Please advise re: my kid defending himself

Discussion in 'General Self Defense' started by girlbug2, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. girlbug2

    girlbug2 Master of Arts

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    I have a six year old boy who has never had any formal martial arts training as of yet, although he has watched his older brother take Karate lessons and as a family we are very martial arts oriented. So, he has had much exposure to the concepts of martial arts and sometimes practices kicking bags and such. Anyway, he has developed a good sidekick mostly on his own.

    Today at soccer practice there was a scuffle between my son and another kid on the team, "Jerry". Jerry is a special needs kid who has some sort of emotional difficulties and takes meds for it. I happened to over hear his mom mentioning that she'd forgotten to give him his meds this morning :(, and a few times Jerry had meltdowns and had to be carried bodily off the field by the coach for time outs. Anyway, I hadn't explained Jerry much to my son prior to today because I have only just been finding out about Jerry's condition myself. At some point, Jerry got upset with my son for something or another and I saw him running at my son in an apparent fury, intending to do who knows what, maybe hit him or tackle him or something (which he has done on other occasions). My son saw it coming and intercepted the attack with a side kick to the midsection. The coach had turned his back and didn't witness it, but the assistant coach did see what happened. Jerry fell down and started crying loudly but he wasn't coherent and my son just clammed up. Jerry was not seriously hurt as it turned out but there were cleat marks on his stomach. I think the mom assumed my kid had attacked Jerry, but she didn't directly witness it either. Jerry and his mom leave, my son gets a time out for 10 mins and then goes back into the game. The coach tells me that he understands it was self defense but my kid has to be kicked off of the team if it ever happens again.

    Now I am feeling a lot of conflicting emotions about this. On the one hand, I am horrified that my kid reacted with such a high level of force to Jerry, but on the other hand there is that small part of me that is proud he defended himself so well. I had a talk with him afterward about bringing down the level of force for other kids who are smaller or weaker or special. I can't say he did wrong, but in a self defense situation it's too easy to second guess after the fact what someone should have done. OTOH, he definitely needs real training to bring his skills under control. That may take a few years however, meanwhile what if Jerry comes at him again, how should I tell him to defend himself?

    I am not yet a black belt in my own martial art, far from it! I have never had to deal with this before. If someone came at me like Jerry did I'd know how to defend myself against it but likely it would be with maiming force, I have not yet learned the more subtle points deflecting attacks without harming the opponent. So I really do not know how to counsel my son for this. Suggestions? Opinions?
     
  2. KenpoTex

    KenpoTex Senior Master

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    Second guessing his actions because the other kid has problems isn't fair to him. I know it sounds callous but just because someone else, child or adult, may not have full control over their actions or know what they're doing (the kid who was off his meds), doesn't mean we're supposed to allow them to hurt us. The standard is still the same...use the level of force necessary to protect yourself.

    Regarding the bolded part above, I think he did just fine, it doesn't sound like he was excessive with his use of force. I would tell him that you're glad he protected himself and make sure he understands that such things are only to be done if he is afraid that someone is going to hurt him. Don't make the mistake of coming down too hard on him or he might hesitate to act appropriately if there is ever a "next time." What is it about his actions that you feel was too excessive?

    If someone is attacking you, the last thing you need to be worried about is "defending without hurting the bad guy."
     
  3. marlon

    marlon Master Black Belt

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    two good things here in my opinion. One a good reaction from your son to defend himself. And, a lesson that there are consequences to our actions even if we are right (or feel we are). nothing bad happened here. Time to teach him the spiderman thing responsibilty and power....bla bla...but so true and important. make sure he knows he has nothing to prove, and teach him, explain the whole situation. Our children do not lack capacity...only teachers and teachings. trust him to understand and grow.

    Respectfully,
    Marlon
     
  4. girlbug2

    girlbug2 Master of Arts

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    Yes that did flash through my head right away, I didn't want to mess with his instincts for self defense so I got very quiet and let the coach do the talking (the coach seems like a smart guy, he wasn't mad at my son, but his hands are apparently tied by AYSO rules). Later my dh and I gently explained about special kids like Jerry and said to watch out for him and be prepared to yell for the coach when Jared acts up. Still, there may not be time for words if it happens again and I am worried that he'll end up hurting Jerry more the next time (but still more glad that he can protect himself).

    Thanks for the reply, I did need to get the MA perspective on this, I was feeling guilty about those cleat marks on Jerry.
     
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  5. girlbug2

    girlbug2 Master of Arts

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    Marlon,

    Thanks for your response. I need to be reminded of my responsibility to teach from time to time.
     
  6. MBuzzy

    MBuzzy Grandmaster

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    I'm in agreement with everyone else. Your son did exactly what he should have done. Just reinforce it a bit with the responsibility talk.

    I did used to be involved in AYSO as a coach and ref. and I do think that the problem should be brought to the attention of the local administration. First of all, they need to know about the problem just in case something else does happen and second, I hate to say it, but it seems like the coach needs some help controlling things if this happens frequently. I can honestly say that with some kids....even two coaches aren't enough sometimes. I've been called in to help with teams that needed extra eyes to keep all the kids in line. Its not his fault, it just happens when you put that many kids from different backgrounds together in a competitive activity.
     
