Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Kids Bully Kid's Right ? Its Only Natural Isn't It?

Kids bully kids. Its only natural isn't it. If we leave them to it then it'll all work out.After a while they'll be pals again and it'll be like nothing ever happened. Have you ever heard that one ? The theory, that if we, as adults, step aside and let kids "sort" it out then all will resolve itself.

Wicklow based self defence and martial arts instructor Alan Ellis has heard it too." In over forty years of martial arts training and teaching I've been approached many times by parents whose kids are being bullied" Ellis has sometimes been taken aback by the requests he's received. " Many parents would like me to teach their kids to take the bully out" he says., " And I mean really take them out"

These requests Ellis feels have come from parents who are at their wits end in trying to cope with an issue that has fast gotten out of hands. The philosophy of "leaving kids to sort it out"  is one that has become increasingly popular. The overriding feeling is that the strongest or more ( skilled) will prevail. This can lead parents to Ellis' studio door . "As parents, our foremost basic instinct is to protect our children and to ensure their safety" "When they are threatened or harmed our natural inclination is to protect them " remarks Ellis.

Seeking this "protection" has led many to seek Ellis' skills in physical self defence. While not dismissing the effectiveness of those defence tactics, Ellis is keen to point out that employing them is a last resort.

"The prevailing image is one of the bully being soundly trashed by  his victim after he, the victim has taken some Karate tuition. This has been reinforced by countless Hollywood  movies"

While if push comes to shove, decisive action must be taken, Ellis believes that another more holistic , informed approach must prevail.

" At our school Motivational Martial Arts we teach students and parents how to really deal with bullying issues" says Ellis. " This approach involves education, community activism, bully projects and mindful living"

" If we simply teach kids to react to or physically defeat the bully then we have failed to truly educate the child in making a positve difference in society"

In the main , martial arts schools pay only lip service to bully education and to teaching their students how to actively address and resolve the problem while laying down markers for their peers and those who will follow. As community leaders martial arts teachers have a duty to their students and communities to provide effective solutions, particularly if they advertise themselves as" experts" in this field.

Much of the current climate of retribution crime has Ellis feels, its routes firmly in the play ground, sports fields and local communities. "We need to find as way to move forward and to truly learn from mistakes made in dealing with issues such as bullying. Self confidence and mutual respect can only breed from a nourishing  environment. A new approach from teachers and coaches will ultimately I hope facilitate this"

If you have been effected by bullying or if you are a parent whose child has suffered Alan Ellis can be contacted at 089 456 7533 or by email aemartialartist@gmail.com

His Wicklow Bully Project  community website is here Wicklow Bully Project

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Wicklow Bully Project

  • Wicklow Bully Project

    Wicklow Bully Project is an initiative to address the incidence of bullying in County Wicklow. As a martial artist for over forty years and having taught martial arts in Wicklow for twenty years, I have come across many stories and incidence of bullying. Many of my lessons took place in schools and colleges throughout County Wicklow and at times I found it quite alarming to hear first hand from school kids , accounts of how they were victims of bullying. Likewise at my local classes I had often been approached by students who were suffering from the adverse attention of bullies.

    Perhaps more disconcerting was the fact that school authorities and sometimes parents seemed to be struggling to address the situation. In many cases the victims felt  that they had no one to confide in and if they did broach the subject with an adult in authority the feeling of the victim was that nothing much would be done. Hence in many cases  the bullying continued.

    As a martial arts teacher I was regularly approached by parents to help their children deal with bullies. Martial arts were viewed by these parents as a method of handling bullies. The perception was/is that training martial arts automatically ensures “protection” for the victims of bullying. This view is propagated by the martial arts industry advertising “anti-bullying” strategies. Terms such as ” confidence” or “self esteem” are regularly used as counters to the attentions of the bully. Of course confidence and self esteem are desirable traits yet without much more understanding and education plus a concerted effort and work ethos these attributes alone are not enough to help in dealing with bullies.
    Of course as a martial artist I  have also taught/teach the physical defensive tactics of protection. However resorting to this is not desirable on a number of levels. There are many strategies that one can apply in place of a physical response. Once physical defence has been employed, its fair to say that other methods may have failed or in many case not ever been implemented. If, ultimately every strategy is deployed and despite this the student is still in imminent physical danger of actual bodily harm then and only then may it be appropriate to utilise the physical defence methods. I always point out to my students that this action is a last resort as it has consequences. Injury may be caused , psychological consequences , social pressures, accusations of being a bully while defending against a bully ( yes its happened). Therefore a much more holistic approach to the subject of bullying is required. The subject needs to be brought far beyond what is traditionally offered by martial arts schools.

    In general most martial arts schools will aim to teach and develop confidence and self esteem. They will try to do so with integrity . However , one needs to ask how this is done.How do martial arts schools go about educating their students in relation to bullying and many other topics. What methods are employed in creating community based projects which students are involved in. Are they encouraging leadership projects and taking these philosophies out of the dojo and into the world?

    My mission is to build a resource which will curate information and educational tools in helping to increase awareness of bullying and how to address it. This resource “The Wicklow Bully Project” will be a resource available to students of my school and also to the local community in Wicklow.

    Members of the public can view a selection of blogs and educational videos and I will curate  contact details of local and national bodies involved in the subject of bullying.

    Members of my martial art school in Wicklow will , as part of their curriculum educate themselves in relation to the subject and also learn to become activists in helping eliminate bullying.

    For more resources go to : http://flavors.me/wicklowbullyproject

    I am available at any time to help in relation to any aspect of this subject. I may be contacted on
    089  456 7533 or by email aemartialartist@gmail.com