Bullying: David and Goliath
My heart goes out to all children who have been or who are being bullied. I remember being bullied by a group of kids in third or fourth grade who, for a period of time, made my school life miserable. My bullies were 5 cousins and ranged between various elementary school grades. Thinking back, I remember these children as being very angry and mean-spirited all the time. They seem to only be happy when they were picking on me.
Bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time.” Bullying has worsened since in recent time and now includes cyber bullying. Federal statistics report:
- 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 have experienced bullying,
- 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools,
- 70.4% of school staff have seen bullying,
- 62% of school staff witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month, and
- 41% of school staff witness bullying once a week or more.
It would be nice if all victims of bullying had happy endings to their story like David did with Goliath; however often times this is not the case. How can we as parents and caregivers take preventative action to protect our children from being bullied? What can we do to stop the situation if it is occurring? As in the case of David who was prepared spiritually, mentally, and emotionally to face Goliath, what measures can we as parents take to help prepare and arm our children against bullying?
I asked similar questions to martial arts professional, Instructor Joseph Tarango, who is a 7th Degree Black Belt under the Kajukenbo System and a 5th Degree Red Sash under the Arnis de Mano System. Instructor Tarango has been deeply involved in martial arts & self-defense for 51 years. He currently teaches Kajukenbo, kickboxing, Arnis De Mano, archery, and knife throwing in the San Diego area. Instructor Tarango also trains amateur and professional MMA fighters in San Clemente, CA and San Marcos, CA. He continues to further his training in the Filipino Martial Arts and most importantly Instructor Tarango is a born again believer in Jesus Christ.
QUESTION1: Generally speaking and to the best of your knowledge, how common is the problem of bullying?
- ANSWER: Someone somewhere is dealing with bullying this moment. It happens every day in one form or another.
QUESTION 2: Is there a specific are group that bullying is more prevalent in?
- ANSWER: Where there is a need to feel more powerful or in control is where you will find bullying more prevalent. There are many types of bullying but power and control is the most prevalent.
QUESTION 3: Do you think boys are bullied more than girls? Why?
- ANSWER: I do think boys are bullied more than girls but girls have their fair share. Boys are bullied more only because they act on it in a more physical way so it’s noticed more.
QUESTION 4: Do you think the generally tendency of older children (boys or girls) is to tell their parents, care giver, or someone in authority if they’re being bullied?
- ANSWER: No, because of fear they will be considered a whimp or a squealer and they have a threat of being attacked.
QUESTION 5: Generally speaking and to the best of your knowledge, do you think schools, youth centers, etc. are addressing the issue of bullying?
- ANSWER: I do think they are addressing the issue of bullying but it is impossible to watch everyone every moment so some cases go undetected. In some cases someone suffers from bullying weather revealed or not.
QUESTION 6: What is the general profile (i.e., personality type) of a bully?
- ANSWER: The personality type of a bully could range from a quite stay to himself person, to an angry person or to even a normal looking person that will disguise his (or her) real thoughts.
QUESTION 7: Why do you think a child becomes a bully?
- ANSWER: Sometimes a person is pushed to that character from being picked on. When he finds himself stronger physically or mentally than another person he will become the bully. Some are“born” (figuratively speaking) with the intent to pick on others. Still for others it’s a means of protection so that they aren’t the victim of bullying.
QUESTION 8: What is the general profile (i.e., personality type) of a child that is being bullied?
- ANSWER: This is also hard to identify in that many individuals that are picked on would rather just ignore it and hope it will go away; for others silence is a way of dealing with it.
QUESTION 9: For the child that is being bullied, what makes them become a target for a bully?
- ANSWER: Usually a weaker or sensitive child that reacts with emotions feeds the bully with excitement and the thrill of dominance.
QUESTION 10: Does the bullying increase over time if it is not addressed early on? If so, why?
- ANSWER: In most cases more than not the bully will increase in his actions. This (i.e., bullying) is a disease and a sickness that can only be stopped by treatment and care. The one (i.e., bully) that stops on their own have a heart but was hurt so bad that they felt compelled to make someone else feel what they felt. They eventually stopped because they realize what they’ve become.
QUESTION 11: How should a parent or care giver respond to their child once the child discloses that they are being bullied?
- ANSWER: Self confidence and courage needs to be restored in the victim and giving lots of love is a beginning. Next, when the child is ready to he or she must confront the issue to confirm their own strength.
QUESTION 12: What advice would you give to parents or care givers currently dealing with issue of bullying?
- ANSWER: Once it’s been made obvious, parents should first love them, pray over them, and assure their child that they will support them all the way through until the issue has been rectified. Make them feel confident that you will see the situation through entirely.
QUESTION 13: In general, what are the top 3 things you advise any parent or care giver to do in order to protect and empower their child from bullying?
- ANSWER: 1 – Investigate who is involved, when does it happen, where does it happen, and to what point has it affected your child. 2 – You need identify how you can prevent it from continuing and how to protect your child. 3 – Help your child by giving them ideas and suggestions on how they can defend themselves if the bullying has gotten to be dangerous.
QUESTION14: In general, what are the top 3 things you advise any parent or care giver not to do when dealing with the issue of bullying?
- ANSWER: 1 – Don’t become unreasonable or physical; you don’t what your child to see this type of behavior. 2 – Don’t encourage your child to follow the same tactics that the bully is using. 3 – Don’t just ignore the issue and hope it will go away because it won’t.
In case you’re wondering how my elementary school bullying story ended …well some of Instructor Tarango’s statements were very true in my case. I was timid and kept wishing the situation would just go away but it didn’t. The bullying continued and escalated; however I never told my mother. Unfortunately for me the bullies lived near my neighborhood and took the same route as I did to get home. It was a very chilly winter day when they finally jumped me and stole my jacket, hat, scarf and …yep my backpack. They topped it off by throwing me into the dumpster and running away. When I finally got home late that evening my mother took one look at me and needles to say she was not happy. The next day she had a meeting with the principal and the group of bullies were immediately suspended. When they returned back to school a few weeks later they never bothered me again. With the current times we’re living in I consider this a happy ending to my story.
- Pacer ’s National Bullying Prevention Center
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- Bullying, Physical Fighting, and Victimization (International study)
NOTE: Bully definition and statistics obtained from www.stopbullying.gov.