Sneak Peak: How to Defend Yourself Against Bullies

Sneak peak to the rescue! This book comes out May 30, and we wanted to give you an inside look. If you’ve been bullied before or have a friend who is dealing with unwanted bullying, give this a read-through and let us know your thoughts with a comment, which you can leave by clicking on “leave a comment” to the left.

You can preorder the book here.

How to Defend Yourself Against Bullies

If you’ve ever been bullied, how have you responded? Some people respond by helping and encouraging the bully to target someone else. They do this in the hopes that the bully finds another, fresher victim. They feel like they’ll finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the new toy will preoccupy the bully.

This is obviously not the way to go, no matter how much you think it will help you. Let’s look at some of the best things you can do to defend yourself and keep that bully away from you.

Stop the Teasing

You have the ability to set boundaries. You can teach other people how to treat you.

In his book Life Strategies, Dr. Phillip C. McGraw writes that when we do not set limits assertively, we teach others that we can be manipulated, intimidated, and bullied.

If you’re being teased and you don’t set boundaries by letting the teaser know that the line between teasing and bullying has been crossed, you’re teaching the bully that he or she can do or say anything to you. They aren’t going to be afraid of any bad reactions, and they stop feeling bad about hurting you.

If you do this early on, you can prevent any future bullying. A simple “hey, I don’t mind being teased every once in a while, but you’re crossing the line,” is a good way to stand up for yourself, and it lets the bully know that you are not to be messed with.

teasing

You’ll be surprised by how much impact speaking up can have.

When teasing gets out of hand, there is a lot of apologizing going on. The teaser, who does not intend to harm a friend, backs off and respects the limits set in these interactions. The two friends are on an equal level of power and dominance. They like and respect each other and want to maintain their friendship.

There is nothing friendly or funny about a bully’s taunts.

“Can’t you take a joke?” says the bully with perfect innocence, leaving the impression that there is something wrong with you, not him. This is how the bully justifies his actions, and it’s how he explains them to bystanders and adults if the bullying is discovered.

Just remember: you have the power to speak up, and now you have some knowledge to back up your side of the argument.

Speak Up

I know what you’re thinking. If I tell my teacher or the principal, the bullying will get worse. And you may be right.

Let’s weigh the pros and cons, though.

If you wait too long to let someone know that you’re being bullied, you might be dealing with some of those effects mentioned above (not good). It’s really common for the victim to keep everything to himself until he’s about to explode. If you wait this long to try to get help, you’re putting yourself at risk. By “at risk,” this could mean you explode in anger (you try to get revenge through violence), or you explode by taking your own life.

By speaking up early on, you’re not hanging off the cliff by a fingernail — you’re slowly walking toward the cliff, if you know what I mean. You’re protecting yourself.

Another thing about speaking up is that your teachers probably don’t realize how bad the bullying is. It’s not like bullies do their worst stuff in broad daylight — they do it when no one is looking. You’d be surprised at how much teachers do notice (they probably know you’re texting under the desk), but they can’t see everything.

Stop Cyberbulling

This may sound a little crazy, but being cyberbullied puts you at an advantage. The plus side to this kind of bullying is that you have evidence that you’re being harassed. Anything that is said or posted online or to your phone can be copied and pasted and saved as proof that you’re being bullied.

cyberbulling

If you are being bullied online, take a screenshot or copy any kind of bullying that is happening to you. Then, block whoever is doing it.

Most importantly, never respond.

Once you do this, show your parents. If they think the bullying is bad enough, you can even get the police involved.

I don’t think those bullies will be messing with you anymore.

Stop School Bus Bullying

Being bullied on the school bus is really common, because it’s the perfect place for a bully to get away with it. The bus driver has to focus on the road, making it hard for her to see what might be going on at the back of the bus. Here are some things you can do if you’re being bullied on the bus.

school bus

Sit as close as you can to the driver, and try to sit on the right side of the bus. This way, the driver can see you.

Pair up with someone, and ride the bus together.

Never fight back. Be polite. As much as you want to hock a loogie in their face, fight it. Kindness will throw the bully way off.

Tell an adult when it happens, especially the bus driver.

If you see someone else being bullied on the bus, stand up for them. Just asking them if they want to sit with you can be a huge help.

Don’t Send Inappropriate Content

Most bullying is unavoidable. People will bully you for things you can’t help, like being new or being poor.

However, one of the things you can control is what kind of content you’re putting out there.

