Understanding and Dealing with Bullying
It is difficult to deal with any problem in a way that will make it permanently go away unless you understand why the problem exists in the first place. Bullying is no exception to this rule.
Understanding the Bully
First, you have to have an idea of how a bully actually feels as well as define it properly so you can avoid identifying an experience as bullying when it is not one. If you are being bullied it is by someone who is acting aggressively toward you either in a verbal or physical manner, or both. A bully usually tries to find a victim that they feel is weaker than them in a physical way as well as mentally—someone they perceive will probably not fight back or won’t fight back. A bully will try some insulting or degrading behavior out the first time to see how the victim reacts. If the result is to their liking and they feel powerful over that person, then they will continue a pattern of activity that will elicit the same results.
Most often, a bullies behavior is a result of someone bullying them. This could be someone at home—a parent, older sibling, or extended family members—or it could be another student. Most often, their chose of who they victimize has nothing personal to actually do with the victim, but everything to do with how the victim reacts to them. Bullies will move on to someone else if you deter them properly the first time.
Ways to Deter Bullying
1. Don’t Give In
A bully will strike when it is least expected to try and find someone to bully on a regular basis. If they observe someone who is caught up in a vulnerable situation at school during an activity or during an after-school activity, they will pounce on the chance to bully. They will believe they have found someone who is weak or scared and won’t defend themselves. The person may feel weak in the moment, but the bully doesn’t know that. If a bully approaches in this manner, children need to be taught that a bully is weaker, or else he would not be resorting to bullying to feel more powerful.
So, a child should be taught that they should never show the bully any attention that will make them feel good about their actions. Don’t show that you feel hurt. If it is possible, walk away as if nothing happened. Bullies love attention; they don’t care if it happens to be negative attention. So, a bully will more than likely be confused and not follow you, and they will walk away as well. This especially works if the bully has no audience and it is just his potential victim and himself face-to-face.
2. Be Aware Of The Bully And His Cohorts In Crime
When a child is able to avoid a bully, then this will usually alleviate the pattern of bullying activity that the child faces on a regular basis. Bullies tend to get tired if they have to constantly seek out their victim. If the person they are bullying is in close circumference to them, then they will be more apt to consistently bully them. This includes people that the bully calls friends or groups that they bully seems to hand around.
The potential victim of a bully should not only avoid these groups in school if at all possible but avoid them in social activities off the school premises as well. For example, if a bully lives near you and walks home with the same group every day, there is a strong likelihood that the victim will be setting themselves up to be bullied on a daily basis after school. Parent need to be aware of these situations and talk to your child about other routes they can take home as well as other students or friends of theirs who could possibly walk with them. There is usually safety in numbers just as a bully finds safety in the attention he gets from his group of friends.
3. Don’t Use Reverse Psychology
Trying to deter a bully by putting yourself down usually backfires. It only re-enforces the bully’s belief that you have low self-esteem and won’t defend yourself. This is especially true if the bully is approached while with a group of other students. This will only egg the bully on to victimize even more and with an observant audience watching. It is also a way of acting just like them that may garner you a reputation at a bully, too.
But, if a bully approaches a victim and begins a barrage of insults or physical threats, the best thing is to stand up for yourself. Whatever insults the bully is eliciting, give them right back and do it with confidence. This works especially well if there is a crowd watching. Most bullies will back down at this point and look for someone else to bother. Saying this, going too far with a bully who is known for physical violence is not the answer. If this is the case, then walk away and don’t use this technique that may lead to physical harm.
4.If Bullying Becomes Dangerous, Seek Out An Authority Figure You Trust
This leads to the most important thing to remember and that is if a bully threatens physical harm to a victim, then that person needs to seek help as soon as possible. First, the child needs to tell their parents. Parents will usually seek out an authority figure at the school, or if it is an after-school activity, a coach or other type of instructor. They should then ask for a private meeting in another location away so that others on the team or other parents will not be involved. This will alleviate any issues with gossip and keep the problem between the parents, the victim, and the authority figure.
Some bullying victims don’t feel comfortable initially telling their parents; they feel ashamed at being victimized. So, they can seek out a school counselor or teacher that they trust to keep their secret about the bullying, but also be able to help them to stop it. In more severe cases, victims can seek help from a police officer either on the school campus they attend or go directly to the local police station and file a police report. Many schools today have officers in the school to help with this.
So, it is important to remember that a bully is usually being bullied as well, so the first choice should always be to stand up for yourself and never allow anyone to turn you into a victim of bullying. And if you see someone else being bullied, stand up for them as well.
Jessica Kane is a writer for SteelLocker Sports, a leading retailer of brand name hockey equipment at great discount prices.