School Security Protocols
A plan for protecting the most vulnerable
“Make your choices before you have no choice.” – Ernest Emerson
What follows is a proposal I submitted to the administrators and faculty of several school districts near where I grew up. Needless to say, there were many in attendance who were for my suggestions and a number who were against all of my proposals. Although the latter were a small minority, they were certainly the loudest and most vocal. An interesting observation that I made about that crowd was that most of those protesting my ideas were young 20 to 30 somethings, both males and females, who had moved “up north” to get out of the big cities. And most of them were not long-term locals, whereas almost all of the supporters were locals who had ties or roots to the community and of course, the rural lifestyle. My school district still shuts down for deer season, and the teachers and administrators who were also hunters, both men and women, were much more receptive to my proposals and recommendations as were almost 100% of local law enforcement who were in attendance.
My services and analysis were volunteered and free of charge as a giveback from me because of my ties to my family home and community. I have included a portion of it here to give you something to consider regarding school safety protocols for any schools your children or grandchildren may be attending, or perhaps if you are an administrator, teacher, or member of a school board, to provide you with a few things to consider.
A plan for protecting the most vulnerable
I have consulted and presented security protocols to various government agencies, military units and a number of schools. In terms of providing information and advice regarding the protection and safety of individuals, especially children, I am 100% apolitical – it is a moral imperative and is the only way that security protocols can be objectively assessed and correctly applied to be the most effective remedy to a potential threat or dangerous violent event.
I have read with much interest, the comments by various school administrators in the recent (Name and location withheld at their request). Although I am very pleased that there's an ongoing discussion taking place regarding measures being taken by the schools, and the debate concerning the pros and cons of different protocol proposals, I am at the same time, dismayed by the positions taken by some of the various administrators in regard to school safety and preparedness. While on one hand saying that it is a comprehensive solution that needs to be applied, using all available resources and methodologies, I also see that there are a number of things that are either being overlooked, ignored, actively discounted, or dismissed.
To be intellectually honest about being truly comprehensive, you must be willing to consider all of the options that need to be discussed and need to be considered to protect the safety and welfare of our children. Let me be clear that in order to ensure the best result, the only acceptable result, there can be no personal bias or any type of political agenda allowed to creep into a decision-making process that should be 100% objective and only concerned with what are the most effective protocols.
To cut to the chase, someone suggested increased awareness of mental health issues, I saw a mention of the Alice protocol and working with several law enforcement agencies, that's good, along with other preventative security measures. All of these ideas are good things, however when you are designing a security system you need to cover all possible scenarios along with all possible countermeasures.
I'm going to list some things that can be put into place immediately, and with little to no expense to the community or the school system. Things that have been proven to be effective in saving lives and reducing the damage inflicted by active shooters. In fact, if you ask nicely, local businesses and parents may be able to contribute or perhaps donate most of the items or services for free, in order to put these things into place should you choose to do so.
In designing a security system, its protocols and countermeasures, certain procedures must be identified and then followed. The first step is to define the nature of probable threats and then the methods or means by which an attack may be carried out. In this case, rather than a car bomb or a multifaceted attack, it is most likely to be a lone attacker with a firearm(s), though bearing in mind that Columbine involved more than one attacker.
The next step is to assess the assets or efforts that you currently have in place as your security program and identify and assess any shortfalls or weaknesses you have in your system. Often this is done by reviewing prior, historical attacks of a similar nature and “gaming out” the system by having multiple individuals analyze how they would get through that system if they were the attacker. They should consider things such as; what would be the optimum time or opportunity to attack, for the least security and the most casualties? Where are the “blind spots”? Where and how would I approach the target? Don’t leave out sporting events, school social functions and assemblies, etc. This analysis is called Target Profile Analysis, or TPA. When you think like an attacker you start to “see” things from the other side of the fence.
The next step is to set a list of priorities that will address the weaknesses or holes in your system. These priorities will be defined by a combination of the following questions which allows you to assign their priority values.
