During her high school years, in her advice column, Jamie responded to hundreds of peers; including those that had experienced or witnessed bullying, questioned peer pressure, or were concerned their actions were hurting others. With zero judgments, Jamie shared insightful perspective, a few of which can be read below.
Hi Jamie! I have been caught in the middle of many fights between my friends. I am forced into a mother-like position where I have to help resolve the situation, even though the person that is getting bullied tries. “The Bully” turns her back on her friends and spreads rumors about them. “The Bully” tells me that the other person is “dramatic” or “ugly” and I tell the other person what “The Bully” said about them. They then address “The Bully” and ask them why they said that. Then the person says that someone told them and “The Bully” gets really mad at the person for finding out what they said about the person. These people are also in the same friend’s group and these fights have torn it apart. There is also a boy in the group that has asked them both out and they both said no, causing him to leave the group too. I am worried about these people, all of them, and I don’t want any of our friendships to end. What should I do?
– Arabella, 7th grade
Thank you for writing to me. It sounds like you are often put in a tough position in your friend group. I’m sorry to hear that many of your friends are not getting along and that you are left to deal with the fallout. I admire your desire for peace and companionship amongst your friends and your efforts to help everyone get along. There are a couple of things to keep in mind as you try to be the peacemaker.
First, while it is admirable that you are working to resolve bullying amongst your friend group, the responsibility is not solely on you to resolve their conflicts and bullying. You certainly have a responsibility to say or do something when you witness bullying, but you don’t necessarily have to be the middleman for all of these interactions. A great way to respond to bullying is to tell a trusted adult what you have witnessed. Talk to a parent, teacher, coach, aunt, uncle, older sibling, or school counselor. That trusted adult can take on the responsibility of helping a target resolve bullying. If you put all that pressure and responsibility on your own shoulders, you may be putting yourself in harms way. Whenever you are putting yourself directly in the middle of a volatile situation, you also have to be making sure that you are taking care of yourself. All of the responsibility and conflict may be emotionally tiring and damaging, so make sure you are also prioritizing your well being while still proactively responding to the bullying.
In addition, it is not productive to relay information from person to person. Again, you do not need to take on the responsibility of carrying other people’s messages to other friends, especially if those messages are mean. If one of your friends is saying hurtful things about another, instead of sharing what was said to that friend, confront the person who is bullying and tell them that it is not okay to say things like that. If that doesn’t work or feels unsafe to you, then ask a trusted adult for help.
It is really admirable that you are worried about these people. But at some point you have to ask yourself if these friendships are worth this hurtful drama and back-and forth gossiping. From your question, this situation is obviously disconcerting to you and causing some emotional distress within you. It is unfair of your friends to put this responsibility and baggage on you. There is a difference between a friend asking you for support and a friend expecting you to handle their conflict and challenges. If you feel that your friends are forcing you into this care-taking-mother position, then it may not be the worst thing to lose these friendships. You can still offer them support by helping them find support from a trusted adult, but you do not need to take on emotionally draining baggage.
Friendships need to be reciprocal in order to be healthy, meaning both people in the relationship have to be willing to contribute in growing the relationship. It sounds like many of the friendship dynamics in your group are pretty unhealthy. I know it is challenging to let go of friendships that may at once have been wonderful. Explore whether or not these relationships are healthy and reciprocal any longer. If they are not, you have two options: 1.) Try to reestablish healthy boundaries with your friends, communicating your concerns and desire to mend the friendships. 2.) Let go of the friendships and find new friends that will treat you with respect and kindness.
If you and your friends are up to it, you may consider finding a trusted adult to mediate a conversation about some of the challenges you and your friends are facing. Consider finding a school counselor, teacher, or advisor that could mediate a conversation with your friend group.
Remember, Arabella, to take care of your well being. Be kind and gentle to yourself and remember that you can only do your part. While it may be tempting to take on all sorts of responsibility and to try to solve every possible problem, there is only so much you can do that is within your circle of influence. Do what you can to help others, including reporting bullying you witness. One of the best things you can do to help your community is to share your kindness! Thanks again for writing in to me. Your desire for peace is admirable. And remember that kindness is powerful! Feel free to write again with any question you may have. Sending hugs and encouragement your way!
Hi Jamie, I am getting bullied by this girl. She is making me look like the bully because I am standing up for myself. I went got the principal and he didn’t do anything because he thinks I am the bully. How can I prove that I am getting bullied? It is just getting worse. She is an emotional bully and a cyber bully so it is harder to prove! What’s you advice?
– Elise, 7th grade
I am really sorry to hear that you are in this difficult position. It sounds really tough, and I just want to let you know that I am sending along encouragement and support. I commend you for sticking up for yourself and trying to address the bullying, even though people are not treating you like the target in this situation. You know that you are being bullied, so don’t let other people convince you that this is some how your fault. Asking for help or reporting someone who is bullying does not make you the bully. Reporting bullying is a completely appropriate response to this behavior. It is not “tattling” since you are not intentionally trying to get someone in trouble just for the sake of getting someone in trouble. As a target, there are some responses to bullying that are inappropriate and “reciprocal” bullying. When a target retaliates, like spreading rumors to hurt someone in return or posting negative comments in response to their own cyberbullying, they are reciprocating the bullying and becoming people who bully in defense. While this is understandable, it is also not productive to the situation. I am not saying this is your situation. I don’t know all the details of your particular circumstance, and I believe you that you are the target in this situation. I just want to clear up the difference between appropriate and inappropriate responses to bullying as a target.
So you know that reporting bullying is the appropriate and necessary thing to do (and that sticking up for yourself doesn’t make you a bully). You have already tried to tell an adult—kiddos to you! You have done all the right things, but the adults are not helping you since they are treating you as the bully. You need to first talk to a different adult who does not have exposure to the situation already. This way, they will have a fresh perspective and will not automatically dismiss you. I recommend talking to a parent if that is something you feel comfortable with. They can help you confront the principle or other school officials who are not taking you seriously. Approach them and ask them for their help. Direct them to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center for resources on how adults can help you. If a parent is not doable for you, then find another adult you trust that would have a fresh perspective on the situation. Whoever you choose to tell, talk to them in private so that the other girl is not there. Share your perspective and emphasize that you need help. With the help of the adult, create an action plan for how you will address the situation. Will you go to a higher level of the school administration? Or maybe a teacher? Has one of your teachers witnessed the bullying? Think through what you need to do to address the situation.
