The one minute drill on my high school in New Zealand in 1983… All boys school. Each year had classes streamed in order from highest to lowest of academic potential… i.e. smartest kids in the top class with electives like physics, economics, accounting and languages… and dumbest kids in the lowest class with electives like woodshop and thuggery. Middle school in NZ tends to be two years long – Form One and Two. High school is five years long – Forms Three through Seven.
So when you start high school, you start in Form Three… aka… Third Form… aka Turd Form.
Which makes you… a turd.
I was in class S3A… the top class of the nine Third Form classes. I say this to brag and to explain what comes next.
Being in the top class means expectations are high… and every single one of my six teachers gave us the “Welcome to high school, we’re going to break your will to live” supply of homework.
I mean a ridiculous amount of homework.
I remember going home and starting on all this homework and by some time past 10pm I had completed five of the six classes of homework and I just gave up in frustration and exhaustion. I just couldn’t do my science homework. It was just impossible to get it all done.
Turns out skipping the science homework was a bad choice.
Me and another five other boys, were taken out into the hall by Mr. Renyolds and caned.
Now in fairness, mum and dad had collected me for a spanking once in a while, so the concept of physical punishment wasn’t beyond my experience, but I’d always at least done something wrong related to whatever was coming. But I’d never been physically punished in school. I’d seen and heard the greatly feared the strap at St. Marks, but it was always someone else who deserved it. Except for that one time there was no teacher in the class for ages and we all got noisy and Mr. Huckleberry the Assistant Headmaster burst into the room and just bitchslapped poor Fortios for the crime of being the one sitting closest to the door… SLAP!
Thirty intakes of breath followed by the most. awkward. silence. ever.
Mr. Huckleberry kind of stammered out an apology “I shouldn’t have done that” and quickly left the class.
As far as I know, no one said anything to anyone. I don’t think a parent was told. I don’t think a teacher was told. The next day it was like nothing had happened.
No one told.
Oh… yeah… missed my science homework, lined up outside, bend over and touch your toes.
Mr. Renyolds coming down the line…
Crack! Five boys left.
Well I guess science was the wrong one to miss.
Crack! Four boys left.
This is so unfair, there was no way to do all that homework.
Crack! Three boys left.
I can’t believe this is happening to me.
Crack! Two boys left.
Holy fuck I have to do this.
Fuck you ,you fucking asshole. Fuck you forever. I fucking hate you and I hope you fucking die like a fucking fuck.
Then I went back inside and we had science class.
Let me explain what I would have done differently if I could go back and relive that moment…
I’d hit him back. As hard as I could.
Remember, I’d be twelve years old at that point, 90 pounds soaking wet, like 4’10” or something, facing off a grown man with a six foot long cane. I’m not actually a threat to him.
But I don’t have to win. I just have to prove I’m always going to hit back, no matter what, no matter the odds, everytime like a crazy motherfucker who doesn’t give a shit. Tit for tat baby. You do X, don’t wonder Y.
You see if I’d done that, I wouldn’t have spent the next four years of my life being the target for bullies. That finished with me getting clubbed in the face with a cricket bat and having to actually have a fistfight to defend myself during english class. A fight I actually lost… but I never was directly picked on again. Because I finally hit back.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well maybe I’m cynical, but I think violence is the most awesome problem solving tool. Hitting someone beats talk every. single. time.
You simply cannot have a rational debate with someone who is prepared to be violent, when they know you aren’t prepared to be violent. Your options are either verbal agreement to what they want, or getting hit. It’s a fabulous behavioral modification tool. Mr. Renyolds was an asshole, but I never did miss an assignment after that.
There are only two solutions to dealing with violent people you’re in a permanent relationship with. (1) Smashing them back harder than they can hit you, or at least making the situation risky enough that they figure you aren’t worth the effort and they move on to a softer target, or (2) having outside use of force come and do it for you.
i.e. have the cops come in and cuff them, cart them away and have the law, courts and jails do what they have to.
I really do mean call the cops and make a report. If someone wants to use violence as a tool, greater use of force is the only thing that they understand. I’ve had to deal with psychotic patients in community settings and it’s utterly remarkable how quickly they stop wanting to beat on their roommates and smash windows as soon as the police arrive. There’s just something about a tazer that makes most crazy people instantly polite and cooperative. I’ve also seen remarkable long term behavioral improvements after court appearances, dwarfing the effects of medications and other behavioral programming.
This simply isn’t a gender issue either. If you’re being hit, you’re being hit. The main difference between men and women being violent is when push really comes to shove, women have to weaponize or do it while the husband is sleeping. Not advising things here, just stating the obvious.
Should a situation become unsafe, start videoing them, dial 911 and defend yourself / get to as safe a location as you can. Your safety is always your priority over what happens to them when the police arrive. Violent people simply don’t stop using violence as a solution if it’s getting them what they want. They only become progressively more violent until you get greater force involved to stop them. This is why police, courts, laws and jails exist…so we don’t all get caught up in a game of He Dead, She Dead.
Or even more cynically in the vein of “screenshot or it didn’t happen”.
Make a police report or it didn’t happen.
Mr. Huckleberry never hit Fortios because no one said anything.
Catching up… New Zealand did make corporal punishment in schools illegal in 1984, so I got my caning… er… just in time.
As to Mr. Renyolds… I don’t know, I transfered to another high school for a fresh start for Seventh Form. Something I’m grateful to my parents for. I did hear a rumor that during that year one of the boys collected Mr. Renyolds with a one punch KO in the hall. Don’t know who did it… but thanks.