Attitude First Martial Arts Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. Also serving Glendale, Peoria, Arrowhead, Anthem, and New River. Teaching Kenpo, Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Ground, Weapons Defense, Self Defense, Performance, Confidence, Strength, Leadership, and Bully Proof Skills! Lil’ Attitudes program 3 to 5 years old, Youth Program 6 to 12 years old, Teen Program 13 to 17 years old, Adults 18 years and older.
However, there needs to be a level of awareness and concern about what we label as bullying. If we tend to blanket everything as bullying then there is a tendency to overlook and/or over react to the level of importance. It is kind of funny how in some areas we go out of our way not to “generalize” but in others we establish a label and freely paint everything with that label.
In an article by John Rosemond (www.rosemond.com) I think he makes some very important points;
In his article he states the definition at StopBullying.gov proposes that bullying is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-age children that involves a power imbalance.” He then quotes Wikipedia “repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person physically or mentally.” Which the term “repeated” being an important factor to bullying. I tend to agree and feel that makes a distinct difference between a normal childish prank and bullying. He further states “It might be helpful if everyone were able to agree on a rational definition of exactly what separates actual bullying from just normal childhood mischief. That lack of consensus may be, in fact, a major share of the problem.” Again, seems difficult to argue with the logic of that statement.
True “Bullying” is an act that cannot be generalized. The consistent torment of one or more individuals towards others can be permanently damaging. The sad truth is that attempting to educate the Bully, although seemingly the correct approach may be the most difficult approach to find success. If the Bully does not agree with the education he/she is not going to accept the message and follow through.
So it is the victim that we have to work with. It probably goes without saying…they get the message and understand the value of eliminating the behavior. Their motivation to stop the interaction is much more enthusiastic. The issue with working with the victim/defender is, at what level should they respond to and with? In self-defense scenarios we profess and train at Attitude First Martial Arts Academy that you (the defender) have “the right to stop your opponent from hurting you.” That is the defender’s prominent intent…”Stop” them. So in the initial infancy of any interaction the words “Stop” should be understood and adhered to. If not, the defender has a back-up plan of action.
Each step of that plan has the intent of “stopping” the interaction from escalating to a more serious level. However, the “Bully” may have a different intent that could be fueled with a variety of impulses; rage, fear, drugs, etc. The level of action established by the defender may not alter the Bully’s actions/intent. Thus, forcing the defender to move to the next level of his back-up plan. Again, each level has the intent of “stopping” the interaction. Unfortunately, this may require an ultimate and permanent result. The result was not the intent of the defender but established as a necessity by the Bully because of his/her disregard for the defender’s rights.
The term “repeated” is so crucial to the definition of Bullying. A single act by an acquaintance, friend, etc. needs to be defined for what it is. If someone plays a prank like splashing with water, this necessarily wouldn’t be defined as bullying. Just as if someone were attacked, beaten, raped, etc. these acts are not normally identified as bullying. It is the continuous, repeatable act that molds the definition like with the term abuse. Abuse normally is not the term used for a single act. This is what we need to educate and this is what we teach individuals to be aware of and defend against. Not that either is less important but obviously single acts and repeated acts have different aspects to address. What worked once may not be as effective in a second or third encounter.
One of the important things that we work with is that if for instance, a “Bully” started something and it ended with the simple command of “Stop,” odds are to be aware that if a similar interaction began with the same individual and/or group there is a greater potential need to go beyond the simple command. Obviously, this Bully did not respect the command because the interaction would not be occurring again if he/she had in the first place. The next time it might require voicing the command “stop” with the actions of stepping back into a defensive posture. The defender needs to accept that fact that more actions may now be needed and not rely on the fact that simply commanding “Stop” worked in the previous interaction.
In addition when we work with people to prevent Bullying we hope to instill the understanding to be responsible for and the results of, their actions. This is so valuable to actually end Bullying. So often when confronted the Bully gets mixed messages.
Does this sound familiar?
Authority Figure: “Now tell them you’re sorry!”
Bully: “I’m Sorry”
Defender/Victim: “Ah, that’s okay…”
Authority Figure: “Now, you two run along and play.”
Too often children and adults alike are uncomfortable with confrontation even in the resolution aspect of it. It is important that the defending individual maintain their position even during the resolution. This sends a much clearer message to the Bully that the defender intends to “Stop” the interaction. They need to send the message “It wasn’t okay that you bullied me! I told on you in hopes of stopping it. If you attempt to try it again, I will take whatever steps necessary to stop you and be informed, I will stop you!”
Without a doubt Bullying is an issue. However, it must be correctly identified and once done it is easier to develop a plan of action that will resolve the interaction with greater success.