Secondly, you need evidence of the bullying. While your word should be enough, unfortunately it isn’t right now. Therefore, collect evidence of the bullying in any way you can. You mentioned that there has been cyber-bullying. While you may feel like this is a harder form of bullying to prove, it is actually one of the most tangible forms of bullying since once it’s on the Internet, it is there forever. Take screen shots! Think about other forms of evidence, too. Is there another friend or peer who has witnessed the bullying and could vouch for you? Ask them to be your witness. Anything that provides tangible evidence you should collect. Talk to as many different adults as you have to until you get the help that you deserve.
If you encounter resistance and doubt from adults who are blaming you for being the bully, try to explain to them that reporting bullying is not a form of bullying—you are reporting it to protect yourself. Explain in detail the bullying you have faced, providing corresponding evidence. While I completely believe you that you are being bullied, consider if there is a chance you have done something hurtful that you need to apologize for. If that’s the case, that doesn’t suddenly mean that you haven’t been bullied, it just means that it’s a more complex situation. Adults shouldn’t dismiss you if you have also made mistakes. If you reflect and determine that there are some actions you regret, be open and honest about this with the adults. Explain: “I have made mistakes and regret any pain I caused and I would appreciate the opportunity to apologize. However, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t also received bullying that is emotionally damaging and that you have a legal responsibility to address.” (Yes, it’s true—you have a legal right to get help when you are being bullied. Learn more here.)
Persistence is key! You may encounter more resistance from adults. You deserve to be respected and safe, so as hard as it may be, don’t give up! Demand that the bullying be addressed. I am so sorry that you are experiencing this challenging situation. It absolutely sucks that adults are not taking you seriously. No one deserves to be bullied. You deserve to be helped. Make this clear and be persistent.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself in this challenging time. Treating yourself with kindness, gentleness, and love is more important than ever when we experience bullying. Treat yourself to a relaxing movie night, some comforting tea, or a something else that you enjoy. Promote self-care and self-love! Let me know if you want more advice about developing self-care routines.
Elsie, thanks again for writing to me! Sending encouragement, support, and hugs your way! Never hesitate to reach out again! I am always here and available to offer more advice and help.
Hi, Jamie my question for you is how do you deal with negative people who always try to get a rise out of you and just negative people period? I was recently in a physical altercation with an now old friend. I was suspended, and I know when I go back there will be people who are really ignorant that would have something to say. This is my first suspension fight ever. How can I cope with the bad mouthing of that will happen?
– Jay, 10th grade
Thank you for writing to me. I’m really sorry to hear that you are in this difficult position. I understand that you are probably apprehensive to go back to school. First of all, I commend you for ability to self-reflect and find help. It is really courageous of you to seek help, and I just want you to recognize that in yourself!
Dealing with negative people can be really challenging, especially when they are trying to get you to join them in their negativity. A lot of times people who are trying to get a rise out of you want you to react to feed into their behavior. They are looking for a reaction. The first thing to remember as you return to school is that physical or verbal retaliation that reciprocates or adds to the negativity is never the solution. While it may be tempting to retaliate in order to defend yourself, retaliation is not a productive response and will only create more lasting challenges. Part of this situation is that people expect you to respond and react. They see you as an easier target to get this response that helps feed their own insecurity and negativity. So, the more you establish yourself as unwilling to engage in this behavior, you are more likely to be left alone. If you repeatedly disengage and refuse to provide the response people are looking for, people will stop trying to get a rise out of you if they know it won’t work. Give it time and build up your track record so that eventually people will leave you alone.
In the meantime, however, how do you deal with people who still expect you to react? And how do you stop yourself from responding and hooking into the negativity? As I said before, retaliation is not productive, but there are some responses and coping methods that will help you resist the urge to respond negatively.
It is easy to forget that you are in control over how you decide to act. How you conduct yourself is a decision. You have power over yourself, and you are the only person who gets to decide what you think of yourself and how you act. However, your agency over yourself can seem elusive sometimes. People often forget that they have agency, and so they fall into patterns of behavior that other people try to provoke in them. Because it is easy to forget your power over yourself, it is crucial to strengthen your ability to consciously remember your agency. Don’t give other people power of you. You have the keys to the car. Don’t hand them over to someone else. Here are some strategies on how to cope with negative people trying to get a rise out of you.
Jay, thanks again for writing to me. I am sorry you are in this difficult situation. I commend your initiative to find help! Never hesitate to reach out again. Remember to take care and be gentle with yourself. As challenging as this time is, be rooted in the knowledge that you are worthy of respect, safety, and kindness. Don’t let others make you doubt your self-worth. Sending encouragement and support your way!
What can I do when I lied to my best friend(boy). There was rumors going around about me and him while he was dating someone and he knew but then i told him that they stopped spreading. When they actually didn’t I thought lying would be better so he can be happy with his gf and not worry what can happen. All i wanted to do is protect his feelings. He is now mad at me for not telling him and hurt. What can I say to him Jamie so he can forgive me?
– Hannah, 6th grade
Thank you for writing to me. I am sorry to hear that you are in this difficult situation. It sounds like you had good intentions but that your friend is hurt you lied to him. I have a few thoughts and suggestions about your situation. First, recognize that you tried to do the right thing, even if it didn’t work out. Commend yourself for the desire to protect your friend. Remember to be gentle with yourself. To try to mend your friendship, I suggest writing a card to your friend. Apologize for hurting him and express that you only lied since you wanted to protect him. Make sure that you apologize and tell him how much your friendship means to you. Be genuine and write what you are feeling. You can deliver him the card privately and suggest that you meet somewhere to talk through things if that would be helpful. Make sure to let him know your intention to be friends again. I like writing cards since it gives me time to reflect, think, and express everything I wish to convey. However, if writing a card doesn’t feel like a good choice for you, talk to him directly. In general, try to find a way to express your apologies, good intentions, and gratitude for your friendship, whether that be through a card, conversation, or both.