- Is there a current or imminent threat?
- What is/are the most likely attack scenarios?
- What are the weakest points in the system or current coverage?
- What are the easiest and most immediate things that can be done right now?
These assessments will define your prioritized list of actionable items and a plan which can then be put into motion to achieve the desired end state. What will also become self-evident in this analysis, if you are doing it correctly and thoroughly, are the things that must be done, the things that should be done, and the things that cannot be done.
- All local responding agencies need to have immediately available to them, both online and as hard copies, detailed building plans, campus maps, and aerial (birds-eye) photographs of all schools and school facilities. Ground-level photos are also very useful.
- Responding agencies and/or the schools must have an onsite real-time security camera system that can be readily accessed via the internet by all responsible agencies. Every approach to an entrance should have a security camera, not just aimed at the door to see who is already there, but also aimed at the approach to the door so you can see who is coming, and also across any parking areas to observe any suspicious activity before the subjects would enter the school grounds proper. These cameras would need to be live monitored and not merely used to record for viewing after the fact. All the relevant agencies should have access to the passwords and to the system via the internet, so that they could be notified and view in real-time, what the cameras are picking up.
- Schools or responsible agencies should have a remote-controlled drone available with live feed camera capabilities for “eyes in the sky” in the event of an emergency – any emergency where access has been compromised.
- All schoolrooms should be equipped with rechargeable two-way radios, preset and also clearly marked with a channel that would be used in the event of an active shooter, to communicate to responders with information in real-time regarding location, shooter whereabouts, and casualty information to enable medical responders and law enforcement to better prepare and deal with the unfolding events.
- All classrooms should be equipped with the ability to mechanically barricade the door to the room. Do not ever rely on the lock. Anyone who has breached a doorway knows the weakness of lock security. There are a number of mechanical devices available that can quickly prevent a door from being able to swing open. Even some simple wedges kicked in under the bottom of a door can be quite effective.
- Not knowing the layout or structure of your school it goes without saying that every room in every multi-story structure should have collapsible or emergency ladders for egress during any emergency, particularly fires. Even a knotted rope that can be secured to an anchor point can suffice if nothing else is available but something has to be available prior to the actual need.
- Again, not knowing your layout, but having worked in many similar environments, many schools have walkways or corridors that run adjacent to the classrooms, and many classrooms have windows that face these corridors. If that is the case at your facility, you need to provide, in every classroom, a curtain, blinds, or drapery system that can be immediately deployed to prevent anyone outside the room from seeing in. Do not forget to include any windows in the doors. You need to be able to effectively “cloak” the room by just pulling a loop or cutting a cord. It is a fact that no active shooter ever shoots what he cannot see.
- In regard to responding agencies, you must establish an absolute worst-case scenario for their time to arrive on the scene. Believe me, when establishing legitimate security protocols, average response times are useless. When something happens it is never “average”. Establish a response time based on this: All units, both sheriff and police are at the furthest limits of their jurisdiction. In other words, all units are as far away from the school as they could possibly be, and you might also factor in adverse weather conditions. Then how long does it take for the first unit to arrive on scene? That is your real response time, and in terms of preparation, it is the minimal time that the teachers and students need to be prepared to be “on their own”. Now, prepare to face this fact, in every active shooter case, all the destruction, mayhem and deaths, whether it was three killed or thirty killed, occur in just the short amount of time from the onset of the attack until armed forces arrive on the scene. All the horrific events and deaths occur in just a matter of minutes, almost always within the first 10 minutes of an attack – almost every time. That is all the time needed for a shooter to kill as many people as he can.
- All teachers and faculty should have an ongoing educational process where they are educated and informed about what happens to human beings (them), both physiologically and psychologically in the incredible stress and chaos of a combat environment. You have to face the fact that an active shooter on campus is a combat environment. This educational process is part of what is called Stress Inoculation and it helps prevent the resultant fugue state or the “deer in the headlights” reaction, which is never good but always a possible and likely response that will be the reaction unfortunately, of a surprising number of individuals.
