Your son looks so innocent when he pets your dog and looks into its eyes. The innocence and love you see brings a tear to your eye. And those special times that he comes up to you to share some new excitement in his life and you notice that he’s so full of healthy vigor and hope—makes you beam. He loves watching new movies that come out too. And he loves fishing with his grandfather and just sitting around with his younger brother. What love you have for your 10 year old son! And what love he has for you and his own life. Until . . .
Until something happens one afternoon at school. He gets bullied. Pushed around by a troubled boy at school. Your son doesn’t want to hurt anyone including the boy pushing him and he doesn’t want to get into trouble with school officials either, so he doesn’t lash back in anyway at the boy. The boy called him a sissy. He called him a girl. And your son did nothing. And to make matters worse, a bunch of classmates watched it all happen. Two days later, during lunch, another boy started pushing your son. He pushed him so hard that he fell right down on his rump. Everyone laughed. Your son did nothing.
Now, the word among the kids in school was that your son could be teased, pushed around and made fun of, for amusement. Bullying continued and your son never said anything to you.
Life Starts Falling Apart
You started to notice some changes in your boy. His innocence seemed to be fading away. He started biting his fingernails. He didn’t smile as much with Grandpa. He started spending more time in his room. And then one evening when your son didn’t know that you were watching him, you watched him petting the dog. This time he seemed distant. He was going through the motions of petting but there was no happiness and no love in his eyes. There was no innocence. You almost screamed out loud as you said to yourself, “What’s happening to my happy loving son!” Then you got a tear in your eye.
This is the beginning of your son turning into an angry, fearful, self-loathing human being. From a bright happy life with a bright future ahead of him to a bleak and scrambling boy . . . it’s starting. And you can’t let it happen.
Just in the last week, I’ve heard about a 12 year who was a happy fun-loving boy who was continuously bullied at school and then killed himself. And then, there was the boy who was an innocent and fantastic 11 year old who while being physically bullied did nothing. Now he’s nervous if it will happen again and what others now think of him. And finally, this week, parents brought two boys to my school who were just under ten, who had been bullied before. The parents wanted them to be able to handle it if it were to occur again.
I’ve heard a lot of bullying stories, more than most people. I run a martial arts studio that has taught thousands of children throughout the years. Literally. It’s one of the oldest, if not the oldest continuous martial arts schools in Ohio and was founded about 50 years ago, by my father. Since his death, I run it. At The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense we teach many third generation students. That is to say; we taught a mom or dad, then as time went on, we taught their son or daughter, then we also taught their son or daughter! We haven’t had a fourth generation yet, but we’re anxiously waiting! They’ve told me that they bring their kids to us because of what we taught them about handling bullies back in-the-day. That it worked for them and they want their offspring to learn it too.
So how do you handle bullying? First, like weight loss programs, every year or two, new strategies and plans come out to combat bullying. In a way, that’s a good thing because as time goes by, knowledge and strategies can grow as well. One should always be open for quality change, growth and new knowledge. But in some ways, it’s bad. Some strategies I’ve seen are so accommodating to the bully that they almost recommend the victim offer tea and crumpets to them. And there are those who tout and whine that life should be fair and wishing and willing that to happen, along with getting the word out about fairness and the evils of bullying, will make it so.
Bullying Will Not Change
Here’s the scoop. Bullying has been around since Moses was in elementary school and probably even before then. Some people, kids and adults, get off by bullying others. Bad bosses, lousy coworkers and the like. Somewhere along the line they’ve been hurt and twisted and they pounce on the weak. The vulnerable. The ones who allow it. It is was here yesterday, it’s here today and it will be here tomorrow.
Children do not deserve to be abused by those who are mixed up. Because the fact of the matter is that bullies are mixed up malcontents. I feel sorry for them. I truly do and I hope they get help because to live in the darkness they live in is not a whole and happy way to go through life. They need help. But if one of them puts their hands on me, they’ll get popped in the forehead or turned in a circle and held in a way that won’t make them happy and I’ll bet you a month’s pay, that they’ll never do it to me again. They may never do it to anyone else again, either. It may shock them out of their terrible behavior. But at that point that’s not my goal. My goal is to not let anyone, I mean anyone, harm me physically or for that matter, emotionally either; like telling me I’m a sissy, stupid, a loser or some other attempt to degrade my self-worth.
Now, I’m unlikely to be bullied by someone as I am told by peers and friends that I have a bearing that exudes some sort of don’t mess with this guy thingy, not that I’m mean or anything, but some sense that I should not be bullied. I suppose this comes from a lifetime’s worth of experience and training, not to mention pain and hurt that I had to overcome as well. I only used myself as an example to show the core result of a proper anti bullying mindset.
What bullying defense training for children comes down to is understanding that no one has the right to bully you. No one has the right to physically hurt you. No one. And anyone doing these things to you will be stopped. Not tomorrow or the next week. But now. If you hurt me, you immediately pay a price. That goes for emotional or physical hurt that you may be doing to me. You hurt me, you will pay a price. A hefty one if need be. Bullies do not want to fight and the vast majority of children bullies as well as adult bullies will back down or stop bullying, if you truly get in their face. It’s not all about fighting either. A loud and commanding voice and not backing down verbally can work well sometimes. But the fact is that we as human beings sometimes need to take the plunge. The plunge into physicality. This always has to be in the group of options to stop bullying. We’ve had girls who have gotten physical with much bigger and stronger boys where it stopped bullying–forever. There are ways to take a quick plunge that is not rocket science and that works to stop bulling in its tracks for kids and adults.
Children kill themselves from bullying. Happens every week. Kids get twisted lives from bullying. Kids become unhappy and lose innocence and hope. None of these should ever happen. Moms and dad must watch behavior changes in their kids. If any changes are noticed; communicate. There’s nothing worse when a child will not talk to you. Lock yourself in a room with your child if need be and hug and make them talk to you! Make it clear that whatever is going wrong or painful in their lives will be stopped and changed. Once you’ve established that bullying is occurring, contact professionals for guidance. However, if you’re not satisfied with the advice you’re getting and most importantly, if it’s not working to alleviate the bullying or your child’s distress, go elsewhere for help. Look for help that has a clear record of success in alleviating and successfully handling bullying.
Good luck to moms, dads, caretakers and kids dealing with bullies. You can stop it, change it, and make it. Guaranteed.
Here’s Steve’s latest book: http://tinyurl.com/zcbkkyy
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer being the recipient of the 'J. Edgar Hoover Foundation' award for Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. Steve was SWAT trained by the FBI, FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and the LAPD.
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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