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 Children, bullies, and stranger danger.

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PostSubject: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Wed May 16, 2012 9:26 am

As a martial arts instructor, mostly of children, bullying and strangers are the two biggest threats I try to help my kids deal with. Since some people on this board deal with children on a regular basis, I thought I might throw out a few tips on the training of kids to deal with the world around them.

Bullying


  • The best defense against bullying is self-confidence. Without self-confidence, kids cannot do anything else on this list. You build self confidence in children not just by showering them with compliments, but by giving them real goals to achieve, and then giving them genuine praise upon completion, or consolatory words and advice upon no completion. Remember, kids can smell bullshit better than adults can, outright flattery will just decrease their respect for you.


  • Social skills. Kids who can get along with other kids will be bullied less, and will handle what bullying they get. If you're working with a group of kids, make them do group activities, and keep an eye out for the extremely social kids, and the anti-social ones. Pair these kids together, and monitor it to make sure it's a positive atmosphere for the anti-social kid. Kids learn by example, and social kids WANT to draw anti-social kids out of their shell. I'm lucky enough that most of the kids I deal with some from similar schools/geographic locations, so the social bridges they build in my karate class actually carry over into their day-to-day lives.


  • Verbal self defense. This is way more potent and valuable than physical self defense in most bullying situations. Being able to verbally defuse, or wittily rebut verbal call-outs is actually very good in schoolyard environments. This is hard to train specifically, but when working with kids, make them talk to you, and make them talk to the group. Just making socially ostracized children TALK to other children will help build these skills, AND build self-confidence. Talking to a teacher is also a form of verbal self defense. In my state, at least, all teachers are required by law to report any and all bullying situations, which can lead to counseling and/or an examination of home life for the bully in question. Contrary to popular belief, the "squealer" is not going to worsen their situation by doing this, as reports are typically given in confidence, and the interaction between the teacher and the bully very rarely involves the child being bullied.


  • Physical self defense. This is actually the last line of dealing with bullying, but the one people most frequently think about due to romanticizing of the victorious underdog in the schoolyard fight. This romanticizing is typically wrong. By the time bullying gets physical, there's usually a group of kids involved, and the underdog usually ends up bloodied on the ground. The best physical self defense is the ability to disable the bully's means of travel, and run away. Typically this can be as simple as a hard kick in the shin and then booking it in the opposite direction. Teaching kids simple redirections of force, hold escapes, and simple takedowns is probably the best thing you can teach them.

Stranger Danger
Stranger danger situations are typically different from bullying situations in that it's a child being endangered by someone typically much larger than them. These are less prevalent then a bullying culture, but much more dangerous and terrifying. It's also a weird situation at times, because sometimes these "strangers" are actually friends of the family, teachers, local businesspeople, etc. It can be difficult for some children to identify "bad guys" and "good guys," and it's tough to talk with them about this without making ALL adults seem unnecessarily scary. We'll deal with this in a multi-pronged approach.

  • Awareness. Talk with kids about the areas that people are not allowed to touch, make sure they know what they are. Let them know that no grownup is allowed to touch them without their permission(this is something we're very careful about in karate class). Tell them that ANY time a grownup is making them feel uncomfortable, even if they're not touching them, they should go and tell another adult they trust. Which brings me to item number two...


  • Communication. Sometimes, kids don't actually know who to talk to in these situations. If the person making them feel weird is mommy and daddy's friend, they may not want to tell mommy and daddy. Sometimes, even if they do, mommy and daddy shrug it off as "Oh, that's just old Pete! He's such a creeper sometimes, hahaha." Police and teachers can also be intimidating to talk to sometimes. But you are, presumably, a superhero. Like a karate teacher, you've got an elevated position in their eyes without the intimidation of being a serious disciplinarian in their life. You can be a safe outlet for them to talk to. HOWEVER this position comes with A LOT of weight. Let me be clear on this. You are not batman. You will not confront this person yourself. And you will treat this child's trust in you with respect by actually dealing with their problem. If you are working with children, you should already be aware of how to get in touch with the proper law enforcement and social services branch in your area. If a child comes to you with ANY of these complaints, it is your duty to get in touch with them and do something about this problem. DO NOT put yourself in the situation of being a child advocate if you are not ready to deal with the responsibilities that come with it.


  • Physical defense. Finally, we have the least common situation, that is, the unknown, physical abductor. First off, tell kids what they shout if they are grabbed by a stranger. We tell our kids to shout "Stranger danger!" and "Fire!" over and over again at the top of their lungs, as these are the advocated safe words in my region. Yours may be different, but "fire" is always a safe bet, if just because everyone wants to look at a fire. As in the bully situation, running is the best defense. But it's harder for children to get away from a larger assailant. They need to know the areas to hit that work for their height, and how to hit them. These areas are shin, knee, and groin, and they are typically struck with a foot. Kicking is the best force delivery method for kids, both due to the large muscle groups in the legs, and due to the infrequency of captors to immediately grab a leg. Even if picked up in a complete bear hug, children can still typically drop their heels into an assailant's groin several times(heck, my 3 year old has unintentionally taken me out a couple time when roughhousing this way). Biting is also excellent, and probably the only way to take care of a hand covering their mouth(see above point about screaming at the top of their lungs). And the second they are free, they ALWAYS run as fast as they can to somewhere with a lot of people. This is key, because the suggestion of just running away, or finding a police officer/parent, is not always practical. An abductor will typically shy from chasing a child through large group, especially if that child is screaming stranger danger and fire.


