Deblog: Should We Teach Our Kids To Fight Bullies?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

This is a really tough question. As a dad of two young boys, I think about the right things to teach them. If (more likely when) they get picked on by classmates, I think the right thing for them to do is to walk away.

But what happens if things escalate? If a bully is constantly picking on my son? If someone pushes him or punches him? Should he walk away or should he fight back?

This question came to our mind after a story that our sister-station in Baltimore did. Watch the video and watch how the mom encourages her young son to fight:

Is this the right thing to do? Is there a time where the only thing to do is to fight, physically — to stand up for yourself?

I’d be interested in your thoughts. We’ll use them in tonight’s Good Question at 10.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Diana Kamrowski Schlafer

    In a perfect world our children would be able to tell an adult, the adult would talk to the bully, and everything would be peachy. In the real world the bully frequently ignores the adults and continues to harrass. I taught our sons that IF they have tried all the expected solutions and nothing is working they have my permission to stand up for themselves. If the people who are in charge can’t/won’t protect you then sometimes it’s ok to defend yourself. (the one time it came close to that my son stood his ground, the bully took a step back, and everything was better)

  • Mindy Swenson

    I don’t believe physical fighting is the solution. However, I do think the program offered through local non-profit Youth Frontiers equip kids with the words and healthy reactions to stand up for courage, kindness and respect to make their school environment better for everyone.

    • eastside_evil

      Mindy, have you ever been surrounded by a gang of boys and gotten your a** kicked? I’m guessing you have not.
      Physical fighting is the solution in that scenario, in case you were wondering. You see, otherwise you get hospitalized or killed.

      Do I teach my 4 boys to stand up to bullies and fight? You’re darned right I do. But this video with a mom ignoring pleas for help and instead encouraging fighting is just sickening. Fighting is a last resort for when nobody will help you avoid it and you are unable to avoid being physically battered yourself.

      • Jason DeRusha

        Eastside evil- if you want to talk with us – you should email me. I’d love to talk with you for the story. jrderusha -at-

    • Jason DeRusha

      I just emailed YF- thanks Mindy.

  • Danielle Borgerson-Nesvold

    I am a mother of a son who was attacked many times by bullies. The final straw was when I called the police and pressed charges after an attack so after school. It is natural for a victim to have enough and want to fight back and sometimes in the most deadly ways which we have witnessed in our country. The only way to stop a bully is to report to the school and police (if it was assault). Hitting back may get your child in trouble. Trust me I wanted to let my son swing, but he was actually bigger than the aggressors and knew he could have done damage. In Austin, MN our school district protects the kids from the school to their final destination. My son’s worst attack happen on the way home. Sadly, bullies thrive where there is no authority and can silence their victims for days. Bullies work in groups and have a great social following and are deceiving to adults when they need to. REPORT REPORT REPORT is what needs to happen. Also changing the climate in the schools and the community is the best way to do this. Happy to say I am a mother who is part of an anti bullyin group in Austin MN that has and will be making GREAT STRIDES in supporting the kids and letting the bullies know their power is going to be taken away. There should be support for parents of victims to know what they can do for their kids. And the victims should be reminded they aren’t the cause of this, its the bullies hunger to take power away from their victims. The three boys (4th and 2 5th graders) who attacked my son all went to court, got probation, community service and have to form a letter of apology to my son. They may never change but we took power away. Since then the kids in school that didn’t say anything or were afraid now are finally understanding why they have the power to change their school to a positive one. Their is a huge movement in our country to change our community. Good Luck.

  • Victim Du Jour

    Most 80’s and 90’s pop culture films have showdowns with bully’s

    Karate Kid, Back to the Future, Dazed and Confused, and even Forrest Gump.

    Rocky became friends with his bully in Rocky 3, and Apollo started helping Rocky beat new bully’s. Until Dolph Lungren ended their anti-bully coalition.

    You can easily find hundreds of films with the same story. Darth Vader is a bully too!

  • Valerie

    I always told my son not to hit anyone and to just walk away, unless he was in a situation where he absolutely had to. In high school, coming from another town he was made fun of & was really terribly hurt. When he was picked on by this particular guy I told my son to be extra “friendly” to this guy & try to become his friend. It worked & they became friends. It wasn’t a friendship that lasted till now (my son is almost 24yrs old) but it lasted for several years but it was obvious is friend was heading in another direction in life & they eventually drifted apart.

  • melonie

    I have children in grade school (1 st grade) the teachers have told me they are spending more time teaching manners and social skills then educating the children on what they are suppose to be educating them on Where are the parents! Parents need to ask their selves will my child contribute to the society? These children are our future invest in their future and rasie them with manners and respect. I do understnd more and more why parents home school their children. I teach my girls to walk away or tell an adult if it is bad but in school a little 5 minute time out or to be sent to a thinking spot isn’t doing much to these bullies, they are laughing at the teachers and authorities and now kids are picked on when adults are not looking. Some days I wish I raised my kids to be the bully only because my heart breaks when they come home with tears. I have not ruled out teaching them how to hit.

  • finally stood up

    I was always taught that as long as I didn’t throw the first punch or provoke the fiight, I was allowed to protect myself. I was actually punished for not fighting back the first time a bully started hitting me. My parents told me that if it ever happened again I wouldn’t get in trouble for fighting back. I was 10. Several years later, a girl slapped me on the school bus. I fought back. My parents allowed me to be suspended and receive corporal punishment from the school in response. The other girl didn’t get any discipline. When my ex-husband started abusing me, I left the second time he hit me.

    Sometimes it’s okay to fight back. If you are defending yourself from physical attack, I’m okay with it. I didn’t like the video – that was just sick. The mother should have stepped in to stop the fight – that’s what adults are supposed to do.
    I just wish my parents had been more consistent.

  • Willow

    I have no problem with kids learning self-defense. It’s great exercise and gives them self-confidence. However, they must also be taught that violence should always be a solution of last resort. It should never be the first solution.

  • Lori S..

    i strongly believe in recycling , but what do we do with the old used batteries? I’ve called recyclihg centers and they don’t even really know.. Walmart said not to bring them there ( they have to pay to get rid of them0 even though we buy batteries in their store. I would rather find a source than throw them in my garbage , but what choices do we have.. Paying to get rid of them does not seem like the answer , nor does running several miles and burning up the gas to get there! ! Would appreciate an answer, thank you , Lori S.

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