How Public Education Can Groom Our Kids To Accept Abuse

spider to the flyYears ago an acquaintance of mine wanted to homeschool. Her kindergarten aged child was being chased home from school by 5th and 6th grade boys who would pull her pants down. The school said they couldn’t help- it happened off campus. The boys’ parents said boys would be boys. Older women at her church said, “Well, they have to learn to get along in the real world sometime.”

In my real world, people who do this to other people go. to. jail.

Unfortunately, in the school world, that is not a given.

I have listened to some variation on these theme for two decades- parents who include concerns about bullying or the low level of behavior in public schooled children are criticized for being smother mothers, for sheltering, for refusing to equip their kids to deal with the ‘real world,’ because kids have to learn to get along and put up with that kind of stuff some time. I have always found this line of thinking inexpressibly appalling. There’s nothing real world about the microcosm of social interactions in public schools. In the fifth grade I had to run for the bus every day after school for months because ‘D. V.,’ the school bully, was threatening to beat me up. That would not happen in the ‘real’ world. As an adult I have options and coping strategies we deny children in the same situations. I can call the police, I can refuse to put myself in places where the D.V.s of this world are lying in wait, I can defend myself (when I finally fought back, we were both sent to the office, and today we would both have been expelled) and I can hire an attorney to represent me if my self-defense gets me into trouble. Nobody would make you go back to work if one of your co-workers was slapping you or pulling off your clothes every day. Incidentally, I just googled my old nemesis,’D.V. She’s a prison warden. I kid you not.

Here’s the thing I cannot understand- we object, vehemently, when adult women are told to stay put in abusive relationships. We don’t want adult women to stay in places where they are hit, sexually harassed, subjected to verbal and emotional abuse, and we often ask ourselves why a woman stays in a relationship where she is abused. Maybe she learned that in school- where she had to stay in classrooms, on schoolyards and on the bus with those who taunted and abused her. Maybe she learned that when she came home from school in kindergarten in tears, saying she didn’t want to go back because her classmates were mean to her and her parents told her she needed to learn to get along with people like that ‘in the real world,’ but then didn’t give her any of the options available to people in the ‘real world.’  Somehow, we are teaching our kids not to talk to adults (those in authority) about bullying, in spite of our so-called zero tolerance polices on bullying.

So there’s one ingredient in a recipe for destruction- we force children to endure situations and circumstances we would never accept for ourselves. We deliberately train them to expect to be mistreated by their fellow students, and we teach them they have to endure it- they can’t escape.

Updated to add this horrific example of abuse that is part of an ‘anti-bullying’ campaign:

Imagine 13 and 14-year-old girls being instructed to ask one another for a lesbian kiss in a class exercise. The girls had no choice. The parents were NOT informed. But hey, if it falls under “anti-bullying,” than who are you to question it, right?

This is abuse. As I have said before, the ‘gay agenda’ is not now and never was seeking tolerance. It was bullying, pure and simple, and the goal was complete capitulation by all who disagree.

The Principal defends the exercise, but acknowledges that they should have better parental notification in place. In reading the article, it’s possible that the goal was role playing how to say no to such an advance. But I submit to you that it is entirely possible to discuss ways to say no without demanding that half the students ask the other half for kisses.


Asking the girls to role play the part of somebody asking another girl for a lesbian kiss doesn’t improve the exercise or enhance the ability of the student to say ‘no.’ It begins by over-riding the students’ desires to say no in the first place. This is grooming children to break down their inhibitions and ignore their own consciences, comfort levels, personal boundaries, and desire to say no to somebody in authority who requires them to cross a boundary line of comfort they should not have to cross at all, let alone in a classroom. It is sexual harassment. It does not protect them from abuse. It subjects them to abuse.

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  1. Posted February 25, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    A prison warden. Perfect. One of my friends’ worst high school bullies (a male) is now a deputy sheriff. I didn’t get bullied much, for some reason (perhaps it was my tendency to hit back), but it does seem like people who like to lord it over others as children go on to find legal ways to do that as adults. Don’t even get me started on modern policing.

    I had considered that leaving a child in school to be bullied or to bully others is to teach that child that this is his proper place in society, mostly because bullies do seem to end up in those power-seeking positions, and bullied kids do tend to stay lower-status in their lifetimes. At least, that’s my observation. I don’t have data or anything, but I know a lot of people. 😉

    For some reason it never occurred to me that this would also play out in the home. Of course it does. Makes perfect sense.

  2. Posted February 25, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I agree. I had a former friend (emphasis: former) whose son was sexually assaulted in PRE-K. PRE-K! And she didn’t remove him. Why, I will never understand.

    Back in the 70’s, my older sister was harassed constantly by girls of one minority group because my sister looked like a different minority group. She didn’t tell my parents right away. Worse, the teacher was hitting her every day for refusing to salute the flag – something she has a legal right to refuse. My parents became homeschoolers soon after that.

    Stories of girls getting groped in the hallways, afraid to use the bathroom for fear of getting jumped, etc… these are legion amongst teenagers I talk to.

  3. Celena
    Posted February 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Great points! You put it into words so well. It really doesn’t make sense what we expect kids to deal with on their own as they ‘learn about the real world’. Children need tools and support and some hand holding through difficult issues and times, not the cold shoulder from those who are supposed to be helping and guiding them.

  4. Cherie
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Schoolkids are frequently subjected to behavior that in an adult workplace would be unacceptable and bear consequences. In second grade, two girls in the restroom had a pocketknife and told me to take my clothes off or they “would cut me.” I ran out of the bathroom but didn’t tell. When my parents got it out of me a few weeks later (I’d been having nightmares) they went to the school, but were told nothing could be done because it was my word against theirs- there were no adult witnesses. In junior high on the late bus, another girl kept hitting me on the head with her hardcover textbook. I moved away and she would follow and keep hitting me. I did tell my parents, but nothing was done because the bus driver hadn’t seen any of it. A neighbor boy a year younger than me shared my bus stop (we had to walk to the end of our road) He constantly made inappropriate remarks about my body (Teasing me for being flat-chested, but telling me I had a “great a–“) I would tell him to shut up and stop looking, and I would hit him ( a punch to the shoulder, in hindsight I sometimes wish I’d just belted him in the mouth, but realize I should have just talked to my parents, who would have done something about it) I never complained to my parents or the school because I was too embarrassed to repeat what he’d been saying. He apparently did complain to his mother about me hitting him, because she stopped me one day when I was walking home to ask me to stop hitting him because she had raised him not to hit girls. I wasn’t brave enough then to tell her why I kept smacking him.

  5. Heather Newcomb
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    This is so very good. Fantastic. I love it. I’m going to leave it pulled up and read it to my husband.

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