I recently heard about a ''Back to School Bully Buster Bootcamp'' held for families at Kyuki-Do Marital Arts in Huntley, Ill. According to Stephanie Hanes of the Christian Science Monitor, students were trained not only in self-defense moves, but how to stay calm when confronted by a bully; learning what to say, along with other strategic techniques in dealing with bullies, were also part of the training program.
An interesting approach.
This problem has become a major dilemma in our society. While confining this article to school-age children, the bullying problem has spread throughout our country, even to governmental tactics.
It's not a surprise that bullying has increased exponentially with the decline of child and student discipline. With schools being riddled with rebellion and lawlessness, it's no wonder that the bullies are coming out of the "woodwork," seeing that their criminal behavior goes unchecked.
Few in the system have the fortitude to confront them head-on, for fear of reprisal, loss of their jobs, or a jail-sentence. Sadly, this is how far the debacle has gone.
In the same article, there were included the "Top 5 Bullying Myths: What you don't know about bullying."
Myth No. 1: "Bullies lash out because they have low self-esteem."
This suggests that the bully acts aggressively to compensate for the fact that he doesn't really like himself. But studies are showing that "Joe bully" is fine with himself, actually having a superior self-esteem (ego), making him feel better than others.
Myth No. 2: "Zero-tolerance policies against bullying decrease bullying."
The ploy of "zero-tolerance" became popular in the 1990s to deal with the challenges of drug use, violence and sexual harassment. For all practical purposes, its effect has been a big "zero," because it had no teeth or judicial backing.
Supposedly the kids were threatened with suspension, etc., for bullying, but such policies failed to instill godly fear or compassion for other students.
Myth No. 3: "Technology is the problem. Cyberbullying is the main form of bullying these days."
Certainly, the use of cell phone texting makes this activity easier because of the nonconfrontation factor; but whether face-to-face or online, the principle issue is the same - a selfish and evil aggression toward others. It's true that texting, etc. facilitates cowardice, and excessive trash talk.
But it's probably an extension of what began face-to-face, and further facilitates the hostile activity.
Myth No. 4: "Everyone is equally at risk of falling victim to bullying."
According to researchers, this is not the case. Bullies seem to target children who are "marginalized," whether because of sexual orientation or disability. This aggression is also directed toward new students who have no friends, and as yet have not developed a more secure social network.
Myth No. 5: "Bullying is a major cause of suicide and school violence."
While there have been some tragic incidents of bullied children taking their lives, to blame school violence per se is a bit simplistic and questionable.
The media's coverage of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings fostered the idea that the loner, bullied triggermen were taking out their anger through violent, murderous acts. It was almost "justification" for the two shooters, making them appear to be victims, rather than cold-blooded killers.
I commend the article for its forthright rejection of these ''five myths." Unfortunately they did not address the root cause or remedy for bullying.
The opening segment did come close to anti-bullying efforts through its Back to School Bully Buster Bootcamp. It comes down to self-defense and survival, in a wicked and "politically correct" society, which ignores the evil nature of children.
Bullying tendencies begin at home among siblings, and are carried over into the school experience. The lack of family discipline eventually shows up in the classroom, crippling the educational process. Bullies thrive in this environment, and there's no end in sight.
Sixty years ago, the scenario was quite different. While there were incidents of bullying, it was usually remedied on the playground when a "big brother" came to the victim's aid. The bully was physically put in his place, never to strike again.
Without the thought of using a weapon, the fists were used effectively to drop and stop the aggressor. We put a "hurt" on a bully, but it brought eventual "healing" and peace to all concerned.
The teamwork of parents and teachers also played a vital part in ending this brutality. Parents already had a "zero-tolerance" attitude, and children who misbehaved were dealt with both at home and at school. Even the principal got involved when necessary, applying the "board of education" to the "seat of learning."
Oh, for the good ol' days!
Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org