If You Are Being Bullied…Tell someone like a trusted teacher, friend, parent, or counselor. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to any of these people, call the SAFELine. This may seem scary at first, however, telling someone can help you get step closer to finding a solution. Confiding is someone is very important especially if you feel unsafe or frightened. It takes a lot of strength and courage to ask for help and is not a sign of weakness. It shows you want control of your life and will not let someone else affect your happiness.
Did you know that everyday 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied? (according to the National Association of School Psychologists) Or that 10% of students are afraid most of the school day? That’s a lot of people just like you who are in the same situation and need to seek help. You are not alone! SAFELine is here to give you a safe, reliable way to talk to someone and seek help.
Bullies can be anyone- boy or girl and may be outgoing and aggressive or seem reserved but are experts in manipulating people in subtle damaging ways. Many bullies share some common characteristics. They tend to be egocentric, have poor social skills or social judgement, and sometimes they have no empathy or caring towards other people. Some bullies actually have personality or mental disorders that don’t allow them to understand normal emotions like compassion, guilt, remorse, empathy, etc and need to seek medical attention from a certified mental health professional. The majority of bullies are just trying to get attention for whatever the reason. Although some bullies portray they are “hot stuff” and feel they have the right to push people around, many of them are just insecure. They cause trouble by putting people down to make themselves feel better or more interesting. The sad fact is that some bullies turn to this behavior because they’ve been hurt by a bully in the past, and unfortunately this could have been a parent or another family member.
If you are the victim of a bully’s behavior, you are well aware of what they are doing, and although it may not seem like it, your peers probably know about it too. So, why don’t others say something? Because they don’t want to be the next target so they either go along with the bad action, or try to ignore it. So, what can you do?
- Ignore the bully and walk away. It sounds easy, but sometimes it can be much harder than losing your temper. Bullies thrive on the reaction they get, and if you walk away or ignore their hurtful behavior, you’re telling the bully that you just don’t care. Without getting the attention they want and crave, they may soon get bored and stop bothering you. Walk tall and have confidence that you are the better person. Using this type of body language sends a message that you’re not vulnerable and will not let someone else dictate how you will live your life.
- Don’t get physical. Although your anger probably bubbles up beyond belief, acting on it by hitting, pushing, kicking, etc, will only escalate the problem. For one, you are giving them the satisfaction of knowing they are upsetting you, but you also don’t know what kind of trouble you will get into after doing this. You could end up getting more hurt, getting kicked out of school, or even arrested.
- Practice confidence. Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior- others will envy your confidence.
- Take charge of your life. You can’t stop someone from acting poorly, but you can stay true to yourself. Let them make a fool of themselves as you maintain good morals and behavior. The bully’s poor behavior will continue to haunt them when they get older- as people tend not to forget who acted poorly.
- Talk about it. 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. Plus you never know what kind of good ideas they might have for dealing with the situation!
- 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. It can help to tell these good friends how the gossip has hurt you and take the time to set the record straight. Having a friend tell you they knew it wasn’t true and/or told others it wasn’t true, can help you realize that people really do see gossip for what it is- petty, rude, and immature. It’s also usually short-lived. Unfortunately a new rumor about someone else will soon be the talk of the school. Everyone will understand what this feels like before they graduate- that is almost a guarantee.
Everyone has to deal with stress from difficult situations and emotions. Some people just like to gossip or pick on others because they don’t know how to deal with their own problems. This is a personality flaw that others will notice in the bully. Just think for a moment off the top of your head- who do you know that is ALWAYS saying something bad about others? Or who you know that can’t keep a secret? Or that certain person that ALWAYS seems to know what’s going on in other’s lives. These should all be red flags- stay away from those individuals. They are always looking for the next person to pick on or spread a rumor about. These bullies usually have something they are very insecure about, few true friends, and are lonely inside.
Stay true to yourself, learn to trust and confide in a select few individuals, and do what makes you happy- regardless of what others have to say.
Steps to Stop Bullying in Schools
If you feel the environment at your school supports bullying, work to change it!
Most people hesitate to speak out because it can be hard, and it takes real courage and confidence to stand up to a bully. Chances are that other students witnessing the bullying behavior feel as uncomfortable as you do, but they don’t know what to do and they just aren’t speaking up.
When people keep quiet like this, the bully’s reach is extending beyond just one person. He or she is managing to intimidate lots of people. It just takes one person to speak out and others will tend to add their support. You can also start an anti-violence program if your school doesn’t have one yet. Also, ask your guidance counselor or school official about what kind of laws and policies are in place to protect you.