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Tue, Dec. 10

Bully-Proof Program teaches kids to speak out

Brian Skinner, a teacher of Muay Thai kickboxing, mixed martial arts, boxing, grappling and other martial-arts oriented fitness classes, speaks to students at Lee Williams High School about bullying in January 2019. (Photo by Michael Chan/For The Miner)

Brian Skinner, a teacher of Muay Thai kickboxing, mixed martial arts, boxing, grappling and other martial-arts oriented fitness classes, speaks to students at Lee Williams High School about bullying in January 2019. (Photo by Michael Chan/For The Miner)

KINGMAN – Bullies are everywhere: schools, parks and online. But Brian Skinner and Kingman Riot MMA are teaching local children that they can work together to combat bullying and make their community a safer, more-welcoming place to live.

While basic self-defense is taught in Riot’s Bully-Proof program, which sees owner Skinner go to local schools to talk about the issue, the focus is far more on communication. Skinner said he believes combating bullies doesn’t necessarily require that kids know how to fight. What does go a long way, he said, is building confidence.

He says once children become confident in their ability to defend themselves, their grades come up, they communicate more with their parents and they’re more open to making new friendships.

Although whenever one advocates for another, it’s a good idea to know how to defend oneself. But even then, words can be used.

“What I do is I teach them to use each other,” Skinner explained. “Basically, what I’ve found that is very frustrating is these kids can pull out a camera and video tape it but nobody helps. I teach these kids to stand up and speak for each other, stand up for each other.”

Skinner gives kids five tips for how to address bullying, which can be applied to any setting, not just at school. The first is “use your voice.” Children are taught to put a little force behind their voice when they tell a bully to stop or knock it off. That way, it’s brought to the attention of nearby peers and adults.

“If you’re going to be bold enough to say ‘Hey, stop it,’ you need to know that the guy or girl could persist,” Skinner said of the second tip, be ready to defend yourself. Kids are taught basic self-defense, but just as important, de-escalation tactics.

The third tip is to let the closest adult know as the bullying is happening. And honesty is important, Skinner said.

“I try to teach these kids, and adults when I talk to the parents around here or when I do bully seminars, if a random kid comes up and tells you ‘Hey, these kids are picking on me,’ help them,” Skinner said, noting that too often adults don’t throw themselves into the situation when it’s not their child being bullied.

The fourth tip is “the most important rule,” Skinner said. Refer back to the other three tips and “stop looking away when kids are being bullied.”

“Do something about it, refer back to one, two and three, use your words for them,” Skinner said. “Be ready to protect yourself as well if you’re going to stand up for somebody, and if you’re not bold enough to, bring the closest adult to what’s going on.”

The last tip kids are taught in the Bully-Proof Program is to speak with their parents.

“At a young age I teach these kids to build that habit of going home, give them five minutes of your day whether it’s good or bad, let them know if you’re being bullied and work from there,” Skinner said.

He added that parents are a child’s best asset. “If you’re being bullied, your parents are going to fight for you,” Skinner said.

For more information on Kingman Riot MMA’s Bully-Proof Program, go to https://kingmanriotmma.com/bully-proof-program.

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