Watched Bully last night.

I’ve felt conflicted about bullying because, in a small way I think it’s a horrible part of growing up. I think it teaches children that the world isn’t perfect, that there is conflict and evil in the world, and that they’ll need to find a way to handle it themselves because they won’t always have authority figures to seek help from.

BUT, when authority figures are justly sought and don’t do anything, these kids are helpless, particularly small and weak ones.

In many instances I think that there’s a system to teach bullied kids not to stand up for themselves. One way to combat bullying is to make sure your school has a system of checks and balances in place. One part of that is making sure a kid gets a punch in the nose if they have it coming to them.

In high school I once got in a fight. Someone budged in front of me in a line, things escalated, and both me and the aggressor ended up in the principal’s office. They called our parents to get us. My mom picked me up. I was scared of the repercussions.

But I shouldn’t have been. My mom assured me that I am the one who needs to defend myself. If I didn’t defend myself I would always be a target. I will never be in trouble at home for sticking up for myself. It was one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned.

Meanwhile, anti-bullying programs are focused more on resolving these sorts of conflicts through non-violent measures. I think that’s admirable, but when push comes to shove I don’t think there’s any shame in teaching kids to shove back.

But that was back when kids weren’t bringing guns and knives to school.

Related, this part of the movie rightfully enraged people.

It’s an example of one of the ways these sorts of problems get swept under the rug. The aggressor goes unpunished while the victim knows better, that he’ll be attacked again, and refuses to shake the bully’s hand.

And the principal here tells him something like, “you’re just as bad as the bully.”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.