‘Lost his damn mind’: Parents sound off when expert offers soft advice on how to handle bullies

An intense debate has erupted over “The Parent Test,” a new reality TV show.

According to The Atlantic, the show tracks the parenting styles of 12 different families, with the goal being to determine which parenting style produces the most “emotionally whole” children.

“Each family is filmed doing a series of parenting challenges, and the rest of the parents analyze the footage, voting one style out after every round. In the finale, the families choose one parenting style to rule them all,” the outlet reported Wednesday.

So it’s like a “who’s the best parent” competition. This itself has sparked debate, with The Atlantic claiming the show “stokes American parenting’s worst impulses.”

But what’s also sparked a debate is a recent episode about bullying.

In the episode, viewers are treated to a video clip of siblings, eight-year-old Soleil, six-year-old Serene, and four-year-old Aerys witnessing a child actor steal a hat from another child actor and then run around the playground taunting the victim.

Serene eventually steps in and confronts the bully.

“You should give it to him when he asks for it,” she says, defusing the situation.

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After playing the clip to all remaining sets of parents, show co-host Dr. Adolph Brown asked them what they thought about bullied kids fighting back.

“Yes, 100 per cent. I never, ever will allow or want my children to be physically violent with others. But if it’s self defense… you punch the other kid hard, and then they won’t ever do it again,” one parent, Alex, reportedly replied.

Several other parents reportedly agreed, but then Brown cut in to share with them research about bullied kids fighting back.

“What [studies have] found is that these children are children who are angry, who have been bullied, violated and disrespected, left school to return later to end lives,” he said.

“These are males who were told that it was okay to defend themselves and believe and have been taught that violence, physical violence is acceptable. … They got firearms. … When we teach that violence is a means to an end, we all have to accept that there are consequences beyond our control,” he added.

This remark provoked quite a lot of pushback on Twitter:

There was also pushback on Instagram.

“I think kids should fight back if being attacked. I do not think there is a correlation between defending yourself and school shootings. There is a lot more going on at home that cause these shootings than blaming self-defense,” one Instagram user wrote.

“What a skewed data point you provided stating that because someone ‘defends themselves’ it means they’ll come back and end[] someone[s] life with a firearm. Like seriously, you’ve got to be kidding. Numerous generations have lived long before this one that’s so wayard and never shot up schools,” another added.

However, Brown also had his supporters.

“I don’t think kids should hit back, when I was a kid, kids would antagonize someone to the point where the one being bullied would hit them and then the bully would use that as a excuse to justify their behavior and do something even crazier to the kid that hit them out of anger… Violence should never be the answer to conflict,” a third user wrote.

That said, Brown doubled down on his advice later in the show, going as far as to list three steps that all children should be taught to apply when dealing with bullies:

Step one: “Don’t be a bystander, be an upstander.”

Step two: “Choose forceful words, not fighting words.”

Step three: Seek the help of a “caring adult.”

“At that point, the children have showed us that they aren’t able to stop it, so the parents have to,” Brown said, explaining the last step in more detail.

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