Following is my email to the victim of a recent bullying attack, his family and the school. Names of the young man and his school have been removed to protect his privacy, but I have included the body of the letter in order to raise awareness to this despicable problem.
Bullying can be devastating for the victim and their families, and can long weigh on the conscious of the bullies themselves in later life. I have known more than one child that has taken tragic measures in order to escape bullying. Unfortunately there are no easy or immediate solutions for either the school or the family of the victim. I read this child’s story and would like to offer my assistance.
Bullies select victims who appear to be easy targets. Children with low self-esteem / self-confidence appear weak. Once children become the victim of bullying, their self-esteem drops further, perpetuating a vicious circle from which it is exceedingly difficult to escape. Removing the child from the environment can be a relief, but is only a temporary fix, as bullying is not limited to any location.
Alternatively children who are in a minority (socio-economic, racial, religious etc) group can find themselves the victim of bullying. The less the bully feels that they have in common with the victim, the easier it is to justify their own conscience. Perceived differences also make it easier for the bully to find allies, who will laugh, encourage, or simply turn a blind eye to the behaviour.
It is important for any victim of bullying, to remember that they are victims of a crime. What is happening to them is not their fault, and the bully’s behaviour is unacceptable. Victims tend to place blame on themselves, leading to further emotional distress. Bullying is NOT the fault of the victim – but they can take steps to minimise the likelihood of being victimised. Once this victim recovers physically from this incident, I would like offer him one year of free martial arts training. I hope that this space of time, we can begin to help him become healthier, happier and safer.
Being able to physically defend oneself against violence is only the last line of defence against bullying, or any form of physical violence. The stages of self-defence as I teach them – in order of importance and application – are:
- 1. Avoidance (hazards, violence);
- 2. Escape;
- 3. Negotiation and escape;
- 4. Defence and escape.
The avoidance stage listed above is the most important phase. When successful in this phase, it is not necessary to use the later stages of self-defence. The avoidance stage includes building self-confidence, identifying dangers, and using humour and body language to mitigate potential threats. I believe that the formula for improving confidence is to facilitate a succession of achievements against ever increasing difficulty.
Sobukan provides a safe and fun environment in which students can work hard to achieve goals, and enjoy the resultant confidence and self-esteem. Simultaneously, he will be learning effective self-defence techniques to protect his welfare in the event that he is not able to avoid violence.
I am a father myself. Formerly I spent a couple of years teaching self-defence classes with the Street Smart program at schools around Adelaide. I have recently returned to Adelaide from training and working in Japan and I run a martial arts club called SOBUKAN in Mitcham. I have trained and researched martial arts for 26 years, including 6 years in Japan, and possess a unique skill set in Australia. My current students include children, teenagers, adults, police officers, and instructors from other martial arts schools. I am currently establishing a program to teach students with disabilities, in particular for students in wheelchairs and with visual impairments. I teach both ‘hard’ (fight back) and ‘soft’ (defending without hurting the attacker) defence methodologies.
The club motto for SOBUKAN is healthier, happier and safer. I would love for the opportunity to help this young man achieve this in his life. Please feel free to access my website at sobukan.com.au for further information about SOBUKAN, or email me at email@example.com or call me at 0400557071.
I would also like to offer to visit the College at a mutually convenient time and speak to students about self-defence. Self-defence for me is a much broader topic than surviving violent confrontation. Self-defence includes road safety, drug awareness, identifying and managing risk, and of course bullying. My hope is that this talk would raise awareness of the issue for perpetrators, victims and also build a social conscience in the spectator groups.