What Can You Do About Bullying?
You’re here, so at least you’ve been thinking about the fact that bullying is a pretty big problem. You’re right, it is! But what can you do about it? You can do a lot!
Whether you are being bullied, you have seen kids being bullied, or you’re pretty sure you have bullied others, there are plenty of good things you can do to help make sure it doesn’t happen again. No matter how you’ve been affected by bullying, it’s a good idea to talk to an adult. Even though it’s hard to talk to grown-ups sometimes, they can help!
But there’s way more to it than that. Check out the Tips For Kids page and learn how YOU can make a difference.
Are You Being Bullied?
So you’re being bullied, huh? That can feel pretty awful. But, no matter how bad it makes you feel sometimes, you should know you’re not alone. That’s right … there are plenty of kids all over the world who go through the same things you do every day. And, even though you may feel helpless sometimes, there are a lot of things you and others can do to help stop the bullying. Give these tips a try.
Always tell an adult. It’s hard to talk about serious things with adults sometimes, but they can help put a stop to bullying. Tell an adult that you trust and can talk to – your parents, your teacher, your school counselor, your coach, your neighbor. If you’ve told a grown-up before and they haven’t done anything about it, tell someone else. And if you’re afraid to tell an adult that you have been bullied, get another person – like a friend or a sister or brother – to go with you. Having someone else there to support you can make it a lot less scary. Tell the adults exactly what has happened – who did the bullying, where and when it happened, how long it’s been happening to you, and how it’s making you feel. If you talk with an adult at your school, ask them what they will do to help stop the bullying. It is their job to help keep you safe. Most adults really care about bullying and will do everything they can to help you.
Telling an adult can seem hard. Here are ways some other kids have done this:
Stay in a group.Kids who bully like to pick on kids who are by themselves a lot– it’s easier and they’re more likely to get away with their bad behavior. If you spend more time with other kids, you may not be an easy “target” and you’ll have others around to help you if you get into a difficult situation!
If it feels safe, try to stand up to the person who is bullying you.If the person who is bullying you thinks you won’t do anything about it, they are more likely to keep picking on you. This doesn’t mean you should fight back or bully them back. Instead, tell the person bullying you that you don’t like it and that they should stop! Keep it simple. You might just say, “Cut it out, Miranda!”, and then walk away. If possible, try to talk to them in a calm voice. Kids who bully often like to see that they can make you upset. If you’re afraid to talk to the person who is bullying you by yourself, then you might want to ask someone else to be there with you. Kids who bully are more likely to listen, and less likely to bully you, when you’re with someone and not alone. If you’re not comfortable standing up to someone who has bullied you, that’s definitely OK! Just walk away. But be sure to tell an adult.
If you are being bullied online, don’t reply. This may actually make the bullying worse. Instead, be sure to tell a family member or another adult you trust. If possible, block any more communications from this person. (For example, it might be a good idea only to accept messages from people you know.) Save evidence of the bullying. If you get a nasty e-mail, print it out or save it so that you can show it to an adult.
Join clubs or take part in activities where you’ll meet other kids. Sometimes, it can help to join clubs or take part in activities that interest you. Think about joining a sports team, taking an art class, or joining a scouting group, for example. You can meet other kids who share your interests and you might make some good friends!
What NOT To Do If You Are Bullied
- Think it’s your fault. Nobody deserves to be bullied!
- Fight back or bully a person back. This probably won’t make things any better and it might get you into big trouble. Besides, you should try to act better than the person who bullies you.
- Keep it to yourself and just hope the bullying will “go away.” It’s normal to want to try to ignore bullying and hope that it will stop–or hope that the person will start to pick on someone else. But, often, bullying won’t stop until adults and other kids get involved. So, be sure to report the bullying.
- Skip school or avoid clubs or sports because you’re afraid of being bullied. Missing out on school or activities that you enjoy isn’t the answer. You have a right to be there!
- Think that you’re a “tattle tale” if you tell an adult that you’ve been bullied. Telling is NOT tattling! It’s the right thing to do.
- Hurt yourself. Some kids who are bullied get so sad and depressed that they may try to hurt themselves because they think there is nothing else they can do. This definitely isn’t the answer. Talk with an adult immediately and tell them how you are feeling. They can help stop the bullying.
