Bullying happens for so many reasons. Sometimes, kids are hurting and focus their anger on other students. Jealousy is a factor. But sometimes, bullies strike because they want to show off, or someone puts them up to it. Once the process starts, it can be hard to stop it.
Here are some tips to help you know if you are being bullied, and then, what to do about it.
Bullying happens in several forms:
- Physical violence
- Lies and cruel rumors
- Isolation and social exclusion
- Group bullying
- Hateful names and notes
- Sexual or racial bullying
If you're being bullied at school, gather complete information and report the incidents to your school officials so they understand that this is serious. Include exactly what happened.
- Who was involved
- Where and when the episode occurred
- Whether anyone tried to resolve the problem or get the instigator to stop
- What kind of help you need and expect from the adult
According to a national survey of nearly 1,000 teens, conducted by the Pew Internet Project, one-third of U.S. teenagers have experienced bullying in cyberspace. The National Crime Prevention Council puts the number at 43 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds.
- Don't respond to a bad message: Blasting the other person back is a bad idea. That might make him or her cause more problems. He or she could print out your message and imply that you are the one causing problems.
- Stay away from anyone who makes you uncomfortable: Keep a copy of any bad message, but refuse to go back to anything connected with that person. If he or she sends more, hit the delete button. The goal is to get a response, so it takes away the fun if nothing happens.
- Print out threatening or harassing messages: You can't prove anything has happened if you don't have evidence. Always keep your parents in the loop, and they can report it to the online provider. Most services suspend any user who violates online rules. Report the violation.
- Get out of the chat room: If someone is making fun of you or threatening you in a chat room, leave. Note his or her screen name and report the person to your online provider.
- Tell your parents when you have been harassed online. It's never silly to talk about messages that leave you frightened or disturbed.
(From Fighting Goliath: How to Prevent Bullying in Our Schools, by Ardythe Kolb)
Compiled by Jeanette Gardner Littleton