Let the Boys Fight: Why Anti-Bullying Policies Fail and Why Fighting May Be the Answer
Bullying is a hot topic in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. Everyone wants to know if the shooter was bullied to the point of violence. Schools certainly spend a lot of time and money on anti-bully seminars and programs, but what good are they, really? Has any of the bullying stopped? It seems that stories of suicide and violence among public school children are increasing.
What stops a bully? Physical force. Every time. This does not mean that you just tell your kid to punch out a bully. It wouldn't work and they won't do it unless they actually have the training and confidence to succeed. My daughters have been enrolled in jiu-jitsu since they were about four years old because in today's climate, girls need to know how to defend themselves confidently and fiercely. Gracie jiu-jitsu is famous for "bully-proofing" their students with extensive training and role-playing situations that might occur in school.
Unlike the millions of wasted dollars the federal and state governments spend on speakers and programs to stop students from bullying one another (that ultimately fail), Gracie jiu-jitsu has tried and true methods that have worked since the beginning of time. It gives kids physical training to neutralize a bully and get away quickly, but everything they teach goes against almost every school bullying policy. Most schools have a "zero tolerance" policy for aggressive behavior, including all hitting, punching, kicking and wrestling. There is no exception for self-defense. This means that if your child is being hounded by bullies and one day your kid snaps and puts the hurt on another kid, your kid is getting expelled, not the culprit.
Gone are the days when Johnny met Steven down by the bike rack to duke it out, shake hands, and become buddies. Now schools are focused almost solely on limiting all physical contact. The problem with this is that males especially need the physical contact of grappling and wrestling to establish boundaries, hierarchy, or just blow off steam. (Girls, on the other hand, will terrorize a target emotionally, which is far more damaging than a bloody lip.)
When I was in high school I remember hanging out with the guys who went to an all-boys Catholic school nearby and they regaled us with tales of a priest who was a former Golden Gloves boxer. He had a ring installed in the school and whenever boys had a problem with one another they were given the option to get in the ring and lace up the gloves. He would supervise and coach them through several rounds. After they had burned off the aggression in the ring, the good Father would sit them down and make sure they left as friends—or at least forgiving one another. The boys told these stories with joy, awe, and nostalgia. Every boy who took part in these boxing matches made a memory he would cherish forever and all of them revered the priest who let them be men for those rounds in the gym.