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May 1, 2013 / mommylok

Be an Upstander, not a Bystander – Bullying Stinks

All school year, my kids’ K-6 elementary school has been focusing on an anti-bully campaign where the kids are taught to be an upstander, not a bystander (amongst other important things).  Of course I thought it was great messaging but the significance of it didn’t really hit me until it was personal with one of my children.

Earlier this school year, my son came home and told me that he was punched in the stomach.  You can only imagine how I felt.  But what made it slightly worse was that it was another peer, a boy the same age as my son (in first grade!) that did this to him.  After speaking with the school’s administrators, I found out that this boy has a tendency towards aggressive behavior and appropriate actions were taken with both the boy and his parents.  I am just very thankful that between the messaging my son’s received at school and his own delicate demeanor, he didn’t retaliate with violence.

Fast forward to more recent weeks, my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop had to rearrange some of their meeting agendas to fit in a special session on bullying because of an incident that some of the girls encountered at school.  These are girls 8-9 years old, and the cattiness that you sometimes associate with pre-teen and teen girls is now sadly quite visible in the younger age group.  I’m happy and proud to say that the girls in the troop that were affected by this incident stood up for their friends but because of it, their other so-called friends are no longer speaking with them.  I can imagine how difficult it is to stand up to your peers; no one wants to lose “friends”, even if they were true friends to begin with.

After one of the Girl Scouts troop leaders informed me of this situation, it sparked an idea.  My children recently started taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes at Gracie Barra Long Island in New Hyde Park.  From reading the school’s website, I saw that Professor Joe Scarola (Head Instructor and President) and his instructors have hosted Anti-Bully Seminars for local youth in the past.  I approached Professor Scarola and inquired about a session for my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop.  It was perfect timing because of the special session the girls just had in one of their regular meetings.  He graciously offered to host the seminar for the girls and responded, “I love teaching them (the kids).  I think it’s really important for kids to learn how to deal with bullies.”

It’s pretty awesome that not only when you join Gracie Barra Long Island do you learn self-defense and other important life skills through their classes, but you’re really joining a family.  From what I’ve seen so far, Professor Scarola and his instructors truly care about their students and kids all around.

The seminar is next week – I hope to free up my schedule so I can attend and report back on what the girls will be taught.  I also hope to take away some personal messages myself so I can instill these in my children through everyday parenting.  Keep posted!

To read about Gracie Barra Long Island, its principles and programs they offer, please visit their website:



Leave a Comment
  1. biculturalmama / May 1 2013 1:21 PM

    So sad your kids had to experience bullying…I dread the day it happens to my preschooler one day. You handled things so well, especially by proposing a solution to teach the kids about anti-bullying. You are teaching your kids well!

  2. mommylok / May 1 2013 1:38 PM

    Thank you. I appreciate the kind words and hope that your daughter will never experience it!

  3. Petite Brooklyn Mom / May 8 2013 6:43 AM

    It’s amazing the amount of bullying that goes on in elementary school; not just physical, but also verbal bullying. What’s worst is sometimes the staff ignores it as “children just being children” or “rough playing”. There are signs everywhere around school for the kids to learn about bullying and to report bullying if you see them. Maybe they should start with the school staff.

    It’s wonderful that you took a terrible situation and turned it into a learning experience for your kids and the community.


  1. Great Article From Our GB Mom | Gracie Barra Long Island Martial Arts School - Jiu-Jitsu for everyone - Master Carlos Gracie Jr. - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  2. Gracie Barra Instructors Teach Anti-Bully Messaging to Girl Scouts | mommy+lok=mommylok, that's me!

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