Being bullied is an absolutely terrible thing to go through, regardless of your age – and the effects can sometimes stay with you for years afterwards. Even after the bullying stops, overcoming the effects of it is one of the hardest things for a person to do. Many adults say they continue to be affected by the bullying they were subjected to in their childhoods, and workplace bullying can often be daunting and overwhelming for people to deal with. It can give people low self-esteem, trust issues, and a distorted sense of self-worth. It can make it difficult to do certain everyday things, like meeting new people and trying out new things. However, as difficult as it seems, the bullying can be stopped – and these feelings can be overcome. Here’s what you should do if you’re worried that you, or someone you know, is being bullied.
Tips to prevent bullying before it starts
Some smart steps can help protect you from being bullied. You can try these tips:
- Avoid bullies. If a group is known for bullying, stay away from it. And try to stay away from places where bullying happens.
- Stay near adults. Most bullying happens when adults aren’t around.
- Be confident. People who bully often like to pick on kids they think seem weaker. If you don’t feel confident, try acting like you are. Pretending may turn into the real thing! You also can try some ways to boost your confidence.
- Stick with a friend. There usually is safety in numbers. Try to walk to school and eat lunch with a friend. Try making new friends, too. Smile at people, say hi, tell someone if you like their outfit. Think about joining a club to meet people with similar interests.
Don’t keep it to yourself
If you’re being bullied, or you think someone you know is being bullied, don’t keep it to yourself and hope it will just ‘go away’. Sadly, bullying very rarely just stops by itself. You may be feeling embarrassed, isolated and scared, but you need to tell someone you trust.
Keeping things to yourself will also just make you feel more stressed, distracted and disengaged. If you are being bullied, it is essential that you reach out to someone for support. ‘This could be a trusted friend, family member, work colleague or teacher – don’t try and face it alone. ‘If you feel you cannot talk to someone you know, then you need to contact a confidential professional support.
Who can I contact if Bullying is severe?
National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is free and confidential.
Don’t give up after telling one person
If you have told someone that you’re being bullied and they haven’t done anything about it, you need to tell someone else. For example, if you’re in school and you tell a teacher or school counsellor about what’s happening, don’t be afraid to ask them what they’re going to do to help you. It is their job to keep you safe. Keep telling people about the bullying until someone does help you.
Don’t fight back
While there is a chance fighting back may put the bullies off, in the short-term at least, there’s a greater chance that hitting back can cause serious injuries and make the situation much worse.
As hard as it might be, try to remain calm and don’t hit them back.
Make sure you have a positive outlet for your feelings
Dr Elizabeth Nassem, from the Centre for Study of Practice and Culture in Education at Birmingham City University, said that it’s important to make sure you have a positive outlet for your emotions, so that you don’t retaliate. ‘A diary could help you record your experiences and express your feelings,’, ‘Don’t socially withdraw, keep up with the hobbies and interests you enjoy.’
Don’t skip school or call in sick to work
You may think the risk of getting caught truanting from school or calling in sick at work is easier to handle than facing your bully, but this is not the answer. Staying home and not going into school will end up isolating you from your friends, and your work or school grades will suffer.
Know that it’s not your fault
No one deserves to be bullied – and what is happening to you says more about the bully than it does about you. Try not to let the bullies get into your head. If they do, it will hit your self-confidence when it really shouldn’t – and that’s what the bully wants. If they do, this feeling could last for years after the bullying stops. However, with time it is possible to overcome.
You may be feeling sad, anxious and very low, or possibly you may be feeling angry and violated. ‘As a result of the bullying, you could be feeling depressed and want to withdraw from the world. These feelings are what many others feel when they have been bullied, and accepting and understanding why you feel the way you do is part of the process of understanding what you went through and leaving those emotions behind. ‘It is important not to make any negative choices or decisions when feeling this way, as they may not be choices you would ordinarily make.’