Bullies! Turn the Other Cheek?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
22 Oct 2008


How do you deal with bullies? If you listen to school administrators and psychologists, you might get the impression that if you turn the other cheek, the bully will just go away. But really, how do you handle a bully? Well there is no real good answer, if you buy into the school philosophy. Nowadays many schools state they have a zero tolerance policy. What is that? Well if someone is attacked by a bully and decides to fight back (you know your right to self-defense), both the bully and the defender will be punished!


Whats up with that? Do you mean to tell me that if a kid gets attacked by another, he or she should just take it to avoid punishment? I am so happy I grew up in another time. When I was a kid, it was expected that if one kid smacked another – the other kid was expected to mount a defense of some type. In my day, the teachers and Vice-Principal would try to find out what happened and then punish the kid that started it (assuming the defender did not go overboard). In this post I will try and examine bullies, schools treatment of attacks, and how a parent can console their kids to deal with bullies today. Here is an example of how kids and parents are consoled about bullies today I found on youtube.





As you can see the advisor to the schools is using lots of buzz words to basically make some money (my view) at the kids expense. Fist off some of these ideas are good like having standards before an attack happens and then following through (that would be nice). I got the impression the lady was going to call a time-out for the bullies after listening her telling us that punishments and discipline devalues the bully.


Bullies at least have not changed since I was a kid. They pick on the kids that won’t fight back. The kids that can or will fight back are not usually the bully’s targets. I was slow to learn this lesson when I was a kid and was too nice to fight. I though everyone would be nice back since I was nice to them. It took a couple of black eyes and bloody noses in the fifth grade before my Dad taught me the old one-two. He gave me permission to fight back if someone messed with me.


It took a few times for me to overcome my fear but after the first few months of the fifth grade, I was fighting back and soon no bullies wanted to pick on me anymore! The vice-principal did not like me fighting back but so long as I tried to avoid the fights – I did not get in trouble. I did end up getting in a few more fights after that but in each new school, it only took a few fights for kids to understand that if they messed with me – they were going home with bruises too!


When I was in Junior-High School, teachers were still allowed to spank kids for breaking the rules. I remember that three tardys got a kid a visit to the board of education. The board was actually a paddle that had large holes drilled in it for aerodynamics (to hit harder). In that school I knew the price I would pay for messing up and did not do it too much. While there still were bullies around, they did not mess with me too much.


I had one experience in the Fifth grade where a wise teacher did help me. I was getting smacked around on the bus ride home (before I started standing up for myself) and did not want to get on the bus one day. Well this teacher ordered me on the bus. I stood up to him and refused to get on the bus. He inquired why and I told on the other kid. The teacher marched the other kid off of the bus and told him in front of the entire school (or so it seemed) that the school was responsible for all kids safety until they were home and if he laid a hand on me – he would be held in detention for the remainder of the school year. That got him off of me so I do think teachers can help sometimes.


The school tries to do something even though physiologists have got administrators to buy into the whole self-image/hardship thing for bullies. If the schools don’t do something positive about bullies and a kid gets hurt – the schools are more liable if the student’s parents sue! Some schools do the zero tolerance thing and end up punishing the victim even though in many instance they are only trying to defend themselves! Well this is still America and self-defense is still a right in this country. One may have to remind the school of this fact and possibly bring a lawsuit if they don’t capitulate but the victims have rights.


What should a parent do if their kid is getting bullied? First off get your kid into some type of self-defense training if you cannot teach them. Kids that feel confident – are far better at avoiding fights and then defending themselves if it comes to a fight. 


A parent also has a duty to let the school know that this is happening and be assertive in demanding they proactively deal with the bully. Also advise them that your kid has your permission to exercise his or her legal right to self-defense. That puts the ball in the court of the school to deal with the problem. If by chance they do not and your kid does get hurt, you will have a better chance at a lawsuit so you can pay for your kid’s private education or home school. Keep your priorities straight and if your kid attends a school that is out of control, be smart and take them out now!


I ended up with a burning desire to learn karate after getting mugged walking to the store, late at night, when I was 14. That night I got seven stitches and sealed my lifetime love of helping myself and others’ in their quest to not be a victim! Since I was 17 years old, I have been able to take care of my self because of my karate training at then Tracy’s Karate and the American Kenpo Karate Association. I have not looked back and have been in plenty of fights since. What have I learned? Well this is kind of off topic but I no longer work to protect other people. No more bouncer jobs or bodyguard work or hanging out in dive bars… and since then I have only been in two fights in 28 years!


