What to do about Bullying
"Bullying is extremely common and potentially dangerous; this is why there is a Federal Mandate that all schools must have a policy and program in place to counter bullying. If your child's school doesn't, contact me and I will help you." -Shihan Levy.
Question: This morning my 6-year-old son broke down and told me that three bigger kids on the school bus have been calling him names, pulling his hood, and yesterday the biggest one, (a third grade girl) punched him in the stomach. I drove him to school, and went to the principal's office. It turns out those kids have a reputation for bullying. Does your child safety expert, Yvonne Levy have any advice about this?
Sensei Yvonne Levy
Martial Arts Hall of Fame, WorkingMom Child Safety Expert
Let me start by applauding the actions you've taken so far. First, you listened and got the full story from your son. Second, you kept him out of a potentially volatile situation by driving him to school this morning. Third, you followed up with the proper authority, the Principal. Your instincts are good, and you've already started solving the problem (instead of escalating it or denying it.) Your next step is to recognize a few things about bullying. This is where I'll refer you to Shihan Levy, a certified presenter of the only bully education program accepted by the National PTO.
Shihan Levy responds:
Bullying is extremely common and potentially dangerous; this is why there is a Federal Mandate that all schools must have a policy and program in place to counter bullying. If your child's school doesn't, contact me and I will help you.
As for the case with your son, remember that bullying is always emotional, even when it's physical. With this in mind, let's examine potential causes of bullying, and how you can help him solve this problem and similar ones that may arise in the future.
Remember, "What comes around goes around." A self-confident, content, well-adjusted child at home is more likely to be that way with peers. Learning to be proactive towards one's circumstances, rather than acting like a victim will reduce the likelihood of being bullied. Encourage these traits in your child:
- Respect: This includes respect for authority, self-respect and respect for others. A good martial arts school will be an invaluable asset in helping your child with this. We recommend schools throughout the country. Contact us for the school or schools we recommend in your area.
- Responsibility: Do you accept responsibility for your actions, or do you blame others for your own behavior? Do you stand up for yourself or what you believe in even when it's not popular? Do you represent your family well?
- Discipline: Not abuse, but the freedom and power to do the things you know you must, to accomplish the things you know you want.
Parents, have you raised your children to take responsibility or to play the role of the victim? These are the questions the parents of a bullied child must ask of themselves:
- Have I habitually babied, or over-coddled this child?
- Does guilt over the fact that I work or guilt over a divorce cause me to regularly overcompensate?
- Have I encouraged an enlarged sense of the world revolving around my child?
- As a rule, do I "give him a fish" instead of "teach him to fish?"
- Am I adhering to the Proverb to "Train up a child in the way he should go?"
As parents, we all make a few mistakes. No big deal, everyone does. These tactics also rob children of inner dignity.
- Do I resort to name calling instead of discipline based on actions and consequences?
- Do I embarrass my child to motivate him to do what I want?
- Am I telling him what's wrong more than I tell him how to fix it?
- Do I praise and encourage my child for the things they truly do right?
Now for some solutions:
Specifically, I suggest you have your son role play the scenario with you or someone you trust so he can become familiar with alternative courses of action to this stressful situation.
In the event he comes up against a bullying situation again, you don't want him to get stuck or panic. Prepare him with several appropriate responses.
Through our program, students learn to identify many different ways that people bully others. They also learn ten different strategies for diffusing the situation, and walking away with confidence . This gives them tools for their mental toolbox, so they respond with a real strategy, rather than a "fight" or "flight" instinctive response.
Instead children can be proactive by using prevention strategies to avoid:
• Get suspended for fighting,
• Experiencing the shame of running away out of fear,
• Enduring bullying in the hopes that it will stop.
Children also learn that most bullies have themselves been victims, and in turn bully others in order to regain a lost sense of control as a result of having been victimized. We also addresses the bullies because if they learn how to avoid being a victim in the future, they will no longer feel the need to bully others.
We designed the program to reduce bullying in schools, and our program is effective. We travel to schools all over the country and conduct interactive assemblies using engaging skits and role play scenarios that teach students real-world skills to diffuse potential bullying situations. Furthermore, anti-bullying assemblies are available at no cost to the local school district because our program meets the criteria for available federal grants. To schedule a one at your school, contact us.
||Shihan Levy is a Grandmaster of American Freestyle Karate, a 6th Degree Black Belt in the Superfoot System under Bill "Superfoot" Wallace and a Tactical Master Instructor of CDT, a liability conscious method of personal protection. He was inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame as Grandmaster of the Year in 2005. He is a proud father of three, and is the husband of Sensei Yvonne Levy, the Working Mom™ Child Safety Expert. |
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