If you are a teen or the parent of a teen who is being bullied, then it’s understandable that you should be concerned. Bullying, while once considered almost a rite of passage or sorts, is now understood to be a serious problem, one that can have severe negative implications. In order to deal with being bullied, it helps to have a thorough understanding of the problem. Below you will find some of the most important facts about bullying:
Bullying can be dangerous.
Some bullies use emotional or psychological tactics, while others are more than happy to get physical. Either type, however, can present a number of dangers to teens. In physical situations, the teen on the receiving end of the bullying could potentially sustain serious injuries, and in some cases, the tides can turn quickly: A teen who was once being bullied decides that they can tolerate the abuse no longer and decides to fight back against their tormentor(s). This is also a common scenario in situations in which the bullying is more social or emotional. Tragically, bullied teens are sometimes so emotionally devastated and psychologically fragile that they have been known to resort to drastic tactics, with some even committing suicide.
Bullies are more complex than you might think.
What most people don’t understand is that bullies are usually not as one dimensional as people think. Sure, some bullies simply take pleasure in tormenting others, but oftentimes, there are many underlying causes of the bully’s negative actions. In some cases, the bully was himself/ herself a victim of some sort of abuse, either by their peers or by an adult like a mother or father. In such cases, it is not uncommon for the bully to be motivated by feelings of low self esteem or self-deprecation inspired by their own time as the victim of bullying. These bullies see their actions as a viable method of making themselves feel powerful, in control, interesting, and worthwhile. Still other types of bullies have legitimate psychological or emotional disorders and might not understand how their actions affect their victims. They may be incapable of tapping into social cues and could misinterpret how their actions affect others. Such bullies often benefit from professional assistance.
Bullies can be dealt with.
As a child, teenagers were instructed to simply tell an adult when they were a bullying victim. Unfortunately, as a teen, this strategy sometimes just isn’t as effective as it used to be. There are numerous other ways to effectively deal with a bully, though, including
- Boosting your own confidence- Oftentimes, bullies single out the weakest and most vulnerable individuals that they can find. Choosing activities and taking steps to make yourself more confident and happy could therefore help to make you less vulnerable and eliminate you from the bully’s list of targets.
- Finding strength in numbers- Finding your true and loyal friends not only helps to make you emotionally more prepared to deal with a bully, but it also helps to ward off the bully’s attacks. Knowing when a bully is likely to strike (during lunch, on your walk home from school, when you’re out at school events, etc.) and sticking by a group of friends or acquaintances during that time (and any other time you feel unsafe) is a great way to avoid being a target.
- Ignoring it- It seems simple, but just ignoring the bully is often a surprisingly effective way of warding off the bully. Bullies do what they do to get a reaction, and by refusing to give them that reaction, you are denying them the satisfaction that they so crave. Refusing to become physical with the bully and ignoring them entirely when they launch a verbal attack are two examples of how to “walk away” from an aggressor.
In some bullying situations, it could be necessary to talk with a professional, whether that professional is a therapist, a religious official, a school counselor, a parent, or even a law enforcement official. Such steps depend entirely on the specifics of the situation, but it is important for bullied teens to do what they need to do in order to feel safe and secure.