Created By: SentaiToku on January 31, 2013 Last Edited By: Morgenthaler on May 5, 2016
Troped

Double Standard Violence Child On Adult

Kid hurts grown-up : okay; grown-up hurts kid = evil!

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It seems very common for people to let children to hurt adults, especially if its Played for Laughs and the perpetrators get away with it. On the other hand, any adult who hurts children tends to be seen as evil if said act is done, and tends to suffer Laser-Guided Karma.

One reason for that is that a young child (not a teenager, who is physically an adult) is assumed to be fairly easy for most adults to subdue while doing little harm to the child if the child becomes violent, and there's few parents out there who would want to wreck their children's lives by calling the cops if they already have the situation in hand. Also, while kids can be cruel, they are also perceived as innocent as well as extremely cute, and since adults are considered big and strong and capable, the child is very likely to get away with whatever horrible things they do to adults because not only is it entertaining, we can also fault the adult for being too incompetent to handle a child.

Note that inversions do happen, as demonstrated by Hilariously Abusive Childhood trope.

Related to Children Are Innocent and Kids Are Cruel. See Would Hurt a Child for when adults DO retaliate. Compare Kid Hero.


Examples

Comic Books
  • Donald Duck
    • In the classic comics (that is to say, by Carl Barks), before the kids became Junior Woodchucks, they were extremely naughty, mischievous brats, and Donald would smack, whip, and paddle their asses quite often, and it was not only played for laughs, it was strongly implied that they were getting their just desserts. This was phased out once they became Junior Woodchucks and started becoming more and more proactive, wise, mature do-gooders, almost to the point of sueishness, especially in the Don Rosa stories.
    • One particularly egregious story revolved around a child psychologist selling Donald on the idea that beating the kids up was evil, and that he had been stifling their creativity and should let them do as they please; Huey, Dewey and Louie abuse the situation to extreme levels, and act like whimsical, irresponsible brats. Once Donald catches on, he invites said psychologist at home for dinner and a chat, and, while he pompously lectures Donald, the kids blow fireworks under his armchair. His clothes singed, his face a mask of fury, he leaps at the kids, ready to beat the crap out of them, while Donald looks on, a smug grin on his face.
  • Runaways plays with this frequently. Molly Hayes has punched countless adults and older teenagers, usually with only the slightest provocation, and yet it's treated as humorous or even adorable, yet any adult who so much as threatens Molly (or later, Klara) tends to be treated as a monster who's crossed a line.

Film - Live-Action
  • Home Alone and the many, many sequels and rip-offs of it are a good example. Sure, the bad guys may be deserving of some pain, but Fridge Logic can make you think that at least some of those traps are pretty damn lethal, and if not Played for Laughs, the kid would probably get a counter-sue as high as attempted murder. A court of law in real life may not react very well if you tell them that you "self-defensed" yourself by dropping an active lawnmower on someone, no matter how much of a crook the other guy is.
  • The Hulk Hogan comedy vehicle Mr Nanny has a few gags that depend on this. Some of the pranks that the two kids carry out on Hogan's character include using a magnet to manipulate his 200+ pound barbell and then let it fall on him from the ceiling—he dodges it in time, but it could have easily killed him. They also electrocute him in the bathroom. Of course, it's played for laughs because of Amusing Injuries.

Live-Action TV
  • The Slap thoroughly deconstructs this from several angles. Spoiled Brat Hugo is cheating at cricket at a family barbecue, causing a fight with the other children and lashing out with a cricket bat. When Harry, the father of one of the children, steps in to stop it, Hugo kicks him hard on the shin, and Harry responds with a hard slap across the face. The whole of the rest of the plot deals with the ramifications to the various family and friends who get dragged into the ensuing hostilities between Harry and the boy's Beloved Smother.

Religion
  • God doesn't subscribe to this trope: in The Bible, "And [Elisha the prophet] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them." Yes, He had children rent apart by bears on a case of verbal abuse.In fact, you could extend His aversion of this trope to his interactions with every being in Creation.

Web Comic
  • In Better Days, a kid beats up a man with a baseball bat because he was going to rape the kid's mother.

Web Video
  • The Nostalgia Critic has the following reaction on seeing an adult beating up a twelve year old in The Garbage Pail Kids Movie: "Dude, you're beating a twelve-year-old! What an asshole!". Then not a second later, it cuts to the scene where the roles are reversed: "Dude, you're getting beaten up by a twelve-year-old! What an asshole!", with the tone completely changing from shock to amusement.