Also, this educational process should include a “get to know your enemy” evolution. All attacks follow a process, all attacks have certain commonalities, and all attackers exhibit certain behavioral patterns that occur over and over again in almost all mass shootings. Learning these processes, characteristics and patterns, which surprisingly are the same for the hardened terrorist as they are for a 13-year-old with a gun, are needed to be able to much better predict and counter an attacker's “next moves”. Here is just one example. Many times an attacker will run right by individuals in plain sight, caught up in chasing those who are fleeing, because a predatory response has been triggered, just like it would be in a bear.
- It is also critical when creating any security protocol that no personal, ideological, social bias, or political ideologies are allowed to have a role in the decision-making process. Much as a coach scouts an opposing team to form a game plan needed to counter the other team's strengths and to exploit their weaknesses, it is exactly the same process in this case. The game plan is based on facts, it is based on the opposing team that you will be facing on the field, not on how the coach feels, what the coach likes or dislikes, not on what the opposing team thinks of him, and certainly not on what the fans want him to do. “Just the cold hard facts ma’am,” as Joe Friday would say.
So here are some cold hard facts in regard to the safety of your loved ones, our innocent children. I am going to assume that you do not want to base your plan on idealism, ideology, political bias or the way you want things to be. I assume any rational person would not. Why? Because there is a huge difference between the ways we think things should be, the way we want things to be, and the way things really are. In regard to the moral imperative of protecting innocent people, that would be an act of inviting failure into the equation and that will be a fatal mistake in the only realm you or I can hope to directly and immediately affect.
It is a cold hard fact that if someone decides to attack a school, it will be with a firearm. Could it be a bomb, chemical or biological? Of course, but very unlikely.
It is a cold hard fact that any shooter continues to shoot at-will until he is confronted with active countermeasures, if his weapon malfunctions or he runs out of ammunition.
It is a cold hard fact when an active shooter is confronted by an armed response, further targeting and killing of innocent victims stops. That is because the bad guy must now react to a threat that has presented itself against him.
It is a cold hard fact that the individuals who commit these crimes of mayhem and destruction, are resigned to die during or at the conclusion of their act. They either commit suicide or are killed by armed responders. It is then also a fact that the tool used every time to stop a school massacre is a gun.
It is a cold, hard fact that outside of turning our schools into something akin to a secured compound like a state prison, a highly motivated, determined individual will be able to gain access to a school. They will have a gun, and they will be able to shoot until they are stopped by a gun.
You can march against guns, you can have gun-free zones, you can enact legislation to ban guns, all of these acts are merely, “feel good” measures. They make you feel good, feel secure, feel like you’ve done your best, all well and good for the idealist. Not for the realist and not good for the innocent children who are killed. A convicted felon cannot own a gun. Anyone convicted of domestic violence cannot own a gun, yet felons still manage to get a gun to use in the commission of their crimes and how many women are killed each year by husbands that they had restraining orders against? Way too many. Quite simply, rules do not stop those who break the rules. Rules are not a security system.
We trust our teachers. We trust them enough that we give our children over to them and their shepherding and mentoring every day for almost 12 consecutive years. We also ask of them and expect them to keep our children safe while they are in their charge and when it really comes down to brass tacks, it is implied that we really expect them to step into harm's way to protect our children against an armed assailant, while at the same time, many expect them to do so being unarmed. That unfortunately has already happened too many times, and that indeed is a lot to ask.
A security system or protocol is designed to do three things: prevent an attack, mitigate the damage of an attack, and stop an attack. Those three goals are the same for any potential target, from a military base or installation to a grade school. Saying that guns should not be employed as an option to protect a target, in this case a school, when you are guaranteed that the attacker will be armed with a gun is like only putting a roof on half of your house and then wondering how water got in when it rained.