  7. tsdclaflin

    tsdclaflin Green Belt

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    My boys are older: 12, 15, 17. Since they were in early elementary school (and taking martial arts...17 yo is black belt now, other two are close), I have had a pre-start-of-school speech for each of them. If they are threatened at school, they have to tell a teacher. If they are trapped, they are to raise their hands, step back and say 'please stop' or something like that. They are not to threaten, IE "if you do that one more time, I will..." They must tell the offender to stop twice. After that, they are allowed to defend themselves. They also know that it is public school policy that children are NOT ALLOWED to defend themselves. If they do, they will usually be disciplined.

    When my son was 16, a student attacked him--instead of defending himself (which he as done before) he chose to "hug" the attacker. The attacker then pushed him away and he escaped. The student attacker was arrested. My son got no punishment, but he told me that he would NEVER not defend himself again. Next time, he would fight back.

    Know the consequences, but support your child. Your child did the right thing. No child should feel bullied or afraid to go to school or go to soccer practice.

    And the cleat marks will fade, don't worry about it.
     
  8. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    I wouldn't even give this a second thought, if it weren't for the unlucky fact they were wearing cleats. As a professional educator and former administrator (former, cos it's just not worth the pound of flesh), I think your son acted reasonably to protect himself. On the other hand:

    1) Cleats raise the stakes, so this may present a teachable moment for all the things that can go wrong in a 'simple fight' (though how much of that a six year old will get...;) But, at least you could have the talk, and then maybe use reminders for the next few years. Fortunately, this was not during school.

    2) As tsdclaflin said, the ed code (effective during school hours/events) is often stricter--usually unfairly so imho, punishing the victim as well as the abuser. I don't really have an answer for that, but tsd did a service in this area by providing the personal anecdotes.
     
  9. shihansmurf

    shihansmurf Black Belt

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    Amen!!

    I would also add that the op's son was dead on correct in his response.I would be suprised if "jerry" were to attempt that with the op's son a second time. We all learn boundaries, sometimes those lessons are less pleasant than others.

    My son is an ADDHD kid that has occasional violent outbursts.I hold him accountable for his actions, and I feel that if he attacks another kid and that kid pops him a good one then I think that he will have learned a valuable lesson.I certainly wouldn't blame the other kid for defending himself.

    Mark
     
  10. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    I think your son did well! However I have problems with a mother who 'forgets' to give her son meds that he obviously needs! It maybe that her son isn't responsible for his actions though that's no consolation if you are the one he's attacking especially if you're only 6, but she's most certainly responsible for his actions if she's the cause of him having these violent outbursts by not giving him his medication. We all forget things but that is of such primary importance I doubt many would forget.
    Being a bit tongue in cheek here (but only a bit!) teach him moves which don't leave marks! More seriously, he has good reactions and did only what was necessary so nice work. (Am secretly jealous as I find side kick so hard even after 18 years)
     
  11. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm with Tez, for the most part.

    My first problem is with the mother who "forgot" her kid's apparently VERY necessary meds, thereby endangering other kids on the soccer team and creating problems.

    My second problem is with the coaches. I can see allowing one meltdown... but after the second, the kid's not able to practice that day. You can't tell me that these practices go on for several hours...

    My final problem is with girlbug2. We're talking 6-year olds. Her posts read like she's thinking that she can simply "explain" misbehavior and her son will never have another problem. He did the right thing here; he protected himself from an imminent attack. He needs to be told that. And he does need to be told that some kids misbehave -- but that doesn't mean he should learn to be a punching bag. Personally -- if they told me that my kid (hypothetical; I don't have any) was in danger of being kicked off the team for protecting himself when the coaches and the other kid's parents had failed in their duties to protect him... I'd have someone's head. Had he simply tucked his shoulder and tackled the kid first, would he be facing the same consequences? Or is it only because he left a mark... There are lots of things that could have been done which wouldn't have left cleat marks -- but would have caused much worse injury.
     
  12. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Absolutely, it's all spot on.
    I can't understand why if the coaches know this child they didn't say that if he didn't have his meds he should go home. It's unfair to all the children including him, I imagine if he's prone to sudden rages it's upsetting to him as well, much better he went home even though he missed the session.
     
  13. girlbug2

    girlbug2 Master of Arts

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    Short update:

    The coach called earlier and told me that the association ruled so far that nobody will be kicked off of the team, but that representatives will be sent to watch this Saturday's game and the practices next week. It is implied that they will be watching for signs of Jerry's behavior to see if he indeed has problems and attacks other kids, but also to see if my son is aggressive. So it isn't settled yet, but next week they may come to a final decision about all this.

    Privately the coach said he believes Jerry is a problem that should have been removed before this and that his parents, when registering Jerry, claimed on the form that he was not taking any medications and had no conditions which to the best of their knowledge would affect his ability to be a part of the team. So in other words, is this what they call perjory?

