I was sitting under the dryer at the beauty shop when I called my best friend. I hate the dryer and needed something to distract me from the heat. During our conversation she told me that she was going to have to take her niece to the dentist because a little boy at school pushed her so hard, she fell and busted her lip and tore her gums.
Though my friend’s niece would have to seek a medical opinion, to determine the extent of the damage, the boy was not officially punished through the school system. They simply told his parents about his actions.
Later, when my friend’s sister went to speak to her daughter’s teacher about the incident, the teacher rationalized it with, “He probably just likes her.” As if that explanation were supposed to erase the physical pain and emotional toll of being abused to the point of disfigurement.
A similar situation happened with another little girl. This time, this 4-year-old’s eye was blackened after a boy punched her in the face.
This time it was a nurse at a Children’s Hospital who told the little girl: “I bet he likes you.”
These are just a few examples, though we really don’t need them. Most of us have our own experiences with little boys who got physical, only to have their behavior rationalized and eventually dismissed as a school boy crush.
But what does dismissing these types of actions for young boys mean? You’re sending the message to both boys and girls that it’s appropriate to express love and affection through violence. You’re telling young boys that this action doesn’t warrant punishment.
What does ignoring or brushing off a traumatic experience do the psyche of a young girl? It could make her feel that her pain and emotions are valid or worthy of attention. That the best relationships come with some sort of physical violence.
Instead of teaching young boys to either leave the girls alone or instruct them on ways to identify their feelings, violence is normalized from a early age. And while we can argue that many of these young boys do eventually learn how to use their words and express their feelings, there is evidence that there are far too many grown men who haven’t mastered the skill. And just like in daycare or in elementary school, there is a structure of family, friends communities and even victims who excuse the issue.