Anti Bullying – Change starts with us!
Anti Bullying week is this week, but why should it just be for one week?
Bullying is something that is close to my heart, having been there and suffered at the hands of bullies myself.
Let’s start with a few facts.
- Bullying is the main reason why children aged 11 years and under contact Childline
- More than 16,000 young people are absent from school because of bullying
- 30% of young people have gone on to self-harm as a result of bullying
- 10% of young people have attempted to commit suicide as a result of bullying
Martial arts gave me the confidence and the skills to cope, and coping with Bullying is not just about being able to fight back. The hurt goes much deeper than just physical pain, with mental health being probably the biggest issue. This is why, at Chuldow Martial Arts Heckmondwike, we focus on confidence, team building, self defence and helping others whenever we can.
Bullying can happen in any place at any time, and if we want our young people to learn, grow and become better people, we need to teach them right and wrong, and lead by example. This isn’t just about telling children that bullying is wrong, or telling them to be nice to each other. We need to actively encourage this behaviour, by talking through issues and working with them over and over again, to engrain the traits into them that we want them to have.
In my opinion, there are two key area’s to focus our attention. Some people will go through life without any issues with bullying. But those that do suffer, will either be a “culprit” or a victim, although, I do count people on both sides of bullying as being a victim. Usually, the reasons for becoming a bully, are a result of bullying in some form. So we need to tackle the issues from both angles.
Stopping children from becoming bullies can be tough, becase it’s very rarely a case of them learning this behaviour. It often comes from far deeper issues, so we will look at “Victim Prevention” first.
Bullying – Victim Prevention
Generally, bullies look for an easy target. This is usually because they have been a victim of bullying in someway, shape or form themselves, so they become a bully in order to try and feel like they have regained some form of power. So we need to help children learn how to not become a victim. There are some basic, simple steps that we can take to begin with, and these are a core principle of our classes at Chuldow Martial Arts Heckmondwike.
The first thing to do is to encourage your child to stand up striaght and proud. Head held high, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, knees over feet. This ensures that a child does not look like “a victim”. The last thing a bully wants is to target someone who will fight back so they will look for sombody who is quiet, withdrawn, shy and head hung low. (Of course, this doesn’t stop bullying, but it stops the bully from targeting your child. This is the reason that we need to look at helping the bullies themselves, which we will cover in our “Culprit Pevention” section)
It’s a really simple thing, but does take time. The fact is that a child with low confidence and low self esteem will struggle to stand proud like this, which is where Martial arts (or something similar) comes in. Through our training we help to build this confidence and self esteem by showing them that they can acheive things that they never thought possible. I had a student recently who was so scared, and so low on confidence, that when they eventually made it onto the mats, (getting this far alone took nearly 20minutes) they were physically shaking, struggling to control their breathing, almost on the verge of a panic attack. With gentle encouragement this child is now, 6 weeks in, getting involved, arriving and leaving with a smile on their face, almost ready to go for their first belt, and most importantly making new friends! Don’t get me wrong, this child still has a long way to go, but the difference now from that first lesson would have to have been seen to be believed.
The next thing to do, is make sure that children know that they can talk to a grown up, and that the grown up will take their concerns seriously. There are far too many people dismissing bullying issues as the victims being “Snowflakes”. This really has to stop. YES, some people may overreact to certain situations, and we need to be aware of this, but we CANNOT just dismiss the situation because of that. There may well be reasons for that overreaction that we do not know about, and this needs to be taken into account.
- 38% of young people believe their school, university or college doesn’t take bullying seriously.
This is where we need to be more proactive when dealing with bullying issues and leads into “Culprit Prevention”
Bullying – Culprit Prevention
Becoming a bully is often a result of being victim of some form of bullying. The bully projects their own frustrations and fear onto others in order to make themselves feel more powerful. Simply punishing a bully will not work, the root cause needs to be fixed.
If someone is being a bully, they may genuinely need a friend, someone to listen to and to help them. It’s not going to be easy to be that person, but we need to make sure that we are providing a place that children can go, to speak with a responsible adult who will not judge them for their worries and concerns. Tackling the problem at the root cause is the best way to put a stop to bullying. So lets not jump straight to villainising a bully, and try to find the root cause of their bullying ways. There could well be child safeguarding issues at home, or school, that need to be raised. It could stem from peer pressure amongst a group of friends where one of those friends is having personal problems. There really are many reasons that could cause a need to excert dominance over sombody else. We need to not only talk to children, but also LISTEN!
This is the real key to bullying prevention from all perspectives is to make sure children are able to talk openly about their feelings. Long gone are the days when the only advice given was to “get over it” or “toughen up”. The simple fact is that it’s “OK TO NOT BE OK”. We all need to talk, we all need to share problems, not just as children but as adults too!
In the words of one of my instructors, and the founder of Chuldow Martial Arts Black Belt Academies.
“There’s no shame in pain”
We all hurt sometimes, and if you or anyone around you need to talk, then do so. To your friends, to your family, to a professional. There is a wealth of advice online, and loads of places where you can get help, aso please please please use that help.
You can find help at the following links:
If you or your child to gain more confidence, learn knew skills and make new friends then why not come along for a free trial and see what we can offer then give us a call on 01924 763753 or book online here.
Chuldow Martial Arts Heckmondwike