Western Animation
  • Codename: Kids Next Door revolves around his trope. Children beating up adults is played for laughs, while its played as a Kick the Dog moment when an adult hurts a child.
  • In The Fairly Oddparents, Vicky acts dominating towards her parents, causing them to fear her. This is always Played for Laughs. Imagine the reaction of the audience if the roles were reversed.
  • In Family Guy, Lois is assaulted at a supermarket by a group of children.
  • The Proud Family: On the Thingy episode, a group of toddlers beat up Oscar and nobody tries to call for help. Imagine the reactions if many adults ganged up on an infant.
  • In The Simpsons, the episode with George Bush (senior) as a guest character. The first act of the episode has Bart floating around the former president as a wannabe Dennis The Menace, simply causing havoc and Mr. Bush being unable to do more than fume while his wife is oblivious about Bart's antics and thinking he's a nice kid. When Bart shreds Mr. Bush's auto-biography, the former president has had enough and spanks Bart's bottom once before sending him home to "think about what he had done". Bart's response: go to Homer and tell him that Mr. Bush had hit him, making both guys (who had been chums during the first act) go on the (increasingly serious) warpath. At least once during the next two acts, Mr. Bush tells Homer that Bart deserved it because of destroying his auto-biography and other havoc and wants an apology, but Bart doesn't wants to give it and Homer doesn't care about it; Bush hit his kid, and Homer wants payback (hypocritical because, you know, the throttlings).
  • This is implied in Spongebob Squarepants in the episode "The Bully," with Flats bullying his father, and his father being scared.

Real Life
  • Teenage on parent abuse is a very real thing, particularly when drug abuse becomes involved. It becomes a serious issue for the parents, as telling the police that your child assaulted you is not likely to be taken seriously.
Community Feedback Replies: 58
  • January 31, 2013
    Random888
    No, just no. Adults hurting children is evil. Well, except maybe corporal punishment, but that's a gray area at best. Children hurting adults is not okay, but it's ridiculous to call it abuse.
  • January 31, 2013
    Duncan
    Are we talking about something like the Home Alone series?
  • January 31, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ My thought exactly. This sounds like a perfectly valid trope to me the same way like Double Standard Rape Female On Male. This is, by the way, lampshaded in this xkcd strip. Would make a good page picture if this gets done.
  • January 31, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    'Home Alone' and the many, *many* rip-offs of it are a good example. Sure, the bad guys may be deserving of some pain, but Fridge Logic can make you think that those traps are pretty damn lethal, and if not Played For Laughs, the kid would probably get a counter-sue as high as attempted murder.

    Seriously, a court of law in real life may not react very well if you tell them that you 'self-defensed' yourself by dropping an active lawnmower on someone, no matter how much of a crook the other guy is.

    Another example: The Simpsons, the episode with George Bush (senior) as a guest character. The first act of the episode has Bart floating around the former president as a wanna-be Dennis The Menace, simply raising havoc and Mr. Bush being unable to do more than fume while his wife is oblivious about Bart's antics and thinking he's a nice kid.

    So when Bart shreds Mr. Bush's auto-biography, the former president has had enough and spanks Bart's bottom *once* before sending him home to 'think about what he had done'.

    Bart's response: go to Homer and tell him that Mr. Bush had hit him, making both guys (who had been chums during the first act) go on the (increasingly serious) warpath. At least *once* during the next two acts, Mr. Bush tells Homer that Bart deserved it because of destroying his auto-biography and other havoc and wants an apology, but Bart doesn't wants to give it and Homer doesn't cares about it-Bush hit his kid, and Homer wants payback (hypocritical because, you know, the throttlings).
  • January 31, 2013
    Hodor
    I'm going to agree with Random 888 here. It is really a misuse of the term abuse if you are going to include examples of children playing pranks (The Simpsons episode probably also wouldn't count since it is Homer, another adult, doing most of the stuff to Bush).

    Home Alone is a less clear case, because Kevin does engage in some pretty sadistic violence toward the crooks, but that's helped because of Amusing Injuries.

  • January 31, 2013
    Random888
    Hmm, I hadn't thought of that Home Alone-type stuff. I suppose my problem with this is that the trope is set up in a way which creates the unspoken implication that children harming adults and adults harming children should be considered equivalent acts, when they most certainly should not.
  • January 31, 2013
    Desertopa
    Whether you personally hold that standard and consider it justified or not, it doesn't change the fact that it's a double standard that's a pervasive pattern in fiction.