Once you convey these feelings, you have done everything you can do to try to save your friendship. It is now up to him to do his part for the friendship. It is important to do everything you can, but he also has a responsibility to save the friendship. It is ultimately his choice if he wants to forgive you, and you can only do so much. After expressing your feelings, be assured that you have done everything you can to help. Be gentle with yourself and realize that the ball is in his court now. If he chooses to not forgive you, realize that it is really his loss. You are an amazing friend and act with kind intentions. Just remember to be kind and gentle on yourself. Please don’t get caught in a vicious pattern of self-blame. Please take care of yourself! Hannah, I hope these suggestions helped. I am sorry you are in this difficult situation. Please feel free to stay in touch and keep me updated. Sending you hugs!
Why do people seem to hate me?
– Asia, 6th grade
Thank you for writing to me. I am so sorry to hear that you are having these feelings. I feel devastated that you feel this way. I first want to say that there is never a reason for people to be mean to you. No one deserves to be bullied. As difficult as this may be to accept, oftentimes people’s behavior can be shockingly impersonal. Even if someone’s actions feel like a personal attack, at a deeper level, the person’s actions have little to do with you but more to do with them. This of course is never an excuse, nor does it make it any less painful, but it is important to remember that most of the time people’s hate is a reflection of themselves. People carry around a lot of trauma and pain and can choose to express that in unhealthy ways. Instead of confronting themselves and the roots of their pain, sometimes they will assert it on other people or blame others. This develops anger and more pain, ultimately recreating this situation. Oftentimes, when someone is dealing with something they don’t want to confront or recognize, they will turn that into attacks on other people that seem personal to the target but is actually a reflection of their own pain. I am not saying that any of this justifies this behavior. You never deserve to be the punching bag for someone else’s pain. I just hope that you can remind yourself that even if on the surface it seems that people don’t like you, it is actually more a reflection of others than it is of you.
I don’t know the totality of the situation, but if you are being bullied, make sure to find help. Talk to a trusted adult about what you have been experiencing and ask them to help end it. You could talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, principle, mentor, or coach. When you tell them, make sure to communicate what you have been experiencing. Don’t be afraid to share—they want to help you. If one adult does not help, tell another. Tell as many adults as you have to until you get the help you need and deserve.
Lastly, make sure you are taking care of yourself. After being bullied, I struggled with my mental health and self esteem. Developing self-care routines was so important for me, and I encourage you to find a way to nurture yourself and remind yourself of your worth. You deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, including from yourself! Doing things to take care of yourself will foster self-love and appreciation. Here are my suggestions for self-care:
Asia, I am so sorry you are feeling this way. Remember that oftentimes people’s hate is more a reflection of their own pain. No matter the cause, you don’t deserve to be treated like this. Find help from a trusted adult. Try to also cultivate healthy friendships, even if they are outside of school. Take care of yourself and take the time summer offers to nurture your spirit! Never hesitate to reach out again. Sending you hugs and love!
I have a problem, i have a friend who has been saying mean things about one of my other friends just because she’s anti-social and not popular. I don’t know what to do. Should i tell someone because i don’t want to lose my friends. please help me. thank you for you time.
– Zoe, 7th grade
Thanks for writing to me. I am sorry to hear that you are in a difficult position. I first want to commend you for recognizing this issue and being concerned about the behavior you are seeing. No one deserves to be bullied, so when you see hurtful behavior you have a responsibility to speak up and intervene. Silence is a choice and can communicate that you condone the bullying, even if you wouldn’t directly participate. I know it is difficult to say something, especially when a friend is making hurtful choices. To be clear, intervening does not always mean that you put yourself directly between someone who is bullying and a target. I think students often hear that they need to “intervene” when they witness bullying, but misunderstand what that term actually entails. Intervening can take shape in many different actions—you could talk to an adult, offer support and kindness to the target, or talk to the person who is bullying. The important thing to remember is that you should always feel safe. Never put yourself in a situation that will endanger you.
For your situation, I have a few suggestions. First off, I do think that you need to say or do something to stop this bullying. I know you are afraid to lose your friends, but if this person is really a friend, they will not abandon you if you speak up for someone else. I don’t think you would want a friend who would do otherwise. It’s okay to lose friends who are toxic to your mental health and are mean. When considering the people you have relationships with, I think it is always important to think about not only how they treat you, but also how they treat other people. As long as you feel safe, the first thing you can try is confronting your friend who is being hurtful. Don’t be accusatory or mean; simply say something like, “I don’t appreciate how you are talking about my friend. I am concerned you don’t realize how hurtful your words can be, since if you did, I believe you would stop.” Make sure to talk to her in a safe environment. When you talk to her, make sure to use language that suggests she has the power and agency to act differently. If you believe in her ability to be kind, she is more likely to do so! If this step does not feel safe to you or it doesn’t help, then I would suggest talking to a trusted adult. Find a teacher, parent, coach, principle, counselor, mentor, aunt, uncle, or someone else you trust for help. Tell them what you are concerned about and ask them for their help. I know this may be challenging, especially since you are friends, but remember there is a difference between tattling and telling. Tattling is a way to deliberately get someone in trouble for no real reason, whereas telling is a safety mechanism—rather then trying to get someone in trouble, telling is to keep you or others safe from hurtful behavior.
Zoe, I am sorry that you are in this difficult position. I am impressed by your desire to help and your ability to recognize a situation where you need to speak up. You can either talk to your friend directly or seek the help from a trusted adult, or a combination of both. I know you are concerned about losing friends, but you don’t want to be friends with someone who is mean to others. If speaking up for someone else ultimately means losing one friendship, that is okay! Feel free to reach out again! Thank you for writing to me! Sending you hugs!
So am in high school and am a sophomore and I have been called mean things. There are these 2 kids in my global class who really don’t like me. The guy was making fun of how my lips and he started being mean ever since I confronted him because he was laughing at me. He also told me a look like a snap chat filter. Then his friend another girl she said I smelled, when clearly I did not she also called me ugly. And it’s only in my history class I did tell my teacher. But what should I do in this case.