I can almost guarantee that no law enforcement team will be able to respond and confront an armed intruder in less than five minutes. An individual bent on destruction can kill dozens of children in less time than it takes to read this article. Yet many times, teachers have confronted shooters within the first two or three minutes of an attack only to be gunned down because the only weapon they had with them was their courage. In spite of this, their selfless actions have saved others by perhaps buying time for them to escape, or the opportunity to move to cover. Yet, after their deaths, the rampage would then continue until, as I have already pointed out, the assailant starts facing rounds being fired back at him.
In terms of the timeline, I always ask this question. Which outcome would be better? One where a shooter is stopped at one minute or stopped at ten minutes into an attack?
One is then faced with the argument about engaging in a gunfight when there are innocent bystanders around that may be struck by a stray round. That is a legitimate concern. The answer to that argument is a question. What do you think happens when the police arrive on scene? Unless the killer immediately shoots himself, there is a gunfight. There are stray rounds, and those innocent bystanders are all still right there in the thick of it. But police officers are trained to shoot, trained to be able to shoot at someone who's shooting back, right? I've taught at a number of the premier shooting schools in the world. I've trained hundreds if not thousands of officers in tactical operations and shooting skills, and I can tell you this. With all due respect to those involved, when the lead starts flying, most of those police officers shoot no better than the average citizen who only has a minimum of firearms training. In order to fathom this, you, the reader, need to understand two things. First, you need to understand how a human being reacts to the danger and stress of extreme violence, and number two, you have to see how they react with your own eyes. I know both, and what I've just said is a cold hard fact.
It is only the individual who practices his skills under stress in real-time active scenario training that gives that individual the ability to better deal in those environments. Not many departments or individuals take the time or have the money to engage in such training. That is also a cold, hard fact. Believe me. I have both taught and trained with the most elite and best trained gunfighters in the world, from LAPD SWAT to SEAL Teams and they will all tell you exactly the same thing.
Arming teachers is a real and viable option, knowing firsthand that they will actually perform as well as the average police officer. Again, no disrespect, just firsthand experience talking here. But there are some caveats. You would never ask any individual (teacher or administrator) to be armed if they did not want to be or if they had a hesitation or fear regarding firearms. You would ask only those who would volunteer to do so, and then no matter what level of skill or expertise that individual may already possess, they would be required to undergo a prescribed number of hours in standard firearm safety and use. Then, this would need to be reinforced with a minimum of at least a once-a-year refresher course. That's the same amount of training that most police officers are expected to do. And for those of you who might be saying, “Oh my God, this is crazy. Guns on campus?!” Well, there are already a number of such programs in place in many schools throughout the U.S., and even after several years of implementation, there have been no “firearms accidents” at any of those schools. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but it has not happened yet.
Or, as an alternate, your school could hire and have in place armed security. If budgets are not available then perhaps you could enlist volunteers from retired law enforcement, or of course qualified and vetted military veterans, an option already being visited by some schools. Many schools in the Los Angeles area have LAPD officers stationed permanently at the schools. They all have guns, and they will all engage in a gun fight with an active shooter, despite the presence of innocent bystanders, if a bad guy decides to mount an attack. They know the risk and the consequences of not engaging. They know that the shooter must be taken down as quickly as possible despite potential collateral damage. They know the terrible difference that even a matter of seconds can make in terms of casualty count.
As I've discussed in this article, there are many things and many more that can be done to harden what has always been considered a soft target: our children in our schools. We need to do all the things that we can do to prevent that from being the case.
