Each day, 10-year-old Seth asked his mom for more and more lunch money. Yet he seemed skinnier than ever and came home from school hungry. It turned out that Seth was handing his lunch money to a fifth-grader, who was threatening to beat him up if he didn’t pay.
Kayla, 13, thought things were going well at her new school, since all the popular girls were being so nice to her. But then she found out that one of them had posted mean rumours about her on a website. Kayla cried herself to sleep that night and started going to the nurse’s office complaining of a stomach ache to avoid the girls in study hall.
Unfortunately, the kind of bullying that Seth and Kayla experienced is widespread. In national surveys, most kids and teens say that bullying happens at school. A bully can turn something like going to the bus stop or recess into a nightmare for kids. Bullying can leave deep emotional scars that last for life. And in extreme situations, it can culminate in violent threats, property damage, or someone getting seriously hurt. If your child is being bullied, there are ways to help him or her cope with it on a day-to-day basis and lessen its lasting impact. And even if bullying isn’t an issue right in your house right now, it’s important to discuss it so your kids will be prepared if it does happen.
Young people who are being bullied need:
1. Calm, determined support and advocacy from their parents and other caring adults. Many children try to protect their parents from being upset and wait to disclose a problem until it has gone on a long time. They need messages from their adults like, “There is nothing in my life more important than your safety and well being. Even if I seem very busy, I really want to know. I will do my best to listen and not lecture or panic. Please let me know if anyone is making you feel unsafe, and we will work together to figure out what to do.”
2. Positive social groups where they can feel accepted. If this is not possible at children’s school or neighbourhood, find a youth group or community organization where they can get involved like the CombatCoaching.com Bully Proof Your Child program!
3. The opportunity to learn and practice “People Safety” skills through workshops etc. Practicing how to set boundaries, get help, get away, and, if need be, defend yourself physically can build confidence and increase safety.
4. Perspective that this problem will not go on forever, does not mean you are a bad person, and is not your fault. For a child who is deeply upset, often the best way to get perspective and deal with overwhelming feelings is to have professional counselling. School counsellors might provide this or give referrals to community resources.
5. For the bullying to stop. Adults must take leadership to give children supervision and guidance to ensure that they have the tools for being safe with one another. If parents cannot get the bullying to stop in a school, sometimes the best answer is to find another school.
CombatCoaching.com offers workshops, regular classes and have just released their first Instructional DVD on Bullying. We also offer an affiliate program where current Martial Arts Schools can start offering Kids MMA and Bully Proof Your Child classes at their facility.
For more information about Morne Swanepoel and Morne Swanepoel’s Combat Coaching visit his website at http://combatcoaching.com and their listing on the Martial Arts Schools and Businesses Directory by clicking on the image on the left.