Do You Witness Bullying? Are You A Bystander?
So, you aren’t someone who bullies others, and you haven’t been bullied yourself. But if you see it happening to others, you can help put a stop to it. In order to stop bullying, everyone needs to lend a hand and get involved! And even though it might be easier to stand by and watch (or try to ignore the bullying), just remember, we all need a little help from time to time! Think about how you might feel if the bullying was happening to YOU. There are all kinds of great things you can do to help. So the next time you see someone being bullied, try one (or more) of these ideas and make a real difference!
Report the bullying to an adult. Many kids who are bullied are scared to tell an adult about it (especially a teacher or principal), because they are afraid the person bullying them will find out and the bullying will just get worse. That’s where you come in. Even if it’s a little scary for you to tell an adult about bullying that you see, it’s the right thing to do. It’s not tattling – you’re helping someone out. Who should you tell? You could tell your teacher, school counselor, school nurse, parents, coach, or any adult you feel comfortable talking with. It might be a little less scary if you ask a friend to go along with you. Be sure to tell the adult exactly what happened – who was bullied, who did the bullying, and where and when it happened. If you’re not sure if another kid is being bullied but you think they probably are – it’s good to report that, too. Most adults really care about bullying and will be VERY glad that you told them about it. If you told an adult and you don’t think they did anything about the bullying (or if it isn’t getting any better), find another adult to tell.
Support someone who is being bullied. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a person who is being bullied is just to be there for him or her and be a friend. Whether this means agreeing to walk home with him or her after school, sitting with him or her on the bus or at lunch, trying to include him or her in your school or social activities, or just spending some time with him or her and trying to understand what he or she is going through, it will make a huge difference! Although these may seem like small things to you, they will show a kid who is being bullied that you care about him or her and the problems he or she is facing. And that can be a BIG help!
Josh stands up for Hal, his teammate, after being bullied by Brick on the way to the locker room. Take a look at this Bullying Scene to learn about a cool approach to lend a hand.
Stand up to the person doing the bullying. If you feel safe doing this, tell a person who is bullying that what he or she is doing is wrong and that he or she should stop. Keep it simple. You could just say, “Ben, cut it out. Nobody thinks that’s funny.” If you can, get some friends to join you. When kids who bully see that other kids don’t think it’s cool, they are more likely to stop. Just be sure you don’t bully them back! It’s not easy to stand up to kids who may be bigger and stronger than you or really popular, so if you’re not comfortable doing this, that’s OK. (But be sure to tell an adult!)
After he fails to stop kids in the neighborhood from bullying his little sister, Milton finds that it is best to involve your parents. Take some tips from Milton’s Bullying Scene example.
Do You Bully?
If you bully others, we’re glad you’re here. If you’re not sure if what you’re doing is really bullying, then take our Quick Quiz/Signs That You Bully. (But here’s a hint: If you are hurting or threatening others in some way and using your size, strength or popularity to do it … you’re probably bullying someone!)
Hey – let’s face it, hurting and making others feel bad is NEVER cool. Just admitting that you are doing things to harm others takes some guts. But that’s not enough. Trying to find out what you should do to change the way you’re acting … now that’s a step in the right direction! So check out these tips … they’ll help you to start treating others with the respect they deserve.
Think about what you’re doing … and how it affects others. If you think calling others names is really harmless, or if you think pushing, hitting or stealing from other kids is funny, you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be hurt yourself! Teasing, hitting, keeping others out of a group – all of these things harm someone. All of us have been hurt at one time or another and we all know how it feels – awful! So the next time you are about to bully someone:
- Put yourself in their shoes
- Think about how it must make them feel
- And just don’t do it
Talk to an adult. Making other people feel badly should never make you feel good. If it does, or if you’re not really sure why you bully other kids, you need to talk to an adult about it. Even though you might think an adult won’t understand, or that you’ll get yourself into trouble, they can help! Whether it is your parent, a teacher or another trusted grown-up, you should tell an adult how you’ve been acting so that they help you deal with it. School counselors are also great people to talk to about how you feel and how to change the way you treat others.