For those of you that naively think that “it couldn't happen here,” I'll tell you a little-known story. I worked with a group that way back in the 1980s uncovered a plot by a Middle Eastern terrorist organization to simultaneously attack Friday night basketball games in at least 12 small towns in the American Midwest. The bad guys knew that they could enter the gyms without opposition, block the doors, and armed with deer rifles and pistols kill as many as possible. Intel found that they planned that they could kill 50 to 60 people before they ran out of ammo, and that it would only take five minutes to do so. They knew there would be no security (no guns), and that small-town police departments would not be able to respond in time. They also knew that it would strike a dagger deep into the heart of America, both by killing our children and also by striking us where we always thought we were the safest: the heartland of America. I know that Spooner, Shell Lake and Minong were not on their list, but they very well could have been. Luckily, the bad guys were stopped and neutralized before they could go active.
Every secure facility, including some schools, that I’ve worked with have been protected by armed security, of course along with other security measures available. It was always an eye-opening realization for every non-secured facility that when shown the real facts and timelines, the choice of being on your own until an armed force arrived was never a viable or acceptable option. Armed security when adopted and put in place was always the most effective line of defense.
Bullying – Causes and Countermeasures
“If you choose to permit bad behavior – You’ll just get more bad behavior.”
Although this chapter does not relate directly to the subject of this book, I have decided to include it as a bonus. During the revision of the original book, “Bad Guy with a Gun,” this work evolved into a more comprehensive study of personal safety and how to prepare for and counter-violence when directed toward you, your loved ones, or other innocents. As a result, I decided to include materials on home security and school security. Since this has been all about keeping you and your family safe, I have deemed the following information also valuable, on the subject of bullying, in regard to ensuring the safety and well-being of all of our children.
The act of bullying is a subject of human behavior against which I have long labored. I was a victim of bullying as a child and I have a very deep-rooted aversion to it, a hatred of it, may be the more proper words. I will not tolerate it ever, in children, in adults, and in any situation. I have spent quite some time developing a treatise, a set of descriptions and guidelines and some countermeasures that I have learned, and in turn lectured about and have taught over the years.
What I have done here is put down on paper the ideas, data, and basic format of the program that I have used for years. A lot of it is what would be considered information for an awareness presentation to the adults, school administrators or parents.
I believe that many of you are already aware of many of the points discussed in this paper. As to the physical techniques, I leave that to you, whether you teach fighting skills or enroll your children in a martial arts school or club. Of course, I can recommend some things for physical countermeasures. But understand that a lot of what is written here has been woven into my instructional doctrine over the years.
For facts and statistics, I rely heavily on the work by one of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of bullying – Mr. Dan Olweus. His findings and conclusions are based on the results of the study of thousands of children over many years and it crosses over ethnic and socio-economic differences. It may surprise some to note that there is no more bullying in any defined class. It is the same percentages and numbers in ultra-rich boarding schools as it is in hardcore, poverty-stricken, urban, inner-city ghettos.
Mr. Olweus’ work is considered the bible in the field, and I have used his data and insight extensively in my presentations and, consequently, in this chapter.
I hope that this may provide some direction or inspiration for you to start your own presentations, anti-bullying education or training regimens.
Bullying – Causes and Countermeasures
What can we do about bullying?
- To reduce or (eliminate) both direct bullying, open physical and verbal attacks and indirect bullying (social isolation, confidence reduction).
- To achieve better peer relations at school.
- To create conditions that enable victims and bullies to function better in and out of the school setting.
Preventative measures operate on several levels.
- The school
- The classroom
- The bully
- The Victim
- The parents
Results have shown That schools and parents who have taken these preventative measures have succeeded in reducing the incidence of bullying (repeated events) and that the children/students themselves when asked, state that there are fewer cases of bullying overall than previously.
What is bullying?
A general definition is as follows; Bullying: An individual (student) is being bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more individuals or other students. Negative actions can be physical, verbal or social, or any combination of all three types or categories.
The term bullying should not be applied when differences arise between two students of the same relative size, strength, (psychological or physical) and the same relative social status, among peers. To be defined as bullying there needs to be an asymmetrical power relationship – an imbalance in strength. The victim has difficulty defending Him /Herself and is somewhat helpless against the student or students carrying out the harassment.
