Search

stronger than you think

Supporting all those affected by bullying

Category

Advice

They deserve a beating

IMG_1935

During the time my daughter was missing I sheltered myself from the careless, cruel and highly presumptive comments made on Facebook. I chose to skip past it and have since forgotten most of them.

There is one particular type of comment that was made after my daughter had been returned to me, which I cannot stop thinking about. It varied in wording, but conveyed the message – they deserve a beating.

Comments like those were often followed up with –

  • My dad used to beat me when I was a child.
  • I deserved it.
  • I turned out okay.
  • It did no harm.

I would urge anyone tempted to make a comment such as these to stop and think. Ask yourself how such a comment could be taken or acted upon – and what lessons are we teaching our children.

I did not beat my daughter. The thought of beating her never entered my mind. The idea of beating anyone is abhorrent to me. I personally never felt like I was ‘winning’ at parenting after giving my child a slap on the wrist or a smack on the bum.

But my concern goes deeper than that and it involves the subjectivity of the concept of beating someone. What is a beating? A slap? A punch? Several slaps and punches? Kicking? Hitting someone with a wooden spoon – a belt – a stick – an electric cord – a baseball bat – a metal pole? When does it go from ‘discipline’ to ‘abuse’? When does it become unacceptable?

I would suggest that the answer would vary depending on the life experiences of the individual and the culture in which they were raised. So when you post “they deserve a beating” your idea of what that means, I am willing to wager, will be widely misinterpreted.

How would you have felt if you read that my daughter had been assaulted by us, her parents? We could point to your comment and say – “hey, you encouraged us” – “we only took your advice”. And you would say – “that’s not what I meant”.

It’s just common sense, right? I wish it was.

I read news reports that depict heartbreaking stories of child abuse at the hands of parents who simply could not see that their actions were child abuse. They had themselves been subjected to or witnessed abuses far worse than the punishments they doled out, or they hold certain beliefs that encourage violence towards children.

There is a lot of projection that happens in public discourse – even though people acknowledge their own uniqueness they will also make pronouncements as if their experiences are comparable with everyone else’s.  It quite simply is not. Please remember that when you dispense advice to the public, especially when it involves what could be seen as an endorsement of violence.


What are we teaching our children? Violence isn’t always bad? There are circumstances under which violence is okay? I would say that violence is never okay. When a person is forced to act violently in order to protect themselves or someone else, is it a cause for celebration? I would say no. Many, if not most, would disagree.

I can think of two news items that depicted retaliations against bullies. One involved a child who snapped, picked up the bully and dumped him on his head. The other involved a bystander intervening and king hitting the bully. In both these cases the comments section was filled with praise. “He got was he deserved” being the over-riding consensus.

Did he? Maybe. But I cannot look at those videos without feeling sick. And sad.

One punch can kill. I do not want any of my children to be responsible for maiming or killing someone – even a nasty bully. The risks are too great and the consequences too devastating. Don’t get me wrong, I know the feeling of red-hot anger and the desire to hit someone. My question is – is it worth it?

If you see someone being assaulted, what is the best course of action? Hurting the bully? Or intervening and helping the person being bullied. I would say that achieving the latter without having to resort to the former is the best way to go.


We have laws in place (here in Australia) that do not include corporal punishment. You cannot receive a death sentence, no matter what you do. But in our homes, on our streets and in our school yards some of us  are exposed to violence – and society endorses it to some extent and excuses it under certain circumstances.

The point I’m trying to make is this. Even if you were beaten by your parents and you are okay. Even if you feel that you weren’t harmed. What kind of future do we want to build? A better one where we use non-violent means to resolve our problems? Or one that perpetuates the bad (and confusing) ideas of the past?

What do you think?

Love youself by Khari (Anti-bullying Song)

It is heartbreaking when a parent finds out that their child is being bullied.

This dad responded in a creative and loving way. I have no doubt his song helped his child, and so many others.

You can find out more about Khari and his music here

From the website : Khari is a world renowned poet, spoken word artist, published author, and music producer. He has performed at over 100 venues throughout the country, gracing stages from New Orleans to the Nuyorican, Atlanta to Denver.  In 2010, he released his groundbreaking, double disk, spoken word album  “VICTORY” which sold over 100,000 copies.  The success of VICTORY cemented him as one of the top selling spoken word artists in the country.

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”

IMG_1783This old adage served many children well over the ages. For children, like me, name-calling in the school yard and in the streets were laughed off, and eventually died away. I was never physically assaulted by another child, so have suffered no ill effect from the few nasty incidents that are only vaguely recalled.

