Helping Students Deal With Bullying

Discussion in 'General Self Defense' started by ravenofthewood, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. ravenofthewood

    ravenofthewood White Belt

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    I'm looking for advice regarding a situation I'm dealing with with one of my students (we'll call him Johnny).

    Johnny has been coming to taekwondo for about two years. He comes from a very difficult background (broken family, etc.), and is very emotionally sensitive and lacks confidence and self-esteem as a result. Last year, he was always talking about how he didn't have any friends at school. This year, he changed schools, and I just found out yesterday there has been a gang of about four boys bullying him and trying to beat him up. The situation has reached the point where he is scared to go to school. His dad says, while Johnny is telling authorities about what's happening, he doesn't have the self-confidence to do anything to try to protect himself. The school won't do anything about the situation and claims it can only give warnings right now.

    Johnny needs more confidence, not so he can become a fighter, but so that he can at least protect himself against the bullies. Typically, learning a martial art gives a child the confidence they need to not be a victim. Unfortunately, the instructor who taught at this location before me (I have been at this location about 6 months) did nothing to build up his confidence, and, I suspect, a lot to tear it down. For most of his martial arts journey, therefore, taekwondo has not been a place to build up his confidence.

    Basically, I'm looking for suggestions of things I can specifically do in class to help build up Johnny's confidence. Also, what do you tell your students to do when they're dealing with a gang of bullies, rather than a single bully?
     
  2. MA_Student

    MA_Student Brown Belt

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    Frankly there's not much you can do against a gang you try and fight them you'll get your *** kicked badly. Best thing is to avoid or run away
     
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  3. Anarax

    Anarax Blue Belt

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    From my experience confidence usually increases when one sees improvement in their abilities. Being able to hold your own against a sparring partner that use to overwhelm you, striking with more power, being able to execute more techniques in sparring successfully. Think of ways to show Johnny how he's grown as a Martial Artist. I would train Johnny how not to look intimidated by the gang, I know that's not easy considering there's four of them. However; it's amazing how something as simple as proper body language can deter a potentially dangerous situation.

    The next type of training would be on what to do when if and when they get physical. How old is Johnny? I ask because that will change the training I'm about to suggest. I'll change my advice accordingly after you respond. When facing multiple attackers the best solution, if you can't escape, is making an example of just one person. I know this might sound dark, but it's a psychological tactic that works. Teach him to show how devastating he can be to just one of them, the others will hesitate to mess with him then. If that doesn't work, he can make another example out of another one of them. It's crucial to teach not to exceed what's necessary or else he could get in trouble.
     
  4. ravenofthewood

    ravenofthewood White Belt

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    Unfortunately, this same lack of confidence caused Johnny to quit sparring classes; he felt overwhelmed and like he was getting "beat up" all the time. But, yes, I can definitely see other areas where he has grown that I can point out to him. Thank you!

    Johnny is eleven. One other thing I neglected to mention is that he was being bullied all last year and didn't tell anyone about it. He then reacted quite violently one day after the bully gave him a bloody nose and a black eye, and got in major trouble because of it. This year, however, he's in a different school, without that past history, and his teacher and the administration know what is going on.
     
  5. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Master of Arts

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    This is just my personal opinion.
    There is nothing you can do. So stop thinking that you can. Self confidence is one of those BS marketing things that is used to get parents to think martial arts will be good for their kids and fork out their money every month. I have been around a long time and not once have I ever met an instructor who had the faintest clue on how to deliver on that promise.
    The best you can do is make his classes fun so it becomes a santuary for him and his life to be a little less hellish.
     
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  6. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Have you had a chance to talk to the parents and see what they think?
     
  7. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Johnny needs a ring fight.
     
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  8. ravenofthewood

    ravenofthewood White Belt

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    His dad was the one who brought the issue to my attention and asked if I could think of ways to help him develop confidence.
     
