Bullying - What Children Should Do if They Are Bullied
normal for children to be frightened or angry when other children
bully them. But they can discourage attacks by showing
confidence and not overreacting.
Children should not fight with a
bullying child or make verbal or written insults. This could lead to more aggression and
possibly serious injury. Have your child call out for help or find an adult or
peer right away if he or she feels unsafe.
Face-to-face and cyberbullying
Children who are
bullied online or in text messages should not reply. It is best for them to
show the message to an adult and block any more messages from the sender.
Remind them to only accept messages from people they know.
Give your child these tips to handle face-to-face bullying:
- Talk to the bullying
child if it feels safe. Look him or her in the eye and say strongly but calmly,
"Leave me alone" or "You don't scare me."
- Walk away from
the bullying child or children. Children who are being bullied
should not run (even though they may want to). It may strengthen a feeling of
power in the bullying child.
- Tell an adult about the episode. It might help for children
to identify an adult at school to tell if incidents occur. Children who see
another child being harmed also should seek help from an adult right
Children may worry about making other kids angry by
telling on them. But exposing the abuse is the only way to stop the problem. A
child can ask to remain anonymous when reporting an incident.
If your child gets left out
when children shut out or exclude others. These actions can be subtle. But they
can be very hurtful to the child who is abused. This type of bullying is called
emotional or social bullying, and it is very isolating. It's also hard to
manage because the pain it causes is not physical and can be hard to explain to
Girls who bully tend to do so in social or emotional
ways. And boys who bully tend to do so in both physical and emotional ways.
Both boys and girls can be targets of emotional bullying. Gossiping and
"backstabbing" are common techniques used by girls who bully in this
Although there is no easy or foolproof solution, it may help
to try some of the following strategies.
- Recognize the behavior. Trying to
ignore it won't make it go away. Help your child accept that there is a problem
and know that you will help him or her through this difficult time. Help your
child understand that he or she is not to blame.
- Role-play. Practice, practice, practice ways to respond to
hurtful comments or actions until they come naturally. Help your child think up
different scenarios and different ways to respond in them. Have fun with
this—make up absurd or outrageous situations. Also, practice using humor as a
way to be assertive. Sometimes saying things like, "Oh, please! You've been
watching too much TV!" or simply, "I don't need that!" and walking away can
stop bullying. This creative thinking can help your child relieve tension and
gain some feeling of control.
- Encourage your child to pursue interests in a different environment. Assure your child that
he or she will meet friends who value him or her. Help your child look for
areas of life where he or she feels accepted, likable, and normal. And help
your child find opportunities to develop well-balanced
- Talk to school leaders. If the
bullying occurs in certain social situations or school activities, sometimes it
is just best to remove your child from the situation. It is not always in a
child's best interest to "stick it out." Often, in fear of causing
disappointment, children do not want to tell their parents that this is the
solution they prefer. Ask your child if he or she really wants to continue to
be in the activity. If the bullying occurs in a general school setting, work
with teachers and counselors to help your child not be around those who
- Stay out of groups who bully others.
Sometimes a child who was shunned before will suddenly be "invited" into or
back into a group. Talk about the fickle nature of such friendships. Ask your
child how he or she would feel if pressured to exclude another person. Help
your child discover the qualities of long-lasting and true friendships.
- Let your child know you are always there for him or her. You may not be able to come up with the perfect answer for
the problem. But you can help by telling your child that you will always be
there to listen and to help him or her think about new ways to handle being