Bullying is in the news a lot these days. Hardly a day passes without there being a story about a child who was at the receiving end of bullying – and it can have terrible consequences.
When we look at the problem of bullying, it’s important to do it from both sides. Why are some kids the targets of bullies – and why do some kids feel that they need to bully others? This is a big topic, so I’m splitting it into two emails. Let’s start with the kids being bullied. How can martial arts help them?
There are a few things that can make a child the target of bullies. It’s not the child’s fault, but bullies have a way of picking out kids who are vulnerable for some reason. These vulnerabilities might include:
- A lack of self-confidence or feelings of unworthiness
- Non-conformity or something that makes a child different
- Lack of ability to defend themselves
These are all issues that studying the martial arts can address. Let’s take them one at a time.
Some kids are naturally self-confident, and others aren’t. A child who has a high level of self-confidence is unlikely to be targeted by bullies. Why? Because there’s nothing the bully can gain by going after them. Kids with a strong sense of their own worth will brush off attacks by bullies.
A child who lacks confidence, on the other hand, is easy to target. A bully knows that by picking on someone who doesn’t understand their own worth, they can feel superior. They’ll get a reaction.
Kids are creatures of habit, too. Every kid wonders if they’re “normal,” and sometimes, a kid who’s different is bullied because they make the bully feel self-conscious or uncertain. They bully to reassure themselves that they’re normal.
Finally, some kids are more aggressive than others. They might get their sense of self-worth from being physically dominant. It’s easy to dominate someone who can’t defend themselves, and so kids who aren’t physically strong or coordinated can sometimes be targeted, as well.
What does any of this have to do with martial arts? Well, kids who study martial arts:
- Learn to trust themselves – they know they can achieve their goals
- Understand that being different doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be confident
- Gain control of their bodies and movement
- Learn how to leverage their body weight to defend themselves
In other words, studying the martial arts makes kids a less attractive target for bullies.