Tonight’s teacher consultation focused on the development our “Bear” level for child self-protection. The challenge ahead of any self-protection teacher at this particular level is teaching the responsibility and independence balance. At its core self-protection effectiveness is decided by a student’s ability to take control in a violent situation. This discussion touched upon several topics.
The “Bear” Level
In essence young people entering at this stage will be naturally going through many changes. They will be faced with more instances where they will need to completely think for themselves. Inspired by my podcast “The Way of the Bear”, this stage is very much about testing individuals and teaching them about the strong reinforcement of boundaries. Here the full concepts of the fence and pre-emptive striking are taught in full and there should be a good degree of pressure testing.
Online safety is a growing concern of our age. Due offences like cyberbullying and online predation being driven by technology, the weapons we face as self-protection teachers are rapidly changing. New social media platforms emerge and evolve as does gaming culture. As has always been the nature of children growing up, youngsters are drawn to products and services above their age range. This will mean they will be engaging in content that generally regarding suitable for their age group and, more importantly, socialising with much older people. A self-protection teacher’s job goes beyond the basic information the children will be told at school to not give out personal information, to keep profiles private and to block and report any suspicious activity. Self-protection teachers study the behaviour of antagonistic individuals intent on pursuing physical abuse and should be teaching their students to be wary of the precursors to such behaviour. Cyberbullying is particularly pernacious to a youngster’s life based on the fact that children and teenagers cannot typically switch off from the bullies and leave them at school. Part of the behaviours we look to be installing in self-protection is the strength to take action and to teach children to not allow their online life to dictate their life in general.
My podcasts that focused on predatorial behaviours, “The Way of the Wolf” trilogy and “The Prince Charming Offensive”, describe a type of predator I call the Ant Spider. Like its animal namesake, the ant spider human predator integrates him or herself into the environment of their prey. Real ant spiders mimic ants in their look and some species even use their chemical trails, making them hard to detect. Likewise, the ant spider human predator will have a strong understanding of the youth culture they are targeting as their hunting ground. In the past typical examples of this would be the serial killer, Charles Schmid and murder cult guru, Charles Manson, who took advantage of the ’60s generation gap by becoming older figures of authority to rebellious or wayward teens. These days the virtual world is a potent hunting and esnaring device for the predator. Here they can help create fantasy situations and win the trust of youngsters before even meeting them face-to-face. Just as with cyberbullying, the online predator can manipulate their prey over a long distance, effectively abusing them online and then setting them up for a planned assault.
Reverse Stephen King
The fantasy and horror writer, Stephen King, once described the art of writing good sensationalist fiction was being able to move the reader from a relatable realistic world to the realm of absurdity without them realising how they ended up there. He said it was all in the stitching together of these two realities and the good writer could hide their stitches well. By contrast the world of game starts off with the user knowingly putting themselves into a fantasy virtual world. Before long they become immersed in this world. That is all part of the enjoyment in the same way readers get lost in books or viewers get lost in watching a film. However, the online predator has a strategy of using the realness of the virtual world to bring their prey into a dangerous situation outside. By winning their prey’s trust and grooming them with various activities coordinated through private messenging, they will eventually make the move to have the youngster meet them somewhere – just as they might do in an online game.
There is a lot to consider at this stage of training, but I believe this stage to be very much at the crux of teaching effective child self-protection.