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Bullying and Me - ATA Leadership NOW

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– Alicia Jones, mother of 7-year-old Tyler Jones

From the article "ATA versus BULLIES" ATA World | Fall 2010

Bullying and Me

By Lucas Taekwon Lee

As a Korean-American growing up in the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., I experienced racism, discrimination and bullying from my peers. I was shy and suffered separation anxiety when I was away from my mother and father. The bullying in school fed my anxiety and often led to faked stomachaches and school absences. Instead of embracing who I was, I often resented my heritage, culture and appearance.

In the third grade, my parents encouraged me to do a Taekwondo demonstration for my class. After my presentation, although the bullying did not end completely, my peers began to respect me, and my confidence grew. But, instead of protecting less confident students, I became the one doing the bullying.

It wasn't until recently, when I went through the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, that I realized this is a common cycle in bullying. The great life skills that Songahm Taekwondo teaches – like confidence, self-respect and self-esteem – are important for children who are bullied, but only in combination with supportive teachers, instructors, parents and other adults.

I also learned that a lot of what I thought I knew about bullying is wrong. Teachers commonly tell students to ignore bullying behavior. Or worse, they blame children who are bullied for encouraging the problem or tattling.

We at ATA have come to understand that we can no longer ignore these problems. The truth is, a large percentage of children who bully grow up to commit crimes. More disturbing, children who are bullied are more prone to criminal activity and suicide. We believe it is imperative to face these issues correctly.

I am proud to be a part of the ATA 's bullying prevention research and development team and to be partnering with the Olweus program, which will teach us how to combat bullying child by child. It is our mission to teach the proper techniques to our students, instructors and families, which will result in safer, healthier and happier children–future leaders.

Lucas Taekwon Lee is a 5th Degree Black Belt, ATA Headquarters executive staff member and bullying prevention research and development team member.