Anti Bullying Week Thoughts

Posted by Guest Blogger on

By Jamie Clubb.

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Attitude isn't a silver bullet to kill the werewolf of bullying, but it is a primary element in any self-protection plan. Everything else has a far better chance of succeeding if it is underlined by a strong attitude. The failure to address the issue of adopting a good anti-bullying attitude is exemplified in the way that parents take children to martial arts classes. This entire transaction and agreement takes place with none of the parties involved considering the direct importance of teaching a child how to adopt an effective self-protection attitude.

The parent believes that what their child needs is to learn a few tricks that will scare the bullies away. This assumption is based on a myth that victims can fight back with a few little life hacks. The martial artist rarely has the intention of teaching a child how actually fight a bully. Instead they believe that their abstract system of movements will automatically empower a child to have greater self-esteem and assume this attribute deters bullies. This idea stems from the way many martial artists have grafted on self-help and philosophical concepts to mitigate the fact that they are teaching violence. Both assumptions contain elements of truth in the handling of bullying, but neither offers a wholly practical solution to a bullied child and, at worst, can be extremely counter-productive.

I have seen too many examples of children and adults suffer when their impractical fighting skills meet reality. Techniques work when they are simple, but not when they are superficial. Likewise, being confident and raising one's self-esteem does not reduce an individual's chances of being a target for bullies. Combine both these assumptions and you are looking at training an individual to be confident yet incompetent. A bully likes nothing better than to watch his target fail. It emboldens him and even provides further self-justification for his campaign of persecution.

So what is the right attitude? Attitude comes with a sense of respect. Respect for oneself, respect for others and respect for useful information. From this base we build boundaries. These are mental and physical boundaries. The child understands that they are entitled to their own personal space. Within their personal space they are preserving the ownership of their mind and bodies. They only let who they want into this personal space and can refuse admittance at any time. Likewise, they respect the boundaries of others. Having this concept firmly in mind develops a strong attitude of healthy self-worth whilst being mindful of the intentions of others. From here the child learns to become more aware. Their boundaries have sentries. Not paranoid sentries, but ones that learn to spot changes in the environment that might lead to bad situations. They also have self-awareness. They understand how their behaviour affects others. Furthermore, they understand the physiological effects of fear. Having knowledge of why and how one feels stress helps an individual to have greater control over their feelings in a crisis.

On a physical level boundaries form a tactic that self-defence pioneer Geoff Thompson calls “The Fence”. The child draws an imaginary line and defends it verbally and/or with physical items such as subtle hand movements. He observes behaviours to decide who will be kept on the other side of that line. If boundaries are breached then the child needs to act immediately. This is when a resilient attitude needs to have been formed through physical training in practical techniques. This should be an attitude forged through working hard to improve their counter-assault skills and testing their abilities as well as the will never to give in. Finally this attitude carries through into the post-incident situation, maintaining a constant sense of awareness for escape routes, finding help and reporting the episode.

Sadly the metaphorical boundaries that most people describe when it comes to discussing issues of bullying in children are the boundaries of secrecy a bully has inspired. Fear builds boundaries that a bullied person believes will help protect them from further harm, but just internalises bad feelings and prevents a bullying problem being properly addressed. My self-protection boundaries are proactive ones that serve to preserve a person's mental and physical well-being.

My e-book, “When Parents Aren't Around: A Young Person's Guide to Self-Protection”, deals with realistic solutions for children. The work is primarily targeted at children, but also contains two chapters for parents. As the title suggests, I address the fact that there is no guarantee a parent will be around when a potentially violent situation might occur. However, in order to best prepare a child for such an emergency I have learnt that I need to have the parents onboard. The book will help parents to understand and support their children in taking charge of their personal safety.

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Click to see: Books by Jamie.

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