). I don't think I would recommend this unless my children really know self defense mechanism i.e. expert on shooting targets (guns, archery, etc) or acquired black belt in martial arts.

3] Report to higher authority i.e.: headmaster, school teachers, parents, etc. I know there will be an argument about being a wimp or whiner so let me make it clear that the victims here are not adults but below 20 of age like teenagers, youngsters, toddlers, pre-teens etc. I think it is quite alright for young kids to report to adults since they still need adult assistance in living in this world or acquiring information about how to live accordingly. But then, how should adults react to this report?

4]Move out from school/city/state/country. I realize the argument this is not solving the problem but running away from it a.k.a. cowards UNLESS you and your children are the only rational people in town and in that case I think it will be stupid to stand and stay still.

It doesn't have to be just one of those. You could combine 3 with 2 and precede 2 with private after school training, but 2 as self defense, not a reciprocal form of bullying. 3 doesn't work by itself because there are too many opportunities off school grounds or through sneak hit and run attacks.

But if the school is a bad environment to begin with, why put up with it? Go somewhere more civilized and deal with it, if required at all, on a smaller scale.

1 doesn't work for any length of time because the bullies have poor self esteem and crave attention -- repeatedly ignoring them tends to make them angry, especially if they sense fear as an invitation to pursue it.

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...In my personal experience, neither was true. Perhaps, hopefully, times have changed.

Time has not changed and maybe the situation has gotten a little worse. In my children's school they have a no hitting policy, so even if you are the defender you get in trouble. When school administrators punish the good for defending themselves I think we will end up with the bad provoking situations knowing they can get the other person in trouble, even at their own expense. There will also be very little motivation to be good if you get the same treatment as the person that started the incident. While in class a student behind my son kept kicking his chair and then finally kicked him in the back at which time he retaliated by hitting the person who has since left him alone. But, both of them, the good and bad, got the same punishment.

My own perspective on the situation is to never look for trouble but when it comes do not hesitate to attack the bully in front of his peers. Appeasing an aggressor never works, not in war nor in school. I have found that most times bullies are cowards and if you pummel them it ends right there. And even if they are not cowards they give you some respect for challenging them and generally leave you alone.

My perspective comes from being a military dependent and having to move often while in my youth. With every move my brohters and I always became the "new kid" that the bullies picked on. Once when I started at a new school and it was my first day a bully came up and said he did not like the way I looked. I told him I did not care what he thought and tried to pass him by without incident. Before I could pass him to go into the school he punched me right in the stomach. I retaliated with mulitple punches to his head and stomach and it was over with before the teachers even arrived. He never bothered me again, but other children said thanks for standing up to such a bully.

I teach my children to respect the rights of others, but bullies do not care about rights, so they are not immoral for defending themselves.

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Time has not changed and maybe the situation has gotten a little worse. In my children's school they have a no hitting policy, so even if you are the defender you get in trouble. When school administrators punish the good for defending themselves I think we will end up with the bad provoking situations knowing they can get the other person in trouble, even at their own expense. There will also be very little motivation to be good if you get the same treatment as the person that started the incident. While in class a student behind my son kept kicking his chair and then finally kicked him in the back at which time he retaliated by hitting the person who has since left him alone. But, both of them, the good and bad, got the same punishment.

That was also my experience - I expect that school administrators mindlessly follow the same evil altruistic handbook. Punishment for self-defense, not differentiating between the attacker and the victim, is just pure evil as far as I am concerned.

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It doesn't have to be just one of those. You could combine 3 with 2 and precede 2 with private after school training, but 2 as self defense, not a reciprocal form of bullying. 3 doesn't work by itself because there are too many opportunities off school grounds or through sneak hit and run attacks.

But if the school is a bad environment to begin with, why put up with it? Go somewhere more civilized and deal with it, if required at all, on a smaller scale.

1 doesn't work for any length of time because the bullies have poor self esteem and crave attention -- repeatedly ignoring them tends to make them angry, especially if they sense fear as an invitation to pursue it.

Although I have not been in one and every school in the world, I do not believe there will be a perfect school environment where bullying does not happen at all. One might be lucky enough never have to face it but that does not mean the school environment is bully free. As I have explained in my option#4, running away does not solve the problem. I would rather have my children face it because it will be a good education for them to know problem solving.
...In my personal experience, neither was true. Perhaps, hopefully, times have changed.