The number of students bullied in grades 2-6 (11.6 percent) is approximately twice as high as that in grades 7- 9 (5.4 percent). It is the younger and weaker students who are most exposed and at a greater risk to be the victim of bullying. A considerable part of the bullying being carried out on these younger students is carried out by older students, (About 50 percent). It is important also to be aware that bullying is not just boys to boys or girls to girls but that it crosses over boys to girls and girls to boys in significant amounts of incidents.
Where does bullying take place?
Contrary to the popular belief (influenced by movies and TV) that bullying occurs either going to or from school, the school is without doubt where most bullying occurs. However when students were bullied while traveling to or from school, that is where the victims report that they feel the most alone and without help.
In most cases the parents of both the victims and bullies, especially the bullies, were also parents who were the most unaware of the “bully” problem and the least likely to have talked to their children about the subject of bullying. And, in terms of supervision at schools, both the student-teacher ratio and the importance of the teachers attitudes toward the bully/victim problems and their reaction and actions to bullying situations were of major significance to the extent of bully/victim problems in the school or classroom.
Who Is The Victim?
Typical victims are; more anxious, less assertive and more insecure. They are often cautious sensitive and quiet. They often react to attacks by crying and withdrawal. They often suffer from low self-esteem and often look upon themselves as failures, feel stupid, ashamed or unattractive. They often have a negative attitude toward violence and the use of violent means. In boys they are often physically weaker than other boys. These victims can be characterized as having an anxious or submissive reaction pattern combined with physical weakness.
In general you could categorize them as a passive or submissive victim. It is important to understand that this behaviour (passive/submissive) signals to others that they are insecure, timid and non-aggressive individuals who will not retaliate if they are attacked or insulted. It is also interesting to note that in this group were boys who had closer contact with their mothers than with their fathers and that the over-protectiveness of the mothers relationships had a factor both as a cause and consequence of bullying.
Who is the bully?
The most distinctive characteristic of the typical bully is their aggression toward peers. But they tend to also be aggressive towards adults as well, both parents and teachers. They have little empathy towards or with their victims. And contrary to common belief they have an internal, positive view of themselves as opposed to the “tough on the outside, insecure on the inside,” view that is so commonly espoused.
There are also the passive bullies, the minions, followers or supporters of the leader. These individuals while possessing many of the same traits as their “leader” do possess some insecurities and self-esteem issues. The lead bully does not suffer from low self-esteem and is generally physically stronger or larger than his followers or henchmen, the passive bullies. The general contrast between the two groups, Bully and Victim can be generalized as the following;
Bully-aggressive reaction pattern combined with physical strength/dominance.
Victims-submissive reaction pattern combined with physical weakness/diminutive physical size or nature.
The bully has a strong need for power and dominance and enjoys being in control by subduing others. To the bully from his own internal view these attributes and the result of their implication provide a reward in the form of prestige. It has been found that bullying is more often found in conjunction with other overt anti-social and rule-breaking behavior. It is further shown that these individuals are far more likely to be at risk for later engaging in other behaviors such as criminality and alcohol/substance abuse. Approximately 60 percent of bullies in grades 6-9 had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 14.
Identifying Your Child–Bully or Victim?
Signs of A victim
- Child is often teased (in a nasty way) called names or ridiculed.
- Child is made fun of and often given a derogatory nickname.
- Child is picked on physically, shoved, punched or kicked.
- Child has books, money or belongings taken, damaged or scattered around, often explained (covered up) as being lost.
- Child has bruises, cuts or other injuries that cannot be naturally explained, often in conjunction with torn clothes.
- Child does not seem to have one or two good friends (best friends)
- Child appears afraid or reluctant to go to school in the morning often having repeated headaches or stomach aches- especially in the morning.
- Child may choose a different route for going to school or choose to arrive right before the morning bell.
- Child has interrupted or restless sleep, bad dreams or may cry in their sleep.
- Child may ask masked questions; “Is it ok to…? What should a person do if…? Or describe a scenario involving “other” kids and what “they” are dealing with.
