13 Sep What to do if you are being bullied…
What to do if you are being bullied
1. Set boundaries. This means that you don’t listen to insults, you don’t take calls you don’t want to, you text when you want, you see whom you choose, and you decide what you do and when. Say “no” to unacceptable behavior. A good response to provocative (meaning challenging) behavior is no response. A person who bullies picks on people who react in a way that shows that they are hurt and therefore, vulnerable.
2. Be honest. A person who bullies will feel he or she has manipulated (meaning influenced) you when you start telling lies like him/her. Keep your words and actions honest. That way, all the lies and deceptions bullies create do not enter your world. For instance, if a person trying to bully you tells others that you tripped in the hallway, tell the truth when asked. Lying about it will just let the bully know you are embarrassed and you come off as a liar. This puts the focus on your behavior rather than the bully’s poor behavior.
3. Consider if you should confront the bully. Don’t let a person who bullies get away with her actions. If you witness a lie from a known “bully” and you feel comfortable enough in the situation to say something, then go ahead and call him or her on it. He or she will be less likely to try to get away with it (with you for sure) again. This is tricky though because people who bully hate to be called out for their actions and they may try to take it out on you. Never confront a bully if you think it would be dangerous. This is when your incredible social skills come in handy – you know when it’s safe enough to call someone out and when it’s not. If unsure, don’t do it. You are wise to have your friends support you and be with you if you choose to confront a bully on a situation.
4. Seek help. Look, these people who bully are no fun. But many trained professionals are available to help you deal with them – teachers, coaches, social workers. Even your parents can help. Find help. Indeed, the people who bully need help as well. One of the best things you can do is to get a trained professional involved.
5. Maintain eye-contact. The eyes have incredible power. When you look away you are being submissive (showing weakness). Looking away gives the person who bullies the power. If you do look away, make sure it is with confidence, perhaps with a small smile and an eye roll that silently says, “You are so stupid if you think I’m going to be scared of you.”
6. Try to keep the power even. An imbalance of “power” happens socially when someone tries to gain control in a mean or threatening way. For example, Alec might try to gain the upper hand (the power) when he says, “Get in line behind me because you’re a loser.” Alec has been known to bully and has gotten away with this stuff in the past. Today you don’t allow it – you bring the power back to even. You say, “You were first last week, so we’re taking turns this week. I’m going first.” And step in front of the line. You haven’t allowed Alec to control the situation. You are attempting to keep the power even. But, if Alec is someone who might become physically violent in this situation (even though it is public) keeping the power even might not be an option at this time. Never put yourself in danger.
7. Use humor! When you can laugh at the stupid stuff that a person who bullies says or when you can prove that he or she is not upsetting you at all – not gaining power – then you shut them down. Humor is a great way to achieve this.
8. Change the focus. This is helpful in all situations. If you are beginning to feel uncomfortable because the conversation in a group has just shifted to focus on you, but not in a positive or supportive way, look for a new topic or do something that requires a different focus, such as “OMG! Has anyone noticed how the food in the cafeteria has gotten so much better/worse?” OR “Did anyone see the YouTube video of the puppies rolling in glitter?” One strategy is to have a new topic ready to discuss when the old topic feels like it might turn on you.
9. Do not get defensive. Responses like, “But I really like my new shoes,” will only fuel the bully into attacking you more. Dismissive, I-could-care-less-about-what-you-say-to-me responses are much more effective. Try not to defend yourself in a way that shows you are hurt. as this shows that you are upset – an emotion the person who bullies is looking for! For example, trying to defend a rumor (“That’s not true! How could you say that?!”) or trying to get even with someone (“No, you’re the jerk of the century!”) fuels the fire because the person who bullies lives for it. Don’t give her the power. Remember your character. Keep to the high ground, don’t sink beneath the dirt like the person who bullies.
Here are some more concrete examples:
Bully: “Look, it’s ugly brace-face!”
Victim: (Big smile and eye-contact) “That’s original.”
Bully: “That’s the ugliest outfit I’ve ever seen….”
Victim: (Eye-contact) “Thanks, picked it out myself.”
Bully: “You look like a total dork.”
Victim: (Eye-contact, dismissive) “Yeah, well, whatever.”