Teens and tweens: If you’re being bullied, first and foremost, know it is not your fault. “Nobody deserves to be abused. And it is abuse … peer abuse,” says Jane Riese, of the OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Program at Clemson University, who bullying researches and prevention trainer. But what can you do if it’s happening to you, besides removing yourself from harm?
According to Julie Hertzog, director of the National Bullying Prevention Center, remember these three tips if you’re being bullied:
1. Know you’re not alone. It may feel like it, but you’re not. Other kids have gone through what you have. Reach out; know that you have the right to talk to people about this and feel safe.
2. Be your own self-advocate. Tell a trusted adult what is going on, and continue to speak up until you get help. Develop a strategy with your parents and school, and think it through. Feel prepared and get equipped to handle different scenarios.
3. Assert your rights. You have every right to be safe at school. Talk to a counselor and say, “Can we look at this together? There needs to be action taken.”
Advocating for Others
Research shows that more than half of bullying situations—57 percent—stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied.
“Bullying is a group phenomenon; usually there is an audience,” says Riese. “A student instigates, and a small group of supporters are there and those who will gossip about it later. There will still be others who are disengaged and not want to get involved.” But like stopbullying.gov and the Ad Council urge in their campaign, “Be More than a Bystander,” a student has a chance to help another student here.
Julie Hertzog of the National Bullying Prevention Center offers these 3 tips for bystanders:
1. Be there. Acknowledge to them that they are not alone. Say hi to them in the hall. Tell them you were proud of them for how they handled it.
2. Build them up. Accentuate their positives. Comment that “you did the right thing” or congratulate them on something else, like an A on a paper.
3. Turn a 180. Spin negative discussions into positive ones. Say someone calls another a “loser” online; instead of confronting the attacker, turn that communication or thread around. Offer your encouragement: “You’re not a loser, Joe. You just haven’t won yet. You’ll get there!” might just be the positive support they needed today.