    Coach also told me that Jerry's dad is getting really riled up and calling for my son to be kicked off! This is all just too unbelievable for me. How would he feel if his kid was attacked by someone else on the team, would he tell his son he shouldn't defend himself??

    To tell you all the truth, I really liked Jerry's mom up until now. She is one of those outgoing charismatic people that becomes instantly popular, she jumped right in and volunteered to be Team Mom and has been doing a great job of it. I was looking forward to getting to know her and the other parents. OTOH I am the quiet shy type who is by my own admission slow to come out of my shell. When Jerry's mom got home from practice today she apparently called the other parents and persuaded some of them to rally with her to get my son off of the team. I can't help but feel that this is escalating as badly as it is because she is popular and well-liked and I'm relatively unknown by the others as of yet. This really should have been a cut and dried "kids will be kids, oh well, we all learned a lesson didn't we" thing, but is now being dragged out. It can only end with one of the boys leaving the team and a lot of hurt feelings on all sides. This kind of thing reminds me why I am not usually a "joiner".

    Thanks to all who have replied, I do feel better for having been able to talk about self defense issues with calm and rational people. I will post next week how this all ends up turning out. Hopefully both kids will be on their best behaviors and there won't be any further reason for any self defense, but even so, I hate the way this season is getting off to a start!
     
  14. chinto

    chinto Senior Master

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    ok, here is my take.. its worth what you payed for it.. but here it is...

    One: He, your son did just fine, and was justified in stopping the attack. After all its not as if from what you reported that he then proceded to stomp on the attacker or some other counter attack, but just stopped it with a side kick... I would inform the coach that no one has to allow themselves to be attacked and injured by any one. This includes mentally troubled and other wise not in control of them selves attackers.

    Two: I would get him some formal training as it will help him be able to titrate the amount of force used better and more easily.

    and Last : if the 'team coach' can not understand that your son has a right to self defense and safety, well then I would get him out of that any way! If any thing I would sa that the coach should be looking into the meds and weather the child who is on them is able to participate in the sport and on the team safely. ( I have all the simpathy in the world for the kid who has the problem, but no one should have to be injured becouse of that fact! I would also explain that to the coach too. )
     
  15. Brian S

    Brian S Purple Belt

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    Your son had every right to do what he did. There should be no consequences and the coaches and mother of Jerry need a good sidekick themselves.
     
  16. KenpoTex

    KenpoTex Senior Master

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    It wouldn't be perjury in a literal sense, but they definitely lied.


    You might want to start doing some networking yourself to get some of the other parents on your side (needless to say, don't be hateful towards the Jerry's mom).
    If you really care about keeping him on the team, you might have a lawyer contact the association and have a little chat with them regarding the incident and the dishonesty of the parents when their child was enrolled. That should be enough to take care of the problem.

    edit to add: you also may want to consider taking a video camera to record the practices/games so that in the event something like this happens again, you'll have a record of who did what to whom.
     
  17. sgtmac_46

    sgtmac_46 Senior Master

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    So your son is supposed to be a punch dummy because Jerry's mom can't control his meds?
     
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  18. Drac

    Drac Sr. Grandmaster

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    We are raising a generation of punching bags thanks to these asinine rules. My Grandson was suspended for 2 days for defending himself, and all he did was push the kid off of him...When this fat blond girl picked on my step daughter from my marrage because of her Hispanic looks the school was made aware of it and spoke to the aggresor, which only made the attacks increase..

    So I spent a weekend teaching her responses to how the bully would commonly attack..Come Monday this girl attacked and my step daughter beat this girls butt, and the bullying STOPPED...
     
  19. morph4me

    morph4me Goin' with the flow

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    I agree with everything that's been posted. Your son did what he had to do and stopped, that's to be commended. The fact that Jerry is a "special needs" kid and requires medication doesn't mean that your sone or anyone else should be a target. Jerry's mother forgot his meds? Good thing the kid doesn't have diabetes or something equally dangerous, he could be dead now. Your son needs for you to be an advocate for him, I'd be in touch with the governing comittee and bring my case to them. He should also learn to kick with the side of his foot so he doesn't leave cleat marks :wink:. I think that he and Jerry will end up forgetting the whole thing while Jerry's parents are going on and on about it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2008
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  20. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    A couple of OT points for girlbug2:
    Don't feel bad about being who you are. 'Instantly popular' might be great in high school, but in life it counts for exactly nothing. It's a silly, self-serving notion that everyone should be 'outgoing', or bow and scrape to those who are. Don't run yourself down, even in your own mind, and especially not now when your son needs you to be his advocate.

    Why didn't she call you, instead? No, she called others about you and your son, which I would term action 'behind your back'. I'd say she is trying to use her personality to rally an outcry and so bully the decision makers into a corner, and get things to come out her way. That's not outgoing, that's self promoting (specifically maybe to cover up her poor parenting skills). Don't admire ths woman, or her loudmouth husband. I'm not saying hate them. I'm saying that just as in a physical confrontation, you have to keep your space and balance (not let the aggressor take it and unbalance you), so too here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2008

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