Friday, April 1, 2011

Bullies: Separating Bullying Facts From Myths in Bullying Prevention

My team and I have helped thousands of men, women and children over the past 20 plus years in successfully dealing with bullying behavior using peaceful strategies influenced by the martial arts.  So have many other martial arts schools and instructors.

Where we feel we are different from other programs is our background as professional protectors.  My background includes a vast array of experience including training military, law enforcement and professional protectors (bodyguards aka close protection specialists).

If you search the net and read various media you may have noticed there are two distinct groups in the bullying prevention community.  1. The anti-bully political movement (denial/fear based/abdication) and 2. The Bullying Prevention movement (responsibility/training based). 

We side strongly with the latter and feel the anti-bully movement will be going down the same failed path as the emotional placebo "stranger danger" movement.  This is the "bullying epidemic" group, falsely claiming bullying is increasing.  Where is the research to support such claims?  This group is also responsible for villifying and labeling certain children as "bullies".  When in fact, most all of us have engaged in bullying behavior and been the target of bullying behavior at one time or another.  

NOTE: Aggression is a life saving instinct programmed into each of us for times of survival.  Denying it is dangerous.  Instead, it must be directed to appropriate times.  It is this same aggressive fighting that allows a child to escape from a would-be abductor.  It has it's place.

Furthermore, we strongly oppose the popular victim culture, denial and abdication notion (eg "zero tolerance").  Vilifying and labeling children a "bully" is counter productive, especially since it is children we seek to protect.  Having 'Victims' celebrated and promoted to a celebrity type status is also not helpful.  It may inadvertently be counter-productive to a culture of responsibility, maturity and action for safety. We don't want to encourage serial victims by sending a confusing message. 

The teachers and schools can't protect our children all the time.  Abdicating safety solely to teachers or school authorities is irresponsible and more akin to scapegoating to have someone to blame.  Instead we believe that training children, parents and teachers at a local level has a more positive impact on children's safety and creating safer communities.

If you read popular media one might also conclude that bullying has been linked in a causal relationship to suicide and violence.  The false assumption would be that bullying causes this result, while it may be a factor, "bullying" is not an accurate pre-incident indicator based on our research.  The deaths have more to do with other factors including depression and a variety of factors we should be paying attention to.  The problem is that it may distract people from seeing the more pertinent signs.  See Gavin de Beckers work here in "Protecting The Gift".

I would suggest the following sources my team and I rely heavily upon:

1. Gavin de Becker and Associates. 3 time Presidential appointee.  Best selling author: "The Gift of Fear" and "Protecting The Gift"

2. Dr. George Thompsons work in Verbal Judo.  Master Thompson is a lifetime martial artist.

3.  Israel C. "Izzy" Kalman, school psychologist and psychotherapist.  We really like his work because he protects constitutional free speech rights and empowers the individual rather than expanding the 'victim culture'.

4. Olweis has some of the most extensive research.  However, it was based in Europe, not here in the US.  Having noted that, research is showing solid progress in the State of Arizona since it's implementation (see ASU Bullying Prevention Partnership stats).  Research show that reports of school bullying behavior is on the decline.  (We know that it just moves.)  

5. Renner Gracie "BullyProofing" does some great work with peaceful physical intervention and force appropriate training.  (Drawback- These require lots of practice.)

My BULLY PROOF VEST program emphasizes simple early recognition techniques, changing the context of the situation, deterrence, de-escalation and simple cover and evacuate options for physical intervention.  It is an age specific presentation that might address anything from name calling, shoving, wrist grab, pinching, slapping, tripping to tackling, punching and kicking.  I favor escape leverages and covering (shielding) the head/neck region and evacuating.

Here are some tips, facts, articles and info that might help direct your research.  These are from my Arizona Bullying Prevention Facebook page.

The Nine Most Common Myths About Bullying - Newsweek Seen this somewhere else? We do our homework.

Is the 'Bullying Epidemic' a Media Myth? - Newsweek

Are Anti-Bullying laws effective? Is this a governmental role?

Shooting for less violence: Are anti-bullying laws effective? — Morrison Institute


"With kids, being protected is doubly important because they can otherwise develop coping methods that are counterproductive. A wisdom from Nature applies: When the dominant do not protect the vulnerable, the the vulnerable seek to become dominant." -Gavin de Becker

"The reality, say social scientists, is that bullying is neither more extreme nor more prevalent than it was during the days of pigtails dipped in inkwells—and in fact, over the past decade, prevention programs have been effective in lowering it." -Olweus

‎"We are a culture for whom bully-spotting has become a sport; bullying itself a ubiquitous label (and damning accusation) fueled by a breed of helicopter parents who want to protect their kids from every stick and stone, and of news commentators who whip them further into a frenzy." -Newsweek

Feel free to contact me or my team for seminars, corporate speaking, school assemblies, presentations, training or consultation.  


John Nottingham
USA Martial Arts Phoenix AZ USA
Arizona Bullying Prevention Initiative
The Bullying Prevention Project
Telephone: 602-896-8721
email: info@usa-martialarts.com
Arizona Bullying Prevention Project | Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment