In Teaching Bullies, Dr. Jennifer Fraser identifies the essential, moral question of the 21st Century:
How do we prepare our children for a tough, cruel, global society, where ISIS runs amok, social media aggrandizes dangerous behavior, and governments control their citizens through intimidation?
Do we abuse our youth by “toughening them up” using degrading techniques or do we empower them with the life-enhancing ability to choose fearless and determined independence?
In my opinion, the latter holds more value.
Coaches are responsible for the development of student character. Dr. Fraser makes an effective case that the goal of prep school athletics, believe or not school administrators and alumni, is not about winning championships. It’s about 360 degree, community-based child-rearing.
Whole brain child neuroscience teaches us how teenaged brains function, how they can be wounded, and how they can be healed. Dr. Fraser posits that we may not be able to prevent abuse in society but we can equip ourselves and our children to minimize the damage and to claim ultimate victory over those who would destroy us for institutional preservation purposes.
She demonstrates how the freedom to choose our response to aggression gives us transformative power. When we decide to fight for our dignity using our knowledge and skills, we cannot hear the taunts from Trumpish courts chanting “loser.” Instead, we possess the power to redefine the situation and to move into more healthy and rewarding situations. Even those who find themselves in the most traumatic situations can reach for meaning in their lives and discover sturdy hope.
I realize this may sound arrogant as my traumas and those of high school athletes are, after all, first world problems and healing is accessible to all of us. But, Dr. Fraser’s book and its many references to the work being done by neuropsychiatrists makes me wonder if perhaps my personal and professional emphasis on intervention and prevention was not misplaced.
Power structures always insist on the demonization of others. Perhaps child and civil rights advocates would better spend their energy making legal systems responsive and providing greater accessibility to the therapies that have been proven effective? I do not have the answer to this question, but Dr. Fraser’s journey stimulated the query.
And. Isn’t that why we read heart-wise books like Teaching Bullies — to identify patterns and create strategies that work?
Thank you, Dr. Fraser, for your courage in sharing your thought-filled journey.
writer and creator of invisible-i-am.com book and artwork
former executive director, Children’s Trust Fund of South Carolina