Sample Bullying Column

Posted by on Aug 18, 2014 in Self-Defense | Comments Off on Sample Bullying Column

People, Not Policies, Stop Bullies

by Marcy Shoberg

It’s great that bullying is now recognized as a serious problem and that policymakers seek to solve school, workplace, and household bullying problems. But, policies don’t stop bullies—People stop bullies.

Policies don’t stop bullies because a bully always has mental justification for their actions. While bullying, they may believe themselves rightfully angry. Or, they may be acting on impulse, simply stating their negative opinion. They might even think they are doing their victim a favor by teaching them a lesson.

Those who bully—(If you think you never do, reconsider.)— can learn what bullying is and vow not to act like that. Definitions include “when one purposefully hurts or scares another, knowing they don’t like it” and “when someone makes another feel bad to make themselves feel good.” Realize no one will ever be bullied into changing an opinion or becoming a better person, and learn other ways to influence people and to feel proud.

We self-defense teachers teach those targeted by bullies to use assertive body language and verbal response to stop bullying incidents before they become physical. One who learns verbal and physical self-protection skills becomes much less likely to experience bullying. But, this cannot eradicate bullying since those most likely to be targeted often aren’t brave enough to seek training.

Those in the best position to stop bullying are bystanders. These are people who witness, but are not directly involved in, bullying incidents. If a witness points out to a bully that they are hurting the other person, they might stop. At the very least, they will learn they do not impress all bystanders with their actions, something a bully often intends to do. Alternatively, the bystander might invite the victim to join them, leaving the bullies presence.

It’s not always easy for bystanders to act. A self-defense student once witnessed a man at a sporting event bullying his family and had great mental stress while considering getting involved. When she finally approached him, several other bystanders followed.

It’s not always safe for bystanders to get involved. Another student once witnessed a man bullying a woman about a parking space and decided to get involved. He reports that if he didn’t have verbal de-escalation training, he’d never have managed to avoid physically fighting the man.

Stopping bullying may not be easy, and may not be entirely safe, but it’s the right thing for all to do.