Friday, January 8, 2010

Playground justice

I have been spending way too much time reminiscing about my childhood with various acquaintances from childhood who I met via Facebook.

We were "talking" about a mutual acquaintance Michael, the older brother of one of my friends. He told me that he had "punched out" Michael at the park near our school.

Fighting at school was strongly proscribed. Every month or so, a fight would break out on the playground and it would be broken up by the teacher on playground duty and the combatants would be taken to the Principal's office where they got THE STRAP. As my Grade 7 teacher, the vice principal told us, "When two kids fight, I win". I have to wonder about an adult who considers hitting kids half his size on the hands with a strap to be a victory, but he was a good teacher otherwise. Because of this when the demands of honour could only be settled by a fight, the fight was arranged for after school at a park 2 blocks from the school. I believe the proper etiquette was that one said, "I'm calling you out" and the fight was on. I can't remember if it was possible to turn down the invitation. I do know that the psychological damage of not showing up was way worse than any physical damage you could get in the fight. Word usually spread about the fight especially if two "heavyweights" were involved.

Anyway Michael apparently "called out" my Facebook friend Dave and the fight took place after school. As Dave tells me the fight ended badly for Michael with Dave on top of him punching and bloodying his undefended face. Dave tells me he actually felt sick and went to Michael's house afterwards to apologize. The apology could have been more a question of Michael's mom calling Dave's mom but I will give him the benefit of the doubt for a conscience.

I am trying to think how this would have gone down nowadays. No doubt psychologists and social workers would have been involved. Dave would probably have been forced to change schools.

When my kids were much younger, another child at my son's school who we knew was being bullied by a group of 4-5 students in his class. They were on his hockey team and it was actually the hockey team where the bullying originated. His parents went to the Principal who suggested, that they pull their son our of hockey or that they transfer him to a different school. Nothing about calling the kids on the carpet to account for their behaviour.

My wife asked me what I would have done. I told her how it would have been handled in the 1960s. The boy's older brothers (he had two) would have found the bullies after school somewhere and roughed them up. The bullying would have stopped. (Not sure what happened if you didn't have two older brothers; I had two)

The 1960s; such a simple if brutish time.

No comments: