Since the Amanda Todd tragedy, bullying has been a hot topic.
The 15-year-old Port Coquitlam girl committed suicide on Oct. 10 and was the victim of bullying and cyberbullying.
Most bullying victims may think that those old strategies like walking away or telling a teacher don’t often work and sometimes can make the bullying worse. It can seem to victims that there is little they can do to change their situation and so the abuse continues.
So what can victims do?
Shaku Family Martial Arts has created a course that is designed to help victims take control of the situation and allow them to deflect the attention.
Sifu Cathal Walsh, the chief instructor at Shaku, completed his certification in Verbal Defense and Influence Tactics with a special focus on Youth and Bullying.
Walsh will be offering a free informative and interactive workshop called The Bully Expert Sat., Nov. 3 in Ladysmith.
As a former principal, Walsh knows how common bullying is and how damaging it can be to a child’s self-esteem.
He wants to provide victims with the tools to stop the harassment without violence or escalating the situation
“You can avoid it, but you’re not going to stop it unless you neutralize what the bullies are doing, or else you are going to be continually subjected,” explained Walsh. “The purpose of this training is to empower kids to have another option than just walking away and to actually engage the bully to address the situation.”
Most bullying policies place the responsibility upon teachers and authority figures to stop it. But kids need to learn how to take charge of the situation because that is a more effective method to stop their victimization.
“On the front lines is where attention needs to be given. Not just for children to have options, but for authority figures as well. They need to empower kids to have confidence and training,” explained Walsh. “[It is ] teaching children how to represent themselves and understand how their voice and body language relate to the perception of themselves to potential victims. They have control over how people perceive them and react to them.”
The techniques taught in this workshop are the same ones that law officials use when facing verbal assault from criminals. While this course is targeted to seven- to 12-year-olds, Walsh says anyone can benefit from these strategies.
“The scenarios are not any different for kids and adults. The strategy doesn’t change, and the strategies are pretty strong with this approach. The challenge is to get kids to practise it enough so that it becomes second nature,” he said.
The workshop takes place Nov. 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and while it is free, pre-registration is required. Parents are requested to attend with their children.
Shaku Family Material Arts is located at 25 High St.