How To Stop Bullying
Simon was 13 years old and usually an enthusiastic and happy member of the adult class. Tonight he really did seem ‘off his game’ – he was quiet and messing up his timing and distance by blinking and seemingly scared of being hit. Sensei noticed this and followed him down to the changing rooms. Simon was sitting staring into space.
“You alright Simon?” asked Sensei
“Yeah… sure…” said Simon in an uncertain tone.
“What’s up mate, it’s unlike you to be off your game like this?” pressed Sensei.
“Just an off day I guess,” said Simon.
“C’mon mate, open up, you can’t hide anything in here, your emotions always show up in your movements, anything I can help you with? This is my job you know, take advantage and talk.”
“It’s these kids at school… they just won’t leave things alone..” Simon looked empty and dejected.
“What are they doing?” asked Sensei.
“They just don’t like me, they don’t like the way I walk, talk, dress, the fact that I do Karate…. They just keep pushing and pushing…” A tear almost bubbled up but Simon swallowed it down and looked away.
“Are they physically pushing you?” asked Sensei.
“That and a lot more, they’re always taking the p***, always behind my back, sticking stupid notes on my back, spitting at me from behind, always commenting on my clothes and hair, playing practical jokes, bumping into me, saying that my Karate is stupid and that I couldn’t punch my way out of a paper bag, making kung fu noises every time I pass… They’re looking for me to fight; I just can’t stand it anymore.” Now a tear trickled down his agonised face and he wiped it away
“You’re right not to give them what they want,” answered Sensei.
“But it is going to happen isn’t it?” said Simon yielding to the inevitable.
“Have you been to the teachers?” asked Sensei.
“Yeah…. They just said to stay away from them and that it was six of one and half a dozen of the other and that we were all to blame” said Simon angrily.
“A common first response, have you discussed it with your parents?” asked Sensei.
“Yeah, done that, my Dad told me to walk up to them and punch them on the nose and my Mum went down and spoke to the head teacher who told her that they don’t have any bullying in the school and they had looked into it and think that we’re all to blame. Do you think that I should punch them on the nose?”
“Not unless they attack you” replied Sensei. “I would suggest a two pronged attack.”
Simon turned to look intensely at Sensei and asked “explain….”
“Firstly you must play it by the book, keep a diary, record everything that’s said and done, photograph any damage or harm that they do to you. Get your parents to see the head teacher and record his response in writing, if you’re not happy with it, take it to the school governors, if you’re not happy with them go to the education department and your local councillors and MP. Keep going and NEVER give into bullying, not from these kids or the teachers, be determined and keep going until this despicable behaviour is stopped.” Sensei was quite animated and Simon could see that he despised bullying.
“What’s the other prong Sensei?”
“Confront the bullies at the time, don’t play their game. Use positive body language, look them in the eye and ask them why they are doing the things that they are, ask them what their problem is.”
“Won’t that cause a fight Sensei?”
Sensei looked at Simon quite intensely. “No, you’re standing up for your rights; no one has the right to treat you in this way, you must not allow it to happen, if you give in once, they will just do it again and again. If they try to physically abuse you and no one is there to protect you, it’s important that you defend yourself making sure that you use ‘appropriate force’ so they are unable to continue the abuse. If your defence is supported by the inaction of the teachers and school authorities, you are in the right. Never – and I repeat never, let anyone abuse you in any way.”
“I see where you’re coming from now Sensei, I’ll talk to my parents when I get home. Why do you think these kids are so nasty?”
“Because they have a very low self esteem and were probably bullied or got their own way by being nasty, either at home or school, we must feel sorry for them to a certain extent, but also make sure that the strategy doesn’t work for them by confronting them in a way that they can’t deal with. Your determination and courage must be twice as much as theirs, they must be defeated by strategy and not coming down to their level. They need to know that trying it on with you will not give them an easy time.
You might end up with a few thumps, but probably no worse than you’ve received accidentally in here, and if you do… it’s more ammunition for the other ‘prong’ of your attack.
In life, some people will like you and others won’t, you have to accept that. But it doesn’t give anyone the right to abuse you. You don’t want to ‘use your Karate’ on anyone, you’re happy to train in here and don’t want to hurt anyone – and that’s good. If someone wants to abuse you then your training here will help you to control what you have to do to the other person, remember it’s them that dictates the level of violence you have to use to prevent their attack. The authorities are supposed to ‘clear up’ the mess created by the incident, but they aren’t there at the time, so you have to be in control of what happens. The level of violence is dictated by the attacker.
But NEVER, and I repeat NEVER let anyone abuse you in any way. It’s your right as a human being. Stop it before it gets out of hand.”
“Thank you”, said Simon, “now I know exactly what to do, and how to do it.”