Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How To Avoid Being Bullied

I am not a bullying expert.  I'm not a psychologist or researcher.

I'm a mom.  And a Junior High teacher.

I've been thinking about bullying a lot lately because it's been in the press quite a bit.  I've been formulating these ideas for awhile, and I really think there's something important here.  Both of these ideas stem from the same concept, which is "putting out / throwing water on the bully fire" before it has a chance to grow out of control.

Two ways to avoid being bullied:

1. Make fun of yourself first before a potential bully even has a chance.

2. Embrace your "uniqueness" and make it cool.

Here are two examples of what I mean:


I met a woman who had a very dramatic experience in high school.  She had a very bad bladder infection and accidentally wet her pants during lunch.  This kind of incident could be huge fodder for bullies.  She could have been known as "That girl who peed in her pants," for the rest of high school.  But, she purposely came up with a plan.  And it worked!  When she returned to school the next day, kids started teasing her about wetting her pants.  Instead of getting upset or mad, she said, "Yeah, can you believe it!  I wet my pants.  Crazy!"  She was making fun of her own situation.

Why this works:  By taking the initiative to make fun of herself, she doused the bullying flame.  If the person doesn't feel bad (or gets others to believe she don't feel bad), then there's nothing for a bully to tease the person about.  It's not fun to tease someone if they already find the situation goofy or funny.  The bully has no ammunition.


There's a student in my class whose name is Seven.  In our urban junior high there are plenty of unique names, but I've never heard of a name that's a number.  This has high bullying potential.  But Seven "doused the bully fire" before it even got a chance to ignite.  On the first day of school, Seven wore a name tag with the number "7" written in large letters.  Excellent idea!  He embraced his differentness and made it cool.  I've haven't heard a single nasty comment about his name.  The flame was put out.

Why this works:  If a person embraces their own quirks that might have bully potential, then the bully has no power.  What does the bully have to tease about if the person doesn't think it's bad.  Even more so if the person thinks their differentness if cool!  Bullying avoided.

When this doesn't work

These two tactics take quite a bit of self-confidence.  By junior high, especially, many kids are already suffering from low self-esteem, making this type of anti-bullying approach difficult.

What can we do:  

What if we were able to teach our kids these types of strategies early on?  What if we gave them the tools they need to help them avoid being bullied?  I imagine that bullying will always exist.  But, I bet we could really help decrease incidents of bullying if we helped out children early on to learn different techniques to counteract bullying behavior.

I'd love input.  What do you think?  Does this make sense?  Do you think we (parents, teachers, etc.) could help our kids learn how to "put out the bullying fire" before it becomes a problem?

I'm linking up with Just Write over at The Extraordinary Ordinary today!  Go check out some of the other thoughts and ideas from today.

1 comment:

  1. These are great ideas, Dara! Parents of today's generation should teach this to their children. This might be the solution to stop bullying for good. I just wish that parents before taught this to their children, prepare them on how to deal with it nicely when the kids encounter such situations. If only that happened, I guess bullying doesn't exist nowadays, and no one will get bullied in school, workplace, or everywhere in the world. Anyway, I hope there are more children like your student, Seven, who knows how to embrace their uniqueness.

    Sherlene @ GillottCommunications.WordPress.com