What do I do if I’m being bullied?

Bullying is when a person or group of people harms, threatens, or intimidates someone over and over, on purpose.  Being bullied can make you feel hurt, confused, scared, and alone.

What are the different types of bullying?

Sometimes bullying can be easy to notice, like hitting or name-calling. But bullying can also be less obvious, like leaving someone out on purpose, starting rumors, or saying mean things behind someone’s back.  Bullying can happen online or in-person. So what is bullying exactly?

Physical bullying can include:

  • punching

  • shoving

  • hitting

  • slapping

  • unwanted touching, including sexual touching

Emotional/verbal bullying can include:

  • name-calling

  • threats

  • insults

  • spreading rumors

  • keeping someone left out of things

Online or digital bullying can include:

  • sending mean or threatening messages by text, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social media

  • hacking into someone’s account

  • spreading rumors or threats online

  • posting embarrassing pictures or videos

  • pretending to be someone else online

What to do if you are being bullied

If you’re being bullied, you might feel embarrassed or helpless. You might even believe there’s nothing you can do to make it stop. But that’s not true. The most important thing you can do is to tell an adult you trust. You might worry that telling someone will make the bullying worse, but adults can only help if they know about the problem.  Telling someone about bullying isn’t “snitching,” and it isn’t wrong. You don’t have to suffer alone.  

Many states and school districts have laws or “zero-tolerance” policies to protect students from bullying. That means someone who bullies can get in trouble with the police or school administrators. Check out this map to see the laws in your community.

If you’re being bullied, here are some other things you can do:

  • Ignore the bully. Walk away or don’t respond.  They may get bored if they can’t get a reaction out of you.

  • Don’t bully the bully. Responding to bullying with more bullying could make things worse. Also, you might get into trouble.

  • Try to avoid being alone. Hang out in a group of friends when the bullying usually happens. If you’re alone when someone bullies you, walk toward safety. Head toward a classroom where you can see a teacher. If you’re in a public place, head toward a group of adults.

  • Find good friends. Talk to your friends about what’s going on. Your friends may have gone through the same thing, and they can support you while you put a plan into action to stop the bullying.

  • Remember: It might not feel like it right now, but the bullying will eventually end. Really, it will.

It may be hard to care about a bully’s feelings, but people who bully are often in pain and insecure about themselves. So they’re unfairly taking their bad feelings out on you. It isn’t right. But it might help to remember that their mean actions are not really about you. Their bullying is about their own insecurities. You’re valuable. You’re important to this world. And no matter what anyone might say, you didn’t do anything to deserve this.

Where can I find resources on bullying?

If you’re being bullied and need help, here are some places you can check out:

  • 121Help.Me has counselors available by phone and text 24 hours a day.

  • The Trevor Project provides support and suicide prevention to LGBTQ youth. Help is available by phone, chat, and text 24 hours a day.

  • Stop Bullying.gov has all sorts of info for teens, adults, and teachers to help deal with bullying.

  • A Thin Line has tips for digital and online safety.

  • The Bully Project is a campaign that works to end bullying. They also offer helpful suggestions to deal with bullying.

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