Bullying affects everyone. Whether you’re the target, the bystander, or even the kid who picks on others, there’s something you can do to put an end to bullying.
“It’s none of my business—I should just ignore it and walk away—right?”
Put yourself in the target’s place. If you were being pushed around, laughed at, gossiped about, made fun of, ignored on purpose, you’d probably want someone to help you out.
And it doesn’t even take that much to make a difference. The very least you could do is to NOT join in. Your non-support of someone bullying sends a clear message that you don’t agree with what’s happening. If you see someone being laughed at, instead of turning your back, help the target to turn his or her back to the bullying by walking to class with him or her, telling them that they don’t deserve what’s happening to them. Show your support. Kids who are bullied often feel like no one cares—help them feel like they’re not alone.
What else can you do?
If you read cyberbullying, write something nice on the target’s wall or let the person bullying know it’s not cool to make fun of people online, or you can even report in anonymously and many service providers will remove the post.
But if it’s a fight you witness, don’t try to step in the middle. Instead, tell an adult or other authority figure what’s going on so that they can intervene.
You can always let your teachers and parents know so they can help out—bullying is not just about physical fights, words have the power to injure too, both online in and person. Teachers are there to help you out, not just give you homework, and parents care about what happens to you.
What can make an even bigger difference?
Get your friends to help out, too! This is an issue that affects a lot of people and most of them want it to stop too, so get together and start a bullying prevention program at school.
Drama. Bullying. Teasing. Harassment. No matter what you call it, it hurts. If you’re pushed, hit, or your things are ripped off or trashed, it can hurt physically. If you’re ignored by friends or cruel things are posted about you online, it can hurt emotionally. If it happens to you, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Why me?” You know how painful it is to be treated this way.
So seriously, what can you do? A lot!
You can take back control, but you don’t have to do it on your own. Remember, bullying is never your fault and you have the right to make it stop. Begin taking back control by talking to your parent or an adult you can trust. Then check out these three steps for handling the situation at school.
1. Know That You Are Not Alone
“When I walk into the classroom, all the girls start whispering with each other and laughing.” -Jenny, 7th grade
Ever feel like this only happens to you? It doesn’t. Unfortunately, bullying happens to a lot of kids. It happens in small schools, large schools, rural schools, and city schools. It can happen in preschool, high school, and every school in between. It happens in Australia, Argentina, and all around the globe. Sometimes people say that bullying is just part of growing up or that you should just “deal with it” and it will go away. This is NOT true. Even though bullying happens to a lot of kids, that doesn’t ever make it right. No one deserves to be bullied, everyone deserves respect, and everyone has a right to feel safe at school.
2. Be a Self-advocate
“Self-Advocate? Seriously, what does that even mean?” -Nick, 6th grade
Being a “self-advocate” means speaking up for yourself, telling people what you need, and taking action. Bullying can be stopped, but you need a plan. First, think about what you can do to change your situation, and then make an action plan.
In the plan:
Share this information with your parents and an adult you trust at school.
3. Assert Your Rights
“We are told over and over again to tell an adult. I tried that at my school and was told that’s just how kids in middle school act.” -Jack, 8th grade student with ASPERGERS
Every student has the right to feel safe at school. If one adult isn’t able to help you, don’t give up! It is your right to talk with another adult, such as a parent. When you do speak to a teacher, an administrator, or a person you trust at school:
State and local laws may provide additional protections on other bases, including sexual orientation.
Some adults may not know this, so clue them in and keep talking until someone understands. Visit stopbullying.gov for an interactive map leading to each state law.
No matter what you call it, bullying is painful. But you don’t have go through it alone! There are people who will help you, and it is your right to be safe.
What’s so great about hurting someone? Teasing, tripping, punching, kicking, texting, excluding, ignoring, hazing — it really says more about you than them. Think about it:
Think no one cares if you bully someone?
Think again. Parents, teachers, classmates and friends all care, but mostly the person being bullied cares. The bigger question is why don’t you care?
Think you’ll feel better about yourself if you bully someone?
Jealous, huh? Not as good, smart, attractive or popular as someone? Join the club. Why not try working with or learning from someone as opposed to bullying them and make a friend in the process?
Think you won’t be part of the ‘in-crowd’ if you don’t bully?
So, you’re okay with being bullied into being accepted? Bully or be bullied? Either way you lose. Stand up for yourself and if people don’t like you for who you are, then you really don’t want them as friends anyway.
Think its okay to bully someone if you have been bullied?
How does taking out your frustration on someone else make anything better? Talking with a trusted friend or adult would be much more productive than seeking the approval from the person who bullied you.
Think you’ll get attention if you bully?
Think detention! If you bully, you’re likely to get caught sooner or later. Who’s attention would you rather draw: the detention officer or your skating buddies, your angry parents or your shopping sistas? Why not spend your time with someone you like rather than demanding attention from someone you don’t?
Think you’re in control?
Think about why you are bullying: to be liked, to get back at someone, to feel better about yourself? Whatever it is, find someone you trust and start talking.