Sensei Matt VonWolput from the Oak Ridge Martial Arts Academy shared his program called the “Done with Bullying” Seminar at the Milton United Methodist Church.

Children ages 4-5 were taught about bullying and what to if they were in a situation that involves a bully. The younger group was focused on emotions that come from the heart. Everything they learned related back to being both kind and caring in their actions. They learned how other people can show that they care – through actions such as sharing and apologizing.

Younger group aged 4-5. (Photo: Amanda Ventre)

In order to avoid situations with bullying, participants were taught a variety of strategies to use against a bully. One of these was to simply walk away. Participants then practiced this strategy of walking away and telling a trusted adult what was happening. Another strategy that was taught was to make friends with the bully. Sensei Matt said that sometimes all the bully needs is a little kindness in their life. Through making friends with the bully, there is hope that these actions will be reciprocated and the bullying will stop.

Older students, aged 6-12, were taught similar concepts but more expanded. They were taught that it takes a lot of practice to be able to stand up against a bully, because just like everything else, practice makes perfect. They were also focused on doing actions strictly out of love. They discussed feelings that are often associated with bullying, including fear, sadness, and anger. The group even lightly touched on the concept of self-harm when participants brought up experiences they faced within their own schools.

Older group aged 6-12. (Photo: Amanda Ventre)

This group was taught that a bully’s main goal is to see another react. They also defined what exactly bullying is. They were taught that bullying is a repeated action. This is different than if someone is mean only once which would not necessarily make them a bully.

A strong focus was on telling a trusted adult what is happening when being bullied. Students are often portrayed as “tattletales” or “cowards” if they seek help in these situations, but it is important to convey to children that this is not the case at any age. They were taught the same strategies as the younger group but were also taught an acronym: A.R.M. which stands for avoid, resolve, and manage.

The older group was concluded with a relation to the Bible. Sensei Matt related to Proverbs 15:18 which says that everyone should act out of love. Each person in attendance received roses before they left as a gift from the church.

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