On my way to work the other day, I heard an interesting debate on the radio. The debate was about a kindergarten program in Phoenix that began an initiative to get kids to tell a teacher and not retaliate when they are bullied/hit/pushed or in a confrontation.
A bunch of parents called in saying they didn’t want their children to be “tattle tales” or that they would want their kids to fight back. There were also many teachers who called in and said they do encourage kids to tell an adult and not retaliate themselves to avoid trouble.
As I sat in my car, staring at the school right in front of me, I thought: Why is it one or the other? Why can’t their be a middle?
You see, I am a teacher…and I’m also a parent.
And I’m a teacher who cares deeply for the well-being of my students.
My own kids aren’t old enough to be in a fight yet. They also aren’t old enough to be bullied. However, when that day comes I will tell my kids to get themselves out of the situation they best that they can. If that means you need to push or hit to get away, then do what you need to do. However, as soon as you are free of the situation, find an adult, tell them what happened and explain that you did what you needed to get away.
I’ve taught high school and junior high and unfortunately, I’ve seen and broken up many fights. I’ve also had to have VERY hard conversations with teenage girls who tell me they couldn’t get away from a boy because she couldn’t hit him or else she would get in trouble. I tell these girls over and over, to hit them, push them, do what they need to do to get away. Get away, find an adult, or else the behavior gets off with no punishment and kids think its acceptable to continue. Their safety is the most important.
I might be alone in my “half-way” opinion, but sometimes kids are in a position where they need to get away, and they may need to get push, hit or shove to get out of the situation.
For me, it all comes down to keeping EVERY kid safe; not just mine and yours. I think the best way to keep ALL kids safe is not by saying that regardless of the situation here is the consequence, and not saying you’ll get in trouble no matter the situation. However, that’s just my experience as an educator. They can’t always just tell an adult, sometimes they need to get themselves out first. They also can’t just hit and punch all the time. If kids don’t “tattle” or “snitch” a lot of other kids could be hurt or bullied too. We have to think about every parent and child when we talk to our kids about the hard stuff.
Because school rules tend to be black and white, it means our kids might get in trouble for hitting back or protecting themselves. They might need to hit to get out of the situation. However, the school will say the student hit so here is the punishment. Personally, I’d rather have a safe and healthy kid in trouble, then a kid who got seriously injured and isn’t in trouble.