Strategies for Dealing With Teen Bullying

Jennifer L. Betts
Bullying at school

A stranger ruining your life on social media can be devastating. And cyberbullying is just one weapon that bullies have in their vast arsenal. Get some unique ways that you can deal with your bully after you've tried the cool, calm approach.

Face-to-Face Bullying

How you're going to react to a bully is going to depend on the platform of the bully. Your reaction to online bullying is going to be a lot different from your reaction to a bully getting in your face. You should always try to talk it out, be assertive, and ignore first. But if those aren't working, you might give these unique suggestions a try.

Make a Joke or Agree With the Bully

You aren't a comedian by any means, but a good one-liner might help you to save face in the presence of a bully. For example, you're walking down the hallways and a bully stops you. They start telling you how much of a loser that you are. Rather than cower and take their mean comments, smile and make their comment into a joke. You want your joke to be funny but not at the expense of anyone else or yourself. You might say something like, 'If you think words don't hurt, try hitting yourself with a dictionary,' or some other joke. Not only will this distract a bully, but it might also make him or her laugh. Here are a few tips for making your bully laugh:

  • If you aren't funny, find jokes online.
  • Have a joke ready for most bullying situations you've experienced.
  • Practice your jokes. Practicing in a mirror can make sure your delivery is perfect and have you ready for the situation.
  • Roleplay with a friend or sibling for the situation. This will help you to be ready.

Confuse Them

You're not funny. You want to try humor, but it might not work the way that you hope. Since your hope is to deflect or confuse the bully, try using facts or a riddle. You don't need to make sense, you just need to confuse them so that you can get away from them. You might choose to spout off that algebraic equation that you learned yesterday or say a random facts about the Kardashians or fashion. It could be as simple as saying, 'Well did you know that Sally sells seashells by the seashore.' Not only might it get a laugh, but it is confusing. Whatever you choose, you simply want to confuse them and get away as soon as possible. You're basically looking for that 'What?' moment to flee.

Make Noise

Typically when you are being bullied, not responding is your best bet. Bullies want to get a rise out of you and take away your power. By not responding or responding in an assertive clear voice, you're not any fun. However, if you're trapped or backed into corner, blocked in a bathroom, or otherwise worried for your safety, making noise might be to your advantage. In this instance, remember you still have a voice. Rather than shouting insults back or arguing with your bully, scream. Scream as loud as you can. Use that moment of shock to get away from the situation. Once you get away, tell an adult immediately.

High school girl bullies in the hallway

Attract Attention

It's the typical bullying scenario, you were just walking down the hall minding your own business, and suddenly, a bully comes up to you. Not only are they saying rude comments, but you're worried about how close they are getting to you. You're not sure what to do. Try to attract attention or confuse the bully so you can escape. You might choose to start laughing manically, make bird noises, jump up and down, make weird body movements, etc. Find some way to make unlikely noises or body movements that will attract the attention of others. People might laugh, but they will take notice. Chances are that an adult will come, especially at school. If you silently take the person's comments, people might not realize you're getting bullied, and it could escalate from comments to physical violence. Once you get away from the bully, report them to your school, parents, guardians, etc. Don't take bullying lying down. Be a warrior.

Become Friends

The reason that teens bully each other is multifaceted. But a lot of times, they have a low self-esteem and are looking for attention. Becoming friends might not be your first option, but it's an important one. Find out ways to give this a start.

  • Notice your bully's interests and see if you have anything in common.
  • Are you friends with any of the bully's friends? If so, use this to try to get to know and understand your bully.
  • Invite your bully for coffee or to play video games. Use this as a way to open the door to a conversation and understand why they bully you.

Remember when trying to befriend a bully, you want to have other friends around to support you. They can also act as a buffer if your attempts don't work.

How to Deal With Cyberbullying

A cyberbully that hides behind the expansive and faceless internet can be a lot harder to deal with. Given the courage that online comments can bring, you might also find yourself more willing to retaliate. However, this is the worst thing that you can do. It's hard to get creative with online bullies but keep these strategies in mind.

Internet troll sending mean comment

Take 30 Seconds

When someone disses you or someone that you know, the urge to instantly tell them to 'shut up,' 'mind your own business,' etc. will strike before you even realize it. Then somehow, you've joined an epic insult battle that has gotten out of control. Rather than respond, take 30 seconds to consider the comment. If it is an attempt to bully you, stay cool and ignore it. Responding will only escalate the situation. Bullies feed off your response. If you don't respond, it's not fun for them and they will move on to the next target.

Take a Screenshot and Report

Take a screenshot and show it to your parents, guardian or someone else you trust. They can help you deal with the online perpetrator before things get out of control. Remember, bullies feed off you. The more that you respond, the more pleasure they are getting. Also, many websites for teens have protocols in place for bullies. So, block them and report it as bullying. Always tell an adult or person you trust if someone is bullying you online.

What to Do When Others Are Bullied

If you are witnessing someone else being bullied, it can be easy to avert your eyes and ignore it. But remember, that person could be you someday. Would you want someone to walk away or be that one person that has your back? You want to help, but how? Try a few of these strategies:

  • Help get them out of the situation. This can be as simple as grabbing their arm and saying, 'Hey I need you.'
  • If you notice a classmate's bully coming, strike up a conversation with them. Bullies typically like their targets alone.
  • Confront the bully. If you see it happening, you can tell them, 'Hey this isn't cool.' Refusing to be part of the laughing crowd can be enough to get them to pause.
  • Report it to your school or parents. Getting adults involved can help them to mediate what is happening. This is especially true for a kid that might not be seeking help themselves.
  • There's power in numbers. Don't be alone in helping others, get your friends involved. You might even choose to start a campaign in your school that gets everyone involved.
  • Let the person know you are there for them. Teens that are getting bullied might feel alone in the world. Letting them know you have their back can give them courage.
Teenage Girl Being Bullied Teacher Consoles

The Problem of Bullying

Bullying is a major problem in schools all over the globe. While many schools have anti-bullying campaigns, it can and still does happen. While ignoring, being assertive, and getting help will work most of the time, sometimes in the heat of the moment, you need to get creative. Try a few of these tricks to ensure that you can get out of that sticky situation.

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Strategies for Dealing With Teen Bullying