Stop Bullying

Bullying can take many forms, but all forms of bullying cause harm. Even if there is no physical contact between a bully and their target, people who are bullied may carry the emotional damage of what they experienced for the rest of their lives. That is why it is important to put a stop to bullying. If you are being bullied, then there are things you can do to deal with the bully. If you witness bullying, then there are things you can do to stand up for someone else. You can also work to raise awareness among your peers and learn about the different ways that you can ask for help.


Dealing with a Bully

  1. Walk away. If the situation seems threatening or dangerous, it's best to get away from the bully. Even if it is not a dangerous situation, remember that you don’t have to listen to someone say mean things to you. The best thing to do might be to calmly walk away from the person. This will send the message that you won’t put up with this kind of treatment.
    • Try to walk towards people, such as towards a teacher or someone else who will not put up with bullying.
  2. Tell someone so the bully will stop. It is important to report bullying right away so that it will stop.[1] By telling someone that you are being bullied, you will be standing up for yourself and showing the bullies that you will not put up with their abuse.
    • Find a teacher, parent, school counselor, or someone else who can help you and immediately tell them what the bully has been saying or doing to you.
    • Try saying something like, “Joyce is bullying me. She keeps making fun of my weight and she will not stop. I have asked her to stop, but she is still doing it. I think I need some help to make it stop.”
    • You can also write a note to explain what is happening deliver the note to your teacher, school counselor, or principal.
    • Tell someone else if the first person you tell does not do anything about the bully. Don’t accept that you will have to put up with the bullying.
  3. Look the bully in the eye and tell him or her to stop. Using direct, assertive communication and body language is the best way to address a bully.[2] If a bully continues to harass you even after you have walked away, then let him or her know that you will not put up with the behavior. Turn and face the bully and tell him or her to stop.
    • To use assertive body language, stand up tall and face the bully. Look the bully in the eye when you are speaking to them. Don’t look down and don’t try to make yourself smaller, such as by folding your arms or bringing your knees in close to your body. Pull yourself up to your full height, keep your arms at your sides, and your feet about shoulder width apart.
    • Keep your request short and direct. Try saying something like, “Stop it, Jennifer.” Or, “Cut it out, Craig.” As you say this, make sure that you look the bully directly in the eye and speak in a calm, clear voice.
    • Don’t compliment or insult the bully. If you say nice things to a bully after he or she has been insulting you, putting you down, or physically threatening you, then this will only increase his or her sense of power. Calling the bully names may enrage the bully increase his or her efforts to hurt you.
  4. Stay calm. It is the bully’s goal to get an emotional response out of you, so do your best to keep calm and avoid showing the bully how you feel. Try your best not to show that you are angry, sad, or frightened yell. The bully may feed off of these emotions and increase his or her efforts.
    • Take a few deep breaths and think about something that makes you happy, such as getting a good grade on a test, playing with your dog, or something fun that you are planning to do with your family over the weekend. Doing this may help you to take a step back from the situation and avoid reacting to your emotions. Make sure that you keep your eyes open and maintain eye contact with the bully as you do this.
    • Respond to the bully in a calm way. For example, you might say, "Jack, I know you think you're funny but you're not. Stop." Or, "Stop now or I'm asking the teacher to move you away from me."
    • Be sure to talk about how the bully made you feel with someone later on. Talk with your parents, a school counselor, or a teacher.

Helping Someone who is Being Bullied

  1. Take immediate action. Do not wait to deal with bullying. If you see or hear about someone being bullied, then step in to stop the bullying right away. If you cannot intervene yourself, then find someone who can. Adults who are intervening in bullying may also want to get help from a second adult.[3]
    • You can try standing up for the person and saying something like, “Stop it, Lisa!” Don’t insult the bully or use physical force to stop him or her from bullying the person.
    • If you are not able to intervene or is intervening does not work, then get help from someone. For example, if you see someone being bullied on the playground, then run and get a teacher or recess monitor and tell him or her what is happening.
    • Don’t wait until later to tell someone. If you wait, the person may get hurt.
    • Tell a teacher or counselor about any ongoing bullying that you know about. Some forms of bullying, such as exclusion or subtle remarks, may go unnoticed by teachers.
  2. Separate the bully and the person being bullied. It is important to keep the bully away from the person he or she is bullying. Do not force the two parties to be in the same room together or to shake hands and make up. Put them in separate rooms and talk with each one individually.[3]
    • Ask each person what happened.
    • You can also talk to other kids who witnessed the bullying, but don’t do this in front of the bully or the person who was being bullied.
    • Take your time sorting out the details of what happened. Do not try to figure everything out on the spot. Talk with both parties, ask witnesses what they saw, and then put all of the pieces together.
  3. Take it seriously. Bullying is a serious problem that can escalate and cause serious damage if it is not stopped. Take any bullying that you hear about very seriously.[4] You might even need to contact the police or emergency services in some situations. You may need to involve the police or seek medical attention for the person if:[3]
    • A weapon is involved.
    • There are threats involved.
    • The violence or threats are motivated by hate, such as racism or homophobia.
    • The bully has done serious physical harm to the person.
    • Sexual abuse is involved.
    • Anything illegal has happened, such as extortion, blackmail, or robbery.

