Pro-Con: Should bullying victims defend themselves?

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Nov. 25, 2012 at 5:25 a.m.

Devin Brown reverse punches target pads at Victoria Karate Academy on Nov. 6.

Devin Brown reverse punches target pads at Victoria Karate Academy on Nov. 6.   Kathleen Duncan for The Victoria Advocate

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



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