Is violence ever justified?

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  1. megs78 profile image60
    megs78posted 14 years ago

    Hello everyone,

    I have a big problem and I need some good advice.  My cousin in law has 3 kids and one of her daughters is mildly handicapped mentally.  She is six and has started school this year and seems to be doing well.  But, it has been tough to be around her because she is extremely violent with my daughters.

    Whenever we visit, me and my cousin in law need to be constantly watching whats happening because the little girl is a ticking time bomb and out of nowhere will throw my children on the ground, hit them, push them, bite them, even hit them over the head with a metal shovel once. 

    I always tend to let it go due to the childs handicap, but if you ask me, its more a lack of consequence that is keeping this vicious cycle going.  The mother thinks that she cannot discipline her daughter because she is handicapped, but I KNOW she knows what she is doing because she laughs after she hurts someone, but then gets mad if she has to be in a time-out afterward.

    anyways, its hard for me to continue to watch my children suffer, so I finally told my girls to hit her back and see what happens. 

    Today, the third time that the girl pulled my daughters hair, my daughter had finally had enough and pushed her.  Of course my cousin in law was upset and told MY daughter that it isn't right to react like that.  Wherein, I responded that the only reason she was continuing to pick on my daughters was because they never fought back.

    I argued that her daughter never hit her brother or sister because they would hit her back and she knew it.  THe same went for at school, because other kids would fight back. But I had specifically told my girls never to fight back because of her handicap.  Now I'm wondering if I've set them up for a lot of pain at the hands of this little girl...

    So is it ok that I tell my girls to fight back?  They are by nature gentle and kind, but enough is enough...isn't it?

    1. profile image0
      cosetteposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      you're not wrong at all. any child, even a mentally challenged one, responds to approprite discipline by responsible adluts in their midst, and knows the difference between good behavior and naughty behavior. you said her handicap was mild in nature, so i suspect she does this because her mother does nothing and she knows there will be no consequences. the mother is doing her child a disservice, as she needs to learn to control her impulses a little. what is going to happen to her when she is a teenager or an adult?

      also, it's not fair to other children to have to accept this kind of violent behavior directed against them. i don't see defending yourself against being hurt as "violence begetting violence". i see it as teaching your children to handle their business - mom and dad won't always be around. even if other children ignore her, she will press, perhaps even more violently, until she gets the attention she needs. since you have talked to the other mother and she refuses to intervene on your behalf, the only thing you can do is warn her that your children will not allow her to hurt them, either by pushing her away or even hitting back, or just stop playing with her altogether. maybe then the other mother will realize she has to do something to help her daughter.

      1. megs78 profile image60
        megs78posted 14 years agoin reply to this

        It is a mild handicap and I do believe that the lack of consequence and discipline has aggravated the handicap to beyond what it should be, but I think that I am the only one seeing it.  So what to do?  I want to be sympathetic to my cousin because she is often distraught and stressed outbecause of this behaviour when I know it could change if she would just be firm and recognize that her daughter is not incapable of learning.  Its almost insulting the way she treats her daughter.  But how do I say that without hurting her.  AHHH, so many hard questions and very little courage to get to the bottom ofit.  But thanks for your advice and

        1. profile image0
          Madame Xposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          Yeah, I agree with you here. It is actually a disservice to the handicapped girl to let her run wild this way. She is capable of learning this lesson as you pointed out with her experience of those who won't "take it".

          1. megs78 profile image60
            megs78posted 14 years agoin reply to this

            So why is it that the mother can't see it?  And how should I tell her what I am seeing?  I see it as a great disservice, as you said, and insulting to the little girl, that her mother thinks her incapable of learning, but I dont know how to get that across to my cousin without hurting her feelings.  Do you see how this could be a delicate situation?  What would you do?

            1. profile image0
              Madame Xposted 14 years agoin reply to this

              Awww, her feelings might get hurt. So, she's 10 years old? No, she's a mother with a special needs child and she's not doing right by her. Sounds like she needs the lesson more than her kid. Life's a bitch. Do the right thing and hopefully she'll thank you in the long run. Good luck.

  2. lrohner profile image67
    lrohnerposted 14 years ago

    The only time I would teach any of my children to resort to violence would be if they were getting beaten up and there were no adults around and they couldn't run. Full stop.

    Violence begets violence. You're the adult and you should be the one stepping in here rather than expecting your young daughters to deal with a handicapped child.

    Just my two cents. Violence makes me crazy.

