Bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents. If you're a target of bullies or if someone else is being bullied, here's a list of things you can do.
If You Are Being Bullied
- Talk to your parents or an adult you can trust, such as a teacher, school counselor, or principal. Many teens who are targets of bullies do not talk to adults because they feel embarrassed, ashamed, or fearful, and they believe they should be able to handle the problem on their own. Others believe that involving adults will only make the situation worse. While in some cases it is possible to end bullying without adult intervention, in other more extreme cases, it is necessary to involve school officials and even law enforcement. Talk to a trusted adult who can help you develop a plan to end the bullying and provide you with the support you need. If the first adult you approach is not receptive, find another adult who will support and help you.
- It's not useful to blame yourself for a bully's actions. You can do a few things, however, that may help if a bully begins to harass you. Do not retaliate against a bully or let the bully see how much he or she has upset you. If bullies know they are getting to you, they are likely to torment you more. If at all possible, stay calm and respond evenly and firmly or else say nothing and walk away. Sometimes you can make a joke, laugh at yourself, and use humor to defuse a situation.
- Act confident. Hold your head up, stand up straight, make eye contact, and walk confidently. A bully will be less likely to single you out if your project self-confidence.
- Try to make friends with other students. A bully is more likely to leave you alone if you are with your friends. This is especially true if you and your friends stick up for each other.
- Avoid situations where bullying can happen. If at all possible, avoid being alone with bullies. If bullying occurs on the way to or from school, you may want to take a different route, leave at a different time, or find others to walk to and from school with. If bullying occurs at school, avoid areas that are isolated or unsupervised by adults, and stick with friends as much as possible.
- If necessary, take steps to rebuild your self-confidence. Bullying can affect your self-confidence and belief in yourself. Finding activities you enjoy and are good at can help to restore your self-esteem. Take time to explore new interests and develop new talents and skills. Bullying can also leave you feeling rejected, isolated, and alone. It is important to try to make new friendships with people who share your interests. Consider participating in extra-curricular activities or joining a group outside of school, such as an after-school program, church youth group, or sports team.
- Do not resort to violence or carry a weapon. Carrying a weapon will not make you safer. Weapons often escalate conflicts and increase the chances you will be seriously harmed. You also run the risk that the weapon may be turned on you or an innocent person will be hurt. And you may do something in a moment of fear or anger you will regret for the rest of your life.
If Someone Else is Being Bullied
- Refuse to join in if you see someone being bullied. It can be hard to resist if a bully tries to get you to taunt or torment someone, and you may fear the bully will turn on you if you do not participate, but try to stand firm.
- Attempt to defuse bullying situations when you see them starting up. For example, try to draw attention away from the targeted person, or take the bully aside and ask him/her to "cool it." Do not place yourself at risk, however.
- If you can do so without risk to your own safety, get a teacher, parent, or other responsible adult to come help immediately.
- Speak up and/or offer support to bullied teens when you witness bullying. For example, help them up if they have been tripped or knocked down. If you feel you cannot do this at the time, privately support those being hurt with words of kindness or condolence later.
- Encourage the bullied teen to talk with parents or a trusted adult. Offer to go with the person if it would help.Tell an adult yourself if the teen is unwilling to report the bullying. If necessary for your safety, do this anonymously.