Dealing with Bullying – What are my options…?
When it comes to dealing with bullying there isn’t always one ‘right’ answer. This information will help if you’re being bullied, but it can also help if you know someone who is being bullied and you’re not sure what to say or do to help them.
Telling someone or getting someone else involved can often help you to feel better – even if it doesn’t make the bullying stop. But what works for someone else won’t always work for you. You will know what feels right for you and your situation, but you don’t have to limit yourself to trying just one thing; you might need to try a couple of different options to find one that works for you.
You could tell an adult
In most cases this is good advice. But does it feel right for you and your situation? Maybe you’re worried about an over-reaction, being called a ‘grass’ or people finding out you’ve been bullied. For some people, that can seem worse than the bullying itself. But telling the right adult really can make a difference. Talk to someone you can trust; a parent, teacher, brother or sister, football coach or a youth worker. It doesn’t matter who they are, only that you trust them to listen and do their best for you. Let them know what you would like to happen and ask them to keep you involved throughout.
Don’t bottle things up
If you’re struggling it’s important not to bottle up your feelings – this can make you feel worse. Even if you don’t want help to stop the bullying, it can help to talk to a friend or someone else you trust about how you feel. You might find telling a friend easier. If you are the friend it is important you listen – don’t necessarily try to fix things straight away, but be there for them. But if you do need adult help and find it difficult to approach someone, a friend can help by going with you or passing the information on. You might also be able to get some support at school, online or at the other places you visit. Buddy systems, peer mentoring and counselling are there to help you find a way of dealing with problems like bullying, and the people involved are trained to listen and help you talk things through. This might be worth exploring.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know but you think it’ll help to tell someone, you can call ChildLine (0800 1111) or go online
and speak to someone in confidence.
Ignore it/Walk away/Pretend it doesn’t bother you
Being able to walk away from bullying or act like it doesn’t bother you is a good coping mechanism; it can show people you’re confident and can deal with situations. But it’s not always easy to pretend that you’re okay when you’re not. Even if you can hide your feelings from people, they’re still there and you need to do something that will help you deal with them. Walking away doesn’t work so well when the bullying is happening at places you enjoy going to, or places that you might have to go to – like your school, your church or your Mosque. If you feel comfortable trying this then you should. But if it’s not an option then you need to think about trying something else.
Block/report users online
If the bullying is happening online, you can instantly ‘block’ someone who is horrible to you, or delete or ‘hide’ what they say, even though that won’t stop other people from seeing it. There are also steps you can take on social media sites, such as Facebook, where you can report language or behaviour which is offensive or aggressive. Often ‘blocking’ someone is enough and you might not feel the need to report them but, again, everyone is different and it will depend on your situation and what will make you feel better.
If you’re new to social networking or online gaming, take things slowly. Start off with friends you already have, or people you already know. Find your feet and get comfortable with how relationships work online before venturing into new conversations or friendships with other people.
Keep a diary of what happens
Keeping a diary doesn’t suit everyone, but writing things down can be a really useful way of coping with how you’re feeling; especially if you aren’t ready to talk to someone about it. Recording incidents can also make it easier if you do decide to tell someone and it can act as evidence if other parties need to get involved. Similarly, if you’re being bullied online, you should keep any texts or online messages you receive.
Ask them to stop
If you can do this then try it – the person bullying you might not know how their behaviour is affecting you, and it might change the way they behave towards you. But some people aren’t so approachable and you might not have the confidence to speak to them, or you might be worried about what will happen if you do. If you feel this might make things worse then it’s best to explore another option.
Use a witty/clever comeback
Some people are witty and confident enough to respond to people who are bullying them with a clever comeback – but it’s not something everyone will feel comfortable doing. Weigh up the situation and be prepared for the reaction you might get. No one wants to be embarrassed in front of other people, and it might make them react in a more aggressive way than they did before. Try to judge whether you might make things worse before taking this approach. If you use this option online, remember how easily comments can be misunderstood! Something that sounds funny or clever in your head might not come across that way online!
Get your own back/Stand up to them
Children and young people tell us that this is a common piece of advice, but it isn’t always helpful! It takes a lot of courage to confront someone who is making you feel intimidated, scared, sad or lonely. Violence can leave you and others badly hurt – or in serious trouble – and it can make you feel bad about yourself. If someone uses violence towards you then this is an assault – not bullying – and it may be a good idea to involve the police. Hitting back is a choice - but it’s a risky one. Remember, if you hit someone back you could be charged with assault. Despite what people think, responding to bullying with more bullying doesn’t make it go away.