Perhaps our biggest mistake as a culture is starting with the belief that people are nice.
We treat mean behavior as an exception, dole out punishment (attention) to the offender and leave the target alone.
Every child needs a champion and an advocate. Every parent should be that for their kid, but if they can’t; being part of a positive community will give a child the resources to ignore, survive and overcome the negative behaviors of others. This can be a church family, soccer team, a great coach, grandparents and cousins, neighborhood, classroom or the dojo.
Flip the scales.
I do this in my karate classes everyday: praise compassion, kind heartedness and effort, and ignore negativity.
As instructors we assume that people like to hit hard, and that it is a natural feeling to want to kick the ever living crap out of something every once in a while. So we spar with each other without being angry and we hit kicking shields until the chemicals released make us laugh. We give aggression a good and safe place to be expelled and maybe even rewarded.
Bullies and Targets can both benefit by enrolling in a karate school.
The mean people will have a place to put their overflowing feelings while being redirected by instructors regarding when and where it is ok to express those feelings.
The targets will gain confidence in their mental and physical abilities. Even if they are still targeted on the outside of the class they will know that the dojo is a safe place to go where they are respected and treated fairly.
The dojo offers a backdrop for people to compare to the real world. But sometimes the bullies sneak into positions of power in the dojo too. Language like, “If you hit me hard, I will hit you harder” was common when I started out in the martial arts, but this negative language should be eliminated from our practice.
When an adult is bullied we call it harassment.
As a female instructor I have encountered a few men over the years who thought that they could enter my school and dominate my space. They didn’t last long because their behavior was not rewarded with the results that they desired.
This is MY HOUSE. These are MY RULES. Abide by them, or leave.