  9. Anarax

    Anarax Blue Belt

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    Try starting him off extremely light in sparring then build him up from there. He just needs to get through that initial insecurity when it comes to sparring, after that it will get easier. If you're concerned about his sparring partner going too hard, spar him yourself. Try get him to do blocks on those soft clubs that instructors use for kids, something combative yet not too hard.
     
  10. MA_Student

    MA_Student Brown Belt

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    No he really doesn't....if he's so bad with confidence he won't even spar he's hardly going to do that is he....and then if he gets beaten easily that's his confidence gone down even less
     
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  11. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Some practical advice. http://www.rcga.org/_uploads/docume...help build self-esteem in young children_.pdf

    This is for school teachers but contains confidence building advice Boosting pupils' self-esteem


    I would talk to the parents and see if you can work together with them. Well done by the way on wanting to help, all of us can do something to help children who are bullying, sometimes just supporting them helps. Bullying advice | Bullying UK

    and finally this https://www.andyjeffries.co.uk/bullying-children-and-the-martial-arts/

    I haven't seen Andy post here for a bit but a PM might be worth trying.
     
  12. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Master of Arts

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    I didnt read everything but i read a few of the links and while they are good for "starting a conversation" as usual they really are not much help. They repeat "tell a teacher" it's become a phrase that drives me crazy because in most cases it doesn't help. It's a common among those who never went thru it to say things like that. It's like telling someone with depression to cheer up.
     
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  13. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Are you so sure that people who say that haven't gone through it? And are you so sure that telling a teacher doesn't help?

    I think you missed the points I was making...not 'tell the teacher' I'm not offering advice on the actual bullying but was making points about how a martial arts instructor ( or another) can help a child gain confidence in the martial arts class and hopefully outside as well.

    The first link is about building self confidence, not about bullying specifically. The second link was to help identify different types of bullying. And the last link from Andy starts
    "I think most people that know me are aware I got started in Taekwondo because I was being bullied at school. I was bullied in junior school (6-11 years old ish) and was bullied from 11-13 years old at senior school (even though I was told that it would be a different group of kids, the bullies from junior school weren't going to be there).

    So, I have a deep understanding of what it's like to be bullied and to be helpless. And because I started Taekwondo at the age of 12 I know what it's like to over time feel more confident and be bullied less. So I wanted to cover some of the myths of bullying, the advice that people often give bullying victims and how martial arts training can help."
     
  14. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    He has to do something important. Prove to himself he can.
     
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  15. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    I agree with DB, a ring fight could be good for him. It would give him a goal to have him something to focus on and make it bearable, and once he can prove to himself he can do it his confidence will probably raise, regardless of of he wins of loses. Depending on the kid, of course.

    As for my own experience, I lacked self confidence, so would get bullied, but also had no issue getting violent. So I was in a cycle of "be bullied, after a few months fight one of the bullies & win, have bullying stop, repeat a few years later", up until high school when all the different groups finally got the idea it was not a good idea to bully me/my friends. Encouraging him to defend himself when someone is bullying him one on one, then focusing on building his self confidence after that incident so he doesn't get bullied again may work.
     
  16. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    "Zero Tolerance" policies have ensured that this no longer works. The victim is punished equally with the assailant.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  17. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    I'm not too familiar with how it works, but considering I'm only 24 I assume it hasn't changed too much. I did get suspended once when it occurred in school. Outside of that, I would always fight back outside of school property, so the school did not (could not?) take any steps about it. Does anyone know if this is still the case?

    If it is, my advice stands, and sometimes a suspension is worth it. If it will cause Johnny to get expelled obviously this strategy is no longer viable.
     
  18. MA_Student

    MA_Student Brown Belt

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    And what if he gets knocked out in 10 seconds what does that do for his confidence
     
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  19. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    If his teacher finds an 11 year old that can knock someone out in 10 seconds, and chooses that for the match, I think there are a lot more issues than just his confidence.
     
  20. MA_Student

    MA_Student Brown Belt

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    Anyone can knock anyone out especially if they're the same age and size and frankly 11 years old fighting in the ring is just sick and dangerous in my eyes
     
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