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Terrorism and retaliatory violence 
always hurt the children.
Terrorism and retaliatory violence
always hurt the children.

The Cycle of Violence

417 Words


How To Stop the Cycle of Violence
by Dianne Roth


Violence begets violence. As a mother, I saw the truth of this with my own children. I would discipline my oldest with a swat and within minutes he would hurt his younger brother.

As an elementary teacher, it was also obvious in my classroom. One little girl was hurting the children roughly 30 times a day. I tried all the logical consequences: no recess, time outs, our school’s problem solving process. Nothing worked to end her barrage of hitting, kicking, pinching, name calling, and destruction. Had I followed our school policy of zero tolerance, she would have been suspended daily within ten minutes.

One day, I called her to me. I wrapped her in my arms and whispered in her ear, “Are you ready to stop hurting the kids?” She nodded and I let her go. Within two days of beginning “hug therapy” her acts of violence were down to about five per day! I began greeting her with a morning hug to jump-start her day.

One day, I was occupied with the hot glue gun when her temper flared. I asked for volunteers to go give this sad little wisp of humanity a hug for me. There were four volunteers! It brought tears to my eyes and apparently opened the heart of our little “hoodlum”. She was nearly violence-free by the end of the year.

Violence begets violence. Is it any different in our dealings around the world? I am horrified by the terrorist and retaliatory violence in our lives. It always touches children and there can be no worse violence than terrorizing children.

As a mother, a grandmother, a teacher, a human being, and a nonviolent person, I can only hope that those in charge of our world will learn from the children and not let retaliation be their only guide. Terrorism is not child’s play. I am not suggesting a hug for Bin Laden. But, the microcosm of a first grade classroom can be our experimental window onto the world's playing field.

After September 11, we had the world’s heart and soul with us. The sense of a world standing together to grieve and to support, lasted until we bombed Afghanistan. With every bomb, we have squandered the horror and kinship of people throughout the world. With every mortar, grief has loosed another terrorist.

I hope for the children of our world that the victims of all this terrible violence will see retaliation for what it really is... a rallying point for more violence.


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on September 23, 2013