Monday, July 14, 2008

Human Whack-A-Mole

This morning, in the women's dressing room at the pool, I overheard a conversation between two Anglo-Saxon women, both teachers. One woman said to the other, that she was disconcerted because her students always did their homework, and that some even asked for extra work during the summer vacation. These teenagers apparently did not talk back, and did not attack her physically. This woman closed the thought by saying that maybe she ought to return to her former school, where she felt uncomfortable and threatened, so she would feel more "challenged" and less "bored."

It is an accepted expectation that Israeli school children of all ages will be at the very least unmotivated and at the worst, violent.

After my swim, and before starting my Chiropractic day, I sat outside in a lounge chair, trying to soak up some Vitamin D. During the summer the pool is packed with day camps, and as far as I am concerned, they accept too many children and have too little supervision.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a five-year old boy was raising and lowering a rod-shaped swimming flotation device, whipping the area below him. It took me a second look to realize that he was not hitting the sidewalk, but rather two other boys, who lay on the ground cowering as they got hit in the head, over and over again.

I waited for the counsellor to break up the fight, I waited for the life guards to intervene, and no adult who witnessed the event stepped in. Finally, after three minutes - and violating my own rules -I walked over and grabbed the float away from the boy, and said in a firm voice (in Hebrew), "No. This is not acceptable play."

It disturbs me that the other responsible adults left it to a stranger to protect these young children from one of their peers. It disturbs me that a five-year old boy wore a sadistic smile on his face as he abused his friends, even as I took his weapon away. It disturbs me that the other children seemed to enjoy the bullying.

There is a fine line between the attitude of "boys will be boys" and "enough is enough." I believe that bullies become abusive teenagers and adults simply because the adults in their life do not set proper limits.

This can be applied equally to children in Israeli society, as well as to our Arab neighbors and enemies. The reason they continue to blow us up, kidnap us and bomb us, is because we Israelis and particularly our criminal PM Ehud Olmert does not reasonably strike back when attacked. We do not set limits and assert the right to defend ourselves. The more they terrorize us, the more we try to placate them, showing them that there are no consequences to their bad behaviour.

We had better learn this Zero-Tolerance lesson soon, before our children - no matter how well behaved - do not have a place to call home.

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