Monday, March 9, 2009

Just Playing??

- I work with teens and young adults to teach them about dating violence. We talk a lot about family, friends and the constant pressures and stresses in society. I’ve decided to blog about my experiences and share some of what I learn with you. Be sure to offer your opinions and comment on my blogs! You can also email me with questions or requests to read about a particular topic. You can reach me at Talk to you soon! -Tabitha

We were just playing!!

I usually hear very interesting things when I teach middle and high school students about dating violence. Sometimes I just talk to students to find out what they think about certain issues. One day I asked some students if they ever see their peers physically abusing their boyfriends or girlfriends at school and everyone said no. I repeated the question later and said hitting instead of physical abuse. This time someone mentioned the notion of “play fighting”. Basically partners hit, kick, slap and wrestle with one another, but they’re just playing. Everything’s cool and no one comes away hurt or upset. I asked the students if they ever did this with their partners. Most of the students said that they did play fight and they felt that it was okay. I was shocked to hear that a lot of teens see nothing wrong with putting their hands on someone in this way as long as they’re just playing. Some teens believe that this is how boys and girls show how much they care about one another. Apparently a lot of middle and high school couples engage in this kind of “affection”.

A lot of teachers say that they see couples hit one another in the hallways and classrooms, but when they intervene the students act as though there is nothing wrong. Many adults see this behavior and say that the students lack respect for themselves and for their partners. Many teens disagree and feel that play fighting has nothing to do with how much or how little they respect someone.

But is this really just playful flirting? Who says that no one is hurt by it? Some of the students in the group said that play fighting CAN get out of hand. According to one student, “. . . at first you’re playing, but then someone gets hurt on accident. Then they get angry and decide to hit you back harder . . .” This is usually how these situations escalate into real fights. At this point the angry partner uses the excuse that the other person took it too far and they were just reacting or trying to defend themselves. Often times neither partner is willing to speak up and say that they have been injured, physically or emotionally. They would rather move on and not address what happened.

This is really sad because this is a prime example of physical abuse and it’s happening to so many teens and they don’t even realize it. Hitting your partner is unhealthy, period. Don’t get me wrong, people enjoy pillow fights and the occasional tickle match, but when you can actually hurt someone by YOUR actions (hitting, pushing, slapping, etc), you’ve gone too far, regardless of your intentions.

Tell me what you think about play fighting. Is it something you see at your school? Is it okay to hit your partner? Is it okay for them to hit you?

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1 comment:

  1. Prime example of physical abuse and it’s happening to so many teens and they don’t even realize it.