– Chinyere, 10th grade
Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I am so sorry that you are being bullied. Absolutely no one deserves to be treated with such cruelty. The way you are being treated is so horrible and I feel devastated that you are experiencing this. I am glad that you already told your teacher. Telling an adult is such a crucial step, and I commend you for taking it. Unfortunately, it sounds like the teacher, however well intentioned s/he is, hasn’t really helped. Here are the steps I would take to navigate the situation:
Lastly, make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Take 30 minutes a day dedicated to nurturing your well-being. Bullying can have a serious impact on our mental health and confidence. That is why it is crucial to be gentle and kind with yourself, and treating yourself daily to things that make you feel happy and secure. Remind yourself that you are worthy of happiness, safety, and respect. If you are dealing with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or other mental health issues, please let me know, since I have a lot of advice on ways to navigate these challenges, while boosting confidence and happiness. I would be happy to share more information—just ask! Chinyere, thanks again for writing to me and trusting me with this information. I am so sorry that people are treating you so poorly. I have faith that you will get through this. I know you are capable, strong, and resilient. Sending hugs!
Why am I getting bullied for how I look?
– Grinder, 9th grade
I appreciate you writing to me. I am sorry to hear that you are being bullied. You do not deserve to be treated this way. First of all, there is never a reason that justifies bullying behavior. Although people may be using your appearance as a way to bully you, there is never a good explanation to justify this behavior. I know it is impossible to not get hurt by these people’s actions, but please resist believing their words or taking unhealthy and destructive actions to try to change your appearance. Remind yourself that you do not deserve to be treated this way and that their words are not true. The real question here is how to end the bullying. I highly encourage you to share your bullying experience with a trusted adult. Try talking to a parent, school administrator, teacher, coach, counselor, mentor, or someone else you trust. Direct them to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, where there is information for adults on how to effectively help you. If possible, show the adult any evidence you have of the bullying, such as screen shots of online bullying. Don’t worry if you don’t have any tangible evidence, since adults should always believe you. Furthermore, remind the adult that you have the legal right to address the bullying, since each state and school district have policies surrounding bullying responses. Take a look here for more information about your state’s policies. In order to end the bullying, there may need to be consequences for the people who are bullying you, such as suspended privileges, detention, or suspension. Discuss the best route to take with the adult, but it may take the threat of punitive measures to stop the bullying. If the first adult you tell is unhelpful or their well-intentioned actions did not really solve anything, try reaching out again or telling another trusted adult. Tell as many adults as you have to until you get the help you deserve.
Although I don’t know the details of your situation, but if there is also a chance that your bullying is based off of your appearance may intersect with disability, racism, sexism, xenophobia, or another form of discrimination. If this is the case, you have further protections under federal law, since this type of bullying is also classified as harassment. Discuss with the adult(s) you tell if you feel that your bullying overlaps with harassment, since it may change how you address it. Again, there is more information about the distinctions between bullying and identity-based harassment on PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, and the corresponding actions to be taken by the adults. Essentially, make sure that you are not going through this alone. If you have a trusted adult on your side, the situation will improve. Once someone (or multiple people) know that you are being bullied, you can depend on them to help you determine the right course of action, or let them handle contacting the school, parents, or someone else that may help. You really can’t solve this alone, so please find help!
Lastly, make sure that you are taking care of yourself and cultivating positivity, happiness, and confidence. Bullying can take a serious toll on mental health, so it is so important to be kind and gentle with yourself. Take at least 30 minutes a day for “you-time.” Do something that is relaxing and rejuvenating and that makes you happy. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or something else mental health related, please let me know. I have a lot of advice surrounding this subject, and I would be happy to provide more information about ways to gain confidence, peace, and happiness. Never hesitate to reach out! Grinder, thank you for writing to me. I am so sorry that you are going through this awful treatment. Please make sure to find help from a trusted adult. I have faith in your resiliency and strength. You are worthy of respect, happiness, and safety. Never doubt that. Sending hugs!
At school I’m called a loner and many more upsetting names. Loads of people say how much they hate me continuously. Also this girl I fell out with acts all sickly sweet but talks behind my back like the others. I doodle when I’m emotional and my books of full of sadness. Idk if this is bullying but it hurts me really bad. I hate social activities. I have fake friends. Also I have trust issues, anxiety, social anxiety, slight depression, low self esteem and feel bad about myself. I like to put on a strong front, I don’t tell anyone anything. No one knows about any of this and I now feel like I should reach out for help before it escalates. I hate my life. What should I do?
– Em, 7th grade
Thank you for sharing this information and writing to me. I know it is never easy to reach out for help, but I am so glad you did. I feel incredibly devastated to hear about the things you are going through. You do not deserve to be treated with such cruelty. I first want to clarify that the treatment you are receiving is bullying. There is a lot of stigma around using the term “bullying” or declaring that you are being bullied. For this reason, targets often try to minimize the reality of the situation because it is both painful to accept and there is fear about using this term. I personally believe that the reason people walk around the term “bullying,” replacing it with “kids being kids,” meanness, or other words is because using the term bullying is raw and exposing. Even if people don’t think about it this way, I believe that students are uncomfortable by using the term “bullying” to describe a behavior, since it forces them to confront their actions and the way they are treating others. It is much easier to bully someone if you don’t think about how it is affecting the other person. But since ‘bullying’ has such strong connotations, when you identify a behavior using it, you expose the other person’s actions as unacceptable, forcing the other people bear witness to their actions.
Anyway, it is important for you to recognize that you are being bullied. There are ways to address the bullying. You said you try to put up a strong front and never really share how you are feeling. However, the most important thing you can do is to tell an adult you trust about the situation. The bullying will not suddenly stop without adult interference. Try reaching out to a parent, teacher, coach, principle, or someone else you trust. If there is any bullying online, take screen shots of the bullying in order to show an adult as evidence. Don’t worry if you don’t have tangible evidence of the bullying. Adults should always believe you. When you tell an adult, direct them to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, where they can find a ton of information on how to help you. Make sure to include all the details about the bullying, including who has been targeting you and what has been said and done. Remind the adult that the school administration has a legal responsibility to address the bullying. To learn more about your state’s policies surrounding bullying, look here. If the first adult you tell doesn’t help, tell another. Tell as many adults about the bullying until you get the help you need and deserve. Sometimes, the adult may try to help, but a few days after an “apology” or “solution,” the bullying starts again. If this happens, inform an adult. Essentially, if you are ever being bullied, it is so crucial that an adult knows so they can help you. Furthermore, make sure to never retaliate to the bullying, since it will only agitate the situation and make it more complex to handle. However, as long as you feel safe, if someone approaches you and starts calling you names, consider calmly responding. Even if you feel like screaming inside, avoid showing your reaction, since a strong reaction may encourage more bullying. Instead, say something calmly such as, “I don’t know if you realize how hurtful those words are. I am sure that if you knew how much your words impacted me you would stop.” With this type of response, you are not acting as if you are not affected, but you are also not retaliating or providing a dramatic reaction that would only encourage more bullying. Instead, you are forcing the other person to consider how their words are hurting you, but hints that you have faith that they are good enough people that they would stop if they knew. Even if you may not feel this way, sometimes all it takes for people to be kind and good is someone having faith in their ability to do so. However, you should only take this route if you feel safe, and it also doesn’t replace telling a trusted adult.
