RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Ethan Jenkins is spending his time off from school learning what to do when he sees the very worst of it.
“Fights, bullying,” Jenkins lists what he has witnessed.
The rising John Rolfe Middle School seventh grader is just one BullyProof camper at Bushin Martial Arts.
“The verbal standup against the bully, the eye contact, the strong voice and walk with pride,” Mike Nguyen, a class instructor, explains the skills kids strengthen and can use anywhere bullying happens.
If there is a physical attack, non-violent Gracie Jiu-Jitsu techniques can keep it from getting out of control. Kids also learn to take a stand against verbal harassment, which often has more damaging, lasting effects.
DoSomething.org estimates 3.2 million students are bullied at school every year. It can lead to a loss in class time and self-confidence for many of them.
“I think every child needs to be able to have the confidence to defend what’s theirs, their personal space, their piece of mind and to tell bullies that’s not acceptable today,” says Kevin Basinet.
Basinet’s 10-year-old daughter Vivian has not experienced bullying at St. Mary’s, but she still values this education.
“Sometimes small things might happen,” she explains. “It’s just a lot of great things to know during school.”
The camp focuses on increased awareness to help kids differentiate between joking and bullying. They develop unshakable confidence so they are not easy targets. Also, the kids learn to take total responsibility for their actions and to deal with bullies without becoming one and abusing their power.
“Just the progression from the first day to the second day to the third day,” Nguyen observes. “The confidence level definitely increases.”
Jenkins’ mom Suzanne, who watches from the sidelines, already notices a difference.
“He seems like a happy kid. He’s confident. Sometimes kids are mean. They snap at each other and those types of things, but he always takes it in stride and handles it beautifully.”
Cyber-bullying has increased in recent years. The group i-SAFE Inc. found one in three students has been a target on social media or a text message. Parents can help prevent it by only allowing computer use in a busy area of the home. They can also routinely go over friends and followers lists on social media and know who each contact is.