Bully Boot-camp

bulliesDriving back from my barber today, I saw a banner on a school fence with the above name on it.  It troubled me for a number of reasons, beyond the unfortunate name that actually sounds like a place to send your kid to train to be a bully.

The banner had an image of a young boy in a martial arts gi with his leg up in the air, executing a kick.  Obviously, it would suggest that the class/camp is for self-defense training.

That brings up the age-old question:  stand up to bullies or turn the other cheek?

Avoiding bullies is almost impossible.  You can try to walk away or you can try to report them.  Each carries with it a stigma, from being called “chicken” and “snitch” to potential damage of a child’s self-confidence and image.

Fighting bullies yields its own problems.  Getting labeled a troublemaker, facing penalties for fighting and, if losing the battle, potentially the same loss of self-confidence and image.  And the final stigma, becoming that which you hate.  Can the “self-defense” blur into bullying at some point?

Another technique, the “pen is mightier than the sword” method, fights fists with words.  That road, while less risky for penalty, runs a deeper risk of long-term undesirable personality traits.  There are plenty of instances where verbal or written bullying has proven much more damaging than a punch in the face.

I don’t have an answer.  I know that bullying is a horrible characteristic and, like all hurtful acts, we are not born with the trait.  Right and wrong can sometimes be called subjective, but hurting someone without provocation, in words or actions, is clear-cut by any standard.

What we need is a solution to bullying.  I just don’t see how that solution is more Bully Boot-Camps.

2 Responses to “Bully Boot-camp”

  1. Linda

    I taught in a school that had the right idea. One of the biggest problems of bullies is their parents. I was a teacher and a parent and I can testify that most bullies have parents that either don’t care or think their child is wonderful and therefore will not believe or offer any consequences for the behavior. This school had a policy that for students that could not control themselves in several ways, but especially mouthing off to hurt others, the parents themselves would have to take a day off work (that killed them right there!) and sit next to their child the entire school day. They got to see what the problem was first hand and both parent and child would do anything to keep from repeating that. It worked remarkably well. Feeling empathy for others is something that is taught at a young age and perhaps that should be included in the curriculum for younger children. But it is never too late to try and teach it. And if they are too destructive, they should be taught that school is a privilege and they can either stay at home or get a job because they can’t come to school and ruin other people’s lives. The flip side is teaching others to value themselves. But bullying starts very early in life and they start bashing others before they have an understanding of who they are and if they like the person they are.

    Reply
    • JMD

      I strongly believe bullying is a self-esteem issue on the part of the bully. Something is not connecting at home with the family and the result is either misplaced anger or an urgent need to draw attention and, if not love, at least acknowledgement of their existence.

      Reply

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