You have a bully in your life who is tormenting you and making school unbearable! Perhaps you have been told that ‘it is not your fault,’ to ‘avoid the bully the best you can’. After all, they picked you at random. There was nothing you could have done to prevent the bully from targeting you. How do you stop bullying, when you have no control? While it is true that there is a power imbalance present in the bullying relationship—with the bully having some sort of power over the victim—that does not mean that victims of bullying are powerless.
If you have a bully at school, check out some of these strategies that might help stop bullying.
Understand your values and identity.
Sometimes kids stand out because they don’t quite know where they fit in. Being a young person is a tricky time in a person’s life. Finding your identity takes time. You are attempting to balance an understanding of yourself with an understanding of others, and understanding your values is a great first step to finding out who you are and what you stand for. Our values are the things in our life that orient us and guide our behavior, and one of the ways we can identify what our values are is by considering the things that we do.
We can understand our values by looking at our behavior. You might be on the track team at your high school and may identify physical fitness as one of your values; you may be taking 5 AP classes and identify academic excellence as one of your values; or you may see your family as a cornerstone or bedrock in your life and identify Family as one of your values. If you are being bullied, understanding your values can help you assess where you fit in, find supportive friend groups, engage in activities you enjoy, and have fun with people who love having you around. There are all kinds of young people around you, and many of them Value the same things you do. Find those people and say goodbye to your bully.
Find/develop your confidence.
Along with understanding your values comes finding the things that you enjoy doing and the people you enjoy doing those things with! Whether it is basketball, debate, student government, chess, or Dungeons & Dragons, follow your values to the people and activities you enjoy. You may even find yourself trying something for the first time! It takes bravery to try something new for the first time. After all, you must view the risk as an opportunity to grow versus a trap to be embarrassed or publicly humiliated.
Challenges present opportunities, not pitfalls. Making the decision to try new things will make you braver! Being braver, you will be better able to confidently explore the world. Stand up tall and look confidently forward. When you approach the world as though every new opportunity were filled with fun and potential instead of disaster and embarrassment, friends will be eager to join you and bullies will shrink up and disappear.
Tell the bully what they are doing and how it makes you feel.
Bullies can be blind to the effect that their behaviors have on others. Saying to the bully “Are you aware that every time I walk down this hall you comment on my glasses? I don’t appreciate it and want you to stop,” is a surefire way to make them aware of their unappreciated behavior. Not only does this action make the bully aware of the effects of their behavior, but it reminds you that you have the power to speak on your own behalf, always.
People who have a chance to speak up for themselves, and don’t, become less able to speak up for themselves in the future. People who speak up for themselves and assert themselves when required get stronger and better able to speak up for themselves in the future. It takes a ton of bravery to speak up to your bully, but speaking up to your bully will translate into you speaking out to all bullying. The best way to stop bullying is to speak out against it in the moments when it is happening.
If you have a bully at school, you may feel powerless. But remember, you are not! There are always things that you can do. Decisions you can make to empower yourself, and change your experience at school. You can always talk to someone about the bullying as well. Approaching a trusted teacher, parent, or friend about the bullying can also be a way to find some support in a situation that can often feel intensely isolating. For other great tips, check out a previous post: 10-tips to stop bullying.