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My Nose, My Nose!:
Fight fire with fire. Age, 53

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.

My son, Javier, wanted to go to Christian Brothers High School (CB) with most of his friends. Against my better judgment, and in the face of stiff opposition from him and his mother, I capitulated and agreed that he could go to high school there.

The small group of kids from his elementary school got lost in the larger crowds at the high school, and Javi was on his own contending with a few serious bullies. Not only were they bullies in person, but they were anonymous, cowardly cyber bullies as well. It was easy to deal with the cyber bullying; he kept away from the bully sites. It was much more difficult to deal with the bullying on campus.

One of the bullies was a smartass kid called Dominic who hounded Javi every day. The teachers and staff at the school ignored the problem. Realizing that fact, my council to Javi reluctantly shifted to offense.

Unless he confronted the bullies, the bullying would continue.

Given the failure of the teachers and staff to intervene, it was time for my boy to learn how to assert himself in a way that bullies understand. Javi wasn't tiny, but he was a little under average size and not very assertive.

I enrolled him in a martial arts class to boost his confidence and acquire some fighting skills. Anticipating a confrontation, I told him to make sure he didn't start a fight, but that it was okay for him to defend himself.

After a few Mui Thai classes, Javi began to understand that he had the power to fight back. A month after starting the classes, he called me after school with a great story of triumph. Dominic had started to hassle him that morning. This time, Javi was prepared to handle him and his taunting. Rather than ignore Dominic's taunts, Javi told him to go to class. The mean kid kept pestering him, so once again, he told him to go to class, but this time he shoved him toward his class.

Indignant, Dominic took a swing at Javi who described the clash like this: "Dad, it was like slow motion! Dominic took a swing at me, and I blocked him with my left hand and punched him in the nose as hard as I could with my right! He put his hands on his face and was bending up and down saying "My nose, my nose!!" It was great Dad!"

I was thrilled, almost giddy, that my son successfully stood up for himself. A security guard saw the whole thing and said it was self-defense. The next day, Dominic came to school with tape over his broken nose.

Javi's confidence soared, the bullying stopped, and he was no longer a victim. My old school anti-bullying strategy worked quite nicely. Sometimes you have to fight fire.

~ Andrew Laufer





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