All about School Bullies

Posted by on Mar 11, 2012 in Self Defense for Kids, Self-Defense | Comments Off on All about School Bullies

A while back, my daughter brought home a pamphlet, about bullies, from her school.  I was curious to see if their advice matched with mine.  At first, I thought it was complete junk.  It said something like “tell your child to try standing up to the bully just once because some bullies feed off of this type of interaction.”  I thought, what should the victim do the rest of the time?  get punched?

But, then I decided that they might have been talking about a name calling bully, not a punching bully.  And, the writers of the pamphlet had no reason to assume that the readers knew how to stand up for themselves without escalating the situation.   So, if a person tried standing up for themselves and it escalated the situation that time, it might be best if they tried something different the next time, since they might be the kind of kid who can’t figure out how to stand up for themselves without escalating the situation.  As I’ve taught bullying to kids, I’ve noticed that the kind that gets picked on the most is usually the kind that escalates the situation when they try to stand up for themselves.

For example, I’ve taught classrooms full of kids to tell a bully “leave me alone.”  And, it’s always the one who doesn’t look at people’s faces, and doesn’t sit close to any other kid, and is terrified when it’s their turn, who gets it wrong and says “You’d better leave me alone or else.”

The real problem, however, is that you can’t fit what parents and kids need to know about bullies into a three-fold-brochure type pamphlet. Name-calling bullies need to be handled differently from punching bullies.  Been-picking-on-you-for-years bullies need to be handled differently from testing-you-out bullies.  A “gang” of bullies needs to be handled differently from an individual bully, etc.

I must applaud the pamphlet from my daughter’s school for one thing, though.  It was focused on what the victim of bullying should do.  Lots of people focus on stopping the bullies.  While that would be a great thing to do, it’s just not likely to happen for two reasons.

One, the bully doesn’t know they are a bully.  They think they are just telling the truth, or just having fun, or just being “cool.”  The victim however, usually knows they are a victim.  Two, the bully isn’t internally motivated to change the situation. By that I mean that the bully doesn’t have many compelling reasons that it would benefit them to stop being a bully.  The victim, however, is very motivated to change their situation and might even be willing to listen to an adult’s advice about it.

It’s tricky to empower the victim, and change the victim, but not blame the victim.  Kids who are bullied often believe they deserve the bullying.  They never do. But, they have a better chance to change their situation than anyone else does.  And, even if we did find a way to make kids not bully other kids while they are at school, the kind of kid who ends up being a victim of bullies at school would still be the victim of bullies outside of school and probably in their workplace, and maybe even their house, as adults.

I’m working on a personal plan, not to stop bullying, but to stop victiming.

One part of my plan is to teach courses at Las Cruces Self Defense that teach kids how to deal with name-calling bullies, about-to-punch-you bullies, and grab-your-shoulder-from-the-back bullies.  This would most benefit kids who are not already having trouble with bullies, or kids who have only been having trouble with bullies for a few months. But, even if a kid has been bullied for years, it’s a good beginning to their unvictiming.

Another part of my plan is to give 30 minute presentations at Las Cruces schools that teach part of what I teach in the course. I want, at least, every elementary school student in the city to have learned a little bit about how-to-protect-yourself without anybody getting hurt or getting in trouble.

The third part of my plan, I need your help with.  This is especially for the high school kids who have been victimized for years.  It may be too late for some of them to stop being bullied at school.  What they need is to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  They need to know that if they can just survive, without killing themselves, or seeking revenge, until they are old enough to make their own life, and choose who they spend their time with, they can stop being a victim.  I’ve made a video about my experiences as a victim.  It copies that one made by a kid named Jonah, which you may have seen.

Actually, when I posted it is when I truly stopped being a victim of the bullying I received in elementary school. Please share it.  It won’t make a difference if it doesn’t get big enough to get seen by kids who need it. You can find it at or email me and I’ll send you the link.

This article originally ran as part of my “The Self-Defense Lady” newspaper column.

Contact me at if you’d like to see it run in your local paper.