(NOTE: TJ, our young hero of NOLICHUCK, endures constant bullying at school. He even has problems with ruffians when he travels back in time to the wild frontier days. His story of ultimately overcoming and gaining real confidence is very relevant for youth today who suffer harassment from mean classmates.)
Are you faced with bullying at school or know students who are? Ways to deal with bullies.
Bullying in schools has seemingly reached epidemic proportions today. This appears especially true in elementary school, middle school, junior high school levels, and even up through senior high. And it's not just the boys who are tormenting their classmates. Girls often are crueler and much more devious than the boys.
Bullying can take many forms. It can be verbal such as taunting, teasing that goes way beyond mere kidding around, false accusations, vicious rumors, ugly slurs, constant unkind statements, making fun of someone's appearance or intelligence or lack of material things. It can be emotional such as constantly and publicly humiliating someone, continuously excluding someone from becoming part of an accepted group or popular crowd, derogating someone's manhood or womanhood. And it can be physical, including hitting, punching, slapping, kneeing a boy in his private area, shoving, tripping, choking, in the case of girls, pulling hair, yanking on clothes, spitting, biting, kicking, etc.
Whatever form bullying takes and wherever it occurs, bullying kids at school is intolerable behavior. Unnecessary and unprovoked unkindness is always wrong, no matter what the excuse.
But there are ways students can help protect themselves and deflect bullying actions.
1. Build a "defense team" around you. The old truism that all bullies are cowards unfortunately is not 100% true. Yes, many bullies are cowardly at heart, and they seek to lash out at weaker prey. But all bullies, whether they're a coward or not, respect power. Two are better than one, three are better than two, four are better than three. Early on, connect with other students who may also be targets of bullying action, and form a protective group. In between classes, in the lunchroom, in the gym, on the playground, etc., keep together as much as possible.
2. "Believe in yourself" and your good qualities. I'm not saying don't be realistic about areas where you want to improve. We all have things that aren't perfect in ourselves. But spend equal time encouraging yourself in the many areas where you KNOW you have good qualities. Think on all the good traits, skills, and abilities you have. Don't let peer pressure or group mentality or bullying take away your core confidence. You have a lot of innate value. You have dreams and hopes. Don't give those up. Who knows how productive and how fulfilling your life will be in 10, 20 years versus many of those people who are being mean to you right now. Look at the long-range picture and KNOW you'll going to be someone and accomplish good things.
3. "Stand up" for your innate worth. When confronted by untrue or mean statements, reply calmly, logically, and clearly. State what you know to be true about your self-worth. Don't back down. And never give up on yourself.
4. Think about taking some type of "martial arts or self-defense" class. I'm not necessarily talking about becoming the Karate Kid here. But learning some basic defense techniques and using them ONLY WHEN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY will work wonders in scaring off would-be bullies. I had several fights growing up with bullies. I was always small, highly intelligent (not a good thing in my generation), but feisty, and I never lost a fight with a bully, and in fact had instances where the bully failed to show at the "appointed time" because my bluster apparently scared them off.
5. "Make allies and be a friend" wherever you can. Even among the more popular kids, you'll find of lot of them have good hearts and real character who'll sympathize with your plight and take up for you. Be a true friend to everyone you can, knowing that real friendship pays dividends. And don't just be a friend to those in power, so to speak. You should go out of your way to be friends with others less fortunate. Help those in need, and you'll find help may be coming back to you!
6. "Never return evil for evil". It never works out the way you'd hoped. Don't say or do intentionally mean things to get back at bullies or others. Rise above the maddening crowd and be a better person than the bullies who persecute you.
7. "Make it known". In today's "zero tolerance" environment, it's not only okay but the correct thing to do to notify school administrators and teachers of bullying behavior. They'll take steps to stop the aggression. In addition, you should confide in others who can give you comfort and guidance: Siblings, family members, friends, acquaintances you can trust, and people at church (if you go). Talking things out always helps, especially if the person has been through some of the same problems in their school days.