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You Rock! Sandra Hadsock!

Florida teacher Sandra Hadsock gets arrested for being assaulted. Boy, did we get that one backwards!

Whenever someone is caught doing something well at the , the instructor stops, points at that person, and calls out, “1, 2, 3!”  Then everyone in the class stops, points at that person and yells, “YOU ROCK!”  Well, Ms. Sandra Hadsock: “ 1, 2, 3! YOU ROCK!”

By now you’ve probably heard the story of Florida teacher Sandra Hadsock, who defended herself by punching a student twice in the face. What shocked me about the story is what always shocks me about these stories. While we heard all about how the teacher was taken away by the police, put in hand cuffs, arrested and charged with felony child abuse, nothing was said about the guy who assaulted her. Was he arrested? Was he charged with assault? What did his parents have to say for themselves? What is this kid’s home life like that he thought his actions constituted acceptable behavior?

Situations like these show that our society has swung way too far to the other side of the “pendulum swing” on this issue. In decades gone by, children were physically, verbally and emotionally abused by teachers and workers in boys' schools and the like. We all remember those horrific stories. So our society took steps to prevent that sort of child abuse by passing laws. However, as always happens with big societal issues like these, the pendulum has swung way too far to the opposite side.

Nowadays, not only do our children have to fear for their safety while at school, teachers must walk the halls also in fear of their safety. And when they defend themselves from a guy significantly bigger than themselves, after using the appropriate verbal cues like “step away from me” by the way, they are treated like criminals. And unfortunately, this is all too often exactly how bullying victims are treated in our schools.

We’ve swung so far to the opposite extreme, that these kids think they can do whatever they want and get away with it. Instead of coming to the teacher’s defense, a classmate in the video can be heard saying, “you can’t do that, you can’t punch him, you can’t even call him stupid!”

Can’t even call him stupid? He just assaulted a teacher for God’s sake! This girl obviously doesn’t understand what constitutes acceptable behavior. What I hear in her words are, “you can’t touch us, we can do anything we want and you can’t touch us!” I’d like to ask this girl, “what about the teacher’s right to do her job without having to worry about being assaulted?”

And Ms. Hadsock was charged with child abuse? This guy was 17 years old, much bigger and younger than her, and from the video was obviously in the wrong. It doesn’t matter if he actually touched her or not, he was coming at her with the posture and words of a violent person intent on violence. Was Ms. Hadsock supposed to wait until she actually got hit before defending herself? Well now, that makes sense. And I’ll say it again – this is all too often exactly how bullying victims are treated in our schools.

What would have made me proud, would have been to have seen every single student in that room move in, surround the teacher and then move her out into the hall to keep that guy from coming at her again. That is what our kids should understand as appropriate and expected behavior. Not defending the guy that is assaulting somebody!

So what happened to this bully? He got suspended but not arrested. There’s problem number one. The teacher gets arrested, but not the guy that assaults her. What should happen to this guy next? Here’s what I’d like to see: first, expelled from school until he goes through some programs to teach him appropriate behaviors, perhaps some anger management work. I’d like to see him be required to make an apology to Ms. Hadsock, his classmates and the school system for his behavior live and on the air.  I’d like to see an investigation into his home life. Where did he learn these behaviors? Why wasn’t he taught better behavioral guidelines growing up as a child? Where are the parents, and what do they have to say for themselves?

Bullying will never be a thing of the past until we get our priorities straight. A person has to have the right to go about their business without being harassed. And we certainly need to have the right to physically defend ourselves if attacked. And finally, those who prey on others must be removed until they learn to choose socially acceptable behaviors.

Ms. Hadsock is my hero. She took appropriate action and kept a level head in an explosive and terrifying situation. She should get the teacher of the year award (which she was awarded the year before by the school system). And she continues to have what I think is the perfect opinion of her actions: “I’m really sorry that I was put in a situation where that’s what I felt like I had to do. I had to defend myself from this violent person.’’

Now of course, let’s not take this situation and swing too far back in the other direction and make it “open season” on students. Yet clearly, we have some adjustments to make if we want to remove bullying, in all it’s forms, from our school systems and society. Ms. Hadsock did exactly what I would feel comfortable teaching any child: when someone has you pinned against a wall and you can’t get away, you have the right to protect yourself.  

Thanks for being an awesome role model Ms. Hadsock!  “1, 2, 3! YOU ROCK !!!”

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