    1. Beth100 profile image70
      Beth100posted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with you completely. 

      Another option is to speak with the school that the girl is in and ask them how they resolve violent conflict.  Once they explain to you how it is handled in their system, apply it to yourself and your daughters.  Inform your cousin in law that you will be following the same protocol as the school.  Illicit her support -- she should be more approving as you are following school protocol.  The results might be more positive and immediate as the girl will see consistent consequences in class and out of class. 

      Bullying occurs everywhere and the chances are very good that your daughters will encounter it as they grow (whether aimed at them or someone else).  Teach your daughters the alternatives without having to resort to violence. The best avenue is to educate them on how to protect themselves and to prevent further bullying.

    2. megs78 profile image60
      megs78posted 14 years agoin reply to this

      That was always my policy you know, but we, as in the adults, are always there, and it happens anyway because we can't get there in time to prevent it.  The problem in my opinion is that my cousin in law will do nothing to stop her daughter from this behaviour.  If I even mention punishment, she almost cries because she thinks her daughter won't be able to take it.  Or maybe she just feels really bad for her daughter. I don't know what to think.  But I do know that my kids are paying the price for my cousin in laws unwillingness to get this behaviour under control.  What can I do?  My hands are tied.  Short of leaving the relationship completely, which I cannot do (kids are all in school together), and wouldnt want to do (the other kids get along well), I feel stuck.  I do believe though, that a good whack from one of my daughters would do a world of good in the future of their relationship but I dont think my girls are capable of it.  Maybe I should step in next time???

      1. lrohner profile image67
        lrohnerposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I think you have a couple of options here:

        1) Be totally frank with your cousin and tell her to get her head out of the sand. Just because her daughter is handicapped doesn't mean she can't learn. Most children, handicapped or not, live up to what is expected of them (within reason).

        2) I'm not worried about ramifications of the whack to the handicapped child. She will get over it. I'm more worried about the ramifications to your children. What will happen when they use that same "discipline" when someone gets in their face at school? Are you ready for them to be suspended or expelled when that happens?

        3) Get out of the relationship. It can be done. And maybe that's what your cousin needs to wake up. You just need to keep putting your children ahead of your cousin or her daughter. I have been in this situation (although the child wasn't handicapped), and I lost a good friendship over it. But I've never looked back. My kids came first.

        1. megs78 profile image60
          megs78posted 14 years agoin reply to this

          I've gone over these options over and over.  It actually bothers me more than it should for some reason.  I know for sure that my children would never resort to violence for anything less than necessary because they just dont have that in their personality.  And even if they did, they would probably get their butts whooped because they are kindof wimpy in that dept smile  All joking aside, thanks for the input.  Sometimes it helps to see things from a different perspective, or just to be able to step back from it for a minute.  I think I may try to stop being such a wuss, and next time I will intervene on my childrens behalf regardless of the consequence.  Youre right, they are the most important here. Thanks again

          1. lrohner profile image67
            lrohnerposted 14 years agoin reply to this


            I think you're missing my point here (and rightly so). What I'm trying to say is it's not about what actually happens, it's about what you say to your kids or teach them to do. You are their hero. Don't let them down.

  3. profile image0
    Madame Xposted 14 years ago

    Yes, fight back. She obviously is intelligent enough to understand that getting hit back for her behavior is no fun. Your girls aren't going to "beat her up" - they're just going to teach her some manners.

  4. profile image0
    Leta Sposted 14 years ago

    I'd avoid your cousin and her daughter, megs.  It isn't your responsibility to figure this situation out, and your daughters shouldn't have to put up with this girls' violence.

    To this day, I remember a similar situation when I was maybe 9-10 years a public park.  A group of kids were taunting a mentally handicapped girl verbally.  When they left the park, I was there alone with the girl.  She became violent then towards me (I'd had nothing to do with the taunts).  I remember taking it because I knew she was handicapped, and I didn't fight back.  As soon as I could, I left, though, wink.

    I think you should be proud of your daughters.  I'd counsel your cousin in law to figure out a way to discipline her kid (from the small amount of special education training I've had...I believe there are behaviorally based methods that could work well).  But I'd avoid her and the girl until they figure it out.

    1. megs78 profile image60
      megs78posted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Would you happen to have some ideas of how to go about fixing this problem behaviourally.  I know my cousin would probably be relieved to get some tips because she doesn't have much help here.  Thanks in advance

  5. profile image0
    Leta Sposted 14 years ago

    Well, I don't consider myself qualified.  But I did find this: … amp;cn=208

    An overview that might help.