You also mentioned that you are struggling with trust issues, anxiety, depression, and low self esteem. These feelings are common and normal for targets of bullying. I have experienced them as well. In terms of fake friends, you are never obligated to be friends with someone who treats you poorly. If you feel that you have a fake friend who treats you badly behind your back, break that relationship off. A good guideline is to never invest in a relationship that tries to minimize your worth. Remember, if you make the choice to be alone rather than with fake friends, this is temporary. I have faith that you will meet good friends in the future. Don’t disrespect yourself by being with people who don’t recognize your worth or right to be treated with kindness.
Similarly, for your trust issues, you don’t have to trust someone if you don’t want to. Trust issues will heal with time, but you can also work to remain neutral when you meet someone new. Don’t automatically distrust them, but don’t trust them either. If you feel yourself distrusting someone, ask yourself, “Have they given me a reason to distrust them?” Don’t assume the worst in people. (There are, however, exceptions. Trust your gut instinct as well. If something feels wrong, you have every right to distrust that person). Overall, you are not obligated to other people to be friends with them or to trust them. You should certainly be nice to other people, but you also need to do what is right for you.
Lastly, here are some methods I have found useful in cultivating happiness, peace, and confidence, which simultaneously combatting anxiety, depression, and low self esteem:
Em, thank you so much for writing to me! I hope that I was able to provide some advice you find helpful. Never hesitate to reach out again. I want to remind you that I have complete faith in you and your resiliency. I know you are suffering right now, but I believe that you are strong and capable. You are worthy of respect, happiness, and safety. Please remind yourself of that. Sending hugs!
Hey Jamie! I was bullied when I was in the 7th grade and I’ve been struggling with trust problems because the people who bullied me were the people I thought were my friend but turns out they weren’t I feel so insecure this days I feel like I’m not good enough even though the bullying is done the marks or the effects of what they did to me are still there and can’t just be washed away
– Britney, 9th grade
Thank you for writing to me!
I am so devastated to hear that you are struggling and have been treated so cruelly. You don’t deserve to be bullied. I am glad that the bullying is done, but I also know that when the bullying stops your bullying experience doesn’t necessarily go with it. As I am sure you understand, bullying isn’t something you “get over” like a bad cold. The effects of bullying may stay with you for a long time. I have experienced negative mental health effects since my bullying and continue to deal with high levels of anxiety. Try to remember that it is normal to still feel this way after the bullying. You are not alone!
I am also sorry to hear about the trust issues. My experience was pretty similar, since people close to me really hurt me, and I understand the tendency to want to close off or not trust others because you don’t feel safe or comfortable doing so. First of all, you never need to trust someone just because you feel like you need to. Always go with your gut instinct. However, it can become unhealthy if you completely isolate yourself from socializing because you are hesitant to trust others. To navigate this challenge, I suggest taking things one at a time. It can feel overwhelming to look at a problem in its entirety, just as it would be overwhelming to handle an entire year’s homework at once. When you do homework, you take things one day at a time, one assignment at a time, which makes the whole year much more manageable. So, apply this method to your challenges with trust. Try reaching out to one person at a time to see a movie or hang out. If this goes well, invite them to hang out again or sit with them at lunch. Slowly develop a friendship with someone, always gauging if they are worthy of your trust and friendship. For example, trying to pressure you to share information you don’t wish to expose would be a red flag in terms of trustworthiness. Furthermore, people who have been bullied may feel in a constant state of threat and are incredibly defensive due to their previous experiences. Remember that the bullying is over and that you don’t need to always be suspicious of other people. You are not obliged to trust other people, but don’t automatically distrust them either. Try your best to stay neutral—don’t dismiss other people until they give you a reason to do so (of course, there are exceptions, such as responding to your gut-instinct and various social cues that may not be explicit). I am going to be completely honest, rebuilding trust will take time and effort. It is not simple, but I know that you can do it.
You mentioned that the effects of the bullying continue to haunt you and that you are struggling with low self-esteem. I first want to underscore that you are always good enough. Remind yourself that you have so much to offer to the world. Out of the 7 billion people on this planet, there is and will always be only one of you. Really let that sink in. You are irreplaceable. I know it is impossible to not be hurt by other people’s actions, but please don’t let them dictate your sense of self-worth. I understand that you are hurt by what these people did and that you continue to feel the effects, but don’t believe what they said.
Britney, thank you so much for writing to me! I really appreciate you reaching out and trusting me with this information. I hoped that I was able to provide some helpful advice. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I just want to end by saying that things will get better. I know people often say this, but from personal experience I really believe that it is true. You will heal and learn to trust again. You may never completely get rid of the scars left from these people’s actions, but I know that you will find peace in some way in the future. Remember that these feelings are temporary. You are completely capable and resilient! I have faith in you! Please never hesitate to reach out. Sending you hugs!
I’ve been bullied all my life and I want to help people who are still being bullied now, I just want to know how can I help them?
– Chloe, college student
Thanks for writing to me. I am so sorry to hear that you have been bullied for so long. Absolutely no one deserves to be treated so cruelly. I really love your question. It is so important to support one another and prevent bullying. Those who have experienced bullying especially understand why it is important to speak out against this behavior. I commend you for aspiring to this step!