- Child may lose interest in school, after-school activities, schoolwork or get lower grades.
Signs of a Bully
- Child may be physically larger and /or stronger than peers of the same age.
- Child may have strong need to dominate and subdue other children to, “get their way.”
- Child may be hot-tempered, easily angered, impulsive, have low tolerance for frustration have difficulty conforming to rules, and may engage in cheating to “win.”
- Child may be oppositional, defiant, and aggressive toward adults including teachers and parents and are often good at talking their way out of “difficult situations.”
- Child is seen as being tough, hardened and shows no empathy for other children.
- Child is not anxious or insecure and typically has a positive view of themselves (average or above-average self-esteem)
- Child may engage at an early age (compared to their peer group) in anti-social behavior, stealing, vandalism, drinking and associating with “bad companions.”
- Child may be average student in regard to grades in elementary school, but grades and performances usually decline in junior high, often exhibiting a negative attitude toward school.
As discussed earlier, victims as a whole clearly have less than average physical strength. Bullies on the other hand are often physically stronger and larger than victims. However, not all strong boys are bullies. Most larger and stronger boys are not bullies. But characteristically, physical size and strength when combined with an aggressive reaction pattern is common in almost all typical bullies. Correspondingly, as previously mentioned, a victim is usually characterized by a combination of an anxious reaction pattern along with physical weakness. Conversely, physical strength gives a potential victim the means of defending himself and thus does function as good protection and effective deterrent against bullying and victimization.
What Are Your Rights?
Having a “guaranteed right” on paper does not guarantee its existence in real life. To secure that right, it must be fought for and once secured it must be maintained by a vigorous and ongoing defense of its existence. The bully in this case, does not care about “guaranteed rights,” he just doesn’t.
The scorpion and the frog
The story of the scorpion and the frog best illustrates it. A scorpion comes to a stream and cannot swim across it. Seeing a frog, he asks for help. “Can you carry me across on your back?” The frog replies, “No way, you’re a scorpion, you’ll sting me.” The scorpion promises not to sting the frog and the frog finally relents and allows the scorpion onto his back. The frog swims across the steam and as they reach the dry land on the other side, the scorpion strikes the frog with his stinger. As the frog lies dying on the ground he asks, “Why did you sting me? You promised not to.” The scorpion simply looks back and replies, “I don’t know, I’m a scorpion.”
Your children’s rights, in this case are the ones you must defend. And at times, this requires a little personal courage on the part of the parent, even at the risk of being labeled, “one of those parents.” You must speak up and speak out when you become aware of bullying against your own child or any other children. Would I defend and protect my own child, any child, at the risk of being labeled with some stupid social stigma? In a heartbeat! Do I, should you, care for one instant what some other parent or their peers thinks about me or you for doing the right thing? Not for one second! Your Child’s welfare is the only thing that should matter.
Yet, there are many parents who will not, “embarrass” themselves at the “cost” of protecting or defending the rights of their own child.
What are those rights? Very simply they are this; no child should ever have to be afraid of going to school, of being on the playground or among their peers for fear of being harassed, humiliated, or degraded, and correspondingly no parent should need to worry about any of these things happening to their child!
It does not require much imagination to understand the effects of going through the school years in a state of more or less permanent anxiety and insecurity and with poor self-esteem and little hope of relief or rescue. In some cases this downward spiral of exasperation, fear and hopelessness becomes so overwhelming that it has driven the most vulnerable to seeing suicide as the only possible solution.
It is highly imperative to counteract the bullies behavior at the earliest possible discovery or the best moment for interdiction. As previously stated bullies are far more likely to continue on an ever-increasing pattern of anti-social behavior. It is essential that this behavior be stopped or redirected to “break the pattern” that is being constantly reinforced and developed by the bully. There is no evidence that suggests that a “tolerant” and permissive attitude by adults helps these children outgrow their anti-social behavior patterns but in almost all cases contributes to the problem by not inducing consequences to bad behavior and becomes tacit approval of such. In fact, research has shown that these same bullies carry this behavior forward into adulthood.
