Big Kids

'Why I won't teach my son hitting girls is wrong'

Mum-of-three, Harriet Shearsmith knows just how hard being a parent is, which is why she started her blog Toby and Roo. In this piece, she talks about the moment her eldest boy hit another child – and her reasons for not teaching him that hitting girls is wrong.

Reuben’s been having a bit of a tough time lately; I suppose he feels like his brother has totally encroached on his turf now that he has started “big school” too.

And last week we had an “incident” at school.

He was playing with friends and, from what I can gather, they were pretending to put on a play, and another child took away his “audience” and upset him.

There were words exchanged and they fell out.

Reuben lashed out and smacked the other child.

Not once but twice. Now, I’m not the type of mother to excuse that kind of behaviour – from what Reuben has told me, the other child wasn’t being very nice but we don’t talk with our fists.


We teach the kids that, unless you have to defend yourself physically, we DON’T lash out.

Words are a powerful tool, and it's super important to impart this ideal to our kids…

So why am I telling you?

A child has misbehaved at school, suffered the consequences of his actions, and now it’s dealt with right?

Children do this kind of thing, it won’t be the last time and it’s not the first… but this time there was a difference in the response I received when telling family what our latest parental debacle was.

There was shock and almost outrage, like something serious had happened here, something sinister… why?

The child my son smacked was a girl. 

Now, let me make this clear off the bat, I am not suggesting that men hitting women is OK or even acceptable, however, at the tender age of five, a child hitting another child should be where the buck stops.

Gender really shouldn’t come into the playground. Ever.

This isn’t the first time that Reuben has smacked another child, and it won’t be the last. However, the fact that there was even a mention of the other child’s gender really frustrates me.

What does it matter? Would it be less important if the roles were reversed? Or perhaps is it was one of his little male friends?

As a mother of two boys, I want them to grow up learning that violence of any sort isn’t tolerated in a progressive world.

That speaking with your fists is unacceptable, regardless of who the recipient of your anger is.

To put this bluntly, I don’t want to teach my boys that hitting girls or women is wrong; I want to teach them that hitting ANYONE is wrong, regardless of what does or doesn’t dangle between their legs.

To me, the attitude of “oh my god, he hit a girl?” is outdated and totally undermines what I want to teach my children.

When Edith grows up, I don’t want her to think that it is acceptable to hit her male partner (should she have a male partner) because, well, she’s got a vagina so it’s not like it’s an issue.

I want her to respect her fellow human, keep her hands to herself and above all use her words, preferably kindly.

On the flip side, what if one of the boys decides to have a male partner, is it then less serious if they lash out at them?

I think that teaching children as young as Reuben that hitting a girl has more implications than hitting a boy is a fundamental flaw in our society.

It paves a path that says it’s OK for boys to hit one another; those secondary school scuffles as accepted as a case of testosterone poisoning and hey, boys will be boys right?

It paves the same path that teaches our young boys that if a female attacked them they couldn’t defend themselves.

It takes us back to the days when men were inferior and laughed at if they were suffering physical abuse from a partner because, well, they are men…

They must not hit a woman and she’s so weak in comparison, he can surely take it.

Gender doesn’t hold any relevance when it comes to violence.

Boys shouldn’t hit boys.

Girls shouldn’t hit girls.

Boys shouldn’t hit girls.

Girls shouldn’t hit boys.

Let’s stop teaching our children that males hitting females is wrong.

Let’s teach them PEOPLE hitting people is wrong.

Love to read more of her work? Follow Harriet on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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