If you witness bullying, make sure to intervene on behalf of the target. Contrary to stereotypical concepts of bullying, intervening does not always mean putting yourself directly between a fistfight to break it up. In fact, this would put you in more danger. Never do something that would jeopardize your safety. There are ways to intervene while maintaining your security. First, report what you witnessed to a trusted adult or school administration. Gather any evidence, such as screen shots of cyberbullying, before informing adults. If you have this evidence, show it to the adult(s) in addition to providing your account of what you witnessed. Letting an adult know about the bullying will help the target because adult intervention is the best way to end the situation. If a school administration is aware, they have certain policies and requirements to address the bullying. Furthermore, if the bullying falls under harassment or discrimination, there are federal and state laws that also address that situation. Essentially, reporting to adults is the best, most effective way to end the bullying.
Offer the targets kindness and friendship. Bullying can be very isolating and may make the targets feel as if no one cares. Make sure they know that you care and support them. Offer them a listening ear, explaining that you have also been bullied and understand how horrible it is. Try to cultivate a message that they are not alone. Invite them to do fun things, too! These actions will let them know that they have others they can count on.
Advocate for bullying prevention. In addition to person-to-person interaction as listed above, you can also become involved in widespread bullying prevention. Join volunteer organizations that advocate for this cause. Create clubs at your school that aim to educate about bullying prevention and foster kindness and compassion. This could be as simple has hosting a club that meets a couple times a month to do something fun, where everyone is invited. The person-to-person help and interaction is certainly crucial and important, but you can also have a positive effect by addressing the problem from above through creating communities that are intolerant of bullying behavior. For more ideas about how you get involved with bullying prevention, take a look here.
Thank you so much for writing to me. I appreciate your kindness and aspiration to be a force of good! You are truly amazing. Keep up the good work. Let me know if you have any other questions!
Hi Jamie, My name is Lana. I have a small groups of friends that hang out together. We all watch out for each other and make sure that when one of us is down we help each other back up. There is also this other groups of girls (the bullies) that keep adding to their groups… We have been to the principle, and two teachers. We have had a big talk but it seems as if nothing has been truly done. They just go right back and start again. They direct it towards us but don’t say our names. They say like, “I’m with y’all making up stories,” and “I’m done with all of these haters.” Now, I just need to get your advice…….. what do you think i should do?
– Lana, 7th grade
Thank you so much for writing to me. I am so sorry that you are in this difficult situation. I am happy to hear, however, that you have a good group of friends that support one another. I also want to commend you for taking action to prevent and end this bullying. I am sorry that it hasn’t helped yet. It must feel so demoralizing to seek for help and not receive it. I first want to underscore that no one ever deserves to be bullied. Furthermore, I want to remind you that you should never retaliate against the bullying by engaging in bullying behavior against those who hurt you. I know that it may be tempting to throw back an insult or post something mean on snapchat in response, but please refrain yourself from doing so. It will only agitate the bullying, making it worse and more difficult to handle. Try reminding your friends of this, so they also do not retaliate.
I know that you have already tried to address the bullying by telling adults and that it hasn’t helped. As hard as this is to accept, you must not give up trying to seek help from adults. Tell as many people as many times as you have to until you get the help you need and deserve. Here is the route of action I recommend to make telling an adult effective and helpful:
Lana, thank you so much for writing to me! I hope that this helped and that the bullying will end soon. Remind yourself that you are amazing and worthy of safety, happiness, and respect. If you have any more questions, never hesitate to reach out! Good luck with everything! Sending you hugs!
I get bullied a lot i mean A LOT! i have been bullied for 3 years straight now and the bulling won’t stop. People say I am bossy but I don’t believe them. I really want to know how to stop the bullying I have told the teachers and principle and nothing has happened about it all the principle said to the bully is that it was not nice and to not do it but they don’t care and they do it anyway. This year I moved schools but people still call me names. They call me names like fat and ugly when I’m only 120 pounds and I’m skinny. Sometimes I go home and cry. At my old school my mom had the behavior health come and watch the class but when someone was in the class they didn’t say anything. At my new school I told the principle and he just talked to them and the parent and the kid still bullies me and now the whole school calls me names NO JOKE THE WHOLE SCHOOL except the teachers and kindergarten but still that is a lot of students cause my school is kindergarten through 12th grade. One time the teacher told the students to not say mean things in class and to do it at lunch or after school but no in class and he literally said that. Now I have a councilor and have had one for a year and I had a bunch more as I grew up. I REALLY need help!!!!
What should I do for the rest of the year until I change schools next year?
What should I do to prevent me from getting bullied at my new school next year?
– Kaydee, 7th grade
Hello Kaydee! I appreciate you writing to me and trusting me with this information. I know it can be challenging to share about bullying experiences, so I commend you for reaching out. I am so devastated to hear that you have been bullied for so long. You do not deserve this treatment. You are never responsible for another person’s actions. Your choices and actions never justify someone bullying you. You are worthy of safety, respect, and happiness—never doubt that! I know it is impossible to not be affected by someone’s cruel words, but please don’t internalize them. It is totally normally to feel hurt by all the bullying and name-calling, but don’t let yourself believe what these people are saying. Remind yourself everyday that you are amazing! There is not a single person on this planet who is exactly like you. You have something unique and amazing to contribute to our world. Don’t forget that! Let’s start by addressing your first question about what to do for the rest of this year to deal with the bullying. It sounds like you have already taken the positive steps of informing a few trusted adults about the bullying. Unfortunately, this has not helped yet. You must try again. Adult intervention is the best and most effective way to end the bullying. It also sounds like your mom has been accommodating and has tried to help. Talk to her again about the situation. Oftentimes, adults have the best intentions but don’t know how to help. Direct her to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center where there is a ton of information for adults about how to best help you. With your mom, discuss about how you can get the attention and help of school officials to deal with the bullying. Schedule an in-person meeting with a school administrator, like a principle, and have your mom join you. I know you already said that the principle did not help, but that’s because s/he didn’t really do anything. The principle certainly has the power and the legal obligation to help you. In your meeting, remind the principle that you have legal rights guaranteed by the school district and state. Learn more about your legal rights surrounding bullying. Be persistent. Highlight that addressing the bullying will take more than just scolding the individuals who are bullying you. Also mention what your teacher said in class about how bullying should be done outside of class time. Don’t be accusatory, but underscore that the school community is fostering bullying behavior by accepting it as normal. What your teacher said is not okay, and you must recognize and mention this. Your principle needs to take tangible action to discipline these people in order to prevent them from doing it again. Maybe they need to be suspended? Perhaps they should have some of their privileges taken away? In your meeting (and in general when you tell adults), make it very clear that the bullying needs to be addressed, since it is negatively impacting your mental health and learning environment. If one meeting does not push your principle into action, schedule another. Do not give up. Tell as many adults as you have to until you get the help you deserve and need. Perhaps work with your counselor as well about how to address the bullying. Speaking of your counselor, I am so glad that you have one. You are very lucky to have this resource, even if you don’t think they are helping. Make sure you tell the counselor about your situation. Perhaps they could help by communicating with your mom about how important finding help is.
