Over the years I have had several ‘conversations’ with ‘school principals’ over the rights of a child to legally (and ethically) be able to defend themselves from physical assault …
Sure - I get it that schools have a ZERO FIGHTING/BULLYING POLICY - but there needs to be a clear distinction made between that and a ZERO SELF DEFENCE POLICY! The fact is that a ZERO SELF DEFENCE policy is a breach of human rights - as well as a policy that would stand clearly outside the scope of the law. The simple fact is that common law and legal defence trumps school policy.
If the assault was an emergent event, there is simply no time to go and call a teacher - if it was as easy as that, all assaults in the world could be prevented by just politely asking the criminal to wait, while we call the local police and solicit their assistance. The bottom line is this - we all have a legal and intrinsic human right to be able to ‘defend ourselves’ from physical violence.
The school policy of ‘zero tolerance for physical assault’ has already been breached when a child is assaulted by a bully - and that is where the civil right of being able to defend ourselves kicks in.
For those few school principles who do not understand this basic legal right, I ask the following: if they themselves were physically assaulted in their workplace, or in their own house, would they simply lay down and accept the assault or would they try to defend themselves? Any reasonable person already knows the answer to this question
The school has a duty of care to protect our children from physical assault on their premises. When they have neglected to take appropriate action, and students are forced to defend themselves, it raises certain legal questions? For this reason, it is good for parents of victims of bullying to keep records (written email to principles, etc) that show a history of what their child has had to deal with. This can be useful if it ever comes to charges being laid (against the school for example).
When a child does need to defend themselves against physical assault, the best possible strategies are grappling-based strategies. When the bully can be physically controlled without the need to resort to striking, this offers the best all-round solution. The two most salient reasons are these:
1. that the bully is less likely to want to physically assault the victim again after they have been physically controlled to the point of helplessness
2. through grappling and control-based strategies, the minimal amount of damage is inflicted upon the perpetrator (unlike striking-based strategies)
Simple questions for principles:
Are they saying it is against their policy for students to defend themselves?
Let’s be very very clear on this?
Because the answer might raise several legal arguments. All Australian citizens have a legal right to be able to defend themselves from physical assault.
Are they training all students in situational awareness to the point of providing the kind of capability that would allow students to report impending incidents? Because if they are not, how can they reasonably expect a student to report something that is ‘evolving’ so that a teacher can prevent the assault before it occurs?
The school might well have a zero tolerance for bullying policy, but so should each and every child. A clear distinction needs to be made between Zero Tolerance for Physical Assault - and Physical Strategies for Self Defence.
In my view, a principle who is incapable of making such a simple distinction , isn’t equipped to do his or her job.
John B Will
BJJ 6th Degree Black Belt
In part one, we saw some of the reasons why children will want to quit training BJJ. We know from a coaching perspective how hard once a child has made their mind up to not train any longer it can be to get them back on the mat.
Here are some strategies for you to try to get them back on track if you see the value in the training.
Firstly you should try to communicate with the coaching staff to let them know what is happening. This is important because the athlete may be close to being recognised for their time on the mat and their skill set by being awarded a stripe or belt. This may assist in correcting the course of the child. Communicating with the coaching staff may also give the coaches the opportunity to communicate directly with the athlete, find out what the challenges are and help them find their place again.
Forcing children to do something they don’t want to do is always a fine line to walk as you can make them resent what it is you are trying to achieve, so take that out of the equation straight away.
Depending on the age of the child teaching them about commitment and seeing things through until they are completed is the best way about change their attitude. ‘Quitters never win, and winners never quit!’ If we allow our children to just quit a sport because it is not cool, or because they want to try something new doesn’t teach the child about commitment. It also won’t teach them the importance of dealing with hardships either.
If they have the opportunity to quit when they want to then they will never understand what it is like to truly achieve a long-term goal.
Teaching children about consequences is very important. As the parent you will know your child better than any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach and if you have paid for a 12 month training schedule the child needs to understand that there is a cost involved should they quit. Remember earlier when I asked the question of who lets their child make the financial decisions for the family? Well if the child quits before the end of the obligation that they were committed to the parent still has to pay, it might not be on the remainder of the Jiu Jitsu membership but it will be in other forms.
Giving the child athlete some time off is not a dumb idea. The sport is very hard on the body and different to a normal fitness routine. The body is pushed and pulled, put in awkward positions and squashed. Everyone that participates in the sport get sore and it does not get easier. Taking a week off can be a good thing especially if the child is having a negative attitude towards the sport. In this time off take the time to sit and watch a Jiu Jitsu match on YouTube or show the child the clubs Facebook or Instagram page and see if they can find themselves in it. These things will enable the child to reconnect and keep the fire inside burning.
Meeting the child halfway can work in that you may suggest that they train once or twice a week as opposed to four or five. After one of the training sessions it may be an opportunity to take the child to their favourite restaurant or do something fun. This too will enable you to connect with the child and they understand that there is a ‘reward’ post training.
At the end of the day we all want to have strong, confident and resilient children that understand that quitting is never the best option. It is our job as parents to help them make the right decisions and understand consequences.
Reg is a first degree black belt that has travelled and trained extensively around Australia. He is a competitive black belt competing at the national and international level.
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