What IS bullying, anyway?

Bullying is another name for harassment. Bullying can be physical with one or more students hurting one another. More often, bullying is verbal and includes persistent threatening, teasing, ridicule or talking about another person.

It’s not your fault. Bullies don't pick on you because of something you did. The bully is picking on you because of the way he or she feels. (Yes, girls are as likely to be bullies as boys.) Some people bully others as a way of feeling popular, showing off or making themselves look tough. Others think that intimidation is the best way to handle problems. Often, they've been the victims of bullying themselves. So if someone is bullying you, don't think it’s your fault.

You aren't helpless. Parents may tell their children to strike back at bullies. Usually, that creates more problems than it solves. But if you're being bullied, you aren't helpless. You can do some things that may stop the bullying. Here are some things you might try.

  1. Tell a friend. Ask your friend to help you. It’s tougher to pick on a person who has someone there for support.
  2. Walk away. It’s harder to bully someone who won't stand still to listen.
  3. Chill out Bullies seem to target kids who respond to their taunts. Girls who cry easily or boys who have a tendency to fly off the handle. So try hard not to show any emotion. Practice by looking in a mirror if you have to. It’s no fun to bully someone who doesn't seem to care.
  4. Try not to be alone in places where the bully picks on you. This may mean you need to sit in a different place on the bus or take a different way to school.
  5. don't fight back. Usually, bullies are bigger and stronger than you are. If you try to fight, you'll probably get clobbered. You could make the situation worse. Or you could even get blamed for starting the fight.
  6. Write it down. Keep track of what happens, dates, times, places. Write down exactly what the bully says. When you are ready to tell an adult, you'll have proof. Remember, people matter more than things. If bullies are attacking you because they want your money, your sneakers, or your jacket, give up your property before you give up your life. A jacket can be replaced. You can't.

Tell an adult. It’s pretty tough to stop bullying by yourself or even with the help of friends. So if you've tried some of the things on the list above and the bullying hasn't stopped, it’s time for you to tell an adult. Nobody likes to admit that they're being bullied. And some kids think they're being a tattletale if they tell an adult. That’s not true. Kids have a right to be safe from attacks. And often a bully has more than one victim. So if you don't tell, the bully will just keep on harassing other people, too.

Start by telling your parents. Show them the things you've written down. Ask them to tell a teacher or your principal.

If you see someone being bullied, report the incident to a teacher or the principal.


(Source: The Parent Institute, P.O. Box 7474, Fairfax Station, VA 22039)


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