Being bullied can be very scary and upsetting. It is important to remember if you’re being bullied it is never your fault, regardless of what the bully says. No one should feel unsafe at school. If someone is bullying you because you are “different,” remember that everyone is different and whatever makes you different makes you special, too.
If you or someone you know is being bullied at school, at home, or over the internet, there are ways to make it stop. School counselors and parents are there to support you.
KidsHealth is a website that has a section on everything you need to know about putting an end to bullying, whether you are the target, bystander or the bully yourself
Pacer Center’s Teens Against Bullying is an organization intended as a support group to get others to stop bullying
OLWEUS is a bullying prevention program. The website offers great information on bullying for a report or project
TeensHealth has a section of their website dedicated to cyberbullying. There is a good article on the issue, remember that cyberbullying can be just as hurtful as other bullying and is still punishable.
It’s not just the person being bullied who gets hurt — the punishment for cyberbullies can be serious. More and more schools and after-school programs are creating systems to respond to cyberbullying. Schools may kick bullies off sports teams or suspend them from school. Some types of cyberbullying may violate school codes or even break antidiscrimination or sexual harassment laws, so a bully may face serious legal trouble.
Click here to see the roles people play during a bullying scenario.
Bullying Survival Tips
Here are some things you can do to combat psychological and verbal bullying. They’re also good tips to share with a friend as a way to show your support:
Ignore the bully and walk away. It’s definitely not a coward’s response — sometimes it can be harder than losing your temper. Bullies thrive on the reaction they get, and if you walk away, or ignore hurtful emails or instant messages, you’re telling the bully that you just don’t care. Sooner or later the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother you. Walk tall and hold your head high. Using this type of body language sends a message that you’re not vulnerable.
Hold the anger. Who doesn’t want to get really upset with a bully? But that’s exactly the response he or she is trying to get. Bullies want to know they have control over your emotions. If you’re in a situation where you have to deal with a bully and you can’t walk away with poise, use humor — it can throw the bully off guard. Work out your anger in another way, such as through exercise or writing it down (make sure you tear up any letters or notes you write in anger).
Don’t get physical. However you choose to deal with a bully, don’t use physical force (like kicking, hitting, or pushing). Not only are you showing your anger, you can never be sure what the bully will do in response. You are more likely to be hurt and get in to trouble if you use violence against a bully. You can stand up for yourself in other ways, such as gaining control of the situation by walking away or by being assertive in your actions. Some adults believe that bullying is a part of growing up (even that it is character building) and that hitting back is the only way to tackle the problem. But that’s not the case. Aggressive responses tend to lead to more violence and more bullying for the victims.
Practice confidence. Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior. Practice feeling good about yourself (even if you have to fake it at first).
Take charge of your life. You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can stay true to yourself. Think about ways to feel your best — and your strongest — so that other kids may give up the teasing. Exercise is one way to feel strong and powerful. (It’s a great mood lifter, too!) Learn a martial art or take a class like yoga. Another way to gain confidence is to hone your skills in something like chess, art, music, computers, or writing. Joining a class, club, or gym is a great way to make new friends and feel great about yourself. The confidence you gain will help you ignore the mean kids.
Talk about it. It may help to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend — anyone who can give you the support you need. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when you’re being bullied.
Find your (true) friends. If you’ve been bullied with rumors or gossip, all of the above tips (especially ignoring and not reacting) can apply. But take it one step further to help ease feelings of hurt and isolation. Find one or two true friends and confide how the gossip has hurt your feelings. Set the record straight by telling your friends quietly and confidently what’s true and not true about you. Hearing a friend say, “I know the rumor’s not true. I didn’t pay attention to it,” can help you realize that most of the time people see gossip for what it is — petty, rude, and immature.
Want to hear more from other youth who know what you’re going through? Check out our blog posts on Bullying.