Walking down the hallway at your school, your work, your neighborhood, or any social environment, you may be exposed to harmful words or even physical action that makes you feel threatened or insecure. The person who makes you feel as such is called a bully. A bully can come in different forms and can be a peer, a co-worker, or even a family member. Over 3.2 million students are bullied each year; the most common place the bullying occurs in public schools. According to dosomething.org, around 160,000 teenagers skip school because of bullying happening in schools with approximately 17% of Americans students being bullied 2-3 times a month. Only about 4% of teachers even intervene when they witness bullying happening in schools. That is too many people, and too many lives being made to feel negative due to another person’s aggression—whether it be in the form of slanderous words or physical action. The only way to stop a bully effectively is to confront them . . . but not in the way you may think. Responding in the most passive way possible is the most effective way to stop a bully.
To understand how to best deal with a bully, it may help to understand the bully himself/herself. Bullies often are looking for attention—even if that is in the form of bullying. People who are bullies are more often times than not being bullied (or have been bullied) themselves and are looking to release their anger and frustrations on someone else. Misery enjoys company, and if someone is being bullied, they may want others to feel as bad as they do. According to kidshealth.org, bullies bully for a variety of complex reasons that differ from person to person, but as a statistical whole, the majority of bullies try to hurt other people so that they can feel powerful, and this is usually because they feel powerless in other situations of their life and want to overcompensate by belittling others. So, understanding that your bully is probably going through issues of their own may help you understand that what they say or do is merely to make themselves feel better about themselves and dealing with them in a calm and passive way is often the best way to make them stop.
How to Bully a Bully
Now that you understand why people bully, it is important to deal with their behavior in the safest and most effective way possible. Bullying can really hurt your confidence and self-esteem, and these feelings can be even more harmful than physical action against you, so it important to stop these behaviors soon and in the safest way possible before any more damage is done. 90% of 4th-8th graders report being bullied according to dosomething.org. Physical bullying peaks in middle school and declines into high school; however, over the course of elementary through high school, verbal abuse remains constant, so, for the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on how to confront a bully who verbally abuses you. We will be touching on how to approach a physical abuser as well but most of the tips and advice are transferable between the two.
Keep in mind as you read this article that the number one way to fight aggression is to smile. This may seem ridiculous or even childish to some. After all, your bully has hurt you so your natural response usually is not to just grin and bear it; however, most bullies are looking for a reaction, and oftentimes, the reaction the victim gives them is rage which only fuels the bully’s fire. So, smiling and making sure that the bully does not see you effected by their attempts to provoke you can really help you in dealing with your bullies, and you may even find that smiling and pretending to not be effected will turn out to be easier. When a bully finds that you are unaffected by their attempts to provoke you, they oftentimes will leave you alone. However, it can be a challenge to not let yourself react.
According to stopbullying.gov, some of the best ways of how to bully a bully are to do the following things when confronting a bully and while they may be hard to do, knowing that you are strong and confident is important to remember. So, follow these few tips of how to confront a bully in the safest and most effective way possible:
1.Laugh it off
This will catch your bully off guard. If you make the bully feel absurd, then they are likely to avoid you because you make them feel inadequate or foolish for bullying you.
2. Ignore them or walk away
Ignoring the bully tells them that they do not affect you and that they are not even worth their time and effort.
Avoid places that you are bullied. This is not to say that you should not go to school or work or wherever you are bullied, try staying away from the bully themselves.
4. Tell an adult
If all else fails, and especially in situations of physical abuse or assault, telling an adult is the most important thing for you to do. Tell a trusted adult such as a counselor, teacher, parent, family member, or anyone who you feel comfortable telling. It is important to be open and honest so that the adult can do whatever is possible for you to be able to feel safe and secure in whatever environment you are in.
Again, it is key to stay confident. Whatever a bully tells you is absurd and foolish and says only anything about the bully rather than yourself. So, even if it is hard, be confident and try not let the bully get to you. Try and be around people who make you feel good about yourself and try and stay away from people who treat you like you are inadequate.
How to Help Others
Not only is it important to help yourself if you are bullied, it is also important to stand up for other that you see getting bullied as well. According to dosomething.org, “over 67% of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage of students believing that adult help is infrequent and ineffective.” However, it is important to notify the administration or a trusted adult if you see a peer being bullied. Standing up for a victim of bullying can make the bully feel foolish for bullying as well as let the bullied person feel as though they are not alone and that people care and are looking out for them. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Bullying to feel powerful will not make you powerful and being bullied does not make you powerless. Be confident and try not to let harsh words get to you. If someone is being bullied, try to help them in the safest way possible. However, above all else, smiling is the best way to fight aggression. Do not succumb to hurting others when you are being bullied—forgive them and let them go.