How to Bully-Proof Your Teen for Back-to-School


jiu-jitsuYou don't need me to tell you about the outrageously out-of-hand bullying epidemic going on in this country right now. It seems like there's another unbelievably tragic tale in the news every other day about a teen who was bullied to death -- to death! Think about that. I mean, really think about it. At no other time during history has adolescent bullying been marked by its high fatality rate.

We teach our kids that physical violence is wrong. Schools have "zero-tolerance" policies regarding fighting of any kind. That's all well and good, but some kids listen ... and some kids don't.

That's why all kids need to know how to fight back, just in case.

Just ask Martin Hendricks, the Denver 12-year-old who was bullied for so long that his grades dropped and he hated going to school. (Experts say over 150,000 kids miss school every day because they're afraid of being bullied.)

Fed up and afraid, Martin's mother Wendy finally sent him to a summer program in Brazilian jiu-jitsu designed specifically for bullied kids at the Gracie Academy in California. Jiu-jitsu is a relatively non-violent but extremely effective form of self-defense. The focus is "eliminating fear of injury through technique and preparation," which gives kids the confidence to stand up to bullies: First verbally, and then, if that doesn't work, physically.

When Martin returned to school and the same old bully got back to his old tricks -- taunting, shoving, throwing things in the lunch room -- Martin followed the plan his instructor gave him. He tried speaking up, telling the bully to leave him alone.

When the (bigger, stronger) bully responded with a punch, Martin jumped off a bench, shoved the bully in the chest while he was still in mid-air, then pinned him on the floor with his knee and arms. Martin's tormentor was powerless at last.

Rock star!!! Can you imagine what a life-changing moment that was for Martin? He didn't even hurt the kid, just scared the hell out of him -- so much so that the bully ended up apologizing to him in front of the whole school. Which, come to think of it, means that the face-off was probably just as life-changing for the bully as it was for Martin.

I'm not advocating violence or fighting fire with fire or anything like that. BUT I do very much believe that kids need to know how to defend themselves.

Sometimes just the confidence of knowing you can defend yourself is enough to keep bullies away.

Do you think we should teach our teens how to fight back?


Image via superwebdeveloper/Flickr

bullies, school, safety


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elibee elibee

Right on Martin!

Boobo... Boobookittt74

Love stories like that. But as far as that no violence thing. Hey I find nothing wrong with one if them bullied just plain gettin their ass kicked.

Beths... Bethsunshine

The problem is, in many schools, if a kid fights back, he or she gets in trouble as well. I think that sucks!!

PonyC... PonyChaser

Beth beat me to the punch, as it were... In most schools, Martin would have been busted under these stupid "Zero Tolerance" rules, and he'd have been treated as just as much of a bully as his bully is.

That said, I completely agree with you. The only reason that bullies are bullies is that we let them be. We are only powerless if we allow ourselves to be.

Teach your kids the old adage, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me". Because that's all they are. NAMES. Stupid words. And yes, words can hurt - IF they come from someone who matters. We have to teach them that these bullies are pipsqueaks who simply don't matter. Don't give them the power!!

And yes, that's easier said than done. But it starts with a kid learning his worth at home, learning that his worth is *inside* him, not in how well he throws a ball, or does a math problem, or plays a piano. All of that is icing on the cake. Teach your kid to spar, verbally. YOU call him names, and teach him how to diffuse the situation with humor or intelligence. Teach him how to wrestle... don't discourage your kids from being puppies on the floor, rolling around and pounding on each other (within reason, of course). They're learning body awareness and self-defense. Enroll them in classes if they need more education. Teach them to find true friends and keep them close; they will stand behind him when Mr. Idiot Bully comes to call.

But *don't* give those bullies the power. That's what they crave.

SandM... SandMsMama

hell yea!! we need to de-pansy Americans!! too many mommies out there doing shit like moa and interfering in places they shouldn't, bootcamp, for example.

nonmember avatar Nicole

My answer is an astounding yes. My daughter had been the target of bullies in her previous school and she was also physically hurt by one punching her in the face. She had it ground into her head by the ninnys in the public school system that defending yourself is wrong in any shape or form (even talking back to the bully to tell them to leave you alone). I have always been a voice for the rights for anyone to defend themselves.

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