I was waiting outside school with the dog the other afternoon, while my partner picked up one of his daughters, when I witnessed something horrifying. A girl, of maybe nine or ten, was being chased down the street by a boy around the same age. When he caught up with her, he grabbed her by the hair and began to kick her. My instant reaction was to ask him what the hell he thought he was doing. He looked shocked and backed off. Both he and the girl stopped while I gave him a telling off about violent behaviour. I said it was wrong and he should never do it and told the girl she shouldn’t let him do it. I also threatened to tell his teacher and parents if I saw him doing it again. He looked suitably ashamed but the girl defiantly said to me: “It was fun though.” As if I was completely out of touch with what passed for fun these days.
I have no regrets about telling him off. Even though I didn’t know the children I think it’s every adult’s duty to speak up when they see what looks like a child being bullied and beaten up whoever the perpetrator is. In this instance, I also couldn’t help imagining the same scenario when these two kids were 20 years older and the thought of that horrified me – even more so because that little girl seemed to think it was perfectly ok to let a boy treat her like that.
Until I became a stepmother (nearly two-and-a-half years ago) I had no experience of kids. I had opinions about parenting and how to deal with children, but they were naïve as I had nothing practical to base them on other than having been a child myself. Now, with experience, I firmly believe that kids need moral guidance and strong role models if they are to grow up to be decent, well balanced, active members of society. If they aren’t set the right sort of example then they’ll grow up believing it is acceptable for a man to grab a woman’s hair and kick her and I don’t want my stepdaughters to have to live in that sort of world.
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