Anyway the old saying, “Live by the sword, Die by the sword” is only true to the extent that one over-indulges in fighting… if you are just going to defend yourself – you can, easily, with some work and if a bully messes with you – protect yourself and you do not have to turn the other cheek!

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5 Responses to “Bullies! Turn the Other Cheek?”

  1. Bruce Crary Says:

    Excellent article! As you read this comment, hundreds of good people (Men, Women and Children) are being physically bullied/assualted, and have no clue how they could have prevented the assualt, or if need be, defend themselves.

    Bullying at an early age affected my self-esteem so badly that I dropped out of school. I did not know back then that there were many highly effective approaches/strategies that I could have implemented that would have stopped the bullying dead in its tracks before it escalated.

    After the final gang attack against me when I was 16, I started studying Karate full time. Only one person harassed me after that, and I quickly sent that particular bully to the hospital. I am not proud of this, but I had no other choice, he had a knife. After teaching numerous styles of martial arts for over 30 years, and reviewing how our educational system is unsuccessfully attempting to deal with the rapidly growing problem of bullying, we as parents and professionals need to learn and teach highly effective and legal methods for stopping bullying before it escalates to violence. Violence should be a LAST RESORT, but if forced to defend against an assailant (which is an absolute legal right, at any age), technique should be executed with enough speed and control to simply stop or neutralize the attacker. Each situation is different and professional training/coaching is required.

    It is my belief that any individual (even at the age of 5) can learn to stop most bullying situations before they escalate into physical violence. This is why my Son (also a Black Belt) and I have decided to write a very unique book on how to defuse bullying situations. These are legal, proven methods that work, and are not taught in our schools. It is our goal to empower everyone that reads this book with the knowledge, strength and wisdom to overcome all bullying situations.
    In closing I would like to add that this blog is an excellent resource to open up communication and knowledge. Thank you!

    Bruce Crary – President – American Martial Arts Certified Professionals

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Very well stated Bruce. I would like to echo your statement that “professional training/coaching is required” as I think everyone should know how to defend themselves against Bullies!
    There are many self-defense choices these days including boxing, karate, jiu-jitsu, or whatever flavor one likes… the most important thing is to learn the basics from somewhere. There are many short self-defense courses taught as well.

  3. Daniel Heartfire Says:

    Liked your article, went through a similar childhood experience. Had a pacifist weakling mother who tried to tell me not to fight back against bullies. That only got me a lot more beatings and one incident which could have killed me. Of course the school did nothing though these things happened right in front of teachers and principals. I, thankfully, had an older brother who taught me some basic martial arts in return for me holding punching and kicking pads and a heavy bag for him while he practiced. I believe that most times the bigger man is the one who walks away from a bully. However when I or another innocent person is attacked then I do what I must to stop the attacker cold. People who are against self defense are almost always either bullies themselves or idiots who have never been attacked but presume to tell others what to do. I think basic self defense should be taught right in Gym class. Also school districts caught punishing kids for defending themselves should be sued to the max. Many school officials are simply lazy and too cowardly to stick their neck out and actually investigate a fight and determine who the aggressor was tho often in such a place their are witnesses. I would tell victims what I have learned and that is to document everything as much as possible. With the presence today of such things as DVRs and cameras on your phone it is real easy to help a bully to hang himself. Also if your are even physically threatened, make out a police report, regardless of what a school official says.

  4. Daniel Heartfire Says:

    I would add to my previous comment that these school policies are in my opinion part of a greater governmental effort to brainwash our kids into being docile sheep who are afraid to act or think for themselves. and will instead cower in fear and hand over their personal power to “Big Brother” in return for “Big Brother’ taking away more freedom from them. I suggest reading the works of people like David Icke and their take on something called PRC {problem, reaction, solution}. The government knows that bullies are best handled in school by suspending or expelling the bully, Making the parent come from work to pick the child up, and making the child’s continuing education legally the parent’s problem from there. This worked for 200 years in this country. The government creates a problem by changing something that works for something that doesn’t. The people react to the problem the government created intentionally, The government then says “we will protect you if you give up your rights and free thinking to us”. End result, the government gets more power and the Ultra rich who control it get more wealth and power.

  5. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Daniel,
    Good points… I tend to think the schools mean well but they are trying to keep above the fray at the expense of our children. I’m a strong believer in self-defense for children. Thanks for your comments.