Pro-Con: Should bullying victims defend themselves?

Pro/Con: Should bullying victims be allowed to defend themselves? Dawn Kabela, owner of the Victoria Karate Academy, teaches martial arts students how to show self-restraint.
  • What is considered bullying in Texas?

  • Bullying is "engaging in written or verbal expression through electronic means or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity or in a vehicle operated by the school district that has the effect or will ...

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  • What is considered bullying in Texas?

    Bullying is "engaging in written or verbal expression through electronic means or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity or in a vehicle operated by the school district that has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student's property or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student's person or of damage to the student's property or is sufficiently severe, persistent and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student."

    The activity must also "exploit an imbalance of power," whether that is a difference in size, age or grade level.

    Source: Texas House Bill 1942

Many people grew up hearing the old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

The phrase, which first appeared in the Christian Record newspaper in 1862, offers a clear message: Walking away from a bully leaves them powerless.

What if the words being spouted are incessant, senseless, cruel and - worst of all - the one thing standing in your child's way from solving that complicated math problem or from excelling at the violin?

Or what if there aren't only words flying around on the playground but also fists?

In October, Cade Middle School parent Randy Duke stood sandwiched between two poster boards with the words, "Bullying Victims are Punished Here" emblazoned across his chest.

Duke protested how the Victoria school district punished his 14-year-old son, Max, for reacting violently to an art class altercation. He thought it was unfair then how Max, who he said had been bullied relentlessly, got hauled off to Mitchell School, an alternative school usually reserved for the aggressors.

Texas House Bill 1942, effective in June 2011, mandates public school administrators draft policies on how to combat the bullying phenomenon. It offers, for the first time, two tools: the ability to relocate a bully to another classroom and a definition of bullying, which helps distinguish it from fights brought on by false pride and raging hormones.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 19.9 percent of students nationwide were bullied on school property. One in five reported that on at least one of the days leading up to the survey the agency conducted they'd simply been too afraid to attend.

So, a question not easily answered has to be asked: Do bullying victims have a right to defend themselves?

Related stories:

PRO: You should offer reasonable defense against a bully, click HERE

CON: Violence, even against bullies, is never the answer, click HERE