High School Bully | Lele Pons
How to Handle a High School Bully
Bullying can take many forms, including physical, verbal, social, and cyberbullying. All situations that involve bullying involve some kind of power imbalance between the two or more people involved, and aggressive repeated behavior on the part of the person who is doing the bullying. Handling a high school bully is possible, even if it can get difficult and uncomfortable at times. In all cases, letting people know and keeping track of the events are essential to stopping the person who is bullying you.
Identifying Bullying Behavior
Defend yourself against physical bullying.Are you being hit, kicked, punched, or tripped out of the blue or for no good reason? This is physical bullying, and you have to take action to stop it. In defending yourself, you should not take physical action to stop physical bullying -- violence to stop violence does not work. No one should have to put up with physical bullying, and you have options to stop it. From interrupting to making it harder for the person bullying you to make contact, there are many positive steps you can take.
Fight back against verbal bullying.Verbal bullying involves hurtful comments about you, often designed to make you feel ashamed or isolated. It tends to be teasing and/or mean comments that might take the form of sexist, racist, or homophobic slurs, comments on your appearance, or remarks about other traits. Even though some might see it as harmless teasing, verbal bullying makes you ashamed and isolated, and those who choose to do it are hoping you won’t fight back. People who use verbal bullying to hurt others need to be stopped, and you have multiple ways to defend yourself, from your own comments back to making an official complaint.
Take action if you are the victim of social bullying.If you don’t take steps to defend yourself, social bullying can just get worse. This kind of bullying can be both open and covert, so identifying it might be challenging. By letting people know about it and putting it all out in the open (even if it’s embarrassing) those who use these tactics lose their power. Social bullying is about relationships -- challenging them, destroying them, trying to change their status. People who engage in social bullying will use the relationships you have with others to attempt to harm you. Even though it can be hard to explain to parents and teachers, social bullying is just as harmful as the other kinds. The emotional toll from dealing with someone who bullies you in this manner can be high.
- Sometimes bullying involves leaving people out of social situations on purpose to socially isolate them. Social exclusion is still a type of bullying.
- Secret bullying strategies include spreading rumors, attempts to ruin another person’s social reputation, lying, and attempting to turn a person’s friends into enemies.
Understand why the bullying is occurring.Typically people who bully want to make themselves feel better at your expense. People who bully often do so for control, power, confidence, or social acceptance. The key is to not let them receive that kind of satisfaction.
Dealing with In-Person Bullying
Interrupt the bully.It can be something like “I need to leave now” or even something silly like “My monster needs me.” It’s about trying to keep the person bullying you off-balance. This often confuses the bully enough that he or she is less sure of how you will respond the next time the possibility of bullying arises. Bullying often follows a script, and you want to change it so the bully is off-balance.
- If you are a bystander and see someone being bullied, try to create a distraction or take the bully's attention off of what he's doing. You can also provide an interruption by telling the person being bullied like, "Hey, I really need to talk to you for a second" or "Mr. X wants to see you for a minute."
Walk away if you can.If they follow you, or it happens again and you feel comfortable doing so, ask the person to stop. If the person refuses, detail the steps you will take to deal with the situation.
- For example, you can say something like, "Please stop calling me mean names. If you don't, I will report you to the principal."
- It's important not to give bullying an audience if you're a bystander. Attention will only encourage the bully. Don't laugh at or encourage bullying behavior. If it feels safe, you can even say something like, "That's really not funny" or "Take it easy."
Stay calm.No matter how the person who is bullying you responds, staying calm will show them their efforts to upset you aren’t working. Show that you are unaffected by their actions, even if you are inside.
Document your interactions with the person who is bullying you.Write down as exactly as you can what they said and did and who was there. This can help when you talk to teachers or people in authority about the situation.
Tell the school.Letting people in authority know will make it harder for the person who does the bullying to continue. You might not be the only one suffering, and it might be time for the school administration to take action against that person. It’s important to have a record of complaint against the person doing the bullying in case it continues. If the verbal abuse has taken the form of sexist, racist, or homophobic slurs, you also might want to reach out to teachers involved in student groups trying to combat sexism, racism, and homophobia.
Make it harder for the bully to find and get to you.Change your routes. Go with a crowd whenever you can. Bullies often avoid taking on someone with a group around them.
Go to the police.If the bullying consists of any physical violence, go to the police immediately. Threats of violence should also be reported to the police, as they are illegal in many jurisdictions.
Reach out for support.Being the target of bullying is not your fault. No one should have to deal with bullying, social isolation, and shaming alone. Even if people who were your friends have gotten involved in the social bullying situation, look for new activities and new friends. Get yourself out of the toxic situation.If needed, speaking with a school counselor, joining a "beat-bullying" group, or seeing a therapist may also help with your emotional pain.
Dealing with Cyberbullying
Protect yourself from cyberbullying.Cyberbullying can be the most distressful of all. Bullies have access to their victims 24/7, and the victim can feel like he or she has no peace at all. It can happen to anyone, and can be either someone you know or an anonymous user. If you are suffering from hurtful texts or emails, unwanted images, someone purposefully excluding you online, or even someone logging in to your account and making harmful changes, this is all cyberbullying. It’s particularly difficult to deal with because it can be constant -- attacking you both at school and at home, and can even be someone you might not know.
- While cyberbullying is not usually illegal, misusing computers in this manner can be.
Do not respond to the cyberbully.This is what they want you to do. Take a deep breath, stay calm, and step away from your phone or computer. Think about what productive actions you’re going to take next. Talk to a trusted adult about helping you make your next move.
Block senders that have targeted you.Make sure your settings on social media are set to not receive unwanted text and images. Any time you can make your internet presence smaller and more private, do it.
- Often the painful part of social media is hurtful comments or gossip being spread and seeing this information on others' feeds. You may want to delete your social media accounts for awhile if the bullying gets out of hard or if it starts to have emotionally damaging effects.
Get a new phone number.If the cyberbully is targeting you through texts and images to your phone, a new number will stop their efforts. Only give your new number to close family and friends and ask them not to pass it on.
Enlist the help of family and friends.When you do receive unwanted texts, images, or comments, don’t read or look at them -- send them to someone you trust. They can then put together the documentation you need to present to school authorities or the police.
Let your school know.Even if the person bullying you is not at your school, cyberbullying can have a profound and harmful impact on your life, and your teachers should be aware. If it is at your school, teachers and administrators can help you raise awareness of the issue.
Go to the police if there are extreme threats.Also report the bullying to the websites and phone companies through which you are receiving the threats. In this case, you might consider limiting your online presence.
Sources and Citations
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