    Plenty of people will assert that it's worse for a man to abuse a woman than the other way around, and that doesn't mean that we shouldn't have a Double Standard Abuse Female On Male page. The fact that that perception is so pervasive is exactly why we have the page.
  • January 31, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^^^ I agree to the word "abuse" being a bit too strong for this. The name could be changed to something along the lines: "Double Standard Violence: Child On Adult".

    ^^ Yeah, the description is a bit misleading. Of course violence is always evil.
  • January 31, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Well, it could be that when a man hits a kid it's always something Played For Drama, the grown-up gets the most severe punishment available (up to and including death) and there is very, VERY rarely a joke there (unless the kid is the most extreme of Asshole Victims, and most normally the revenge is something passive like wrapping them up with duct tape or another kid is the one delivering the beatdown) while a kid doing something pretty brutal to a grown man has about a 50/50 chance of being Played for Laughs (and when NOT played for laughs, the kid is just arrested and treated like... well... a kid).

    The Simpsons example I placed is, by the most part, hypocritical humour (Homer always throttles Bart, and pretty rarely is it seen badly by other people except on some really rare drama moments), but it still stands somewhat in that during the whole act Mr. Bush is pointing out that Bart is an evil little brat and people let it slide, but when he takes matters into his own hands (with *just one light slap on the buttocks*, BTW), THAT is when the Simpsons males decide that they're in the right to try and make the other man's life a living hell.
  • January 31, 2013
    Connorses
    In the webcomic Better Days a kid beats up a man with a baseball bat because he was going to rape the kid's mother.

    Inversion: Eric Cartman in South Park is a fourth grader but he's so much of an asshole that it's funny when he gets beat up.
  • January 31, 2013
    Psi001
    In The Simpsons example is more a case of Moral Myopia, Homer actually resented Bush from the start of the episode anyway and it's heavily implied Bart exaggerated the whole experience to sound much more torturous (and of course left out the part about him wrecking havoc in his garage and all that). When Bush points this out to Homer, he is actually appalled at Bart, but then continues attacking Bush anyway.

    Add to that Bart is constantly lampshaded as being an immoral Jerk Ass that should have been put in juvenile hall several times over by now. In the same episode, Rod and Todd more or less warn Bush that Bart is evil. Meanwhile Homer is an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist that starts similar childish fights on a frequent basis anyway. Everyone else in the show is neutral to the whole thing, and in the end Barbara just tells her husband to apologize so they'll be done with it.
  • January 31, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    The Nostalgia Critic had one on seeing an adult beating up a twelve year old in The Garbage Pail Kids Movie: "Dude, you're beating a twelve-year-old! What an asshole!" Then not a second later, cuts to the scene where the roles are reversed: "Dude, you're getting beaten up by a twelve-year-old! What an asshole!", with the tone completely changing from shock to amusement.
  • February 1, 2013
    Frank75
    What movie was that scene from?
  • March 6, 2013
    MsCC93
    The Fairly Oddparents: Vicky acts dominating towards her parents, causing them to fear her. This is always Played For Laughs..Imagine the reaction of the audience if the roles were reversed.
  • March 6, 2013
    MsCC93
    This is implied in Spongebob Squarepants in the episode "The Bully," with Flats bullying his father, and his father being scared.
  • March 6, 2013
    MsCC93
    On the Thingy episode of The Proud Family, a group of toddlers beat up Oscar and nobody tries to call for help. Imagine the reactions if many adults ganged up on an infant.
  • March 6, 2013
    MsCC93
    This is a smart idea, actually...but the trope needs a better name...it should be Double Standard Abuse Child On Adult, because saying abuse is "okay," it's wrong.
  • March 6, 2013
    MsCC93
    On Family Guy, Lois is assaulted at a supermarket by a group of children.
  • March 7, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    • In Donald Duck classic comics (that is to say, by Carl Barks), before the kids became Junior Woodchucks, they were extremely naughty, mischievous brats, and Donald would smack, whip, and paddle their asses quite often, and it was not only played for laughs, it was strongly implied that they were getting their just desserts. This was phased out once they became Junior Woodchucks and started becoming more and more proactive, wise, mature do-gooders, almost to the point of sueishness, especially in the Don Rosa stories.
      • One particularly egregious story revolved around a child psychologist selling Donald on the idea that beating the kids up was evil, and that he had been stifling their creativity and should let them do as they please; Huey, Dewey and Louie abuse the situation to extreme levels, and act like whimsical, irresponsible brats. Once Donald catches on, he invites said psychologist at home for dinner and a chat, and, while he pompously lectures Donald, the kids blow fireworks under his armchair. His clothes singed, his face a mask of fury, he leaps at the kids, ready to beat the crap out of them, while Donald looks on, a smug grin on his face.
    • God doesn't subscribe to this trope: in The Bible, "And [Elisha the prophet] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them." Yes, He had children rent apart by bears on a case of verbal abuse.In fact, you could extend His aversion of this trope to his interactions with every being in Creation.
  • March 7, 2013
    122122
    Codename Kids Next Door revolves around his trope. Children beating up adults is played for laughs, while its played as a Kick The Dog moment when an adult hurts a child.
  • March 7, 2013
    jatay3
    I'm not sure Home Alone is a case of that. Many people would cheer adults who did quite brutal things to home invaders as well. At worst it is Pay Evil Unto Evil.