My own perspective on the situation is to never look for trouble but when it comes do not hesitate to attack the bully in front of his peers. Appeasing an aggressor never works, not in war nor in school. I have found that most times bullies are cowards and if you pummel them it ends right there. And even if they are not cowards they give you some respect for challenging them and generally leave you alone.

My perspective comes from being a military dependent and having to move often while in my youth. With every move my brohters and I always became the "new kid" that the bullies picked on. Once when I started at a new school and it was my first day a bully came up and said he did not like the way I looked. I told him I did not care what he thought and tried to pass him by without incident. Before I could pass him to go into the school he punched me right in the stomach. I retaliated with mulitple punches to his head and stomach and it was over with before the teachers even arrived. He never bothered me again, but other children said thanks for standing up to such a bully.

I teach my children to respect the rights of others, but bullies do not care about rights, so they are not immoral for defending themselves.

Unfortunately, it was never my situation to be one on one with the bully. There was always a group of them. I did try to face them verbally but because I was out of number, I lost. But the main reason I acted to option# 1 was because I didn't have the right philosophy nor the courage to stand up and speak. Now that I know better I want my children to have better attitude towards the problem.

Some adults react to bullying like "Yeah, it happens to everyone" or "You gotta stand up for it kid" and just leave it at that. Hardly solves the problem and what's even worse, these kinds of adults exist at school too.

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My mistake in previous post for typing in the quote box

It doesn't have to be just one of those. You could combine 3 with 2 and precede 2 with private after school training, but 2 as self defense, not a reciprocal form of bullying. 3 doesn't work by itself because there are too many opportunities off school grounds or through sneak hit and run attacks.

But if the school is a bad environment to begin with, why put up with it? Go somewhere more civilized and deal with it, if required at all, on a smaller scale.

1 doesn't work for any length of time because the bullies have poor self esteem and crave attention -- repeatedly ignoring them tends to make them angry, especially if they sense fear as an invitation to pursue it.

Although I have not been in one and every school in the world, I do not believe there will be a perfect school environment where bullying does not happen at all. One might be lucky enough never have to face it but that does not mean the school environment is bully free. As I have explained in my option#4, running away does not solve the problem. I would rather have my children face it because it will be a good education for them to know problem solving.

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Some adults react to bullying like "Yeah, it happens to everyone" or "You gotta stand up for it kid" and just leave it at that. Hardly solves the problem and what's even worse, these kinds of adults exist at school too.

It's very prevalent and just as frustrating as many other kinds of injustice.

Although I have not been in one and every school in the world, I do not believe there will be a perfect school environment where bullying does not happen at all. One might be lucky enough never have to face it but that does not mean the school environment is bully free. As I have explained in my option#4, running away does not solve the problem. I would rather have my children face it because it will be a good education for them to know problem solving.

But there are degrees, with great variations, from inner city schools run by gangs to private schools with strict discipline for civilized behavior. If you are in a bad area, it is not "running away" to seek a better environment, any more than it was "running away" for Ayn Rand to escape from the Soviet Union. Nor is subjugation to physical brutality and psychological torture a form of "problem solving". There is a role for learning problem solving in private lessons on self defense and practicing using it effectively when required, but children should be given the most rational, benevolent environment possible, where they can learn problem solving using their minds without having to live in fear or losing time to it. School isn't supposed to be Boot Camp.

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That was also my experience - I expect that school administrators mindlessly follow the same evil altruistic handbook. Punishment for self-defense, not differentiating between the attacker and the victim, is just pure evil as far as I am concerned.

It sure is. I made sure that when my son was growing up, he was never in a school or other situation where his right to be free from the threat of force was not protected.

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That was also my experience - I expect that school administrators mindlessly follow the same evil altruistic handbook. Punishment for self-defense, not differentiating between the attacker and the victim, is just pure evil as far as I am concerned.
...School isn't supposed to be Boot Camp.

I agree with both of you.

