Bullying effects thousands of young people in New Zealand. If you’re experiencing it yourself, the most important thing you can do is talk about it and seek help. Here’s some helpful ways to navigate bullying so you can take steps towards resolving it.
Talk to an adult you trust: Schools, activities and other areas are supposed to be safe for everyone, but if adults don’t know there’s a problem, they can’t work out ways to solve it. Talk to someone with a position of authority who may be able to change the situation.
Keep a log of incidents and dates: This includes any verbal or physical altercations and screenshots / transcripts of cyberbullying. If the situation escalates this log will become important evidence.
Practice safety in numbers: If you are concerned that bullying may escalate into physical violence, try to stay close to a friend or group of friends, even making sure you don’t walk home or between classes alone. True friends can support you during this time and help you see that there’s more to life than the bullying.
Walk away: Bullies gain their pleasure from the attention they receive, so if you walk away and don’t engage with the situation, you rob them of what they want. In many cases this can help resolve the issue – the bully will get bored with trying to hurt you. When walking away, turn your back on them and hold your head high – your body language shows you’re not being messed with.
Find constructive ways to deal with anger: Reacting with anger or hurt to a bully only gives them what they want. It’s tough to hold in your anger when someone is hurting you (or a friend), but if you can’t easily walk away, try humour instead – they won’t expect that. Hold your anger and let it out later in other ways – maybe by going for a long run, or talking to a close friend.
Don’t get physical in return: No matter how a bully treats you, if you react with physical force or violence, you may escalate the situation and end up getting hurt or in trouble. You don’t need to use physical force to stand up for yourself – there are other ways to cope.
Make yourself feel good: You can’t control what your bully will do next, but you can live your life and enjoy it. Do more of the activities you enjoy, or that make you feel strong and confident. Many bullying victims enjoy learning a sport like martial arts that allows them to feel confident in their body even though they don’t intend to ever hurt anyone.
Speak up to others: If you see a bully attacking others, or you notice bullying behaviour around your school, speak up and remind bystanders and other students that it’s not okay. It’s hard to be the one speaking up – especially if the bullies are at the top of the social hierarchy – but nothing will change if everyone ignores the problem.
Celebrate your true friends: Often, bullying comes from people who were close to us or who we thought we could trust. Instead of dwelling on their betrayal, celebrate the people in your life who stand by you. Spend time with them and remind them what they mean to you.