WHAT IS BULLYING?
What is Bullying?
Bullying includes a wide variety of behaviors, but all involve a person or a group repeatedly trying to harm someone who is weaker or more vulnerable. It can involve direct attacks (such as hitting, threatening or intimidating, maliciously teasing and taunting, name-calling, making sexual remarks, and stealing or damaging belongings) or more subtle, indirect attacks (such as spreading rumors or encouraging others to reject or exclude someone).
What you can do if you are being bullied…
1. 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.
2. It is 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 extracurricular activities or joining a group outside of school, such as an after-school program, church youth group, or sports team.
7. Do not resort to violence.
Violence will not make you safer. Violence often escalate conflicts and increase the chances you will be seriously harmed. And you may do something in a moment of fear or anger you will regret for the rest of your life.
Adapted from Facts for Teens: Bullying, National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
Links on Bullying
Books on Bullying and other Social Conflicts
Easing the Teasing: Helping Your Child Cope with Name-Calling, Ridicule, and Verbal Bullying by Judy S. Freedman, MSW, LCW (Contemporary Books, 2002)
Cliques: 8 Steps to Help Your Child Survive the Social Jungle by Charlene C. Giannetti and Margaret Sagarese (Broadway Books, 2001)
Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children by Michael Thompson, Ph.D., and Catherine O'Neill Grace, with Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D. (Ballantine Books, 2001)
Mom, They're Teasing Me: Helping Your Child Solve Social Problems by Michael Thompson, Ph.D., and Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., with Catherine O'Neill Grace (Ballantine Books, 2002)
Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman (Crown Publishers, 2002)