When we first started PFP in 2014 we thought we were in the athletic development business.
We found out after about 18 months that developing students athletically was the smaller, easier problem to solve. Build a positive and encouraging place that kids want to come to, with coaches who really care, and then stick to an evidence based training program proven to produce results.
Do this consistently 2-4 days a week during the “less busy” times of the year, find a way to come 1 day per week during the busier times of the year, and “VOILA!” you are consistently becoming stronger and faster.
Then it got REAL
We started to come across the big, nasty, REAL problems kids were facing. It did not take long for us to decide that we would be an organization that would tackle the neglected, harder to solve problems.
Among those problems was the little talked about problem of bullying.
Have you ever been bullied? I was…it was awful.
In middle school, despite being one of the “cool kids”, I was tormented by a group of 3 skater dudes for many months. I found myself making excuses to skip gym class (something I would NEVER do unless the pain was great enough) just to avoid their nasty words, their shoves, and their jabs.
Here are the statistics from multiple reputable sources:
- 1 in 4 teens are bullied
- 1 in 5 teens admits to being a bully or doing some “bullying”
- As many as 160,000 kids stay home on any given day to avoid bullying. 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school
- 43% of students fear harassment in the bathroom at school
- 43% of students have been bullied while online
- Every 30 minutes a teenager attempts suicide due to bullying. The leading cause of death among children under the age of 14 is suicide. Bullycide is the new term for suicide as a result of being bullied.
So it is no wonder we decided to respond to the calling we felt to help with this issue.
Bullying will likely never be stopped altogether because people will always be insecure, they will always seek ways to escape their own pain, and the feeling of being in power and in control is so, so intoxicating.
3 PROVEN SOLUTIONS
We have found these 3 things to be effective defenses against bullying:
1) empowering those who are or will be bullied
2) instilling them with mega-courage and confidence
3) filling kids with an ingredient called EMPATHY
These 3 preemptive and proactive solutions to bullying should be prioritized and taught every term in school.
1. Empowering- giving kids the power of knowing what to do and how to do it in those situations.
Giving them the power that comes from knowing who they are and the power of deciding in advance the truth about their worth and their value.
***This will not happen naturally. It must be an intentional act of coaching that comes from their teachers, coaches, and leaders.
Knowing and actually feeling the truth about who you really are, the strength you have readily available WITHIN you, and how much you have control over in life (a lot more than you know). These things can give you a feeling of strength to get through seasons of bullying.
2. Equipping them with mega-courage and confidence- courage is when you experience the feeling of fear but you act boldly in spite of that fear.
The fastest (but not necessarily the easiest) way to get through bullying is one act of courage at a time.
I’m not a proponent of getting physical with a bully unless it is to protect yourself from serious harm...
I am a proponent of being courageous→ knowing when courage means walking away, and when courage means standing up to them. One of the things I have always aimed to do as a coach is equip kids with the words to say and the actions to take when they are bullied (bullying can come from coaches or teachers too, not just peers).
3. Filled With Empathy- seeking to understand, TRULY understand that every single bully is in pain is critical to empowering those who are bullied.
Power and control changes hands immediately when the person who is being bullied really feels sorry for and compassion towards the bully.
This one takes time, but it is potentially the most freeing and effective.
Through stories, metaphors, real life examples, and other teaching modalities, we can get our young men and women to the point where, in the moment of being bullied, they can look into the eyes of the bully and say with empathy, “What are you going through in your own life that’s causing you so much pain that you have to take it out on people like me?”
Oftentimes it is the over-valuing of the opinions of others that leads to deeper effects of verbal bullying.
Please feel free to share this message. Let’s commit to the conversation today. That is step 1. Step 2 is applying the 3 solutions, which will take time and expertise but will be worth it.
Being empowered, equipped with courage, and empathetic towards others are 3 qualities that will come in handy not just during grade school, but for the rest of your child’s life.
Dedicated to making the world a safer place,
Coach Andrew Simpson and your PFP team