What to Do About Bullying in School

Family Safe Self Defense

This is the story of 13 year old, Philadelphia boy, Nadin Khoury who was routinely bullied by seven, 17 year old boys. The abuse got so bad that he would come home from school missing shoes, money and showing signs of fighting. This continued for some time until one day it escalated to a horrific level. Fortunately one of the sadistic perpetrators took video and posted it on youtube. You can see the brutality of that video here.

This goes far beyond name calling, knocking your books over, stealing your lunch money or playing keep away with your hat. The abuse didn’t start at this level. All bullying starts out small and escalates. Unfortunately the current wave of anti-bullying policy is increasing awareness but is falling short in effectiveness.

If you have kids in school, you know there’s a huge anti-bullying policy. Schools have adopted a zero tolerance position and in fact, here in the republic of New Jersey, students can opt to bypass the school administration all together and go straight to the police. This does lead to some false accusations, but all in all, it brings the issue of bullying to the forefront, which at the end of the day is a good thing.

With all awareness and access in place, why did Nadin refuse to seek help? Even after this video was posted on youtube, he was still reluctant to point fingers and name names. His for this was reason was simple, “I didn’t want to look like a punk”. Say what you will as an adult, but this is the reality of teenage life. Your image in front of your peers is everything. Getting a kid to “tell” above the age of 11 is almost a miracle. Even if they anonymously report a bullying incident, at some point they are going to have to own up to that accusation publicly.

Right now the only solution anti-bullying policy provides is “Report It.” This seems to work on the grammar school level, but once they hit middle school it becomes less reasonable and kids will look to avoid the situation all together instead of looking like a “rat”. Most kids will try to suck it up and we see the results of that in teen suicide and substance abuse.

Furthermore, a lot of instances of bullying happen off school grounds and after school hours. The “Report It” policy is all well and good, but what about when there’s no one around and you’re cornered. Just because he’s a bully that doesn’t mean he’s stupid. He’s going to wait until he won’t get caught. This leaves you with the very real problem of escape and survival and the proverbial “Now What?”

With the exception of California, schools offer no tactical solution and discourage kids from using any sort of physical force to escape. The reason why they don’t teach defensive tactics: liability. Teaching kids to fight back and stand up for themselves puts them in an actionable position. But the truth is, kids need another option. Kids need to be empowered and know that there may come a time where running away is not an option.

Now, make no mistake, Nadin beating up 7 attackers who were significantly larger and more mature was not a possibility. But if the kid knew how to fight and escape he may have avoided this all together. If he knew how to stand up for himself, maybe those kids would have just moved on to someone else or stopped all together. One things for certain, he received a beating anyway and sometimes even if you’re going down, take one or two of them with you (Life Lesson 107).

In the Family Safe Program (a little plug, but not too shameless) we teach kids how to identify the threat (which is easy) and escape (which is simple). We use methods from SDTS Module 5, modified for kids on much larger targets. The methods are designed to make the attacker pause just long enough for you to make your escape. If the kid can’t run, at least he can do something and then make a break for it.

The stigma with teaching kids to fight is that we’re teaching them to be violent. This thinking is naive and ignorant. Here’s a news flash, people are already violent, it’s part of human nature. The thing these putz’s don’t get is that people are good and people are bad. Bad people use violence to inflict their will on others, good people use violence to save themselves and others from being victimized by bad people. Learning to fight doesn’t turn a person bad. If the person is truly bad they will figure out all sorts of ways to do bad things.

Standing up to bullies is a right of passage. We all have bullies in our lives. Some of us have stood up to them time and time again, while others have not had the courage to do so. The day you finally stand up for yourself is one of the greatest days of your life. I was in 4th grade and one of my friends was getting picked on by the local tough (who was a year older than us). I stood up for my buddy and did a little school yard ground and pound. Needless to say, he cried and went home and I felt like a rock star.

The safest way to learn to deal with bullies is as a child when the stakes are low and the risk of injury is minimal. When kids get older and stronger, the violence becomes more severe.

Another point to keep in mind is that both the victim and the bully learn their lesson. When a bully gets his nose bloodied he learns that people fight back and what he’s doing is wrong. Current policy, depending on the severity of the harassment or assault may have the bully talked to or transferred. Which might not be such a great deterrent and cause the bully to become smarter about who and how he does it. While the bully knows he will get in trouble, he also knows that his target won’t fight back. Bullies stop when they get resistance. A true bully picks on the weak because he knows there won’t be a fight. Now that there’s a fight, it changes everything.

The spirit of the anti-bullying laws are in the right place but like most laws, are only there to protect you after the fact. There will come a time when your child is off school grounds and faced with a potentially dangerous situation. Kids need the tools to stand up mentally and physically and grammar school is the time to do it. Like lion cubs, this age is meant for sparring and understanding all aspects of human nature. Children need to learn that it’s not right to bully and be bullied and sometimes violence or more appropriately, use of force is necessary to stop unwanted action. As parents we want to protect our children, but in doing so we only prolong the inevitable.

I know people want to eradicate violence from the face of the earth. While this is a noble cause it’s impossible. Instead you must arm the righteous with the tools to survive against the tyranny of others. The attempt to isolate our youth from the reality of physical violence is only creating a generation that is not equipped to handle those situations and in turn will become victimized mentally and physically. If kids can’t learn how to deal with these issues at an early age they will no doubt have to face them when they are older and the stakes are much greater.

Side Note: In Nadin’s case I have one question, Where was his mom?!?! Her kid’s coming home missing shoes, bruises and finally when she sees the video on youtube she “urged him to go to the police.” I don’t know about you, but where I’m from no self respecting black woman is going to let her child take a beating like that. The women that I know would go down to that school and whoop some 17 year old ass! Needless to say, parents need to play an active role and assume some responsibility.

Train Honestly,

Damian Ross, CEO The Self Defense Company

 

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