Bullying. It’s an all-too-common word we have become accustomed to in our vocabulary. The emotional and physical damages of bullying can leave unimaginable tolls on any and every individual that has been a victim of this grievous act.
All too often, we see news articles and hear countless stories of students who have been affected by bullying. Recent bullying and hazing practices at Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey are just an example of what our children and students face on a constant basis.
As Martial Artists and business professionals, we have a “social responsibility” to help guide, nurture and prepare our students for this inevitable danger.
Here are five ways to make bullying awareness, education and prevention part of your Martial Arts curriculum:
1. Hold Mat Chats that Address Bullying
As we all know, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. One thing that we like to do in our school is to make our members aware of bullying through “mat chats”.
A mat chat can be a general talk with all the students in the beginning of every class, a few-second conversation with a handful of children or a one-on-one talk with one particular child. These discussions help us get the word out, so that people can understand and become more aware of the dangers of bullying.
Through these mat chat discussions, we can help prevent someone from being or becoming a bully, and can also give hope to those who are being bullied themselves.
Mat chats often give children the courage to speak up, which in turn gives us the opportunity to help them even more.
2. Wear Orange on Unity Day
Another event that we have at our school to create awareness for anti-bullying is taking part in Unity Day. This year, Unity Day will be on Wed., October 22, 2014.
We are asking all of our staff and students to show their support for anti-bullying by wearing something orange to class on that day.
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center sponsors Unity Day. Visit their Unity Day page for more ways to get involved.
3. Run Martial Arts Seminars with School Districts
One of the greatest benefits of Martial Arts is character development. Society has begun to notice that Martial Arts teachers and instructors are not just teaching Martial Arts, but are educating our children in a way that will help them become better members of our society by instilling the value and benefits of the Martial Arts.
Because of this, more and more school districts are hosting and allowing Martial Arts seminars. Facilitating these seminars can create bullying awareness and educate children about the harmful nature of bullying.
4. Add Open Mat Talk Time to Your Martial Arts Program
As with most bullying cases, they must be reported in order for them to be addressed. Most individuals that are bullied are afraid to speak up, and unfortunately face many years of hardship.
Providing an opportunity for students to come and talk about their challenges can help increase confidence levels in our children, which will in turn increase the amount of people standing up to their bullies.
We like to call this Open Mat Talk Time where any of our students can come in and talk to one of our instructors one-on-one with the hopes of helping them overcome this challenge.
By getting in touch with local school districts, and asking them to put flyers up, we can make this program available to the public as well.
5. Make It Your Social Responsibility to Teach Students about Social Responsibility
Social Responsibility … each and every one of us is responsible for the actions within our society.
As educators, it is our job and sole purpose to prepare our children for the hardships they will face in life.
By educating our students of the importance of respecting and supporting their peers no matter their gender, race, ethnicity or creed, teaching them that they are responsible for the improvement and well-being of our society, and teaching them that it is up to them to stand up to bullying … these are the only ways we can truly put an end to bullying.
About the author: Master Peter Trikilas is the Owner and Chief Instructor at Master Peter’s Academy of Martial Arts (MPAMA) in Dayton, New Jersey. He has been training in the Martial Arts since 1985 and opened his school, MPAMA, in 2011 — which has over 500 students to date.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month
What are you doing to take a stand against bullying? Check out these articles for ideas: