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Thinking Man on Couch


Every day thousands of children and teens wake up afraid to go to school. Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students of all races and classes. Bullying has everyone worried, not just the kids on its receiving end. Yet because parents, teachers, and other adults don't always see it, they may not understand how extreme bullying can get.

Image by Anthony Tran

How to deal with a bully

Bullies like to feel more powerful than their peers. Bullies can make youth feel helpless. It is okay to be scared.

What to do if you are bullied:

  • Tell your parents. Telling is not tattling. Your parents can help you figure out what to do.

  • Tell a trusted teacher, school counselor, or principal. If you are scared or uncomfortable, bring a friend or a parent. Your parents can also talk to the school for you. You can write down what happened, how it happened, and who is bullying you.

  • Do not retaliate against the bully or get angry. Try to cool the situation and not make the bully torment you even more.

  • Respond evenly and firmly or say nothing and just walk away. A bully likes to feel powerful and likes to see that he or she has upset you.


How to prevent being bullied:

  • Develop friendships with other kids at your school or in your neighborhood. A bully is more likely to leave you alone if you are with your friends. This is especially true if you stick up for each other.

  • Develop interests in social and physical activities. This will help you to develop friendships with other people who share your interests.

  • Act confident. Hold your head up, stand up straight, make eye-contact, and walk confidently. A bully will be less likely to single you out if you project self-confidence.

How to avoid bullying situations:

Sometimes the best way to prevent being bullied is to avoid situations where bullying can happen.

  • Sit near the bus driver on the school bus.

  • Take a different route to and from school.

  • Leave a little earlier or later to avoid confronting a bully.

  • Do not bring expensive items or lots of money to school.

  • Take different routes through the hallways or walk with a teacher to your classes.

  • Avoid unsupervised areas of the school and situations where you are isolated from your teachers and classmates.

What NOT to do if you are bullied:

There are some things that you should avoid when you are confronted with bullying behavior.



  • Think that it's your fault. No one deserves to be bullied

  • Hurt yourself. Some people who are bullied might get depressed. Remember that it's not your fault!

  • Keep it to yourself and think that the bully will just "go away.”

  • Think that you're a "tattle tale" if you tell an adult. Telling someone is the right thing to do.

  • Fight back or bully the person back. This might make things worse.

How can you help a victim of bullying?

Do not join in if you see someone who is being bullied. Try to help the person if you can, but do not place yourself at risk. If you do nothing it implies that you think it is okay to bully and hurt others.

  • Refuse to join in if the bully tries to get you to taunt and torment someone.

  • Get a teacher, parent, or other adult to come help. This is not tattling. You are saying that you do not think that bullying is acceptable and do not want anyone to get hurt.

  • Try to get the child that is being bullied to tell his or her parents or a trusted teacher. Tell the victim that you will go with them.

  • Tell a trusted adult yourself if the victim is unwilling to report the bullying. Do not let the bully know so that he or she does not become aggressive toward you.

Bullying is a Big Problem:

Bullying is when a person is picked on over and over again by an individual or group with more power, either in terms of physical strength or social standing. Two of the main reasons people are bullied are because of appearance and social status. Bullies pick on the people they think don't fit in, maybe because of how they look, how they act (for example, kids who are shy and withdrawn), their race or religion, or because the bullies think their target may be gay or lesbian.

Some bullies attack their targets physically, which can mean anything from shoving or tripping to punching or hitting, or even sexual assault. Others use psychological control or verbal insults to put themselves in charge. For example, people in popular groups or cliques often bully people they categorize as different by excluding them or gossiping about them (psychological bullying). They may also taunt or tease their targets (verbal bullying).

Verbal bullying can also involve sending cruel instant or email messages or even posting insults about a person on a website — practices that are known as cyberbullying.

One of the most painful aspects of bullying is that it is relentless. Most people can take one episode of teasing or name calling or being shunned at the mall. However, when it goes on and on, bullying can put a person in a state of constant fear.

Guys and girls who are bullied may find their schoolwork and health suffering. Studies show that people who are abused by their peers are at risk for mental health problems, such as low self-esteem, stress, depression, or anxiety. They may also think about suicide more.

Bullies are at risk for problems, too. Bullying is violence, and it often leads to more violent behavior as the bully grows up. It's estimated that 1 out of 4 elementary-school bullies will have a criminal record by the time they are 30. Some teen bullies end up being rejected by their peers and lose friendships as they grow older. Bullies may also fail in school and not have the career or relationship success that other people enjoy. 

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