Bullying Response: Self Defense or sexual harrassment? (Society’s Slideshow)

Bullying has been a prevalent problem in schools for quite some time. Bullying has come under increased scrutiny pursuant to news stories about students who have committed suicide because they were bullied too much.

Thinking back to the time I was in school, parents generally encouraged their progeny to stand up to bullies. They painted the bullies as cowards who hide behind a mask of teasing and sometimes violence because of their own insecurities. Parents also told their parents that it was okay to defend themselves if a bully decided to use violence to impose their will on the victim.

However, according to boston.cbslocal.com, one student is going to be charged with sexual harassment for engaging in a self defense tactic taught in many adult self-defense courses: kicking a guy in the testicles.

A 7-year old boy, identified in the story as Mark Curran, said that a boy on the school bus approached him, and began choking him, apparently to get Curran to surrender his gloves. Curran said to his mother “I couldn’t breathe, so I kicked him in the testicles.”

The school is refusing to bill this action as a preservation of life reflex and instead is opting to treat the case as a sexual harassment case, citing a definition of inappropriate touching as reasoning.

Inappropriate touching? Wasn’t it inappropriate for the bully to come up to Curran and begin to choke him in the first place? And since when is it inappropriate to do anything in your power to stop someone from choking the breath out of you? What is happening to the bully in this case?

It is simply appalling that a school would even consider approaching a bullying situation like this by persecuting a boy who is obviously a victim trying to defend himself. I would certainly kick someone in the testicles who was choking me for any reason, especially if they were seeking to take my rightful property away from me for a laugh.

Curran should certainly be made aware that an action such as kicking someone in the testicles can cause serious permanent damage. He should definitely know that the only situation in which this action is even remotely acceptable is in cases when life or limb is truly believed to be in dire jeopardy.

However, this 7-year old has absolutely no concept of what sexual harassment is, nor does kicking another boy in the testicles register as his foot “inappropriately touching” the other boy’s testicles. Curran simply knows that it’ll hurt really bad and is a good way to stop someone from choking him.

No mention of what is being done to punish the bully for choking Curran has been given by the school. A Boston Public Schools official has cited the private nature of the case, and says that the district will conduct an investigation.

Whatever the result of the investigation, it will surely amount to a waste of educational dollars. However, it seems the school district would rather spend the money than assume that the action was justified as a self-preservation move.

Actions by schools or school districts that vilify a victim of bullying for self defense actions only serve to exacerbate the bullying problem. Bullies will simply be emboldened when they hear that the person they were picking on is getting in a worse sort of trouble than they are. The message to them is that any sort of self-defense action will be considered the same as, or worse, than their initial act of violence or teasing.

Rather than focus on a potential sexual harassment charge, they should be trotting out the threat of charging the bully with attempted murder. After all, the bully engaged in an action that might be construed to be intended to deprive Curran of his life, all to get a pair of gloves.

If school districts want to get tough on bullying, they need to get tough on bullies. Threaten to charge them with robbery (taking lunch money), assault (beating someone up for lunch money) or attempted murder (choking someone to get their gloves from them. Even if the charges are not filed, bullies should be made to realize that they dodged a major bullet due to their reckless actions.

Any of these things would be better than holding a victim accountable for defending themselves against a potentially harmful action by another. Once we start holding 7-year-old victims accountable for self-defense actions, it won’t be too much longer before a woman is charged with sexual harassment for kicking a potential rapist in the testicles. When that day comes, school districts, police departments, and governments will all have no moral or legal high ground to stand on in dealing with America’s bullying problem.

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