    And what I meant by behaviorism is that these kids DO, according to what I learned, respond well to punishments and awards...preferably rewards:  As in rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad behavior.  It could be possible that the girl is using violence as a way to get attention.  Ignoring it will take the wind out of her sails.

    Maybe talk to her teachers or have your cousin talk to them about the problem.  I think they are supposed to help with all these things--an action plan for the student, which includes basic living skills, etc.

    *edit:  Oh, and seek out Georgiakevin...a hubber on here who is a special education teacher.

  6. Lisa HW profile image61
    Lisa HWposted 14 years ago

    How it's handled, I think, depends on the ages of any children involved.  I don't think bigger kids should hit the six-year-old, but also I'd never have a kid like that around my kids if they were younger.

    I think I'd either limit how much they're with her and stay right there at all times; or else I'd nicely tell the six-year-old, "You know, x and x are getting so they don't want to play with you any more because you hurt them.  So, before you all start playing together can you tell me you aren't going to hurt any of the other children?"  Parents often underestimate what their children understand.  This little girl may understand at least this much. 

    If it turns out she can't/won't control herself then I'd send my kids off to play somewhere if she came to visit. 

    Just a note:  When I was a preschooler and first-grader, I had two boy cousins who were five and seven years older than I was.  They seemed like "men" to me.  They thought it was funny to chase me around the house and the yard, and I dreaded their visits because it went on from the time they came until the time they left (minus any meal times).  They were father's brother's kids, and my uncle didn't visit very often; so I suppose my father didn't want to say anything.  If I complained to him and my mother (in the presence of the uncle and his wife) my father would say, "Just don't run and they won't chase you."  I thought, "What kind of thing is that?!!!  Besides, if I don't run they'll get me."  (I knew they'd do something like pick me up and maybe swing me around or something like that.)  There's one thing I always remembered about that, and it is that my father did not stand up for me; and if his brother and his wife wouldn't stop those kids, then say something to them, himself.  A simple, "Please don't chase her around," would have done it; because, looking back, they weren't bad or mean boys at all.  They were just incessant teasers.  So, I vote you tell the little girl if her mother won't, and see what happens.  Otherwise,  your kids may wonder (as I did) why their mother or father didn't do anything when they had someone doing something to them.

  7. Misha profile image64
    Mishaposted 14 years ago

    I think you ARE right Meg. And WERE wrong smile

    1. Lisa HW profile image61
      Lisa HWposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Provided the kids aren't a lot bigger than the six-year-old; and assuming that talking to the her doesn't work; I'd agree - they ought to just smack her back, and maybe she'll learn.  (Maybe the mother will learn something too.)  If the kids are more than a year older than she is, though, I think they just shouldn't play with her.  She can play with her siblings or else classmates in a supervised setting.

      1. megs78 profile image60
        megs78posted 14 years agoin reply to this

        The little girl is the same age as my youngest daughter and a year younger than my oldest.  My other problem here, that I forgot to mention, is the fact that this is all taking place in my second language.  Maybe that doesn't seem like a problem to some, but it actually is.  Having conversations with adults in french is a breeze, but kids are different.  Where an adult can look over my grammatical errors and see the big picture, and where I can understand a french speaking adult without understanding every individual word, children speak fast and slurry, and their words are not always clear so its hard for me to understand them, let alone them, understand me in the best of situations.  now imagine trying to discipline when emotions are high.  I think it would be alot easier for me if it were in my own language to take a child aside and explain the error of her ways.  Geez, now that I spoke that out loud, I'm pretty sure, this problem has a lot to do with language barrier.  Hmmmm...

  8. profile image0
    isis_dreams2002posted 14 years ago

    I think it is only when you are protecting your family from harm

    1. profile image0
      sneakorocksolidposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Thats very rational and I agree accept, if you catch your 20yo not paying attention and you grab him and throw him down and sit on him and pull out leg hairs one at a time until he screams like a little girl. An opportunity like that only comes up every blue moon.

      1. earnestshub profile image81
        earnestshubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        You are lucky to be that strong! My 20 yo plays Lacrosse at state level and can simply immobilize me! Ah the good old days! smile

        1. profile image0
          sneakorocksolidposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          Mines a soccer player for his university thats why I refer to the words catch and sneek. Hes also insanely tickleish, not that I would do that.

  9. megs78 profile image60
    megs78posted 14 years ago

    Thanks everyone for responding, its amazing how these forums can really help.  Just talking it out and getting your viewpoints has helped me see a clear answer.  So thanks again, talk to you all soon...



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