Dealing with a Bully

BBMA is committed to ensuring a safe, secure and positive environment for all our martial arts students and is committed to providing studentswith strategies for identifying and combating bullying behaviour.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is when someone, or a group of people, who have more power at the time, deliberately upset or hurt another person, their property, reputation or social acceptance on more than one occasion. Bullying can be categorised as direct or indirect and also as physical, verbal and gestural.

Types of Bullying

There are three broad categories of bullying:

  1. Direct physical bullying: e.g. hitting, tripping, and pushing or damaging property.
  2. Direct verbal bullying: e.g. name calling, insults, homophobic or racist remarks, verbal abuse.
  3. Indirect bullying: This form of bullying is harder to recognise and often carried out behind the bullied student’s back. It is designed to harm someone’s social reputation and/or cause humiliation. Indirect bullying includes: lying and spreading rumours, playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate, mimicking, encouraging others to socially exclude someone, damaging someone’s social reputation and social acceptance, cyberbullying, which involves the use of email, text messages or chat rooms to humiliate and distress.

How to Deal with Bullying

There is an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that bullies pick their ‘targets’. It is ideal to exude self-confidence and appear strong and assertive in order to avoid becoming a target. However, if you are already being bullied and don’t know what to do, here are some suggestions:

  • Ask the bully calmly and politely to stop it and then increase this to telling them firmly and loudly to stop it.
  • Consider putting on a “protective shell” by acting unimpressed. If you feel up to it, make a funny comment.
  • Keep notes (what, who where and when) and make sure they know about it.
  • Discuss your situation with a friend, parent or teacher and ask for their support and assistance.

Reading the Signs

  • Mood changes (being quieter, more attention-seeking or tearful than usual)
  • Temper tantrums
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Unexplained symptoms or head and stomach aches
  • Reluctance to go to school
  • Changes in academic performance

What You can Do

  • Talk to your child so you get the main facts (Remember to ask questions gently).
  • Once you have a clear picture of the situation and some idea about how you and your child want to handle it, contact the school. Never try to sort out the bullies yourself.
  • Ask about the school’s policy on bullying.
  • Make a note of what the school says it will do and arrange to make a follow-up call.

If Your Child is Being a Bully

  • Let your child know that the bullying is a serious problem and that it is inappropriate behavior.
  • Don’t tolerate the response that it was all in fun.
  • Encourage your child to see the experience from the other person’s perspective.
  • Ensure your child is aware of the consequences of further bullying behaviour.
  • Work with the school to help your child change his or her behaviour.
  • Don’t make excuses for your child; however, let your child know that he or she is loved and valued.

How Karate Can Help

What can parents do to keep children emotionally and physically safe while staying within the policies of the school?

Parents can take away the bully’s target, not by removing them but by giving children the tools and practice to stop bullies from seeing them as “easy pickings”.

Karate develops self-respect, self-confidence and mental strength. It is for this reason that students of this art of self-defence become very uneasy and unlikely targets for bullies.

Here is an example of how karate can benefit children, who are being bullied at school (as reported by BBC NEWS 17th November, 2003):

Jamie Foster, 16, from Newport, fell victim to school bullies as a child and his parents recall him returning home every day in tears.

“I was bullied at primary school and had to learn how to defend myself so my dad took me to karate lessons,” he said.

Having begun the martial arts aged 10, he now holds a black belt.

Talking about how karate turned around his life, Jamie added: “Kids used to push me around and taunt me but karate lessons changed all that.

“They gave me confidence and self-esteem so the bullies just left me alone.”

We have much evidence from our own students of the benefits of karate training against bullying:

“Cassie is almost five years old and was socially extremely timid and lacked confidence. In fact I remember vividly having to do the whole first class with her clinging to my arm.. Now she stands up proudly to receive her red stripes and loves the attention. She was the subject of some childcare bullying and now proudly declares “Stop, stay away, I don’t like it!” Everyone remarks on her new found confidence and poise.” -Mum

What can you do if your child is bullying other children?

Will karate help them? The answer is yes, most definitely. Students of karate are taught to have respect, compassion, and to demonstrate empathy, for others. Children who train at karate are taught that bullying is highly inappropriate and quickly learn not to engage in these types of behaviours.

Will your child become too aggressive by learning karate? Definitely not! Again, karate teaches children to respect, and to avoid, hurting others. Your child will learn how to self-monitor feelings; they will learn self-control, discouraging them from becoming too aggressive.

Further information about Bullying

Karate KidBullying has been reported as occurring in every school and kindergarten or day care environment in which it has been investigated.

Gender differences have been found indicating that boys are bullied physically more often than girls. Girls are generally more often involved in indirect forms of aggression, such as excluding others, rumour spreading and unpleasant manipulating of situations to hurt those they do not like.

There are differences in the nature and frequency of victimization reported by children according to age. Generally, bullying among younger children is proportionately more physical; with older children, indirect and more subtle forms of bullying tend to occur more often.

Despite these differences in the kinds of bullying most experienced by different age groups, children typically report being bullied less often as they get older, although being victimized tends to increase when children enter secondary school.

If you are a victim of bullying, or know someone who is, contact BBMA to find out how we can help.

Posted in Martial Arts Blog

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