Why a Bully’s Target Has No Right of Self-Defense

A recent case from Pennsylvania teaches us an important lesson about why bullying is such a serious and persistent problem in public schools in the United States. Teachers and principals often allow bullies to say and do appalling things, day after day. A reasonable person may imagine that those teachers and principals fail to intervene because they are weak and permissive. Yet those supposedly weak and permissive adults can come down like a ton of bricks if one of the children who are being targeted by the bullies tries to defend him- or herself, even nonviolently. In other words, many teachers and principals actually condone bullying. Some of them actually participate in the bullying, while others simply take the bullies’ side. Education and human rights activists need to understand why an adult might behave that way.
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