When I was in fifth grade I moved from one state to another. I was a New Kid in a small parochial school, with only one other New Kid. On day two of school I heard a rumor that the other New Kid, "didn't like me." I was crushed, heartbroken; I hadn't ever known anyone to not like me, especially someone that I hadn't even officially met. That night I cried to my mom, not understanding why someone who didn't know me didn't like me. I learned a lot that night as I cuddled with my mom, crying on her shoulder.
The next day at recess a group of kids came running over to me and breathlessly told me that SHE WAS COMING OVER TO BEAT ME UP!!! Sure enough, behind them came The Other New Girl, arms crossed against her chest, a couple of other fifth grade girls flanking her, eager for the confrontation.
Quickly I assessed my options; I'd never been in a fight before, and didn't know how these things worked. I knew I didn't want to get hurt, but I also didn't want to get in trouble for fighting. I made my decision just as this girl, let's call her Sallie, approached me. I don't remember what it was she said to me to inform me we were about to duke it out; I was too pumped up with adrenaline and fear. As the crowd formed a circle around us (just like I'd always imagined, but in my in my fantasies the crowd surrounded me because I was dancing with Jimmy McNichol, while his sister Kristy McNichol, my BEST FRIEND, was clapping in the background because she finally got the two of us to admit our everlasting love for each other).
Sallie started throwing punches and slaps; I ducked and avoided and shielded myself with my arms. The crowd was getting larger, and there was a lot of yelling and commotion.
When I saw my opportunity, I stood up, drew back my right arm and launched my fist towards her. It connected with her right eye; she was stunned (as was I, my plan was WORKING!) and knelt over, hands covering her face. Sticking to my plan, I ran, pushing my way through the crowd and straight to the principal. I didn't stop at the receptionist...just barged right into the principal's office and hurled myself onto her sofa. I was crying, upset at what had just happened, horribly afraid I'd be in trouble, wondering why I was even in this position. I told the principal everything, honestly, including my plan and how it worked (!).
Sallie got detention, I got a hug. Well, she got a hug, too, I'm sure. But I didn't get detention. Nanadepoopoo, Sallie.
There will always be bullies, in every walk of life. As much as I like the idea of turning the other cheek again and again and again and again and again and again, all bullies learn from that capitulation is to keep bullying. There are going to be times, whether due to history or immediacy, that a bully must be confronted.
P.S.: That's the one and only physical punch I've ever thrown.