Okay, sorry if that was a bit long of a writeup. I hope people find it worthwhile. Let me reiterate one more time though; When working with children, they will put their trust and respect in you. Do not betray this. If they come to you with problems, treat their problems with dignity and discretion, and talk to the correct people RIGHT AWAY. Typically the correct people is police and/or child protective services, but sometimes it's a little simpler. I had a girl whos older brother was physically picking on her a lot when their single mother was at work, but she didn't want to talk with her mom about it because her mom was always tired and/or cranky when she got home. I had a talk on the side with the mother and let her know about it so the girl didn't have to deal with her mom snapping about it. Her mom asked for advice on how to deal with it and I actually invited the older brother to some karate events. Giving him an safe outlet for his aggression and a social environment to interact with his sister as an equal(superior, actually, since she outranked him), really helped the issues at home.

If anyone has any questions about specific situations, or anything I've covered, feel free to ask, and I will answer to the best of my ability.
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Polarman

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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Wed May 16, 2012 12:29 pm

Great info
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Lir

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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Wed May 16, 2012 2:19 pm

thanks for the advice Smile
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Polarman

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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Wed May 16, 2012 4:01 pm

In the past Ive had kids help out with the snow shoveling around their houses and then we would go to a hill to slide for a while

Often at times while dealing with for example an intoxicated person who is taking his anger out on the kids in the area I usually deal with that individuakl and then walk the kids back to their homes and explain to the families that the kids are ok and what took place that scared them

I also inform them that either I still need to call the police to report the person or that they have already been called and are dealing with him as we speak or have already dealt with him

I always let the kids know that I dont ever use violence to solve my problems and that I am fighting to protect them from the person who is threating to bring them harm

I will get the kids to find a safe place such as the very top of the climbing struture if they are unable to either get to a friend's house or home on their own Under no circumstances will I allow a child to try and rescue myself but I tell him to call the police instead if Im not close behind or he ever sees me injured by the drunk I stand a better chance of being able to defend myself than the child would and this includes while protecting kids from flying projectiles such as stones rocks sticks and other weapons that are being thown in our direction My goal is to get the kids out of danger and to their familes asap then deal with the person however best I can to hold him off until the police arrive to take him wherever he is needed to go
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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Wed May 16, 2012 10:18 pm

whew
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Polarman

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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Fri May 18, 2012 8:46 am

Whenever there is news of a dangerous offender who has escaped from prison or is about to be released into Iqaluit The kids and I come up with a series of plans in case he tries to attack or he is spotted in the area

If the offender is breaching a probation such as entering a place where he is not allowed because there are children present I call the police as soon as possible such as hanging around the school yards and playgrounds the public library while kids are there being near or bothering children when he is ordered to stay away from them Viewing pornography or other sexually explicit videos while in public and other simular conditions
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Idea Man

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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Fri May 18, 2012 11:12 am

Polarman wrote:
Whenever there is news of a dangerous offender who has escaped from prison or is about to be released into Iqaluit The kids and I come up with a series of plans in case he tries to attack or he is spotted in the area

Good move. I want to do something similar for the Sex Trafficking issue.
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Flora V. Arbor

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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Sat May 19, 2012 3:22 am

Polarman is my role model
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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Thu Jun 21, 2012 2:07 am

Great post. Smile



Also, I would like to add on to it by saying parents should also be more cautious of leaving their children alone.

I once saw a boy just wandering around a store and I asked him where his parents were and he said they had to go get something real quick. I felt disturbed that they would just leave him their and quite upset about it, so I worte a note saying the following:



"Dear Parents,

I could have taken your precious little boy back to my home and done unspeakably horrendous things to him, scarring him for life. Fortunately for you, I am not a predator. Watch your kid next time.

Sincerely, 204"



I then folded it up and handed it to the boy and said, "This is a very important message for your parents, be sure to give it to them when they return, okay?"

He nodded his head obnoxiously up and down as though he were suffering from a sugar high, haha.



I then stayed a distance away in a different department of the store but still keeping my eye on the boy until his folks got back.

When they came back a few minutes later the boy did as I had told him and handed the note to his parents; when they read it they looked frightened and looked around as though they were being watched....which technically they were but they didn't know that and that was the point; to ignite that fear in their hearts because I could tell by the look on their faces they were going to be more careful about just leaving their kid somewhere, even if only for a few minutes.

I feel parents and children should both be more involved when it comes to guarenteeing the safety of their kids. Just thought I'd add this. Smile



--204
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Idea Man

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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:47 pm

I think the Social Skills part is key. It is difficult to bully someone who has a large group of loyal friends, and is generally well liked in their community.
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Equal

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PostSubject: Re: Children, bullies, and stranger danger.   Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:21 pm

My professional opinion would be that boys with good social skills bully less.
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