Jiu-Jitsu teaches kids to take stand on bullying - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Jiu-Jitsu teaches kids to take stand on bullying

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BENTON, Ill. -- Many parents worry about their child being picked on while at school. Although data shows bullying is actually decreasing, it's still devastating for those who experience it. 

Local kids are taking advantage of a program so they can take a stand. One of those is Kaitlyn DeGroof, a 5th grade student at Frankfort Intermediate School. She says bullying is prevalent in her class. "I kinda feel bad that those people would do that and think about it."

The 11-year-old can recall a time when she witnessed bullying firsthand. "I saw this triangle of friends, and they were kind of getting bullied, so I came in and said ‘Hey what’s the matter'. They said, 'she’s trying to chase after us, and we already told her to stop.'"

She then decided to step in and help her friends. "So I just kinda said, 'go get the teacher and I'll handle it." 

Kaitlyn knew what to do because of IQ Jiu-Jitsu's BullySafe Program that she's been taking for six years. The program in Benton, which has been around since 2010, teaches kids how to identify a bully, defuse the situation, and non-violent self-defense techniques. 

"Not to kick and punch and beat up, but to control and negotiate," explains Jared Jessup, owner of IQ Jiu-Jitsu. "So they can manage the whole situation without a punch being thrown." 

Will is also a 5th grader, but at Lincoln Elementary School in Marion, and has put the skills he's learned over the past year into action. "They teach you good moves that will actually come handy in real life. There was one kid named Max and a kid kept on slapping him, so I told him to stop," he says. 

However, the program also focuses on character development. "That will teach self-control, confidence, citizenship, manners, discipline, respect," Jessup explains. 

Kaitlyn and Will's parents say they can see growth in their children such as improved self-esteem and maturity. They recommend other parents who have children experiencing bullying to try the program out.

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