If you send your boyfriend a nude photo of yourself, you’re putting yourself at risk. You may trust him, and he may have convinced you, but he can turn on you at any point. Also remember that if you’re under 18, it’s illegal.

Take this young lady, for example.

Case Study: Jessica Logan, 18 years old

Jessica sent a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend. When they broke up, he sent the photos to a bunch of other girls. Those girls started to harass her at school, calling her names like “slut” or “whore.”

Jessica started skipping school because she was afraid of everyone.

Jessica decided to go on the news and talk about what was happening to her; she wanted to help anyone else who might be going through it.

Two months after she appeared on television, she hanged herself.

No picture is worth what Jessica went through. If it’s possible to avoid that struggle between life and death, then do it.

Laugh at the Bully

This one may catch you off guard — and that’s actually the point. You want to catch the bully off guard, too.

According to http://www.stopbullying.gov, this is something you should try if speaking up isn’t working or if it is out of your comfort zone: “Try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.”

By laughing, the bully realizes that your feelings aren’t getting hurt. In fact, it makes it seem like you could care less. This might be just the thing you need to get the bully off your back.

Don’t Play the Bully’s Game

Bullies generally want three things from their victims to feel good about themselves: they want you to get upset, they want you to run away, and they want attention and power.

If you understand that this is the goal of their game, don’t let them win!

Deny them all three of those things.

Act bored by sighing or yawning.

Don’t run away from the bully. To make sure the bully isn’t getting much attention and power, there are a few things you can do.

Avoid the bully

If you know that the bully is at a certain place a lot, avoid it. If he stands by his locker between classes, don’t walk past it.

Bullies thrive off of an audience, so if you do have to face him, do it at a time when not a lot of people are around. When you’re face to face with someone, it takes the whole point of bullying away (and makes the bully feel a little more human).

Position yourself

No, I don’t mean throw up the knuckles and bend your knees. I mean position yourself in a stance of power.

There are a few ways you can stand that make the bully feel less powerful. One is to be looking down at him. If you can somehow make it so that you’re taller than him, he’ll feel less powerful. If he’s sitting down, stand up. If you’re on steps, make sure you’re one step up.

kids in hall

By the way, never stare at the ground. Even if you can’t make yourself higher, the worst thing you can do is to make yourself even lower. When you look down, it makes the bully feel even more powerful over you.

Another thing you can do is to walk, and look at the bully over your shoulder. It implies that you couldn’t care less (which is the goal!). Just make sure that you don’t run into the wall or something. That would really stink.

Speak smartly

If you say anything at all, be sure to avoid the word “you” and any type of question. The goal is to make the bully feel like he or she doesn’t matter to you at all.

By saying “you,” you’re acknowledging the bully’s existence. By asking a question, you could be setting yourself up for failure. The bully could come back with a snide remark, making you feel even worse.

You also are showing the bully that you need something from him, which puts you in a weak position.

If you say anything, keep it short and insignificant. Phrases like “uh-huh” and “very clever” are good ones to use.

Whatever you do, don’t join in on the game. If you insult the bully back, you’re just as bad as he is.

Tell Someone You Trust

The best way to protect yourself from bullying is to talk to a parent or a teacher that you trust.

If you feel like you connect well with one of your teachers (or if they just seem really nice), tell them what’s happening. Explain that you’re being bullied, and be specific.

That way, they can keep an eye out for the bullying and can stop it when they see it.

Having someone who is there for you and that will support you is really important. Know that you aren’t alone.

If no one seems to be doing anything, or they say something like “that’s just how kids are,” keep telling different adults.

According to Martin Cirkiel, a Texas lawyer who deals with bullying cases across the country, filing a lawsuit against a school district, teacher, or staff member can be hard, because various forms of immunity often protect them.

Sometimes adults have this mentality of “’boys will be boys.’” Martin goes on to say, “If a teacher or administrator learns that a student is being bullied and harassed, and they fail to correctly assess the situation and assure the necessary investigation is completed, they may open the school district and themselves to liability.” In other words, you may come to a point where you can take them to court for not protecting you.

Being a girl is easier in this regard, because authorities take the complaints more seriously. If you are a boy, and your requests are being laughed at or are not taken seriously, know that you have legal rights and can use those to protect yourself.

Remind the adults that there are laws protecting you if someone is bullying you for your race, national origin, sex, disability, or religion.

Find the specific laws for your state at http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/index.html.

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