The Bully Myth
What we refer to as “the bully myth”, is the erroneous idea that often surrounds how to dispel bullies.
The common advice of “just stand up to the bully” is pervasive, often handed down from parent to child, but perpetuated by martial arts instructors, who are notorious for espousing ways to deal with bullies. While they may be good at martial arts, that knowledge in and of itself has little to do with pervasive bullying; maybe even nothing. Martial arts schools are businesses that very often rely heavily on the children’s market. For a martial arts instructor to display intellectual honesty when it comes to dealing with bullies means admitting that there is no quick, simple answer, and that the common concept of collecting “bully proof” techniques will not help a child attain the skills needed to be successful.
A Couple of Truths About Bullies
One, the bully “fraternity” is comprised of individuals; there is no “one way” to deal with them. Two, bullies are good at bullying. Their behavior is systematically rewarded (even if that’s through apathy), otherwise, they would give up the bullying business. If your child is being bullied, specific attention must be given to the situation and specifically to the bully. There is NO easy answer. To think that a traditional physical response alone, will address the problem, (i.e., starting karate) is faulty.
A Couple of truths about the “bullied”
The children that lack the “ability” to stand up to a bully, are the children that are targeted by bullies. If these children had the emotional toughness and confidence required to perform the “all you have to do is”, cookie cutter advice given by 90% of adults, they wouldn’t find themselves in these situations. The advice is flawed, from go, and when it fails, the child’s self esteem and emotional hardiness will only suffer more, as he/she spirals into the “what is wrong with me” free fall, perpetuating the problem. Two, none of this is exclusive to kids…adults also suffer from bullies, and the systematic problems and nuanced solutions are fundamentally the same.
So, What’s the answer?
Well, like most things, it depends, but establishing a precedence for success, in ANY endeavor, is going to be integral towards building emotional hardiness and bolstering self esteem. This may be achieved through tough physical training, administered by a coach with a deep understanding of the overall goals, but it should be noted that there is no “expected timeline”. Everyone is different, and a lifetime of influence has shaped the way kids see the world, so anticipation of quick fix is unrealistic and will likely derail or delay progress.