Great topic Mike, especially in regards to teaching the kids.
There is a psychology that is the motivator for all bullies and that is something they adapt at a very young age, and that is the psychology of survival dominance. The prime motivator for all living things is to survive.
The dictionary defines dominate: have a commanding influence on; exercise control over.
The primary goal of the bully is to do just this, and his reasoning is that it not only aids his survival dynamic, but he will succumb to the environment unless he so acts. This is a mind set adopted at a young age by an individual because he/she has either been the victim of or been under the influence of a dominant entity, whether it be a parent/guardian, sibling, teacher or any other dominant individual in his direct universe.
The power of choice and self-determinism is paramount to the being ness of all people, when this is suppressed the mind reacts to regain that self-determinism, this manifests in two ways and for our purpose will keep it simple and call it fight or flight, a phenomena we are all familiar with. The Bullys psychology is attempting to affect the victims psych in the same way he was affected, by attacking the inherent survival axiom, that in order for man to survive he must have affinity with man, the law of affinity. This is a natural law that when broken affects the analytical power of an individual. This is the law that builds healthy relationships, and a successful environment for all, the trouble is a bully has had this law redefined at a young age, believing it to be the opposite, something by the way that can be reversed in most bullys if given the opportunity. I am sure you all have experienced a bully entering the Dojo; if he stays it is because he has been re-educated to the truth.
Many years ago I stated to a fellow student, who was not performing as well as he should, Hey Man, you can take a punch but you cant take one emotional knock. The guy just stopped in his tracks as he realized how true it was. This particular individual was a great fighter, but if he thought his affinity was broken, he would back off and take it easy on his opponents, a sort of people pleasing, because all though he loved to fight he loved to be liked more, by anyone, and his fellows knew it so they would make him wrong for his ability to defeat, thus giving them power and dominance.
The law of affinity is a reality for us all and is how we have thrived as a species, except by the time we reach adult hood, some have contracted that contagious disease know as Every man for Himself, a fear driven computation resulting in miss guided view points.
A bully will attack this affinity on the playground with the intention of separating a child from his affinity with his friends and the bully. He attempts this not just through fear of physical harm, but more importantly by affecting the childs standing in regards to his group, by humiliating him, embarrassing him, reducing his being ness, threatening the childs survival as a person and in the group, AND IT WORKS! And when it does it has an opposite and reverse effect. At such a young age the child doesnt have the ability to rationalize this injustice and just absorbs and reacts, the confidence of the child is sucked from him and used to inflate the bullies confidence, and this is witnessed by all and affects all in opposite and reverses. The bully will affect some positively, and in the future they will take on his winning Valence (identity), and learn aggression works for survival, the victim will affect others positively and they learn pacification works for survival. I say positive here, because both parties believe their actions to be pro survival.
By the time we reach adulthood, we are witnessing the bully phenomena in society, in a very fine tuned and exaggerated way, both from the viewpoint of the bully and his victims. We have all learned to respond in our own ways, the power of choice and self determinism, and the ability to confront for those who succumbed to bullys as a child has been removed (not very pro survival), and the bully just keeps getting stronger and stronger, until he is stopped that is (indecently it isnt very pro survival for the bully either as he will inevitably run up against a bigger more dangerous bully who sees him as competition).
Solution; Re-educate those already in affect!
I developed cause and effect Comprehend and Confront drills, first teaching the psychology of attack and defense and then doing physical awareness drills.
I educate students with these truths, to be learned and held fast as fact.
Axiom 1: A bully will only bully somebody he thinks can be bullied, period, no exceptions.
Axiom 2: A bullys prime motivation for bullying is his aberrated (any deviation or departure from rationality) computation that it is beneficial to his survival.
Axiom 3: Removing the survival confidence from a bully will reduce his effectiveness.
Axiom 4: Removing the survival confidence of a bully will increase your effectiveness.
Ever had someone threaten you on any level even playfully? Suddenly and rapidly you raise the aggression above his, even if playfully? Then you will know the effect is extremely positive, stopping most in their tracks even if momentarily. You have just made yourself a wrong target, because you enforced your own commanding influence, that wasnt in his script when he cast you as victim, and as such he Q and As his tactics, this puts him in a state of confusion, and can be done in a number of ways in a realistic situation.
The reasoning being that bullying is a personal attack, and when we make things personal we already have an inner monologue playing in our heads about how its going to go. The bully learned his lines a long time ago and is in character, he knows it by heart, you have just thrown him a curve ball, he doesnt know the lines to this script or the role you have just cast him in.
The interesting thing is that the bullys aberrated survival computation has now been broken and he will retreat the more confused he becomes because he is less in control, and if he is not in control or able to bully his miss guided affinity and confidence are broken, this is counter survival for him (not a good place to be).
You are at CAUSE not EFFECT.
I wont go over the drills right now, but suffice to say you get my drift. The technique is to reverse the psychology on the bully threw the use of educated counter measures. Teaching children and adults these techniques removes the personal from the situation re-installs confidence and puts them more at cause.
It is important to remember we are talking about bullies here, and not psychotic violence driven individuals whose motivation has either transitioned from that of the bully to highly dangerous individual or they are just out and out violent disorder such as murderers, this requires a different approach and a more violent response. Approach this dynamic on a gradient level utilizing the same technique and then increasing intensity.
Best in Kenpo