How to Deal With Severe Bullying
Being bullied is a terrible situation to be in. You probably don't feel safe, and you also probably feel sad or depressed. It can even make you not want to go to school. However, you can take steps to deal with bullying. If it's particularly severe, always talk to an adult to help you handle the situation.
Dealing With Being Bullied in the Moment
Stop a moment.When you are being bullied, it can make you a bit panicky, and you won't be thinking as clearly. Take a couple of deep breaths, and actually look at what's happening to you.
- It's important to breathe because it can help you calm down.
- Trying to observe what's going on can help you name what's happening to you. That will help in the next step.
Try to stand your ground.Sometimes, bullies will back down if you just hold your own. Look the person in the eye, and try to make yourself as big as possible. In other words, stand up straight.
- Try practicing your stance in front of the mirror. Stare yourself down!
Tell the person or persons what you want from them.Once you note what's happening, you can decide what you want to happen next. That doesn't mean you can make the person do it, but sometimes saying what you want to happen will actually stop the bullying.
- For instance, you could say, "I want you to stop throwing paper at me. I know you think it's funny, but I don't. So stop."
- Alternatively, you could say something like "I can see you laughing at me. I want you to stop."
Remain calm.Your bully wants you to get angry. The person is looking for that type of response, and it will only egg him or her on if you get angry. Try to stay calm by taking deep breaths throughout the whole encounter.
- It can also help to try to blow off the bully with humor. Responding with humor takes the wind out of his sails.
- For instance, if someone is throwing paper balls at you throughout class, you could say, "What, is your aim so bad that you can't hit the trash can?"
Walk towards help.While it's tempting to just run away without thinking, take a moment to think about where you will be safe. If you just run away, the bully can follow. However, if you go somewhere safe, you can stop the bullying.
- For example, enter a classroom with people in it.
- Another option is ducking into a room that has an adult in it.
Take notes later.Later that day, write down what happened from your point of view. That way, when you talk to an adult, you have something to show them. If it happens more than once, try to mark approximate dates and times.
- Because some schools may define bullying as something that occurs multiple times, it can help to have the details.
Dealing With Cyberbullying
Use technology to your advantage.Since cyberbullying happens on electronic devices, you can use that same technology to work in your favor. Many phones and websites have ways of blocking people who are being mean to you.
- For instance, on your phone, you can likely block incoming messages and calls from a particular person.
- On websites like Facebook, try unfriending and/or blocking the person completely.
Don't feed the trolls.Sometimes, cyberbullies are referred to as "trolls," and a common internet saying is "Don't feed the trolls." In other words, cyberbullies won't get any enjoyment out of bullying someone if the person doesn't respond at all. Try to ignore the people who are bullying you. If someone is bullying you on a particular website, try avoiding that website so you won't have to read the hateful things the person is saying and so that you won't be tempted to respond.
Record evidence.Just like in person, it can help to keep evidence of cyberbullying on hand. Keep emails and messages connected to bullying, and you can even take screenshots of times when cyberbullying has happened. Try to record times and dates, as well. The reason you should keep this information is it makes easier for websites and companies to stop cyberbullying when you present this type of information to them.
Report cyberbullying.You can report cyberbullying to the website where it is happening, if it is happening on a social media site, for instance. You can also report it to your school if someone from the school is doing the bullying. If it is more severe, such as if someone is posting inappropriate pictures of you, you can even report it to the police. Just make sure you have your evidence with you when you do.
Stay safe.Never give out personal information on the internet. Don't post your home address or your phone number, for instance. Bullies and other predators can use that information to find you, so you want to give them as little information as possible to use against you.
Dealing With Severe Recurring Bullying
Tell an adult.If you are being bullied, it's important to tell somebody you trust. Talk to a teacher, a coach, or a parent. It's their job to step up and help you deal with a bully, so tell them what you know.
- It's always good to talk to an adult. However, it's especially important if the bully has already gotten physical with you or you think the person might be violent towards you in the future.
Ask them to help you develop a plan.The adult should help to stop the bully. However, the adult should also be able to help you make a plan about how to deal with the situation. Ask them to walk you through ways to deal with a bully.
- For example, an adult may be able to assist you in finding ways to not be alone in the hallways.
Stay in groups.Bullies often isolate people to bully. If you're often alone, it makes you more of a target. Try to walk to classes with friends, or stay in places where teachers are on guard.
- Stay away from places you know will be empty. For instance, if you know the gym is usually empty after school, try going to the library instead.
Make friends.Making friends can be difficult if you're not very outgoing. It's okay to feel shy when you're trying to make new friends. Having friends, though, can make you less vulnerable to bullying, and it gives you someone to pal around with between classes.
