Today’s children face a much greater chance of being bullied and physically assaulted by a bully than other generations who were children before cell phones, the internet and social media were invented. Not only does today’s bully have many ways to demean and embarrass a target, but often, the bully’s actions are publicized and positively reinforced/viewed by hundreds or even thousands of people, adding to the shame and emotional damage of being attacked or ridiculed.
If you Google “School Fights 2016” and select Videos from the results, you will see that over 1, 200,000 videos of children fighting come up. Many of those videos were filmed by other kids who were bystanders or cheering on the aggressor.
Parents, educators and adults in general must help teach children early in life to understand why others bully, what to do if they see someone being bullied- which does not included video taping it for entertainment; and how to not be a target for a bully. In addition, they need to give children permission to fight back when physically assaulted. They should not have to “take it” for fear of what a parent will do, or being suspended from school. They have a right to be safe.
I am an advocate for “bully prevention” and was bullied when I was in middle school and in high school and recall the very real fear and dread of having to go to school and run into my foes. I wish I would have been taught how to not be a target and how to deal with it besides being told to tell someone.
If, as a parent, you don’t feel qualified to talk to or teach your child all aspects mentioned, they consider seeking out a self-defense instructor who has a specialized Stop Bullies FAST program or similar curriculum to work with your son/daughter. Lessons should include teaching children to be confident in who they are no matter what other people say; helping them understand the mindset of a bully and how to use assertive, confident, strong body language and verbal defense as the first actions vs. a bully.
I personally believe, they should also learn how to physically defend themselves if given no other choice. Watching some of those videos of kids fighting kids, it became obvious to me that they have never role-played how to handle certain situations or learned to protect themselves by covering up, escaping, or by striking back.
If a child witnesses someone else being bullied, they need to know what to do, to help the victim and not support the bully’s actions. After all, most bullies want a captive audience to feed their misguided egos. Witnesses should report it, call 911 if it seems very serious and no adults are there to help, tell the bully to stop ( if that doesn’t endanger them), and stand-up for the victim.
Since children can’t count on an adult being present or a peer taking helpful action, it’s a good idea to provide a self-defense product like a personal alarm. If a child is mature enough to understand that the alarm is not a toy, and is very loud and designed to draw attention or startle a bully/abductor-then this can be a great self-defense tool for them to have. The alarm pictured can be purchased at www.mydamselpro.net/stpetedefense and is called a Holla-hers or Holla-his.
A program that you can get your child or a group of children involved in that covers the lessons mentioned is called: Stop Bullies FAST and is taught around the globe by Fast Defense instructors like myself. Stop Bullies FAST is usually taught in an hour to an hour and a half and takes students through what a bully is, why kids bully, what bullies look for, how to use confidence to not look like a good target, how to respond to a bully’s threats, verbal defense, escaping grabs, what to do if shoved, and if all else fails, physical defense and including role plays to rehearse.The cost of a Fast Defense style Stop Bullies FAST home party or group seminar in Tampa Bay starts at $299.00 for up-to sixteen children.
You can find instructors outside of the Tampa Bay area who teach Stop Bullies FAST at www.fastdefenseglobal.org.
No matter whether you decide to help your child learn how to deal with bullies by speaking to them yourself, or having a qualified self defense instructor work with them- taking preventative action before they are victims is best; of course if your child has already experienced aggressive bullying, then a course can help them feel empowered and more confident.
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