School Yard Bullies! What Can Be Done?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
19 Jan 2008

6 Responses to “School Yard Bullies! What Can Be Done?”

  1. Mary Says:

    I agree that kids should be able to stand up to a bully but unfortunately, at the school my child attends, if you defend yourself, you are punished in the same way as the bully…..and to make matters worse, this is done in front of the bully aswell.

  2. M.E. Says:

    I agree with Mary. My child is fairly tall for his age. He is 10 and he towers over most kids in his year level and is probably the height of an average 14 year old. He is an outgoing kid, has a great sense of humour and is quite mature for his age. He was being harassed by a kid half his height for more than 3 years. Initially, he reported any incidents that took place to his teachers. They did very little if anything to stop it….as I said it went on for 3 years. We kept telling him not to fight this kid and to just walk away. Unfortunately, this kid started to use my son as a punching bag because he worked out my son was not going to hit back. I went to the school, spoke to his teacher, who assured me he would put an end to it. It continued. In the last term of that year, I gave my son advice that was totally opposite to anything I told him before and that was that he was allowed to defend himself. If the child hit him, he could defend himself but not to hit to the head , go for the arms. My son did this and was hauled into the deputies office. I went in there and basically told them that I would not accept my child being punished for defending himself. They told me he handled it the wrong way and he should have reported the issue to his teacher. I then went on to tell them that he had been reporting it to the school and nothing was done so he had lost faith in the school and teachers. I also told them that knowing the history between the 2 kids, they put them in the same class 3 years running. My son was not punished in the end. He is very clear though on when to use physical force and he is not a fighter by nature but it just goes to show, bullies don’t always target someone smaller and I wish now I had told him to defend himself from the start because then he would not have to have endured the humiliation he did for so long.

  3. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Mary,

    Yes school districts often times think of themselves as little fiefdoms and make rules contrary to the laws of a state but in most nations that I know of – folks (including kids) have a right to self-defense!

    The way to deal with school administrators is to make every attempt to work through whatever process they have but draw the line if your kid is attacked… A kid has to try to mitigate damage – this is most easily accomplished my making an attacker pay (bloody-noses and such) a price for the attack!

    Think about it… bullies don’t like to hassle kids that fight back and if the bully gets brave – they may end up permanently injuring your child… I’d much rather have to pay a lawyer to fight a school district that is not aware of the laws of the land, rather than paying a doctor to try and save my kid.

    If they actually let the bully know it is ok to pick on a kid – the school district is going to have deep pockets in a law suit… but I’d rather protect the kid before that happens!

    Good Luck!

    John W. Zimmer

  4. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi M.E.,

    I think you did the right thing for the reasons I stated in my previous comment. After all, if the parent is not going to stick up for the kid – who is.

    Great assessment of the situation and terrific follow through!


    John W. Zimmer

  5. Michele Says:

    You make a good point regarding the right to self-defense. My daughter attends a small Catholic school. In third grade, she stopped wanting to go to school and was home sick a lot with stomach pain. We took her to see a doctor. The doctor sent us home with a note to the school that her stomach ache was a direct result of the treatment by other kids. We had a meeting with the principal the following day. We showed him the note from the doctor and an email from the second grade teacher acknowledging the bullying. We informed the school that we (both parents karate instructors) taught her self-defense (the school was not happy about this).

    The very next day the entire third grade was in an anti-bullying assembly. My daughter’s classroom teacher pulled us aside to inform us that they found the bullying in her grade to be far reaching. Things at school got slightly better.

    In fourth grade, some girls have been giving her trouble. I recently wrote a post regarding relational aggression among girls. The comments on this post were interesting.

  6. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Michele,
    It sounds like you and your husband are on the right track. I like that the school took immediate action. That with your sage advice and self-defense lessons, should lessen the impact of bullies (I hope).
    I enjoyed your post and comments. I could not resist throwing in my 2 cents :)
    The link about relational aggression is very informative. The nuances of how girls are mean to each other are normally missed by me.