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EDUCATIONHow to Avoid Being Bullied

School can be a challenging time for kids. If you are being bullied, that only makes things worse. You can decrease your likelihood of becoming a bully victim by being confident and sticking with friends. If someone is bullying you, ignore them or calmly ask them to stop. If needed, seek help from a trusted adult. Bullying can have serious consequences in the long-term and may require intervention. It’s important that you tell an adult or teacher.

Deterring Bullies

Be confident. Bullies typically look for easy targets. They try to pick on someone who they think lacks the confidence to stand up to them. If you have confidence, you will avoid a lot of bullying. How do you display confidence? Give off confident body language by standing up straight when you walk in the hallways. While this may seem like a minor change, it can really show confidence. Look everyone in the eyes and smile as you walk down the halls so you don’t appear to be nervous or afraid. Find ways to increase your own self-esteem. By investing into hobbies or extra-curricular activities (like karate!), it can boost your self-worth and make you feel good about yourself.

Hang out in groups. Bullies may be less likely to target a big group of friends. They tend to pick on people they perceive as defenseless or powerless. If you’re always surrounded by people, a bully may be intimidated and avoid bothering you. Try to get involved with a group of people who share your interests, such as by joining a club or sports team. Then, spend time with these people throughout the day. This will help to ensure that you are always with a large group of people and you will not be an easy target for a bully. Sign up for a self-defense class that can help you learn how to protect yourself.

Avoid bullies altogether. If you know which kids tend to bully others, stay away from them. Avoid areas in the school where bullies get together. If you don’t have assigned seating, avoid sitting next to bullies in class. If you keep your distance from bullies, they’ll have a harder time bothering you. Sometimes, bullies show up in areas you can’t avoid. If your locker is located next to a bully’s locker, for example, you might have to deal with them on occasion. Try to minimize this as much as you can by quickly removing your books between classes. You may also consider asking to move to a different locker to reduce or avoid conflicts with the bully.

Do not bully back. If you want to avoid being bullied, you have to avoid doing it to others. This helps create a culture of respect between you and other school kids. Avoid kicking, fighting, or yelling at a bully. Escalating the situation can be dangerous and will only give the bully the reaction they want. Try taking a few deep breaths before you react or do anything. This will help you to stay calm and maintain your composure.

Try to ignore the bully. If you’re able to tune it out, do so. Bullies enjoy knowing their tactics have impacted someone’s mentality, so temporarily concealing your reaction may help. If a bully says or does something to you, pretend you didn’t notice and proceed with your day. Bullies may get bored with targets that don’t react to their antics.

Stand up for yourself. If a bully doesn’t back down even if you ignore them, stay calm. Instead of getting angry and yelling or fighting back, slowly and confidently tell the bully to knock it off. Plan what you will say ahead of time if you have a recurring bully situation, and practice saying it at home in a mirror several times so that you will be prepared. Use a loud, clear voice to let the bully know you don’t like their behavior. Say something like, “Stop doing that now.” Then, walk away from the situation. Bullies don’t usually expect this type of assertive behavior from victims, so there is a good chance they will quickly back off. Do the same if you see a bully harassing another student. If bullies see kids in your school won’t accept their behavior, they’re more likely to stop.

Find someone to talk to. While it’s great to ignore the bully in the moment, do not keep your feelings bottled up. After you’ve been harassed by a bully, talk things out with a trusted friend or adult. Rant about your feelings so you get them out of your system and feel better. Writing your feelings in a journal or doing something artistic like painting or drawing may also be helpful as an emotional outlet.

Tell an adult. If you can’t stop a bully on your own, talk to an adult. Do not think of this as tattling. Bullies can cause major issues for you and other students, and the issue should be addressed by someone older.
You can talk to a parent, who may be able to talk to the school for you. You can also talk to a teacher you trust and who will advocate for you. If you are concerned that the bully might retaliate, then you can let the adult know that you want to find a solution to the problem and that you are not trying to get the bully into trouble. This may help the adult to determine how to proceed and reduce the chances that the bully will retaliate. If you speak to 1 adult and they don’t take action to stop the bullying, reach out to another adult that will.

Strengthen your current friendships. Instead of focusing on people who are mean to you, focus on students worth your time. Spend quality time with close friends to strengthen your bonds. If you have strong, secure friendships, it will be easier to tune out bullies.

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