Should students use their skills against bullies?
So you enrolled your child in martial arts classes to help them deal with bullying, but what exactly does that mean? What are your rules about defending themselves? What are the school rules about student’s defending themselves? The article below cuts to the heart of the matter and helps you work the educational system’s rules to hopefully stop the bullying before your child is forced to defend themselves.
This article clearly discusses the Total Martial Arts Center’s point of view on dealing with bullying.
The martial arts industry teaches a student self-control and restraint, and that the arts are used for defense only. So when one of your students gets bullied at school, at what point do you turn the child loose and say, “Take care of it”?
—Aaron Rumsey, Indiana
Boy, how many students have we all mentored through experiences with bullies? It’s never easy.
Many schools have a zero-tolerance policy regarding fighting. While I understand the need for this, these policies handcuff students who would otherwise defend themselves and end future bullying and confrontations. In today’s litigious times, youths with martial arts skills must be careful to use their skills only in self-defense situations.
It’s so hard for a young student to understand that they’ve trained hard but that those skills can’t be used when they need them the most: protecting themselves from school bullies.
In the past, I’ve told students that they will never get in trouble with me if they defend themselves at school. If possible, though, I ask them to do some things first. For two of these steps, I recommend students write out statements and stick them in their backpack to read if they are unsure what to say:
1. If you feel threatened, talk to your principal or anyone in the school administration office. Read from your statement: “It’s your job to keep me safe while I’m in your school.” Always tell someone at school what’s going on. They can’t and won’t help you if they don’t know you NEED help.
2. It’s natural to be afraid to talk to school administrators. No one wants to be labeled a “tattle tale.” But this isn’t like telling the teacher that Johnny is falling asleep in class. This is your safety we’re talking about. So if you need to, get a friend to go with you. You don’t have to do this alone.
3. Tell your parents everything. You might not want to, but you need to. They need to know what’s going on so that they can support you. Let them know that you’ve already spoken to school administrators. (This action and your prewritten statement will impress the heck out of them.) Together, come up with a game plan if the bullying escalates. Are they on board with you fighting back?
4. If nothing changes and the bully touches you in the least way, in a very LOUD voice, say, “Don’t touch me! Not now, not ever!” Make the biggest scene possible. Let everyone within earshot know what’s going on. Practice saying this statement at home with your parents or with your friends. Get used to saying it as loud as you can.
5. March to the principal’s office and to that same administrator you talked to before, say the following (or read from your statement): “I have permission from my parents and martial arts instructor to defend myself. I’m being bullied. You need to intervene before this escalates. Otherwise, if anyone gets hurt, it’s going to be your fault because I reported it. That’s negligence.” If you’re in high school, add this to your statement: “If I’m punished for defending myself and the penalty affects my GPA and my ability to secure scholarships to college, my family and I may have to sue the district for the resulting loss of scholarship dollars.”
6. Go back to class.
That’s all I’ve got. It’s not easy, but tell your student they will feel better standing up for themselves—even if they risk detention or expulsion—than being bullied.
Good luck to your student.
Taekwondocathy. “Should Students Use Their Skills against Bullies?” Dear Dojo, 17 Apr. 2019, deardojo.wordpress.com/2019/04/17/should-students-use-their-skills-against-bullies/.