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So, this, absolutely and in its entirety.

(image from the Women’s Rights News Facebook page)

But people object to this. It wouldn’t need saying if there wasn’t a widely prevalent train of thought which takes “boys will be boys” to the level of smiling endearingly and seeing no problem with these behaviours before children have reached a certain level of numerical maturity.

And I think a partial explanation is that, if you’re not bothering to think about it much (and let’s face it, thinking is hard), you might assume that the only alternative being proposed to complete indulgence is wrathful tyranny. That the only way to instil in your child the notion that hitting or insulting other people isn’t okay even though you’re six must necessarily involve shouting or spanking or some other form of vicious authoritarianism.

Which seems tragically unimaginative. People seem to concoct the least reasonable opposition imaginable to their own established view on something, dismiss it on its face, and conclude that their own stance must be unassailable. (See also: “Russell Brand’s ideas are a bit vague and ‘revolution’ is a scary word, so let’s keep trying this representative democracy thing which I’m sure will starting working in everyone’s best interests any decade now. I agree with Nick!”)

Is it not at least worth investigating whether kids can be taught not to bully other kids, and encouraged to carry this lesson into adulthood, without implementing some ridiculous imagined Demon Headmaster scenario?

Is there any way it might be possible to steer children away from certain negative behaviours, without crushing their spirits and condemning them as monsters for their crimes?

It’s worrying how many parents who already have children seem to assume the answer must be no. What do you every time you and your kid disagree over whether they should have ice cream for dinner, or whether your new curtains would look better with a more interesting pattern snipped along the edges with scissors?

Do you yell at them until they’re browbeaten into capitulation? Is their every mistake corrected with a clap of unforgiving thunder?

Or have you managed to find some way to tread a happy medium between loving them and teaching them the rules that society expects them to live by?

And if it’s the second one, how hard can it be to extend that principle to times when they’re tempted to pull other kids’ hair?

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