Many children experience bullying so how can we teach them to have the confidence to stand up for themselves, writes Brad Hope
“Every day, thousands of children miss school out of fear or intimidation of a bully.” However, it’s been estimated that only about 15% of bullied children actually report the abuse. This works in the bully’s favour because once bullies have targeted a victim they generally continue to harass that child for as long as they can get away with it.
Children need to be able to stand up for themselves against bullies but they can only do this if they’re confident that they can defend themselves if attacked. Fear of physical harm is their biggest mental barrier. Most marital arts programs can help overcome this fear to a certain extent by teaching self-defence techniques such as punches and kicks. However, it doesn’t necessarily arm children against verbal bullying.
The introduction of zero-tolerance bullying policies in most schools has been successful in reducing the incidence of physical abuse but verbal harassment continues to be a major problem. And, verbal bullying requires children to have more than kicks and punches in their defensive toolkit.
At Brad Hope we have been running the Gracie Bullyproof program during school holidays over the last two years. It takes a slightly different approach to martial arts in that the techniques taught are about how to defuse confrontations with words and how to neutralise and gain control in threatening situations.
The Gracie Bullyproof strategies are clear and easy to remember.
There are Three T-Steps:
Talk: If a bully harasses you, confidently ask them to leave you alone.
Tell: If the bully doesn’t leave you alone, notify your teachers and ask your parents for help.
Tackle: If the bully persists even after the grownups have intervened, you must take matters into your own hands. First, you will tackle the bully mentally, using Verbal Jiu-Jitsu, and if they become physically aggressive towards you, then you tackle them physically with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
An important aspect of this program is that parents fully support their children and have discussions about the techniques. This is important because many victims of bullying also fear getting into trouble with the school and their parents for defending themselves. The goal by having these discussions is not to give your child permission to fight but to make it clear that, if they are being bullied, they have your permission to follow the appropriate steps to make a stand.
The principles or ‘rules of engagement’ that back up the Gracie Bullyproof program are as follows:
Rule 1: Avoid the fight at all costs.
Rule 2: If physically attacked, defend yourself.
Rule 3: If verbally attacked, follow the Three T-steps.
Rule 4: Never punch or kick the bully, establish control and negotiate.
Rule 5: When applying submissions use minimal force and negotiate.
By teaching your child these principles, you are giving them a step-by-step plan to follow any time they are targeted by a bully, and, more importantly, you will give them the assurance that you will support them in the event that they are compelled to stand up for themselves.
Kwanjang: The best program of its kind I have ever witnessed. The results are outstanding.