Dear Editor: There is a lot of concern about the problem of bullying in our schools, and I read with interest the letter from Carey Daughtry, chief instructor/owner of ATA Martial in Richmond Hill, in which Daughtry made some thoughtful suggestions as to how to curtail the problem in our community.
I served in Special Forces with guys who were “umpteenth”-degree black belts and could rip the heart out of a mule’s chest. There is certainly something to be said about building self-confidence in an individual through martial arts training as a counter measure to possibly bullying. I would rather have walked in front of a bus than try the patience of one of those guys.
I was interested in the program mentioned in Daughtry’s letter called ‘Olweus Bullying Prevention Program’ developed by a person at Clemson University.
The program addresses a very wide spectrum of causes and proposed counter measures. I was discouraged by the fact that the gist of the whole thing, in my opinion, was not some genius revelation of any kind of a solution, but a continued rhetoric of the concept that government and institutions can replace good parenting.
The state of Georgia is no exception in attempting to legislate controls over “bullying.” No instructions for the parents, just instructions for educators. In my humble opinion, the entire issue of bullying boils down to the absence of some very basic elements in the bully’s makeup. There are elements missing in the core of many young people – such as respect for the rights of others, respect for property and space of others and the need for a more humble appreciation for one’s own attributes.
One thing missing in a bully’s makeup is simple human compassion for those who are less fortunate or for those with that perception. The bully lacks the understanding of the statement, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Bullying is not born of physical superiority – it is born of mental and emotional inferiority. In my opinion, it is not the person being bullied that needs martial arts training, it’s the bully. It is the bully who is wanting and needy and incomplete and to be pitied.
I frequently ask little kids if they know the “Golden Rule.” I get a quizzical look; they don’t have the slightest idea what I am talking about. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s common sense. Then consequences should follow for not obeying the “Golden Rule.” Unfortunately, in today’s world, there are little or no consequences.
I have been on both sides of the “bully fence,” and in keeping with the concept of Tae Kwon Do-ing the problem away, one of the most lasting lessons I learned as a kid was when the older brother of the kid I was bullying knocked me out. We eventually became best buds. I was resigned to the fact that I had a glass jaw and would never be the “Welter Weight Champ.” I took a bully “down” one day and we also became the best of friends. It’s hard to grasp, but sometimes the act of bullying is really a desperate act of reaching out, asking for acceptance in the only way the kid knows how.
You have to start somewhere teaching kids that when they take advantage of the weak, they are demonstrating their own weakness of a far more serious nature. For a student to observe, permit and condone bullying is a step towards cowardice and becoming a bully themselves. “Misery loves company.” Bullies are miserable people.
When you are the parent of a bully you need not look to the state or the board of education to solve your problem. Parents/Guardians need to look at their role, relationships and examples, and then decide where they – not the system – may be failing. Only then can one start looking for a solution. The 150-page Olweus Bullying Prevention Program might be replaceable with a little common sense and a dose of Judeo/Christian values.