JANUARY 31, 2013
GB Helps Address Bullying Issue with the Gentle Art of Jiu-Jitsu
We have all heard tales of bullying. Movies depict them as villains; the bullies getting what they deserve in the end, and the bullied ultimately emerging as the victor. While the romantic treatment of the subject does spark hope to those naïve enough to believe that these things can happen in real life, the number of school shootings, violence, teen suicides, and depression has proven that advocacy has yet to work, or change the way schools react to reports of bullying. Still the numbers rise dramatically.
A Story About A Bullied Kid
I was bullied. I had to transfer to a new school back in ’94, my knee-jerk response was to fit in. Do it quickly, and do it with grace. I failed in doing so. It was a fish-out-of-the-water experience. It is the type where the awkwardness of preadolescence is mixed with the pressure of inculcating oneself with a new micro-culture of a new school. It was a school where everyone knew everybody. Tales of past exploits were shared during lunch time. I had nothing to share, nor did I have the right skill set then to share any of my tales. I talked differently, dressed awkwardly, I didn’t care for the word deodorant, or laugh at mean jokes directed towards women, or even indulge in cigarettes and liquor. My family didn’t have enough money to spare for me to be able to hang out in malls. I was a straight A student who was as boring as a silent flick. Needless to say, I didn’t fit in easily, nor was I successful in doing so for the rest of the 4 years I spent in that high school.
It was right at that moment where I met my very first bully. He had this uncanny gift of coming up with the meanest names to call people. He walked around with a posse and was loud. He was very popular, dressed well, played sports, girls swooned over him, and he was even the class president. He would push me around and call me names. He called me an idiot, and a loser. He could actually rally the entire class to laugh at his jokes at my expense. I believe it is his popularity that drove him to become a bully.
A recent article published in TIME.com shows that in the United States, bullies and the act of bullying has direct correlation to the popularity of the bully. Social scientists have proven that bullies are what others consider as popular in school. Their network (friend maps) include that the more popular the bully is, the more likely they are to increase the degree of their bullying. The higher a bully’s spot in the school’s hierarchy directly correlates to their aggression. (Source: American Sociological Review)
What happened next was a series of harassment and name calling that lasted for four years. Name calling became a regular, day-to-day thing. Lunch time wasn’t as relaxing as it should be. It was then that my grades went down. I was more concerned about how to fend off the bullies than focusing on studying for my exams. I was so engrossed into getting accepted by everyone (including my bully). I was busy spending time with the school counselor, which by the way didn’t help since all she said was “try to understand them.” The reports of the bullying didn’t reach the school principal. Nothing was done about my complaints.) I’ve always been seen as the gifted one in the family, where everyone’s hopes are put on my shoulders. I gladly accepted the role, but the bullying didn’t help during those crucial growing up years.
I descended into a series of depressed states. I missed most of the school days and opted to go somewhere else where no one could bully me. I lost all drive tostudy and excel. I felt that acceptance and the standardized norm came from my bullies. A bullied kid will typically never tell his parents. I never told them what I had to go through each day. Years after, I told my mom about it. She said she could have done something, but I had doubts back then, even though I did wish my parents knew.
My grades spoke of a bigger issue happening in school. I lashed out at my parents, putting the blame on them as the root cause of the bullying. I stole money from my mom, so I could hang out with the popular kids. As a bullied kid, I became destructive. I wanted to get back at the bullies so much that it filled my mind with thoughts of getting back at them, even with violence.
My grades suffered more. I stopped being the bright intelligent adolescent that my family knew.
I barely survived during those years, but I did. I left it all behind upon getting into college. I left it all behind me, but I had my regrets. It is probably the resilience of my mind telling myself that surviving a day in a hostile environment is victory. My survival came with a huge price. I paid it by losing my self-worth, losing the confidence that my parents built up for me over the years, the respect of my peers, and respect for myself.
I left it all behind knowing I had missed a lot during those years. The time I spent learning was wasted trying to get the acceptance of my bullies. I could have gained access to guns and resorted to violence, but I didn’t Either I was raised well enough to know the repercussions of such actions, or the bullying wasn’t that bad. Either way, I am still thankful that I didn’t end up like the guys in the Columbine shooting to lash out on the innocent, to get back at them in a violent way. I could have become a bully myself, but I didn’t. I guess I have God to be thankful for.
Being A Part of The Gracie Barra Family
To stand against bullying means doing something about it. As parents, we are setting our kids up for failure by not equipping them with ways to deal with potential bullying. Sending them out into the world with just hugs and kisses and compassion will not deter the bullies. We need to be there. We need to prepare them.
Luckily, I now belong to a family that campaigns against bullies. I call this family Gracie Barra: an organization that uses the gentle art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to bully-proof kids across the United States. I support the Anti-Bullying Program of Master Carlos Gracie Jr. By promoting self-esteem and discipline, kids can become well-adjusted individuals. By teaching them how to defend themselves when the need arises, we are letting them know that they are not helpless. We are telling the kids that they can do something about it.
One less kid bullied, is a kid that will get to enjoy childhood.