Here in Colorado, the big news today is about a black teen acquitted for punching one of two teens who were taunting, harassing and threatening him. See below for details from some of the news stories. Good for you Randall Nelson.
For parents of young children and teens, I'm commenting on one aspect that I often hear from well-meaning parents. They tell their children not to fight; fighting is wrong, it only leads to more fighting. They tell their children to understand that bullies have suffered and to forgive bullies. They tell their children that forgiveness, kindness and negotiation will solve every situation peacefully. As Randall Nelson's case illustrates for every teen, of any color, race, religion, sex, that's nonsense. So, what do I think Randall should have done?
I think Randall did great; just what he should have done. Randall Nelson tried not fighting back. That's a good first approach. He got the authorities involved. That's a good second step, but they didn't stop it. If those two steps don't work, you'd better have an effective back up plan. Randall had the right back up plan.
Parents, if you coerce your children and prevent them from fighting even as a last resort, you leave them like defenseless sheep in a world that has wolves. As I said about work bullies in a recent article in the Denver Business Journal (January 11, 2008, page A28),
"Bullies will interpret [your] reasonableness as weakness … They will remain hostile and righteous. They will escalate their emotional abuse into a feeding frenzy."
Teach your children and teens to protect themselves. Don't encourage them to endure verbal abuse or emotional intimidation. You'd be encouraging them to become insecure victims of bullies and predators. Instead, help increase their self-reliance, confidence and self-esteem. This theme of teaching children and teens to face the real work also mentioned in the blog entry, "Cyberbullying suicide case."
You can learn more detailed methods through my books, coaching and speaking.
I think it was Kfir who said,
"Except for ending slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism, war has never solved anything!"
Some of the articles describing Randall's case are: "Black teen acquitted in punch," and "Black teen acquitted in punch," and "Teen acquitted of assault in racial case," and "Black teen acquitted in punch," and "Teen who faced racial taunts acquitted after breaking 2nd teen's jaw."