The sixth hour of my teacher consultancy for the Drum Kempo Ju Jutsu and Fitness anti-bullying programme looked at bullying targets. This is a subject we half-covered two lessons ago and returned to after a segway into attitude training.
We picked up with a look at not the most obvious bullying targets. Shyness and visible lack of confidence are often covered in anti-bullying works. However, individuals who easily triggered into any emotional state are attractive to forms of entertainment for certain types of bully. People often advise standing up to bullies and we are often heartened by tales of victims who thwarted their tormentors by fighting back. However, this needs to be managed carefully. Many bullies seek negative responses and like to provoke people to be violent. Here we teach students how to manage their emotions, which can be quite difficult for children who are still in very rapid stages of biological development. This brings us more onto self-awareness. At least if a student acknowledges that some bullies bait and seek these responses, the intended victim has a better chance of stopping themselves from over-reacting.
Self-awareness comes into play with all the other subsequent targets I address. Although it is obvious that victims with learning difficulties or those who might have educational disadvantages for a variety of reasons are easy prey, those showing exceptionally creative and talented traits are also game for the jealous bully. This moved us onto a brief discussion regarding jealousy and envy. It’s a big topic, but in essence a jealous person feels resentment towards someone who has something they would like – be it a material item or a skill. No one wants to stem a person’s ability to realise their full potential or to shine anymore than we want to dictate where a free person may wander in a technically free land. However, having awareness regarding humility and how one’s outward actions can kindle resentment is healthy.
This brought us onto popular people as bully victims. One would assume that being popular is a reasonable shield against hostility in a community. Bullies, for the most part, pick on the loners, the outcasts and generally unpopular because they are easy targets who don’t have many allies. However, jealousy, as we discussed, can be a very compelling motive. A bully might feel they have been displaced by a newly popular person. This can be aligned with Joe Saunders’ described universal triggers for social violence: disrespect and disempowerment. These feed each other in a loop. The said bully might feel bullied by proxy i.e. their jealousy makes them feel like they are persecuted. A bully might not be particularly popular but their might feel empowered by the way other peers don’t support their popular friend when the targeting begins. Again, self-awareness is key. The popular person should stave off hubris and look towards encouraging a more inclusive attitude outside their particular circle of friends or, at least, be aware of individuals their popularity might irk.
People with disabilities and/or illnesses might be likely targets but they also address an uncomfortable elephant in the room: being restricted to change a situation. A shy or under-confident person can make positive steps to improve their outward behaviour. The talented and the popular can learn to be a little more modest and caring, but permanent physical and mental disadvantages have their limitations. At this point we come to identification.
A big part of self-protection is not identify as a victim. This helps target hardening. It’s much easier said than done but it’s also foundational in the creation of better self-protectors.