Get a Friend to Stop Bullying Someone

Watching bullying take place is difficult, but it can feel even worse when it is your friend that is exhibiting the bad behavior. It’s likely hard to understand how someone you are close to could be so hateful towards another. You may be able to get them to stop, however, by talking to your friend, telling them to stop, and becoming friends with the victim.


Talking to Your Friend

  1. Ask them why they are bullying. Your friend may not even realize they are being a bully. Questioning them makes them aware of their behavior. It may also help you understand the reasoning for the behavior, which may make you stop it.[1]
    • For instance, you could say, “I notice that you say cruel things to that person. Why do you do that? I think it makes them feel really bad.” Letting your friend know the negative effects of what they do could make enough of an impact that they stop.
  2. Listen objectively. Don’t go into the conversation with any preconceived notions. Your friend may tell you something you had no idea about, which could help you understand their behavior. Listen with an open mind and try not to judge them before you have the conversation.[2]
    • For example, you may find out that they are having a difficult time with something and their behavior is actually a cry for help. Or, they could have a mental condition that you weren’t aware of. Another possibility is that your friend is acting out because they feel that they have been bullied by others.
    • Be an Empathetic Friend to your friend’s situation if you discover the situation isn’t as clear-cut as you first thought.
  3. Stay calm. Coming at a bully aggressively will likely only cause a fight. Instead, go in with a calm manner and your chances of having a productive meeting are high. Speak calmly, take a neutral stance, and use “I” sentences.[2]
    • For instance, you could say, “I am concerned about the way this person is treated,” and “I am worried that you are bullying someone.” Making it about you, instead of being accusatory with something like, “You are so mean to that person,” increases your chances of getting through to the bully.
  4. Ask yourself if you are an enabler. You may help your friend get away with their behavior without even knowing it. Allowing the bullying to go on is one way of enabling. Defending your friend to others is another way. Stop your behavior now if you believe you are in fact helping the bully. It may put an end to what they’re doing.[3]

Telling Your Friend to Stop

  1. Set boundaries with your bullying friend. Tell your friend you do not agree with their behavior. Let them know that what they are doing is wrong. You may even want to add that you will stop being their friend if they continue with the unacceptable behavior.
    • For example, you could say, “I feel that what you are doing is rude and cruel. I can’t be friends with someone who treats others that way. We are going to have to go our separate ways if you don’t stop.” This type of ultimatum may be enough for the person to end their bullying.[4]
  2. Threaten consequences. Let your friend know that you will take action against them if they continue. This may mean alerting a principal, boss, or loved one about their behavior. Taking this step may cause the end of your friendship, but you may not want to be friends with a bully anyways.
    • You might try saying, “I am going to let someone know about your behavior unless you stop right now.” The possibility of getting in trouble at school or with people close to them, or the risk of losing a job, may be enough to end the bullying.[5]
  3. Tell them how they can stop. Your friend may be so caught up in the bullying that they don’t know how to stop. Being a bully may be their identity, and without it, they may not know how to behave. Let them know there is a way out.[1]
    • Help them to see that ending the bullying is nothing to be ashamed of. Stopping will make them feel better about themself, and will help their victim feel better, as well. Encourage them to end their involvement with people who may deem them as weak if they stop the bullying. Not feeling the pressure to keep up their ugly behavior may actually be a relief for them.
    • If your friend has been behaving this way because they see themselves as a victim of bullying, help them determine a course of action. They may need to talk to a teacher, boss, or other authority figure to improve their own circumstances.

Standing Up for the Victim

  1. Step in when you witness the behavior. Confront your friend if you happen to see the bullying take place. Attempt to stop whatever you see. Ignoring the behavior means you are allowing it to occur.
    • For example, if you see your friend composing an email or text speaking badly about someone, try to intervene and stop them from sending it. You may also walk in between the two people if they are engaging and tell your friend to stop. Ending the behavior when it is in front of you shows your friend and their victim that you do not condone the bullying.[6]
  2. Befriend the victim. Being a victim of bullying is lonely, isolating, and extremely difficult. They often feel they have no one in their corner. Showing the person that you are on their side may help them feel better about themself and their situation.
    • Tell the victim that you don’t support the way your friend is behaving. Let them know you have taken a stand against your friend and won’t stay in the friendship if they continue to act that way. You may be the only person they have on their side right now.[4]
  3. Encourage them to stand up for themself. There’s only so much you can do as an outsider of the situation. Helping them learn how to fight against the bully may be exactly what it takes to end the behavior. Your advice may be especially helpful since you are friends with the person who is bullying them.
    • For example, let them know that telling your friend to leave them alone may be helpful, as is ignoring the situation. You know your friend and possibly know the tactics that can work to put them in their place. Be careful not to give out information that could turn the victim into the bully. Just relay suggestions that you believe may stop the bad behavior.[5]

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