Deal With Bullying when Authority Figures Are Unsupportive

Bullying is a complex issue, and no one yet knows a perfect way to make it go away. That being said, one thing that definitely makes things worse is when those in positions of authority at your school, college,or workplace do nothing to stop the bullying, or worse, blame the bullying on you. This article will hopefully give you ideas on ways to deal with this difficult situation.


Knowing Your Rights

  1. Understand laws about bullying. If authority figures aren’t taking your bullying issues seriously, then it’s up to you to understand the rules regarding bullying.
    • Unfortunately, there are no federal laws, which specifically pertain to bullying.[1] However there are laws and policies regarding bullying at the state level.
    • Visit to learn about your particular state’s laws and/or policies.
    • The site includes information about how to report incidents of bullying for students and their families, as well as staff. It also outlines how to submit information anonymously.[2]
    • Know that bullying laws exist to protect people based on their race, sex and religion.
    • One thing to note about bullying laws pertaining to religion is that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn't directly specify religion. However, religious based harassment such as ethnic characteristics, is covered.[3]
  2. Learn about cyber bullying rules. Thankfully, nearly all states have bullying laws. However, they have been slower to institute policies pertaining to cyberbullying. Unfortunately, cyberbullying is often more traumatic than traditional bullying.[4]
    • Know that you can report instances of cyber bullying, regardless of whether state laws or policies are in place.
    • It may be civil rather than criminal, but individuals have been prosecuted for cyberbullying, using laws currently in place.[4]
  3. Familiarize yourself with school/workplace rules. Whether it’s in the school mission statement or code of conduct, most schools do have a policy regarding bullying. However, once you enter the workforce, you may not encounter something as clear cut.
    • If you’re dealing with bullying at school request a copy of the school code of conduct. If a teacher won’t provide you with one, go to the principal of guidance counselor.
    • At the workplace, ask a human resources representative about the bullying policy. There’s no guarantee they’ll have one, but it is worth inquiring about before moving forward.

Determining Others Who Can Help

  1. Seek help from family members. If you haven’t already discussed the issues you’re facing, now is the time to talk with family members.
    • This is particularly important for younger people, as parents may need to be involved per the school’s policy.
    • For adults, seeking advice from your spouse is often helpful in knowing what to do next.
    • Most importantly, you should have an outlet, someone to talk to about how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing.
  2. Consult with someone in your organization. If your immediate authority figure, such as a teacher, isn’t responsive to your issue; find someone who is.
    • At school that might be a principal or a guidance counselor. In the workplace, if it’s not your boss, it may be a human resources representative or another supervisor.
    • Ideally you want to find someone in your organization who will support you and help to resolve any bullying issues.
  3. Consider the local authorities. If you aren’t able to resolve the issue within your organization, it may be time to seek help from local authorities.
    • Call your local police station ahead of time to find out what information they need.
    • They can give you a better idea as to what the procedure is and what steps will be taken once a report has been filed.

Addressing the Issue

  1. Document incidents of bullying. This will not only be helpful for work or school officials, but may be required by the police should you choose to report the incident to them.[5]
    • Effective documentation should include assessing the nature and prevalence of bullying at school and tracking suspected and confirmed incidents of bullying.
    • Try to be as specific as you can when you're addressing the nature of what took place. Record the dates each event took place as well.
  2. Try peer mediation. Peer mediation is one common strategy for dealing with issues between students.[6] You may be required to start with peer mediation per your school’s policy.
    • There are serious disadvantages to peer mediation. Bullying is more than a conflict; it's victimization.[6]
    • During peer mediation the child who is being bullied should understand that the school is doing everything they can to stop it and that no one deserves to be bullied.[6]
    • If you feel intimidated or as if any of the blame is being placed on you during peer mediation, stop the session immediately.
  3. Get outside groups involved. For more help in getting authorities within your organization to address bullying, try getting an outside group or the media involved.
    • Contact groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which can offer their help, particularly for discriminatory based bullying.
    • You may also want to contact your local media outlets. They often have a call for action number or email address, where you can outline the problem you've been facing. It's not a guarantee that they'll feature you on their station, but it's a good avenue to try when no one else will listen.
  4. Report it to police. If peer mediation has failed or if authorities within your organization aren’t taking your complaint seriously, it’s time to go to the police.
    • Have your documentation on hand, which outlines the incidents that took place and when they occurred.
    • Call ahead to see who you should speak with and what day/time they are on-duty.
  5. Register your school for an anti-bullying program. For school aged kids who have experienced bullying, help to make sure other kids don’t have to go through the same thing by enrolling your school in an anti-bullying program.
    • One such program is PACERs, Champion Against Bullying. Ask someone within your organization, be it a principal, teacher or guidance counselor, to sign up.

Understanding the Bullying Situation

  1. Understand that you’re not alone. Bullying can feel like a lonely experience. However, 25 percent of kids experience bullying, so you're not alone in what you're going through.[7]
    • Sadly, many kids and adults alike have experienced bullying at some point in their life.
    • There are kids at school and, for adults, others within your workplace, who can relate to what you’re going through. Reach out to them for support!
    • Organizations such as are also dedicated to connecting individuals who have been bullied.
    • Even if you don’t feel comfortable getting involved in an organization, browse through their online materials. It will hopefully help you to feel more connected to others who have been in a similar situation.
  2. Know that it’s not your fault. While it may not always feel like it, realize that you are not to blame for the bullying. The bully may be frustrated or discontented in their own lives and want to make you feel as badly as they do by having control over your feelings.[7]
    • Regardless of who you are, what you believe in or what you’ve done in your life, the person at fault is not you!
    • Nobody deserves to be bullied - always keep that in mind!
  3. Remember there are people in your life who love and care about you. Whether it’s a friend, a parent or another family member, there are people who care deeply about you. Reach out to those people and let them know what’s going on.
    • Ask them for their support as you move forward. Having people you trust who can encourage and support you will boost your resilience when being bullied.[7]
    • It’s particularly important, if you don’t have the support of your authority figure, to have the support of others!
  4. Realize that not all authority figures are competent in dealing with bullying. One of the best ways to cut down on bullying is to have a person within the organization who actively reacts and responds to bullying as soon as it happens.[8]
    • Unfortunately, not all authority figures are equipped to deal with bullying. Whether it’s lack of education, ignorance, or downright disbelief that bullying exists; some authority figures are clueless.
    • There may also be biases involved regarding race, creed and sexual orientation.


  • When dealing with bullying, finding ways to maintain self esteem are key. Reading books is one good, personal way to this, while discussing your concerns with a counselor or therapist may also be very helpful.
  • Unfortunately, bullying can be rife in college or the adult world; it just takes on different characteristics that can make you feel it's more subtle although still as biting and hurtful.
  • If somebody bullies you, try ignoring them. Bullies usually just want attention.
  • Now and days, a lot of bullies and bullying come from disagreeing with a notion. A an example, while this isn't true of all LGBTQ supporters, there are many of them that will seek to punish you with harsh treatment if you state a reluctance or refusal to agree with them. Try not to cave in.


  • Make sure that you're physically safe, and report threats or violence towards you to the police.
  • Take care of your mental well-being. Being mistreated by others can make you feel badly about yourself. Consider seeing a counselor or therapist. Seeing someone for counseling is not a sign of weakness.

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Sources and Citations

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