Recently, in the news, we saw a man defending his daughter from a bullying situation on a school bus. Most thought he was a little out of line but because he committed no actual violence I applaud his action. It seems the school system had failed to address this type of behavior in an effective manner therefore this man had to step up to protect his little girl. If the school system had thought seriously about how to handle bullies and engaged a more realistic approach then I believe the problem would not be so severe.
I am a martial arts instructor and for over 25 years many parents have asked me what can be done to curb this problem. When I teach a self defense class I always emphasize the need for awareness. A criminal of any sort will always choose the easiest victim. A burglar will choose a house with no outside lights and no dogs in the yard or a rapist will always choose the woman that is alone in an isolated area, and a bully will always choose a timid or weak child to assault and therein lays a possible answer.
A person can place protections around his home and a lone woman can choose to start taking a friend or two but what about a child on the school bus? It seems that the school system, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that in any confrontational situation, both children will be punished. To me this seems an easy way to not deal with the real situation. This teaches the timid that they cannot win and will always be a victim. It also teaches a bully that he has very little to lose. Most of the bullies get disciplined regularly and don’t care, while the others that are trying to do good have a great deal to lose. We have taught them to just be the victim and I think that is an outrage.
For the school it is so much easier to chastise or punish both children than to investigate and take a stand on the side of the victim. A school bus has many witnesses and many buses have cameras so it should be fairly easy to get somewhere near the truth. When the real bully is discovered then the school administration should take swift and severe action against that person and YES, stand up and take the heat for the decision. When the leaders do not stand up for what’s right then they have failed us all miserably.
Most parents only want their children to be safe at school but this cannot happen as long as a lack of strong leadership exists. When parents ask me how best to deal with this rule I have always said something like, “I won’t encourage any student to break the school rules BUT, you should never let anyone at school hurt you.”
I am now taking a lesson from my own son. He is an adult now but in school he would stand up against any bullying situation. Being a brown belt gave him the confidence to stand up for the weak and do what needed to be done. It worked well because the violence on his bus ended. Most kids don’t have his obvious advantage but the knowledge of “safety in numbers” can go a long way toward giving them what they need to protect themselves.
I believe that self defense is an inherent right of all human beings and I will no longer say to any parent or child that they should just bow down. While most school children know very little about self defense there are always many many more of the good kids than there are of the bullies. From this day forward I will remind them that there is strength in numbers. (Remember the lone woman?) My thought is that the good children should be taught just how reprehensible the act of bullying is and that they should all stick together. If one of these events occurs they should swarm the bully and overwhelm him. Yes some may get a knot or a few bruises but when they learn how to take action as a group they will learn they no longer have to be a victim as they have been taught and they won’t have to be weak or afraid. The joy of no longer being afraid will far out weigh the sting of a few bruises. It is then that the self esteem and confidence we all want for our children will begin to grow and will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
When they learn that the unity of good people can be used to defeat the evil of the few then the fear will go away and it will no longer be necessary for worried fathers to board a school bus to protect their children. I think all parents would rather see a bus video showing about 10 good kids wailing the tar out of one or two bad ones than to see a violent episode where we all know the bully will face very little punishment. Going beyond the need for self defense just think about how much self esteem and confidence can be gained by timid children after being victorious against such an attack regardless of the knots.
Instead of teaching our children to stand by and become a victim we should empower them with a much more effective approach. Parents I will say to you now that this will not be easy but if it happens to your child then you absolutely have to stand next to him or her and face whatever heat the administration will bring down on you together. Don’t let your child fall victim because the school leaders are afraid of taking a stand for what is right. We must all unite and teach the kids to unite against this problem.
There are those that will say that this is a law enforcement problem but God bless them, law enforcement cannot be everywhere all the time. The same holds true for parents. To those in the school system I will say to you, we trust you with the safety of our children and for the sake of political correctness you do very little. When will you stand up for us.
After all, don’t most teenage suicides come from bullying or when you hear about one of these school shootings isn’t the shooter usually a long term victim of bullying? The good that can be done by courage on the part of the good is immeasurable.
One last thing for the ladies who may read this. Ladies, please please never be on a jogging trail alone and never drive a worn out car into a dangerous area. Use your good common sense. Always be aware of the potential danger of what you are about to do. This is a wonderful world but danger is lurking so please just take a friend or do the safest thing for yourself no matter how inconvenient.