Setting a Good Example

  1. Make sure you aren't perpetuating bullying behavior in your school.[5] Examine your own treatment of your classmates. Is there anyone you may be bullying, even unintentionally? Everyone exchanges sharp words now and then, but if there's someone you tend to pick on, stop, even if you aren't doing what you would define as bullying. Make it your policy to be nice to other people, even if you don't like them very much.
    • Don't tease someone else unless you know them well enough to understand their sense of humor.
    • Don't spread rumors or gossip about other people - that's a form of bullying.
    • Don't purposely leave someone out or ignore them.
    • Never spread pictures or information about someone else on the internet without consent.
  2. Stand up for other people. If you see someone getting bullied in your school, stand up to the bullies. Not participating isn't going far enough. Make sure that you are actively taking a stand to prevent the victim from getting harmed further. You can interfere by speaking with the bully if you feel safe doing so, or telling a school administrator what you saw.
    • If your friends start gossiping about someone, make it clear that you don't participate in that kind of thing. Try saying something like, “I don’t like gossip. Can we talk about something else?”
    • If you're part of a group that's intentionally leaving someone else out, tell the group you want to include everyone, because it's the right thing to do. Try saying something like, “I think we should be nicer to Catherine. It must be hard to be the new girl in school.”
    • If you see someone getting picked on and fear for that person's safety, tell a school administrator right away. Try saying something like, “I am worried about David. I have noticed that some of the older boys harass him when he is walking home from school.”
  3. Spread the word that bullying has to stop. Many schools have anti-bullying campaigns led by students who want to keep their schools safe and friendly. Join a group or start one at your school to spread awareness about the problem of bullying and figure out ways to solve it.
    • Try starting a conversation with your friends about bullying. You might say something like, “Did you know that bullying is still happening at our school? I think it is terrible and I would like to do something to stop it.”
    • Talk with your teacher or school counselor about ways you can help. For example, you might be invited to give a presentation on bullying in your class or you might be able to help organize an event to raise awareness about bullying.

Asking for Help

  1. Talk to your school administrators. Since bullying is so common, every school has a policy for handling it efficiently and effectively. Talk to your school principal or school counselor about the situation so that it stops as soon as possible. Steps will be taken to either punish the bully or set up a mediation to resolve the issue.
    • Know that other kids in your school are experiencing the same problem, and rules and protocols are in place for good reason.
    • If you're a parent, set up a meeting with the school administrator instead of trying to handle the situation on your own.
  2. Report cyberbullying to service providers. This form of bullying has become so common that phone services and other service providers also have plans in place for dealing with abuse. Call your service providers to report the bullying so that action will be taken to block the person from continuing to contact you. You may have to provide phone or email records to the service provider.
  3. Call local law enforcement. Certain forms of bullying can be quite dangerous, and some are even classified as crimes. If the bullying you experience involves one of these elements, call your local police department.
    • Physical violence. Bullying can lead to real physical harm. If you're worried that your health or life is in danger, call the police.
    • Stalking and use of intimidation. If someone is violating your personal space and intimidating you, that's a crime.
    • Death threats or threats of violence.
    • Dispersion of potentially humiliating photos or videos without your consent, including sexually explicit photos or videos.
    • Hate-related actions or threats.
  4. Take legal action. Continued bullying that causes emotional or physical damage may be grounds for taking legal action. If the measures taken by the school and the bully's parents are not sufficient to correct the problem, you might want to consider getting a lawyer involved.

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Sources and Citations