That little gem comes from a psychologist, but you can find it all over the web. Just google it. It’s not that I disagree; I was once a child and remember it well. It’s just I don’t like what’s implicit in that statement.
You see, the reason that people often cite this truism is to explain schoolyard “teasing”. And based on this incontrovertible fact of life, this is what we tell children to do when “teased”:
In this list, it’s the #2 solution, and while the others seem like reasonable solutions, they’re really not that helpful, as I’m sure many of you could attest if you think back to your own school days. This list, specifically on how to deal with teasing, bullying and insults relating to being heavier than average also tells children to ignore it – If you act as if it doesn’t affect you, they may leave you alone – but then tells them to aid other people when they are being bullied. Talk about mixed messages.
Now, what is curious is that when you consult sites about dealing with discrimination as an adult – because, let’s face it, insults such as “four-eyes” and “fatty” are as discriminatory as “chink” or “sambo” – no longer is anyone telling you to ignore it.
Strange, eh? As far as children are concerned, it’s a jungle out there, you have no rights, and the best you can do is ignore it. But when we get to adulthood, all of a sudden we’re protected and we should appeal to third parties to help us.
That sounds just a tad, as they say where I come from, “arse over tit”.
Come on people! Get a grip! As parents, we have a duty to protect our children, and to make sure our children are getting the protection they need. Don’t tell them to ignore it. Don’t say, “be proud of yourself”. Don’t practise snappy comebacks with them.
Be the role models you are. Take it up with the school and get their commitment to do something about it – prevention teaching, dealing appropriately with incidents both with the perpetrator and the object of the discrimination, and do the same yourself for incidents outside of school.
Victims are made. They encounter bad treatment and they learn to suffer in silence. Show your children that they can play an active part in dealing with discrimination and they will no longer be victims. They’ll be proud of themselves and able to think of their own snappy comebacks.