No one believes that bullying is a good thing.
Bullying is predatory behavior, much like violent crime in the adult world. While I’m not saying bullies are going to become violent criminals, there are some similarities that we need to be aware of. Particularly how both target those who appear to be the targets least likely to fight back.
Schools have been desperate to find a way to combat bullying. They’re willing to try almost anything.
However, it seems one school figured something out.
The students lined up in three rows in a classroom.
After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and Lord’s Prayer, it was time to get down to business practicing hammer fists, back fists, one-hand grabs, one-hand chokes and ground kicks.
The techniques are just as important to learn as the lesson on bullying.
For the first six enrichment learning club meetings of this school year, a group of students at Brownstown Central Middle School is immersed in taekwondo and self-defense with Emily Darlage of Shining Spirit Warrior Martial Arts and Self-Defense.
Through just three sessions, Cunningham said she also has noticed positive changes in the students.
“I’ve had several of these kids in clubs last year and in the classroom also,” she said. “There are some in here that could have some real behavior issues, but we don’t have any of that. They are respectful, and I think that they are all trying their best, which is a big deal for some of them.”
For some of the students, she said school isn’t their thing. They, however, are sure to be there Wednesdays so they don’t miss the club time with Darlage.
“When they come in here, I feel like they think they can be themselves and it doesn’t matter what they look like or how they do it,” Cunningham said. “They know that they are doing their best and they are going to be praised.”
As far as the bullying lesson, Darlage said she has seen a different demeanor in the students who are picked on and ones who pick on others.
That’s not surprising.
I suspect there are several reasons for that change, though I doubt any of the teachers will necessarily agree with me.
For one, learning how to fight often brings along a boost in confidence. That confidence gets signaled to those around you, including bullies. The fact that you’re not scared or intimidated anymore serves as a warning for them to seek out other prey.
Another thing is that this is the third year of this club. That means a number of students have learned how to handle themselves in a fight, enough so that some potential bullies have to wonder who is really prey and who will just turn around and pummel them into the dirt. That delay makes the cost of predatory behavior unpredictable. Predators tend not to like unpredictable costs, so they turn elsewhere for their entertainment.
It’s similar to how more guns lead to less crime. For many, this is an oxymoron. How can that be? However, when you understand that more guns mean more potential risk for the criminals, enough so they decide to rethink their life choices rather than get shot. They do other things instead of commit violent crimes.
Robert Heinlein once said, “An armed society is a polite society,” and he’s right. When you risk being hurt, you learn not to cross certain lines, such as bullying.
While we’re not about to give school kids guns, this school is doing the next best thing.