In addition to telling an adult, make sure you take care of yourself for the rest of the year. Please don’t invest in relationships with people who bully you, even if you think they are your friends. Distance yourself from harmful relationships. If someone is bullying, don’t hang out with him or her. Try making new friends at or outside of school. Get involved in various activities, clubs, and sports in order to meet new people. It may be lonely this year, but you can still make an effort to engage with new people. Beyond trying to make new friends and breaking ties with people that hurt you, here are some other things you can do to help navigate the rest of this difficult year.
Now, let’s talk about how to navigate next year at a new school. Here are my suggestions:
Kaydee, I am so sorry that you have endured this cruel treatment for so long. You do not deserve it. Please remind yourself that you are amazing! Don’t believe what people say about you. You are strong, resilient, courageous, kind, and wonderful! Don’t let other people make you doubt your self-worth. Remind yourself of how awesome you are everyday and take care of yourself. I have faith in you! Let me know if you have any more questions. Never hesitate to reach out. Sending hugs!
What are the effects on people who are bullied?
– Makenzie, 8th grade
Thank you for your amazing question. Bullying is incredibly hurtful and can have a significant impact on someone’s life. No one ever deserves it. There is no universal response to bullying. Targets of bullying respond in different ways and will experience different effects. However, in general, bullying can create serious mental health effects that last long into one’s future, including depression and anxiety. For me, my bullying experience sparked an issue with anxiety that I still deal with. Before I was bullied, I had never experienced a panic attack. Now, I have gone through many. Furthermore, bullying is much more than the momentary interaction between the bully and the target. Bullying is not something you can get over like cold. The effects of bullying last much longer than many people think and make the target feel isolated. Bullying can also have an impact on someone’s learning experience and can cause grades to drop. During my bullying experience, I was shocked by how pervasive it was. It reached almost every aspect of my life—my appetite, sleep, ability to focus in school, my relationships with friends and family, my mental health, and even my physical health! My body reacted to the bullying—I developed headaches and stomachaches and at times, struggled to breath. So, the trauma of bullying can be manifested in one’s physical health as well. While it varies from person to person, the effects of bullying can have an impact on future relationships. Targets of bullying can feel more hesitant to trust others or even to cultivate new relationships.
Targets of bullying aren’t the only ones who are impacted. Witnesses and those initiating bullying behavior are also affected by bullying. According to a 2015 report from the Center for Disease Control, those exhibiting bullying behavior are more prone to academic challenges, substance abuse, mental health issues, and violence in the future. Overall, bullying can create significant challenges for those who experience, initiate, or witness it. Therefore, it is so important that we work to prevent bullying in every community, since it really does affect everyone. If you are witnessing bullying, experiencing bullying, or perpetuating bullying, please seek help from a trusted adult. Through your actions, you have the power to shape your community into a place that does not tolerate bullying. If you have any more questions about how you can be an agent of bullying prevention, never hesitate to reach out! Thanks for writing to me, Makenzie!
What do I do if someone says that I smell and tell me to move away from my own locker?
– Haley, 8th grade
Hi Haley! Thank you for writing to me! I am so sorry to hear that you are being bullied. No one deserves to be treated this way, and I feel so sad that you have to experience this. First of all, I want to commend you for asking for help. That is a big step that many targets or bystanders of bullying often never take. The best way to help end your bullying situation is by telling an adult you trust about what you have been experiencing. I know this can be scary, but the most effective way to end the bullying is to tell an adult. So, tell a parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, coach, principle, or counselor. Don’t leave out any details. If one adult does not help, go to another. Tell as many as you have to until you get the help you deserve. I also recommend telling the adult in a private space where you feel comfortable. You don’t want any peers overhearing the conversation, as that may put you in a negative or unsafe position. You could also consider writing an email to the adult you intend to tell. Lastly, I want to remind you that there is a difference between tattling and telling. Someone tattles to get another person in trouble, and someone tells when they are in emotional or physical danger. So, make sure to tell a trusted adult about your experience.
In addition to informing someone you trust, there are other methods to cope with bullying and the emotional aftermath of it. First of all, I highly recommend avoiding the people who are bullying you at school and online. Even if they have not targeted you online, block those who are hurting you on your phone and social media sites. Try to stay in groups during the school day, as it will make you less vulnerable. I know you mentioned that they are telling you to get away from your locker, which makes it difficult to store and retrieve school supplies you may need. There are a couple ways to go about this (in addition to telling the adult!). First, you could ask a friend to let you put some of your stuff in his or her locker temporarily until you feel safe using your own. You could also ask a trusted teacher to use his or her room to store some of your materials or gear. I know this may seem strange, but teachers are there to help you learn, develop, and stay safe! All you have to do is ask, and I am sure they will be happy to help. If you would like to continue using your locker, as long as you feel safe, consider cultivating a sense of confidence and strength around your locker. This may seem really difficult, especially since it might be the opposite of how you feel, but people tend to bully those they view as vulnerable. I am not saying that you are vulnerable, but you may be able to reduce the bullying incidents by fostering confidence and strength. Body language truly is powerful. Walk up to your locker standing tall with your shoulders back and radiate a sense of confidence. Consider bringing a buddy with you as well. If the person that is bullying you comments or asks you to move away from your own locker, as long as you feel safe, say something in a polite, yet definite way, such as “Nope, I am still putting my books away.” Again, this is all dependent on how you feel. You should never put yourself in a situation where you may feel in emotional or physical danger. Lastly, make sure to take care of yourself! Although the specifics vary from person to person, I discovered that my bullying experience had a significant impact on my mental health and self esteem. So, I also discovered the importance of taking care of yourself! Carve out at least 30 minutes a day to do something that you enjoy. This could be a cup of tea and a book before bed, working out, making crafts, decorating, spending time with friends, going outside, or baking! Find what makes you smile and make sure to do it often. It makes such a difference. And make sure to always remember that you are amazing, strong, powerful, beautiful, smart, and capable of so much! I know it is impossible not to be hurt by people’s mean words, but don’t let anyone make you doubt your self-worth! You are worthy of love, respect, safety, and happiness! Remind yourself of that everyday. Thank you so much for writing to me, Haley! Let me know if you have any more questions! Never hesitate to reach out again! Best of luck!
