This post contains affiliate links. The links do not cost you anything extra but they do provide me a small commission if you use them.
How to Raise Your Son to Stand Up for Others in a Society of Zero Tolerance
When I say ‘zero tolerance’ I mean the policy most schools have against violence. That sounds like a good thing, right? Except as a mental health therapist for almost ten years, I have seen this policy harm and hinder many kids.
I believe the zero tolerance rule was meant to protect and care for the children who were being bullied. However, there have been many unintended consequences because of this policy.
Inability to stand up for yourself
This is the first unintended consequence I have seen. Bullies prey on the weakness of their victim. It empowers them and emboldens them.
With the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, children are taught to tell a teacher or an adult when they are being picked on. Unfortunately, unless the teacher witnessed the situation, they are unable to do anything about the bullying because it then becomes one person against the other.
The bullies know this is true and often this just causes them to be more sneaky and covert about their hurtful behavior.
Also, the idea of having to take your problems and issues to someone else produces the idea that they are not capable of handling issues themselves. This reinforces thoughts of “I’m not smart enough” and “I’m not strong enough”. In addition, if the teacher isn’t able to do anything about the bullying, it also reinforces the belief, “I’m not worth protecting.”
These clearly were not the purpose of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy. However that is what I have seen from hundreds of kids who have been bullied. We then not only have to problem-solve the bullying issue but also have to work through and change the negative beliefs that have manifested because of the situation.
‘Zero Tolerance’ also hinders passerby’s from engaging because they don’t want to get into trouble. Overtime, peers stop even paying attention or noticing the victimization of their peers because they feel they can’t do anything about it. That process creates apathy. Apathy is the lack of interest, enthusiasm, and concern. In this case, lack of interest and concern for the people getting picked on. Clearly that was an unintended consequence of ‘zero tolerance’.
How to raise your son to stand up
First, I want to address why I am not focusing on both sons and daughters. In my years as a therapist I am noticing the most change in our sons. As a society there appears to be a push to emasculate our men. I would like to believe this has not been on purpose, but I’m not so sure.
While girls also have stopped jumping in to protect the victims, girls are more likely to soothe and comfort them after the fact. This is not true of boys. Boys are not natural nurturers. This means the concern of apathy is not affecting our daughters as significantly as our sons.
So the ‘zero tolerance’ policy has more drastically altered the character and values of God’s image of our sons.
It is important for our sons to know why they should stand up for the victims around them.
Here are some biblical reasons:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
The bible clearly talks about protecting and defending the weak and oppressed.
Practical tips for the school setting
Let me be clear, I am not telling you to teach your son to haul off and hit the bullies. There are other ways to stand up and protect others without becoming physical.
- Befriend the victim
- Get your friends to befriend the victim, too
- Walk with a peer you know gets bullied so they are not alone
- Be a witness – be willing to corroborate the victim’s story to the teacher
- If you know the bully, tell him to stop – let him know you don’t think it’s funny or cool
- Stop being friends with the bully if he won’t stop – even if it’s your good friend
- If you see someone being bullied, be willing to step in and tell him to stop and help the victim get out of the situation.
This is a topic that needs to be addressed and taught to our sons (and yes daughters, too). A society with increased apathy will crumble!
I sincerely pray that this post meets you where you are today and helps you to teach your sons how to stand up for others and why it is so important.
Subscribe to get: 10 Ways to Get Your Child to Follow Directions
These helpful tips are beneficial in getting your child to follow directions!