Being bullied is difficult for many students to deal with. Bullying is an aggressive abuse of power that can leave the victim feeling hurt, helpless, isolated, and confused. Statistics show that 1 in 5 middle and high school students is bullied, and growing research shows that college students are being bullied too. As an educator, you are responsible for providing a safe, bullying-free environment. You can equip students with the skills and resources to act if they do face bullying.
Anti-Bullying Strategies for Students
In addition to developing social and emotional skills and self-esteem, students can use certain strategies to identify and deal with bullying situations. If a student is being bullied, you can help them learn to use these tools and strategies to stop or diffuse continued threats:
1. Ignore the Bully
When bullies do something hurtful, many are looking for a response, like making the victim cry or get angry. This reaction can escalate the bullying. By staying composed and keeping their cool, a student being bullied may cause a bully to lose interest.
2. Tell the Bully to Stop
Often, bullies don’t expect someone to stand up to them. They often count on walking over the victim, while the victim remains silent and submissive. That’s why firmly and confidently telling a bully to stop can be very effective.
3. Make Jokes or Comebacks and Laugh It Off
Bullying is about power, and using humor can show the bully that the student is confident and unbothered. By playing off the insults, a student being bullied can show the bully they don’t have the power they thought they did. Students should be mindful of staying safe and keeping their comeback short and sweet, so the conflict doesn’t escalate.
4. Know How to Exit
Students need to know how to get out of a bullying situation before it gets worse, especially if it turns physical. Students should look for opportunities, like leaving the encounter or creating a lot of noise to draw attention.
5. Stick with Friends
Bullies often target students who are alone or who are socially isolated from their peers. Having even one friend can help protect a student from being singled out by a bully. Schools and educators can encourage students to develop friendships through classroom and extracurricular activities.
6. Stand with Others
Witnesses play a powerful role in stopping bullying. More than half (57%) of bullying incidents stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied. If a student sees bullying, they should stand with others, so they can help the victim with bystander intervention.
7. Tell Someone
Encourage students to seek help from somebody they trust, like a friend, teacher, or parent. Confiding in someone else can help a victim feel safe and supported. Caring adults can help prevent bullying from continuing or escalating.
8. Collect Information and Report the Incident
Students should document the facts of what happened so they can report the incident to the school or district. These facts may include: the names of people involved, when and where the incident happened, what was said and what happened, and any relevant evidence, like videos or screenshots of cyberbullying.
Schools should inform students, teachers, and staff how to contact campus or community law enforcement. To learn about anti-bullying laws and policies, visit stopbullying.gov.
9. Get Counselling
Getting bullied is a type of trauma, and victims are at risk for mental health problems. Students should talk to trained professionals, so that they are able to cope with what happened and recover. Schools can help by staffing mental health professionals like counsellors and other advocates.