Bullies- A Problem for Adults and for Kids

I was really taken aback this week when I was driving home.  I often pray when I drive, and I sometimes listen to the news.  (In what would be a cyclical pattern, listening to the news often leads me to prayer.)  

This last week, when I listened to the news, I heard two stories of separate incidents where a first grade child in one incident and a teenager in another incident were severely beaten.  (The teenager is still fighting for her life.  If she survives, she will likely have permanent brain damage.)  

Things have changed.  When I first started teaching the martial arts, in order to combat bullying, you basically needed to help people have the confidence and capacity to understand that bullies bully because they don’t feel good about themselves.  To make themselves feel better, they put others down (back then- typically verbally, but sometimes physically).  For years, we’ve taught kids and adults at our academy how to combat this type of bullying.  (Adults are often bullied.  It is not just a childhood phenomenon.)  

Fast forward to today- society has changed, and I’m seeing more-and-more that it’s being considered “cool” to attack another person and cause them significant bodily harm (or death) as a matter of entertainment.  What’s worse is that bystanders are more prone to pulling out a phone and recording the incident than they are to helping the victim, or at least calling for help for the victim instead of video recording the incident.

I often say that, “Your safety is your responsibility.”  Unfortunately, that is becoming more-and-more of a truism.  Bullying used to be more of an emotional attack on a person; it has morphed into attacking a person physically (as the initial priority- in many instances as opposed to causing emotional distress). 

So, how are you supposed to handle today’s bullies?  First, take them seriously.  Understand that people who want to harm you, want to harm you.  This seems self-evident, but it’s something that most “normal” people don’t really understand.  Why?  Because normal people don’t want to harm other people.  

So, when it comes to your safety, it’s important to skip the, “Let’s try to understand what’s happening” step.  Skip that.  Go straight to the “action” step of taking things seriously and getting yourself off the “X.”  What does that mean?  That means that you need to react to a dangerous situation in a way that gets you out of physical danger.  Move!  

Now… once you’ve done that and the situation is still unfolding (and this often happens quickly) what do you do?  You’ve tried to retreat, but the incident is still progressing. …You need to defend yourself, physically. Don’t count on somebody else being there to do this for you.  Remember, “Your safety is your responsibility.”  

If you are an adult, I hope you take heed to this advice.  If you have children, I hope you teach them how to physically be aware, move off the X, and defend themselves, if needed.  A simple model to use, is the SARA method.  

Scan– Figure out what is happening- what’s the threat? Who’s involved? (Don’t try to understand it. Just accept that it’s happening and move on.)

Analyze– What is the actual danger?

Respond– Get off the X.  Then, if needed, defend yourself.

Assess– Where are you now? Are you safe?  What needs to be done as far as the “after action” steps to keep you safe?

If you had to defend yourself, could you?  If your child had to defend her/himself, could s/he?  If you can’t answer those questions in the affirmative, then I encourage you to take steps to change that… right now.

(Photo Credit- RonZel Hendrix- taken at Plus One)