At the same time, individuals who are the victims of bullying can be given tools, both educational and physical, that can remove them from the radar screen of bullies as they search for their next victim. These tools can include a good and ongoing parent/child discourse about the subject of bullying and further discussions to break the stigma of being labeled a ‘’tattle tale” if they report bullying against either themselves or others to parents or school authorities. By instilling the idea that they are doing the right thing morally and ethically by protecting themselves and others from being bullied by reporting it can be stressed that they are being heroic and showing courage by coming forth in reporting such behavior.
The same openness and involvement with the parents can alert you to the fact that your child may be being victimized. If you are not aware, then your child is truly alone against the bully. By being aware if your child is being bullied you can step-in to alert school authorities or even law enforcement if necessary. Too many times, too late, parents are heard saying. ‘I did not know anything was going on.”
Physical training is also a definite factor in creating a non-victim child. Children that engage in sports become more assertive, more daring and develop an athleticism that deters bullies from seeing them as an easy target. And, contrary to what many sensitive, passive or politically correct parents may think, physical retaliation is the greatest deterrent against bullying. But being aware that almost all schools have a no violence or zero-tolerance stance in regard to “fighting,” this is often a difficult aspect to address.
Yet it has been proven that just like large physical size, the ability, and the willingness to “fight back,” is one of the best and most effective countermeasures against bullying.
Children that take boxing, karate, Judo or Jiu-Jitsu learn skills that will not only protect them if attacked but often will deter an attack because the bully has merely heard that this child knows how and will fight back if provoked. Even a child who is forced against their will to take martial arts classes will benefit once it becomes known to others (the bad guys) that they are training in martial arts. Once a child becomes convinced that they are not helpless, that they can defend themselves (whether they actually can or can’t) and that they have now taken a pro-active role in their own defense and protection, it translates to an aura that they exude, and that aura will most often prevent attacks without ever any need for actual physical action. Remember that bullies are no more than a predator in the predator/prey relationship. If there is any doubt in the bully’s mind for any of the above reasons, just like a predator, they will move on to an easier target. So, the old scenario, “Son put on these boxing gloves. I’m going to teach you how to defend yourself” has been proven to be one of the most effective countermeasures to bullying on a number of effective levels.
In the end to effectively deal with the bullying problem there must be cooperation on various levels from the schools, the parents, and the child. Noninvolvement or worse, non-cooperation, (denial) by any of the three makes solving the problem much more difficult. And if both the school and the parent refuse to become involved unfortunately, sometimes the results are disastrous (Columbine or child suicide).
Schools may indeed hide behind the (it sounds good) zero-tolerance policy for bullying. But unfortunately, zero-tolerance is always after the fact and the fact is that bullying takes place at every school, every day regardless of the school’s policy. Most schools only become involved after the damage has already been done to the victims and often, almost always, after it has been going on for an awfully long time.
Rather than dealing with bullying in a proactive, preventative way, it is just easier to hide behind a zero-tolerance boilerplate and deal with bullies after they have committed their crime, often by expelling both the bully and the innocent victim who may have been pushed so far, that physical retaliation was their last resort.
That serves no one well and should not be tolerated within our school system. A victim of a bully is a victim of a crime, a criminal assault, no matter the age, and it is just as serious and psychosocially damaging as an adult being beaten and robbed in a baseball stadium parking lot. A victim is a victim whether they are four years old or forty and they should be treated as such with no penalty or repercussion for either reporting the abuse or standing up to it and defending themselves against it if necessary. We throw people in jail for abusing a dog. Shouldn’t we be as protective of the welfare and safety of our own children?
Thank you for this remarkable array of deeply researched and tested insights.
Hi! I agree 100% and would like to share this with my local administration. Can you email me a pdf?