When you’re bullied...
Being bullied is painful, but it is important to remember that you are not alone! Below are some tips on what you can do if you are being bullied.
- Don’t ignore the whole situation: When you are being bullied, you naturally just want to make it all go away. As a result, some of us just keep everything inside or even avoid going to school! Sometimes the bully does stop and moves on to someone else, but this doesn’t always happen.
- Always tell an adult you trust: Tell your parent, trusted teacher, school counselor or other trusted adult about what’s happening. Share all of the details, and let them know how this made you feel. Ask them what to do next.
- Keep in mind that no one deserves to be bullied. Bullies are not bad people, but they are doing bad things. Sometimes kids become bullies because they are bullied at home by their parents and are determined not to be bullied at school—so they bully others instead. Knowing this will help you understand that the bullying doesn’t have to do with you, but with the bully.
- Never fight back, but let the bully know you are not an easy target. Stay calm, and tell the bully with confidence and determination to “Stop it,” and to “Leave me alone.” Walk off with confidence.
- Stand up to the bully if you feel ‘safe enough’: This is sometimes easy to say and much harder to do! If you do feel safe enough, confront the bully by telling him or her how you feel, why you feel the way you do, and what you want the bully to do. For example, “I feel angry when you call me names because I have a real name. I want you to start calling me by my real name.”
- Be an Upstander even when you’re not being bullied. Read the Ways to Be an Upstander to learn about how you can actively fight bullying in your school.
- Do not respond directly to the bully’s teasing: Sometimes we just feel too scared to respond. Not responding is actually another good strategy that we can use when we are being bullied. To the best of your ability, just walk away! This also an important tip to remember when dealing with bullying online. Keep harmful messages from spreading by not responding, adding comments, or sending them on to friends. (Again, it is important to let an adult know about this. When you are bullied online, print out a copy of the text or picture and show it to a grownup).
- Don’t blame yourself! It is common for students to feel that they have somehow “caused” the bullying. Remind yourself that it’s not your fault and talk to a friend, adult in school, or parent about the way you feel! Write down your good qualities and discuss them with your family, and use this list as a reminder if you start to blame yourself or feel down.
When you see someone else being bullied...
- Tell an adult: Some kids think this is tattling or being a snitch, but it is not. When you tell an adult, you are helping someone else who needs support. Most adults really do want to know about bullying and they want to help. If you tell a grownup about this and they don’t respond, find another adult you trust and tell them. Many schools have programs to not only help prevent bullying, but to support people—kids and grownups!—standing up to bully behavior and saying “no, this is not an ok way to act!”
- Stand Up! See the 10 Ways to be an Upstander in your School.
Do you bully?
Actually, there are a lot of kids who act as a bully at some point in their life. Usually, this is because there is something that is making you feel really bad.* We might think that if we are “really strong” and push people around it will make us feel better. But this is never okay, and pushing people around will only make you and others feel worse. If you have been a bully, talk to an adult you trust. A lot of us are scared to tell a grown up that they have been a bully, but most adults will understand and want to figure out a plan to help you feel better and/or deal with whatever is making you feel bad.
Another very common reason why you may be bullying is that everyone else in your group is doing the same thing. This can make you afraid that if you stop being a bully that you won’t have any friends. Again, it is important to talk to an adult you trust. If you are not sure who to trust, see your school’s counselor, principal, nurse or assistant principal. They are often people in school who not only care, but will have very specific ideas about how best to deal with these kinds of situations.
* If there are problems at home, please talk with a trusted adult. For an anonymous and confidential conversation, consider reaching out to Prevent Child Abuse.