- Try talking to someone in your classes or in a club you're in. You can use what you're doing to start a conversation. For instance, you could say, "Hi, I'm Kay. This problem we're doing is really hard, don't you think?"
- Make a habit of talking to the same people. Over time, you'll get to know that person more. For instance, if you see the person in the cafeteria, ask if you can sit with him or her. You could say, "Hey, we're in math together. We were talking about that awful problem the other day. Do you mind if I sit with you?"
- One way to get to know a person is to get them talking about themselves. The best way to do that is to ask questions. You can ask about what they like or what their family is like. You could ask what their favorite subject is or what they like to do for fun.
- Don't forget to be nice to the person. Doing nice things for people makes them like you more. For instance, offer your notes if the person misses a class, or help someone understand their homework if they're struggling.
Ask about transferring schools.If your situation is particularly bad, ask about transferring schools. This step may be difficult if you go to a zoned public school, but it can be done.
- Ask your parents to appeal to the school board to let you go to another school in the district.Going to a new school can give you a fresh start.
- You might also be able to transfer to a charter school, though it may be difficult in the middle of the year. Ask your parents to help you look for options.
Stepping in When You See Others Bullied
Speak up.If you see someone being bullied, tell the person to stop. It takes courage to step in, but you can be someone's hero by stepping in. Often, it just takes one person standing up to the bully to make him or her stop.
- For instance, you could say, "Hey, leave that kid alone. What did he ever do to you?"
Don't be an audience.Even if you don't step in, it's important not to encourage bullying. That means, you shouldn't laugh as someone else gets bullied.
- If you just watch and laugh, you are contributing, as you are providing an audience for the bully.
- Even just standing and watching without laughing can encourage the bully, as you are giving the person an audience.
- That doesn't mean you should just walk away. If you're not willing to step in, move on to the next step.
Tell an adult.If you're not willing to step in yourself, tell an adult. Find someone in a nearby classroom, or talk to your school counselor. That way, the adult can step in and handle the situation.
Build self-confidence.Bullies tend to pick on kids without confidence. If you can build self-confidence, you can help prevent being bullied in the future.
- Try a power pose. Some research has shown that just acting confident can build confidence. Generally, a power pose involves making yourself larger, more spread out. For instance, putting your hands on your hips and spreading your legs apart is a power pose. Don't forget to hold your head high! Try holding a pose that makes you feel stronger for 2 minutes.
- Master new skills. Another way to help build your confidence is to take on new skills. As you become better at the skill, it can boost your confidence.
- Exercise or play sport. Exercising can make you feel strong and confident. You should be getting exercise anyway, so it's a win-win. Martial arts may be a good choice, in case you need to defend yourself.
Develop communication skills.Communication skills are the ways you interact with other kids and teachers. Basically, it's how you present yourself to the world. If you have basic communication skills, people see you as more assertive. Assertive means being self-assured and able to speak up for yourself. The more assertive you are, the less likely you are to get bullied.
- Being assertive means being able to talk to others to express what you want without being mean. For instance, instead of saying, "Why do you give me all the bad jobs?" you could say, "Would it be possible for me to clean the dry erase boards next week?"
- Communicating well means you offer leading ideas, ask questions nicely, and offer support when possible. For instance, when a friend does a good job, you say, "You were awesome! Great job!"
Encourage empathy.Empathy means you feel what others are feeling. To be empathetic, you have to listen to what others are going through and try to understand their pain. While it can be hard to encourage empathy, bullying is less likely to happen when kids are empathetic to each other.
- Pay attention. The first step towards being empathetic is to notice other people. Watch other kids' faces to see how they are feeling. You can usually tell if someone is upset if you're looking at them. They may frown, have watery eyes, or turn red in the face.
- Talk to the other person. If you see someone looking down, ask how he or she is doing. You could say, "Hey, what's wrong? You don't look so good." Listen to his or her response.
- Even if you don't feel what the other person is feeling, it's important to express sympathy for what the person is going through. That just means you respond to what he or she told you in a nice way. For instance, if the person said, "I'm having a bad day. My dog is sick." You could say, "Oh, that's awful. I'd hate that if it were my dog. You must be really sad."
Skip retaliation.Being bullied can make you want to lash out. You may be tempted to threaten someone who bullies you. However, that just turns you into a bully, and you're perpetuating the problem.
- In addition, it can make the bully want to fight back harder, which only hurts you.
- Also, if you do try to retaliate, you could find yourself taking part of the blame, even though the bully struck first.
Sources and Citations
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