When is it appropriate to confront a bully?
If you are being harassed, intimidated or bullied, there are a number of things you can do. First, you should do what you can to take away the bully’s chance to bother you. Although you can’t disappear, and you certainly can’t guarantee complete avoidance, there are certain things you can do within your power. You could take a different route to school or to class, take a different bus, ask to be seated away from them in the classroom, or simply ignore them.
If you think it isn’t fair that you have to alter your life around a bully, well, you’re right. But sometimes people try to do things to hurt you, and it can be difficult to make them stop. In fact, you can’t really make anyone do (or not do) anything, because we all have free will. However, don’t think that you cannot stick up for yourself when the time is right. If you have done all you can do within your power, and talking to an adult has not yet helped, you can confront your bully in a manner that will not make things worse. Try to follow these guidelines to keep yourself from getting yourself into trouble.
Do not be physically aggressive with your bully if you are not in any danger. First of all, you could get hurt. Second of all, you could make a bad situation worse. And third of all, you could get yourself into trouble with your school or even the law.
It is best to keep things as peaceful as possible. Keep your hands at your sides, in your pockets, or crossed across your chest, to ensure you are not tempted to swing them. Pretend your feet are glued or nailed to the ground. Use your words, but be careful about what you say (see below).
Choose your words wisely.
As much as you should refrain from physical attacks, you should also refrain from verbal attacks. Again, this will just aggravate the already sour state of affairs. It’s understandable to want to hurt bullies, because they have hurt you. Just remember that two wrongs do not make a right; in fact, two wrongs usually make a very-very-wrong.
Make your words assertive, but not hurtful. If it would hurt your feelings, then you shouldn’t say it to someone else. Do not call them names or threaten them. It is fine to say things like “I would appreciate it if you left me alone,” or “There is no reason for you to treat me this way.” Or, a simple “Stop” will do.
You might not feel very brave at the time, but try to act like it. When you talk to them, stand up straight and look them right in the eye. Try to keep yourself from looking scared or sad. Show this person that you are strong and should not be messed with.
If you’re not sure how to boost confidence, there are plenty of things you can do: write down all your good qualities, exercise, and get involved in clubs and activities, to name a few.
Have friends with you.
If possible, ask a friend or two to stand by your side. Ask them to walk with you to class and sit by you at lunch. Strength in numbers, after all. Bullies are less likely to pick on you if you have friends around. But again, remember to keep it peaceful. Don’t think that having people with you is a green light for an all out brawl or shouting fest.
We cannot emphasize enough that you should avoid aggression as much as possible. Only resort to physical conflict if you are doing so to protect yourself. Do not initiate a fight. And remember our other suggestions about talking to an adult and ignoring the bully in the first place.
KidsHealth “Dealing with Bullies”