Bullying is a bad thing. In some cases, a terrible thing. While I was never really bullied, I was, in a way, similarly touched. When I was about 12, an 18 year-old tough guy told a new friend of mine, directly in front of me, “He’s real good looking ain’t he?” The way he said the words, with his smirk and inflection, it was meant to cut me down, to indicate that I was ugly and unattractive.
When the tall and lanky thug said those few words my confidence plummeted. It really hurt me. I had just moved to another neighborhood, to a suburb from the city of Cleveland and all my old friends were gone. Kids were all different from what I was used to and I felt that I was on shaky ground trying to fit in and get established and those few words took me all the way down the alley of self-doubt and self-loathing. Weird how kids can get affected by just a few words.
So, when kids get bullied, I can relate. I can understand. In fact, as I got older not only was I never bullied but I never let anyone bully anyone else. Perhaps the feeling I felt that early summer afternoon never left me and when I got confidence later in life, I felt empathy for others. Those words did so much to me that for two years I thought I was an ugly and unattractive teenager with little hope for girls and fun.
About two years after that ordeal I started having girls “liking me”. I was puzzled. In fact, after one school season, there were eight girls who “liked” me—at one time! I was shocked and at first, thought that perhaps they were making fun of me, teasing me, that they thought I was really ugly and that they were laughing inside while saying they liked me. It took a long time to realize I wasn’t the Phantom of the Opera and that I had worth. In retrospect, I believe what happened was that I was going through an ugly duckling phase while growing and apparently, a few years later, I grew out of it. But I’ve never forgotten how badly I felt.
Solutions for Bullying
As I was growing up in school I quickly learned that there were kids who bullied and picked on other kids. I also quickly learned that if you stood up to these kids, if you fought back, if you did not let them hurt you and bounce you around physically or emotionally, they’d stop it and go to the next kid who would let them do it. It was a very simple solution. It was an easy way to stop being bullied and also an easy way to stop bullying from others thugs because the word gets out that you’re one who won’t accept it.
So, if bullying is so easy to stop, why does it occur so much? And it certainly does occur often. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services and their website, StopBullying.gov:
1. Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school.
2. Most bullying occurs in middle school and the most common types are verbal and social bullying.
I suppose it was easier for me to understand how not to be be bullied as I was around fighting and took martial arts as a kid. And I suppose that not every child is ready to fight and protect themselves as I may have been. However, I’m not so sure about that thesis.
I think too many experts jump to the conclusion that not everyone can get in the face of a bully or actually punch a bully in the nose. And then you have experts who say that it is completely wrong to fight fire with fire and violence is a complete no-no. Well, I have been around the fighting and self-defense world most of my life and now own a self-defense school that is very active in teaching children how to protect themselves. And we have had scores of moms and dads ask for advice on how their kids can deal with an ongoing bully problem. Almost every incident that has been brought to our attention throughout the years gets similar advice:
- That a child should understand to stand up for themselves and their right to not be made fun of or not be physically hurt.
- That they must stand up to anyone verbally abusing them. That they should get right back in the bullies face and stand up for themselves and do whatever it takes to stop it. Usually standing up to and getting in the face of a verbal bully will stop it. If not, push them to the ground or strike them if needed.
- That if they are being physically bullied to physically strike back.
This advice has worked marvelously for over a half a century. Some may think this may be too violent or guttural. That in this day and age violence is so passe. To them I say: get your head out of the theoretical and wouldn’t it be so nice fantasy world and really help children, not use them as a social experiment. Now, for those of you who may think that not everyone can do this. That not all kids can get rough and tumble and not all kids can fight. Well, through the years I have taught many children self-defense and have seen kids who literally could not walk and chew gum at the same time. Kids who could hardly walk from one end of a room to another. And these kids were helped and taught to stand up for themselves, to fight if need be. To not be abused. It has worked for kids who had no “natural” inclination for fighting and who thought that they wouldn’t be able to protect themselves or stand up for themselves. The vast majority of children can be taught to get down and dirty and get in a bullies face and prevail. After all, being able to fend for themselves in the rough and tumble of life is what children should be taught while growing up.
There are many new ideas on how to stop bulling and a host of experts think that it will fade away and stop, eventually. Here’s a news flash for them: They’re wrong. Bullying will never go away. It’s been around since the days of Moses and will be around well after we are all gone. Troubled people harm others to feel better. It happens to kids and in the adult world as well.
The truth is that the vast majority of children can be taught how to fend off bullies. Get your kids competent help to be able to stand up to the real perils of the world which includes bullies. In fact, if they learn how to handle bullies they will have learned how to handle many other issues in life. You owe it to your children who are growing and who often times have a fragile psyche to not let them feel and begin to hate themselves like I did from a few hurtful words. I’m here to tell you that you can help your child handle bullying.
Find an outstanding, realistic and empathetic self-defense school. It will work wonders for your child’s self-confidence, self-worth and self-actuation.
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer.
For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.
Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
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