  • March 7, 2013
    jatay3
    One reason for that is that a child(if a real child and not a teenager who is physically an adult)is assumed to be fairly easy for most adults to subdue while doing little harm to the child if the child becomes violent, and few parents will want to wreck their childrens lives by calling the cops if they already have the situation in hand.
  • June 20, 2013
    johnnye
    I don't know if this YKTTW is going anywhere, but one especially relevant example:

    • The Slap thoroughly deconstructs this from several angles. Spoiled Brat Hugo is cheating at cricket at a family barbecue, causing a fight with the other children and lashing out with a cricket bat. When Harry, the father of one of the children, steps in to stop it, Hugo kicks him hard on the shin, and Harry responds with a hard slap across the face. The whole of the rest of the plot deals with the ramifications to the various family and friends who get dragged into the ensuing hostilities between Harry and the boy's Beloved Smother.
  • June 20, 2013
    DennisDunjinman

    You could add in the trope description something about how Kids Are Cruel, but they are perceived as innocent as well as extremely cute and since adults are considered big and strong and capable, the child is very likely to get away with whatever horrible things they do to adults because not only is it entertaining, we can also fault the adult for being too incompetent to handle a child.
  • June 20, 2013
    MorganWick
    There may be a supertrope about "stronger hits weaker = horrible; weaker hits stronger = hilarious".

    In any case, this really shouldn't be a Double Standard X snowclone. I think we already have that Nostalgia Critic quote somewhere, maybe Wouldnt Hit A Girl?
  • June 21, 2013
    Psi001
    • Dennis The Menace UK frequently causes collateral damage and physical harm for adults in his pranks. Similar the Donald Duck example this was subverted in earlier stories, where his father would often take his slipper or belt to him in a comical manner. As Values Dissonance took it's toll however, this was naturally phased out and Dennis was more likely to get away with his schemes (even if they were often played in a more Lovable Rogue manner to moderate this).
  • June 21, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^^ If it's going to be an x is okay when it's y on z snowclone, then it might as well be a Double Standard X snowclone.

    This seems related to Children Are Innocent.
  • June 21, 2013
    CaptainPeregrin
    Original poster hasn't updated or replied at all - should this be put up for grabs?
  • June 21, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Related to Elder Abuse? On the subject though I'm going to have to agree with the several people here who said that "abuse" is too strong a word for this trope. It's ridiculous to call it that.

    Also I don't think the bully in that spongebob example posted in this discussion is actually a child since they're going to a driving school.
  • June 22, 2013
    peccantis
    Declared if Up For Grabs, it's months old.
  • June 22, 2013
    MorganWick
    ^x4 Well, I'm pretty sure all the "x is okay" snowclones were changed into "double standard x" snowclones, so I was presuming the same would happen here; I was reading both snowclone families as one and the same. Nothing should be an "x is okay" snowclone.
  • June 22, 2013
    Melkior
    Just noting that Dennis The Menace US (Hank Ketcham version) probably isn't an example because that Dennis was always simply a little boy doing normal little boy things, except what he does often results in "menacing" adults quite by accident and not by design.
  • July 14, 2014
    marcoasalazarm
    Bump.
  • July 15, 2014
    DAN004
    Who wanna grab this?
  • July 15, 2014
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    While I can't think of a fictional example off the top of my head, in real life teenage on parent abuse is a very real thing, particularly when drug abuse becomes involved. It becomes a serious issue for the parents, as telling the police that your child assaulted you is not likely to be taken seriously.
  • July 15, 2014
    DAN004
    Compare Kid Hero.
  • July 15, 2014
    xanderiskander
    Looking back on this I question if this is even a real "double standard". The whole concept revolves around the idea that "children hurting adults is acceptable in media because it's funny", but it's not like adults abusing children (i.e Hilariously Abusive Childhood) isn't excused when it's used as a joke either.