I can therefore understand, to a certain extent, why some people put forward the claim that the children of today just needs to harden up and stop whinging about their feelings being hurt. They cannot see how much technology has changed the world.

Traditional forms of school-yard bullying are, unfortunately, still very much alive and well.  However, unlike the pre-internet era when a child could escape it after school, at weekends and during holidays, the children of today are quite often in constant contact with one another via social media. They are connected to their friends, and also to their tormentors, and unlike the nasty note that was passed to you in class that read “you stink”, internet posts are permanent, and the scale of exposure limitless.

One also has to consider the effect of the physical separation that the internet provides. A face-to-face confrontation holds risks that simply aren’t there online. And then there is the problem of anonymity. The bully can attack you using a fake Facebook account, or they can set up a hate-page on Instagram, or simply send you abusive text messages from a private number. And others can join in freely, creating a pack mentality which can continue for years.

All too often we see a news item that informs us of another young life that had been lost due to bullying.

Society as a whole and our children in particular are harmed by the peanut gallery who boo and hiss whenever the topic of bullying in the modern era comes up. It is time to start (at least try) to understand how the world has changed and how the internet-era is changing the way we interact with one another. No matter how much some people think of their own childhoods as being some sort of ‘ideal’, there is no going back.

Unfortunately I have no advice to give, other than:

  • Listen to your children and try to see things from their point of view
  • Encourage them to not engage in bullying behaviour themselves
  • Support them by taking them seriously
  • Be active by engaging with the school and other persons affected
  • Work together with other members of the community to find solutions and support

The questions we need to answer are:

  • How can we best support our children when they are being bullied?
  • How can we best deal with the bullies to help them become productive members of society?
  • How can we, as first generation social media parents, pave the way for a better and more prepared future?

These are not easy questions and maybe there are no clear answers, but I believe that we can make things better/more bearable/easier for our peers and for future generations.

If you would like to participate in the conversation, please comment below, or email us at elsa@strongerthanyouthink.me

Interview with Miss Kitty

Little Miss Kitty is a hero of ours.

Miss Kitty is 9-years old and in primary school. She has personally experienced harassment and has witnessed others being bullied. Her beautiful nature is demonstrated in the way she has responded.

A few weeks ago she started a colouring-in club at her school. It provides her and other children at the school a place to gather, engage in activities, meet new friends, and most importantly a safe place away from their tormentors.

Miss Kitty’s mum was kind enough to conduct an interview with her. We would like to thank them both for their contribution.

If you would like to contribute to this site, please email us at elsa@strongerthanyouthink.me

It could have been worse

pictureFor many years I pushed away feelings of sadness, rejection and pain by telling myself that things could have been worse.

Sure, things weren’t great, but hey, I was never tortured, I was never deprived of food or made to stand in the rain all night like that orphan in that movie I once saw.

Sure he called me useless, lazy, a bitch, a slut, but he never threatened me with violence.

Sure he threatened me with violence, but he never actually beat me.

At least I was never raped. At least I was never homeless. At least I never lived in a war zone. At least I was never a refugee.

The problem with this is that you end up carrying your pain, past and present, with you.

I am reminded of a story I once read of a hunter who lost the love of his life. Unable to face the reality of her death, he carried her corpse with him wherever he went, even when there was nothing left of her but a skeleton.

As time passed, the skeleton got heavier and heavier. The burden became so great that, eventually, he could no longer run – he could no longer hunt. He realised that he would die if he did not let her go. His pain and his sorrow had become too much to bear.

As we continue to deny ourselves our pain, it, like the skeleton in the story, becomes heavy, cumbersome, more and more a burden, eventually impeding our progress, draining our energy. Stripping us of our potential happiness and preventing us from making the necessary changes that would set us free.

It took me a long time to realise this and even longer to not feel ashamed and self-indulgent, but when I finally dropped the shield of denial that held back the tears, they came in floods.

And it was okay. I did not die, the world did not stop and no-one was harmed.

Today I feel that I learned a valuable lesson.  Now, when my children are sad I hold them and tell them to let it all out and that it will be okay, I promise. And I believe it. Who knows what I would have said to them had I continued dragging the skeleton around? How much pain they would have had to carry while saying to themselves, it could have been worse?

I don’t know how useful telling my story is, if at all. But I will never know if I don’t tell it. Maybe out there somewhere there is someone who can identify with it and who may be nodding along and, who knows, shedding a tear.


Recommended reading: Women who run with the wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés http://www.amazon.com/Women-Wolves-Clarissa-Pinkola-Est%C3%A9s/dp/0345409876

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