I sometimes wonder about the evilness and how it will or has effected my children. I also sometimes wonder how I, as a child, never gave into the evilness. One of the answers I have been able to come up is heroic movies. I did not read a lot of fiction in my youth but I sure did watch a lot of John Wayne moives along with other heroic characters/actors that demonstrated what I thought were heroic actions. I think heroic movies, books or adults can have a large influence on a young child and being consistent always helps.

When I was in a seventh grade art class, with a substitute teacher, a young girl that was sitting next to me was attacked by a young boy that she told she did not like. The young boy had a knife and put it to her neck, the teacher started to scream and backed into a corner. I grabbed the boy, but before I could grab his hand with the knife he stabbed me in the arm, blood went flying all over. I grabbed him and forced him to the ground, stood on his hand and took the knife from him. He then attempted to get up and hit me, but I decked him which knocked him out. I ended up having to go to the hospital and get stitches for the injury, but the girl was unharmed. The very next day when I came back to school the boy and I were called down to the principals office where both of us recevied a paddling. I remember thinking how ridiculous this is, I saved a girl while the teacher was doing nothing but screaming and I am getting paddled. I am not sure, but I can only think what most young people would have done after a situation like that. I could and would never let myself turn bad, even though I could not fully explain it in the seventh grade.

The first time I read Atlas Shrugged and got to the part in Galt's Gulch where Ayn Rand is describing the children, I thought that is how childhood and life should be.

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Can you imagine such hooliganism, even a verbal form of it, going on at the Van Damme Academy?

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Can you imagine such hooliganism, even a verbal form of it, going on at the Van Damme Academy?

I could not.

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When I was in a seventh grade art class, with a substitute teacher, a young girl that was sitting next to me was attacked by a young boy that she told she did not like. The young boy had a knife and put it to her neck, the teacher started to scream and backed into a corner. I grabbed the boy, but before I could grab his hand with the knife he stabbed me in the arm, blood went flying all over. I grabbed him and forced him to the ground, stood on his hand and took the knife from him. He then attempted to get up and hit me, but I decked him which knocked him out. I ended up having to go to the hospital and get stitches for the injury, but the girl was unharmed. The very next day when I came back to school the boy and I were called down to the principals office where both of us recevied a paddling. I remember thinking how ridiculous this is, I saved a girl while the teacher was doing nothing but screaming and I am getting paddled. I am not sure, but I can only think what most young people would have done after a situation like that. I could and would never let myself turn bad, even though I could not fully explain it in the seventh grade.

Good for you, Ray. The knife wielder was a little villain, a thug, and you were a hero who may have saved a girl's life, yet you both received punishment. All of my life I've had that attitude there is right and wrong, and I've never understood the mentalities that refused to acknowledge the difference. In fact, I had and have contempt for them.

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I grabbed him and forced him to the ground, stood on his hand and took the knife from him. He then attempted to get up and hit me, but I decked him which knocked him out.

The fact that you were punished for doing something so heroic would be evidence, all by itself, sufficient to completely condemn modern education and those who create it.

I wonder if that girl ever thinks of you, as an adult, thankful that she might not be here now if you hadn't taken action?

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I sometimes wonder about the evilness and how it will or has effected my children. I also sometimes wonder how I, as a child, never gave into the evilness.

I always thought that doing the right thing was because that was what 'right' means. It never occurred to me that it was something to be gotten around. You simply do what is right because it is right.

I used to think that the hooligans wouldn't matter in the end because such things could not survive in the adult civilized world I was headed for. Then I found out that they do, are all over the place, and are running the government. But when I still encounter it in the private world I dismiss it as so much trash and if necessary go somewhere else.

One of the answers I have been able to come up is heroic movies. I did not read a lot of fiction in my youth but I sure did watch a lot of John Wayne movies along with other heroic characters/actors that demonstrated what I thought were heroic actions. I think heroic movies, books or adults can have a large influence on a young child and being consistent always helps.

That certainly reinforced it, and they were very popular. Today those movies are cynically regarded as not 'politically correct'. 'Pragmatism' is taking over as a cover for the wrong.

... The very next day when I came back to school the boy and I were called down to the principals office where both of us recevied a paddling. I remember thinking how ridiculous this is, I saved a girl while the teacher was doing nothing but screaming and I am getting paddled...