    Hilariously Abusive Childhood has a ton of examples too so you can't really say it's uncommon or not accepted. Because it IS acceptable to use in all kinds of media as long as it's only used as a joke, and isn't serious.
  • July 15, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Comic Books
    • Runaways plays with this frequently. Molly Hayes has punched countless adults and older teenagers, usually with only the slightest provocation, and yet it's treated as humorous or even adorable, yet any adult who so much as threatens Molly (or later, Klara) tends to be treated as a monster who's crossed a line.
  • July 16, 2014
    ZuTheSkunk
    Compiled the examples together, expanded the description as I could, and added an image.

    If someone wants to improve this, then go ahead.
  • July 16, 2014
    Arivne
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Corrected improper Example Indentation in the Donald Duck example.
    • Examples section formatting
      • Changed media section title(s) to our standard style and Blue Linked them.
      • Namespaced work name(s).
      • Alphabetized media sections.
  • July 18, 2014
    Elementis
    Okay, this blatantly Crosses The Line Twice.
  • July 18, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    ^ No.
  • July 18, 2014
    Elementis
    ^Can you provide some constructive evidence as to why not, instead of bluntly announcing "no"?
  • July 18, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Crosses The Line Twice is very broad. This is just one specific form.
  • July 19, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    ^ That's not why. Crosses The Line Twice is "Pain is funny. Therefore, more pain must be even funnier!" until it is no longer funny, and then more pain until it's funny again. A kid hurting an adult is not "more pain" than an adult hurting a kid. The pain level is exactly the same, and that's why this is a Double Standard: abuse from a kid is comedy, abuse from an adult is evil. The type of abuse isn't relevant.

    What's more, the double standard assumes that the kid is incapable of causing serious injury, even when we see the physical wounds suffered by the adult. A severe enough injury might be Crosses The Line Twice when the kid inflicts it, but the same abuse from an adult is always Dude Not Funny
  • July 19, 2014
    xanderiskander
    ^ Except as I pointed out earlier it's not always Dude Not Funny when adults are abusing kids in a work. It's sometimes given a pass when it's used as a joke. Shows like The Simpsons and South Park being iconic examples of this. This seems just as common (or maybe even more common) for adult characters to do for comedy as children. See: Hilariously Abusive Childhood it has a ton (hundreds) of examples showing this.

    And with that being the case it's not really a double standard.
  • July 19, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Then you missed the Pot Hole: " bizarre methods of parenting [[CrossesTheLineTwice exaggerated to the point of comedy.]]"

    Hilariously Abusive Childhood is Crosses The Line Twice, because it does ratchet up the abuse of children by adults. It does negate my point of "abuse from an adult is always Dude Not Funny".
  • July 22, 2014
    acrobox
  • April 12, 2015
    ZuTheSkunk
    Bump?
  • April 12, 2015
    Chabal2
    The Biblical example changes Depending On The Translator- I've seen one where it's a gang of young men, and another where they're teenagers instead.
  • April 12, 2015
    f1shst1x
    Wouldn't the Bible example just be a straight version of Would Hurt A Child? It doesn't really seem to have anything to do with this YKTTW's description of children hurting adults being portrayed as acceptable.
  • April 12, 2015
    marcoasalazarm
    Well, I was interpreting it as God punishing the kids because He won't allow even kids to get away with such an assault on those that He protects.
  • April 15, 2015
    marcoasalazarm
    Bumop!
  • April 15, 2015
    marcoasalazarm
    Should we add South Park to this thing? I can't recall if there is a specific example, but I would guess that something like this would be explored at least once.
  • April 12, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    I wouldn't say teenagers are "physically adults". They're teens for a reason, plus kids develop at different rates. Most fourteen year olds probably aren't anywhere near adult strength.
  • April 13, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    • The Hulk Hogan comedy vehicle Mr. Nanny has a few gags that depend on this. Some of the pranks that the two kids carry out on Hogan's character include using a magnet to manipulate his 200+ pound barbell and let it drop on him from the ceiling. They also electrocute him in the bathroom. Of course, it's played for laughs because of Amusing Injuries.
  • April 13, 2016
    Chabal2
    The Bible one: some translations have it as gangs of youths (putting it anywhere from Teens Are Monsters to young adults) instead.
  • May 5, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Since the original sponsor hasn't been back here for far longer than the Up For Grabs rules require, and this has more than enough hats, I'll add the example I suggested above and launch this.
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