Rex sounds like a typical 10 year old. He loves Star Wars, playing video games and building with Legos. He is a fairly well-known and popular kid at school, and doesn’t have much history with bullying.
One day, a boy at school randomly tackled him in the morning, and Rex pushed him away. This boy seems to have gathered a group of boys throughout the day and planned to attack Rex later. About seven kids attacked him at recess, punching him in the face, holding him down and taking turns assaulting him. Teachers and supervisors were nowhere to be found. Rex suffered a concussion and had to stay home to recover for a couple weeks.
Rex has a history of training in martial arts from a young age, but surprisingly to some people when he was confronted with this attack he said that he was mostly focused on defending himself rather than fighting back aggressively. He had been afraid that if he fought back he would get in big trouble. He was also afraid to hurt the other kids. This isn’t too surprising. Kids who are bullied are often more sensitive, non-violent, and caring towards others compared to those doing the bullying who don’t seem to understand the seriousness of their violent actions.
Rex’s attitude towards the whole situation was incredibly mature and the strength of his character really shone through. His personal strength and development even at this young age is reflective of having great role models and education in his life. His martial arts training clearly prepared him for facing something like this mentally, and physically as well even if he didn’t succeed in ‘winning’ a 7-on-1 fight. He got through it and I think he’ll also get past it. It’s also a reflection of his home life, and parents. His mother, who I will be speaking with in another episode, has some very different and powerful views on these events and about her son.
He also had a lot to say about why he thought the attack happened. Even though the other kid instigated the attack – when Rex pushed him back he took this as a challenge and threat and blew things out of proportion to save his image as a ‘tough guy’ perhaps. This bully was clearly insecure about something, and was desperately trying to show dominance. As Rex said himself “Maybe he’s just having a rough time. They’re known as mean boys around school”.
Through this negative experience, Rex was still able to take away some positive lessons. Though he was disappointed he wasn’t able to handle the fight physically better, he is confident that he has the strength and endurance to make it through situations like this. This reduces his fear. He’s even got a good sense of mindfulness techniques to help him manage his emotions, which he learned through training in karate. He’s very much in touch with virtues like honesty, kindness and compassion and exhibited a lot of integrity through this situation.
He also had some advice for other kids who are experiencing bullying. Talking to their teacher and principle is important when things get physical or keep happening for a long time. But if it’s something verbal like name calling, then it’s not worth getting upset about and just ignoring it and walking away is the best thing to do. If kids see someone else who is being bullied or attacked – they should immediately go and tell an adult, and not just stand and watch like they did in his situation. It’s also a very nice thing to do to go and talk to someone who is being bullied, be nice to them and include them in your activities.
It’s important to understand that most of the time, the bullies are doing this because they feel scared, angry or frustrated and they are trying to make themselves feel better by making someone else feel worse. By ignoring them or refusing to become upset by them, they don’t get what they want. This is often easier said than done – there are so many emotions in the equation. It requires some training and techniques to be able to develop resilience to handle and manage these situations. Good emotional supports in the family, extracurricular activities like traditional martial arts, other artistic activities or team sports can help. Having a good peer group outside of school can become part of an important support network.