Was there any attempt at explanation? Did they claim you made the situation more dangerous by jumping him? Did they object to your making the decision yourself? It's too bad you couldn't have decked the principal. What did the other students think about it afterwards? Your reaction of how ridiculous the principal's actions were only reinforced your independence and integrity. By then it could not have possibly been a threat to that.

The first time I read Atlas Shrugged and got to the part in Galt's Gulch where Ayn Rand is describing the children, I thought that is how childhood and life should be.

But don't you know that "Ayn Rand's world has no place for children"? :) Yes, I noticed that scene too, and it wasn't restricted to the children, as it wasn't for you either, but the short scene on children did stand out. At the beginning we used to think of our property at Moose Cove as the Valley, but we didn't get the ray screen up in time -- actually it wouldn't have helped because they want to take over whatever looks like wilderness for its own sake anyway. It has been a constant battle for the right ever since against the wealthy polically-connected hooligans posturing as the respectable.

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I agree with both of you.

I sometimes wonder about the evilness and how it will or has effected my children. I also sometimes wonder how I, as a child, never gave into the evilness...

....

I think that one of the reasons some children do not give into the evilness is the education they receive from their parents.

I remember when I was in the sixth grade a bully picked a fight with me. He tripped me, and when I fell he sat on my back. After I tried to ask him several times to get off me, I simply took a backwards swing with my hand and blackened his eye.

I was called later to the Headmasters office, and she suspended me for a day even though I claimed it was self-defense. (I don't remember if they did something to the bully).

Perhaps the thing that prevented me from despair and anger about the unfairness of the situation and "Taking the path to the Dark Side"(as Yoda would put it :) ) was the fact that when I returned home and explained what happened to my father, he backed me up completely, and even phoned my headmaster and yelled at her over the phone about it (which was surprising as he is usually a rather quiet man).

I think that getting a good education at home is vital for a child in order to know what is right and wrong, especially when the schools today (no matter where) are so morally wrong.

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When I was in a seventh grade art class, with a substitute teacher, a young girl that was sitting next to me was attacked by a young boy that she told she did not like. The young boy had a knife and put it to her neck, the teacher started to scream and backed into a corner. I grabbed the boy, but before I could grab his hand with the knife he stabbed me in the arm, blood went flying all over. I grabbed him and forced him to the ground, stood on his hand and took the knife from him. He then attempted to get up and hit me, but I decked him which knocked him out. I ended up having to go to the hospital and get stitches for the injury, but the girl was unharmed. The very next day when I came back to school the boy and I were called down to the principals office where both of us recevied a paddling. I remember thinking how ridiculous this is, I saved a girl while the teacher was doing nothing but screaming and I am getting paddled. I am not sure, but I can only think what most young people would have done after a situation like that. I could and would never let myself turn bad, even though I could not fully explain it in the seventh grade.

The first time I read Atlas Shrugged and got to the part in Galt's Gulch where Ayn Rand is describing the children, I thought that is how childhood and life should be.

First of all, congratulations RayK! For being a strong human, both mentally and physically. As I matured from teenager to adult, I realize there's nothing more embarrassing than being a normal human being, the highest on the food chain and be weak mentally and physically like a worm.

While still on the subject, I remember watching a show where a mother decided to home school all her gifted children by herself because she found out some of them were being bullied at school. While I was proud of her for taking an action on stopping the bullying process, I cannot help thinking that there would be a better solution that home schooled the children by herself. She didn't strike me as a professional and knowledgeable tutor. I think sending them to private school for the gifted would be more appropriate but she and her husband were not actually glittered in money so I guess that was out of the question. Her son, who was bullied, was handsome, normal looking, and brilliant so I still don't know what kind of flaw the bully found in him.

I'm not totally against home school as it gives your children full protection from immoral students while still getting the education. I'm guessing here that home school can range from moderate to fully experienced and knowledgeable and motivating tutor. But I still don't think cutting the social part from attending public or private school is correct. There are many student examples that you can learn at school or maybe being competitive to other student in positive activities. Learning to socialize is also important. The children can also learn or observe about other human behaviors without communicating if they don't want to. They can get access to different ideas or opinions or reactions and many more.

