The Bullying Dilemma
Modern technology has brought about an advent of problems never faced by children of previous generations. From screens constantly in faces to the frenzying world of social media, your parents did not deal with anything like these issues at your age. Nevertheless, there are always problems so inherently human that they transcend generations. Bullying is one such dilemma. It may occur in new methods, such as texts or messages, but the crux of the quandary remains very much the same.
As an elementary student, I was the stereotypical nerd in many ways. I encountered bullying in the schoolyard that ranged from name calling to brief physical altercations. My parents enrolled me in taekwondo lessons to simultaneously provide exercise and self-defence teachings. As an adult, I have attended karate classes with a similar two-pronged goal in mind. Very early on, the sensei imparts valuable advice to new students: If you ever end up in a real fight outside of the dojo, you have most likely failed the class. We were taught that nearly all physical altercations are avoidable. The lessons are counter-intuitive but invaluable; the point of learning karate moves is not to employ them in battle, but to gain the self-confidence and assurance that will allow you not have to use them at all.
Confidence in lieu of fists is the ultimate self-defence tactic. Projecting positivity and assertiveness starts with effective body language. This includes a straight back, holding your head up, and walking peacefully. For some, this comes naturally. For many others, it needs to be learned through awareness of how you project yourself and how you are feeling in the moment. It takes practice, but it is very much doable.
This self-confidence helps you gain alertness of your surroundings. You can better detect a negative situation before it escalates. You will be better aware of how to exit a situation – such as where the doors are – and the signs that tempers are flaring and that the exit will be needed. You will also be more prepared to draw attention to someone becoming belligerent, whether that might mean turning to peers or nearby adults.
There are never any guarantees that this will always work. If you have been a bullying victim, it is important to remember you are far from alone. Finding friends you can relate to and connect with ensures you have a group to support one another. Bullying is usually targeted towards individuals as opposed to groups. Speak up when you notice certain students being excluded from activities or groups. By taking focus away from the bullies and directing that energy towards people that can provide support and be supported, you are taking steps to help solve the issue for yourself and others.
There is no easy answer to the bullying dilemma. It has always been a part of the human condition and will likely remain so. Even adults deal with it in its different forms. Just like everyone else, bullies have their own difficulties and reasons that have resulted in their behaviour. You may not be able to fix that, but you can take action by starting with yourself. Gaining confidence, seeking support from others, and providing that support yourself are the ultimate forms of self-defence.
Gordon, Sherri. “9 Self-Defense Strategies Kids Can Use Against Bullies.” Verywell. https://www.verywell.com/how-kids-can-defend-themselves-against-bullies-460789
Van Der Zande, Irene. “Face Bullying With Confidence: Eight Kidpower Skills We Can Use Right Away.” Kidpower. https://www.kidpower.org/library/article/prevent-bullying/