Sarah O’Connor / The Silhouette

When I was little I was often at the misfortune of having burrs thrown in my hair.

There I would be, playing on the playground when some boys would run over laughing, pelting the girls with burrs as they stuck in their clothes and most importantly our hair.

We would cry whilst trying to pull the burrs out of our hair. We’d stop because of the pain. We’d run to a teacher, pointing at the boys secretly waiting for their punishment.

But the teachers would smile at us and simply say, “That just means he likes you.”

My parents thankfully thought different and would help pull the burrs from my hair, telling me to keep telling a teacher if it should happen again and if worse came to worse to tell the principal.

But like the teachers, the principal would say, “That just means he likes you.”

I never really considered how poor the teachers’ advice was until a few years ago.

Throwing burrs and small pinches are seen simply as child’s play.

It isn’t violence and the child shouldn’t be punished. It’s only a crush, that’s how little boys and girls show they like one another.

But when did violence become an acceptable excuse to show affection?

I’m sure some of you reading this think I’m over-exaggerating. They were only burrs thrown in my hair, you might say. That’s not violent; it’s child’s play.

But by accepting violence as an excuse for love, we allow ourselves to be led into abusive relationships.

By accepting violence as an excuse for love we end up believing that our spouse is just hurting us out of affection.

No one should be taught that violence against another person proves love. No one should have to feel stuck in an abusive relationship or guilted into an abusive relationship with false promises of love.

Abuse is abuse. Love is love. They are opposites and are meant to be opposites.

So to any future teachers reading this, to any future parents: if a child is upset because they have burrs in there head or because someone won’t stop pinching them don’t tell them that it just means the other person likes them. Don’t decorate the problem, fix it.



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