But there are degrees, with great variations, from inner city schools run by gangs to private schools with strict discipline for civilized behavior. If you are in a bad area, it is not "running away" to seek a better environment, any more than it was "running away" for Ayn Rand to escape from the Soviet Union. Nor is subjugation to physical brutality and psychological torture a form of "problem solving". There is a role for learning problem solving in private lessons on self defense and practicing using it effectively when required, but children should be given the most rational, benevolent environment possible, where they can learn problem solving using their minds without having to live in fear or losing time to it. School isn't supposed to be Boot Camp.

Relating to EWV post in my opinion choosing another school, a better one, might still be better than cutting it off completely i.e. home school.

What do you think on this?

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Her son, who was bullied, was handsome, normal looking, and brilliant so I still don't know what kind of flaw the bully found in him.

Those are 3 flaws already, if you keep in mind the nihilist mindset of the bully. Bullies are destroyers and embody hatred of the good for being the good, sometimes with a meaningless rationalization about a supposed flaw.

I spoke a long time ago with a woman who was a psychologist for the city public school system. She said that the more intelligent kids are often especially targeted, beaten and sometimes even murdered. She mostly worked in the poor/ghetto parts of the city.

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Re: home schooling, I'm all for it personally, if there are no suitable private schools and if you can afford the time. Frankly it would take very little to exceed, and with some effort to vastly exceed, the typical public school. There's a reason why the U.S. needs foreign minds - it is not creating them here, and progressive education wants to actively kill the mind in favor of "socialization" (i.e. creating meek people afraid to question orders from any authority.)

I suggest reading the book Marva Collins' Way if you want an idea of what's possible with a brilliantly talented teacher. Her student reading bibliography, in my recollection, would be worth using if one wanted to home school.

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What would be the most appropriate respond to school bullies:

I can offer some personal experience:

In my own case, there was someone I went to high school with who was constantly after me. Nothing physical, but incessant slander and harassment. It ended with the first time in two years that I responded to him, by lifting him off the ground, pinning him against a locker room wall, and telling him to knock it off. (To this day I have absolutely no idea what his problem was with me - I never spoke to him, didn't hang out with him, never talked about him to others, didn't know him at all outside of school or before we were on the football team together in high school. Also, by the way, this was the first and only time in my life I've ever used physical force on another human being.)

There were two cases affecting my son. In the first one, someone was upset with him when he broke up with a girl, and a group of kids got together with the intent to gang up on him and beat him up (the word "kill" was mentioned, and not just in the "really angry" sense). I found the leader of the group, told him that I was going to report him to the police for starters, and if that didn't solve the problem then he'd be dealing with me privately (so to speak). The threat instantly dissolved.

In the second case, someone else had a similar problem with my son, but this time the kid made the mistake of communicating the threat online, in instant messaging. (It was a bizarre, Columbine-sounding rant that, frankly, scared the hell out of me.) I supplied the saved log to the police when I filed the report on him. I also brought it up with their school, and even though the threat was made outside school hours (so they had no responsibility in the matter) they were very helpful in dealing with the kid. I'm a substitute teacher in the district and while all this was going on I covered a class that the kid was in. At the end of the period I took him aside for a brief conversation:

Me: Are we going to have a problem?

Him: Um...no.

Me: Good.

That problem also disappeared.

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Was there any attempt at explanation? Did they claim you made the situation more dangerous by jumping him? Did they object to your making the decision yourself? It's too bad you couldn't have decked the principal. What did the other students think about it afterwards? Your reaction of how ridiculous the principal's actions were only reinforced your independence and integrity. By then it could not have possibly been a threat to that.

The principal's only statement was that I should have allowed the teacher to handle the situation. I told him what the teacher was doing which his response was to tell me to bend over the table.

Most of the other students actually gave me praise and were dumbfounded that I had gotten paddled.

I think that one of the reasons some children do not give into the evilness is the education they receive from their parents.

I agree that parents probably play the largest part in most childrens moral codes. I also think that parents and people in general should always live according to the morals they state. Parents exemplifing their own standards is what I think works best in teaching children morals. With that said I do not think good parents are necessary for a child to be moral. For reasons I would rather not go into large detail, I know first hand that it is not a requirement.

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