Suggestions For Students Who Have Been Bullied
Bullying. Some people say, “What’s the big deal?” They should talk to the 160,000 students who skip school each day because of peer abuse and intimidation. They should walk in the shoes of the 10-20% of students who are constantly being teased, pushed around, harassed, and excluded. If you are one of the many youth who have experienced these things, you know that it IS a big deal. Here are some things you can do if it is happening to you.
Ignore the bully. If the bullying is just starting and it’s minor, you can try ignoring the bully or walking away. Maybe the person rolled his or her eyes at something you said. You should either pretend you didn’t see it or act like it doesn’t bother you. Don’t give the bully a big emotional reaction, such as crying or losing your temper. They want to upset you! When you lose control, they win.
Something to keep in mind is that if ignoring is going to work, it should work right away. If the bullying continues after a few days, you need to come up with a new strategy.
Avoid the bully. It’s not your fault if someone chooses to bully you. You shouldn’t have to change anything about yourself or your routine. But sometimes if you can stay away from the bully for a short time, this person may forget about picking on you. Maybe you can take a different route or way of getting to and from school. Perhaps there is a different table you and your friends can sit at during lunch that’s not near the bully. An understanding school counselor might be able to help you get a different locker that’s far away from the bully’s locker.
If the bully comes looking for you, avoiding isn’t working. Try a different plan.
Stand up for yourself. You have the right to be treated with respect. When someone chooses to bully, you have the right to defend yourself. The important thing is to speak up in a way that is strong without getting yourself into trouble. It’s called being assertive, and here is how you do it. Stand tall, look the person in the eyes, and say your words in a calm, strong voice. You don’t want to be too nice, but you also don’t want to be too mean. Your goal is to solve the problem, not create more. Here are some words or phrases that others have used:
“I don’t like it when you….and I want you to stop.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Leave me alone, or I’ll report you.”
It takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself. There is nothing wrong with you if you aren’t able to do this, or if you try it and it doesn’t work. It just means you need to do something else.
Talk to your friends about it. Let your friends know what’s been going on, solutions you’ve already tried, and how they can help you. There really is strength in numbers, so try to be around your friends or large groups of other students as much as possible. Even if you’re not good at standing up for yourself, you may have a friend or classmate who will speak out for you. Just make sure that it doesn’t start a fight. You don’t want anyone getting in trouble for something you didn’t start.
Find an ally. There may be an adult at school who understands how serious bullying is and would be willing to help you. Perhaps a teacher might let you step into his or her classroom if the hallway feels unsafe to you. Maybe the librarian could use your help during lunch time.
Ask your parent(s) for help. You don’t deserve to be bullied. You may have tried to handle it on your own. Maybe your friends even tried to help, but the bullying continued. Sometimes you need adults to become involved in order to stop the bullying. A good place to start is with your parents. Explain to them what is happening, giving as many details as possible. Tell them who is involved, who else has witnessed the bullying, what specifically has happened, when and where the bullying takes place, how often the bullying has occurred, what you have done in response to the bullying, and whether or not your response worked. Then you and your parents can come up with a plan. You might practice what to say and do if the bullying happens again. Your parents may also contact the school to let them know this is happening, and find out what the school plans to do about it.
Report it to the school. Bullies are usually sneaky. They bully when adults aren’t around or aren’t watching them. Often school adults don’t know about the bullying unless someone tells them about it. Sometimes you can report anonymously by leaving your teacher or counselor an unsigned note, telling them about the problem. Then they can keep on eye on the situation, either catching the bully or preventing it from happening again. You also can report directly to a school adult. Give them as many details as possible, and ask what they are going to do to help you. Let them know if the bullying continues. Otherwise, they may think that the problem has been solved.
Call the YWCA. We believe everyone deserves to feel safe at school and to be respected. Call us at (815) 625-0333 if you have been bullied and want to talk to someone about it.