How are you brave enough to stand against bullying, and speak not only for your self but also for other people?
– Yulianna, 6th grade
Thank you for writing to me! I really appreciate your thoughtful question. I find your question very interesting, as there is no straightforward answer. There are a lot of components that have shaped my role today as an advocate for bullying prevention. First of all, I think that the term “bravery” can be misleading, since it can imply that there was no fear, which is completely not the case! I prefer the term fortitude, which means courage in pain and adversity. I also want to underscore that “fortitude” is gained over time and experience, so don’t feel bad if you don’t quite feel “strong” yet in the aftermath of a bullying experience. It takes time to heal, which will eventually lead to fortitude. I know it is in you! When I was first bullied, I had absolutely no idea what to do—I was afraid, hurt, and quite frankly, traumatized. In that moment, I felt no courage or bravery. I felt despair and loneliness. However, I was lucky enough to have told a trusted adult, which totally helped the situation. My dad supported me as we handled the bullying situation. I spoke up for myself by telling a trusted adult. If you are being bullied, telling an adult is the best thing you can do to speak up for yourself and get help. Looking back, the support of family, friends, and communities was how I gained strength and fortitude. Particularly, the community of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center renewed my sense of hope and strength. Shortly after my bullying experience, I got involved with the center through attending an awards ceremony and volunteering over the summer. Using my experience to help other people was very healing and also allowed me to gain strength. So, if you are going through a bullying situation now, I highly recommend getting involved in some sort of volunteerism. Even if it is for a different cause, helping other people can give you unique and valuable experiences that not only benefit others, but also shape you into a more compassionate, courageous, and strong person, which will affect multiple areas of your life. Research local volunteer opportunities and get involved! Lastly, I was never alone as I gained the opportunity and fortitude to speak up for other people. It certainly felt lonely at times, but the truth is that the support of friends, family, and communities was healing and allowed me to translate my experience into helping others. But I didn’t gain this voice or platform alone! So, try your best to surround yourself with positive communities. Whether this is with a group of friends, family, or a volunteer organization, it is so important to remind yourself that you are not alone. If you have any more questions about how you can cultivate fortitude, healing, or a way to be a bullying prevention advocate, please feel free to ask! I would be happy to share more! Good luck, Yulianna!
My friend has started to tease me and bully me, but I still feel like he’s friend. What should I do? I need help!
– Luke, 7th grade
Thank you for writing to me. I am sorry to hear that you have been bullied. It is very difficult to navigate a bullying situation when the person who is hurting you is a friend. I can completely relate to your situation—I have also had times when friends have said mean things, which put me in a tough situation. In many cases, however, my friends were not aware that what they were saying was hurting my feelings. Oftentimes, friends think they are just “joking around.” This is never an excuse for bullying, but there are cases when people genuinely don’t know that they are hurting others. So, my first piece of advice is to talk to your friend. This piece of advice is always conditional—you must feel safe! Never put yourself in a situation where you could be in physical or emotional danger. As long as you feel safe, find a time when you and your friend can have a conversation without other people around that could negatively influence your conversation. If you would feel better, however, consider asking a trusted adult to be at the conversation. During your talk, express to your friend how his actions have made you feel. Try not to be accusatory, as this can make him feel defensive. For example, if you want to express that you have been hurt by some of his actions, say something like, “I feel hurt by some of the things you have said and I don’t think you are aware,” instead of, “You are really mean to me.” While these both may be true, the second option attacks your friend and will make him feel defensive, which will inhibit an effective conversation. In general, start your sentences with “I feel…” statements instead of “you have…” statements. There is a chance your friend has no idea he is hurting you and would change his behavior if he were aware of your feelings. As long as you feel safe, tell him how you are feeling and ask him to stop.
Unfortunately, there is also a chance he knows he is hurting your feelings and does not care to stop. If this is the case, then he is not your friend. He may have been in the past, but friends don’t intentionally hurt their friends. I know it is painful and difficult, but if he is bullying you with intention and awareness, then please let go of this “friendship.” It is unhealthy for you to stay in it—seek new relationships! This type of situation necessitates adult intervention. If you think his behavior will not stop after your conversation, you must find help from an adult you trust. They could be a parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, coach, principle, school-nurse, or counselor. Tell this person everything you have experienced. If one adult does not help you, tell as many as you have to until you get the help you deserve. I am so sorry you are dealing with this difficult situation, Luke! You do not deserve to be treated badly—be assured enough in your worth to leave toxic relationships. Please feel free to stay in touch. Let me know if you have any more questions!
If we see a kid who is being bullied and are afraid of the person bullying them and to scared to tell an adult. What should we do?
– Olivia, 7th grade
Thank you for writing to me. You have such a great question that I think many people can relate to. It can be scary to speak up, especially against someone who is bullying. I want to commend you for recognizing a problem and being concerned enough to write to me. A lot of people witness bullying and don’t do anything because they don’t know what to do or don’t think it is their responsibility. If you see someone being bullied or harassed, you have a responsibility to say something. Silence is damaging and causes school communities to condone bullying and isolate targets of bullying. I am so impressed that you are taking steps to help another student—people like you can make a big impact on people’s lives. The best thing you can do is to tell an adult. I know you said this scares you, but it is really the only way to help a target of bullying. Adult intervention is the most effective and long-term solution. In order to report what you have witnessed to an adult, find a time to talk to a teacher, parent coach, aunt, uncle, principle, mentor, or counselor when no other students are around, in order to protect yourself by ensuring privacy. If no one sees you talking to an adult, it makes you safer from a potential backlash to the reporting. You could also email or call the adult if that makes you feel more comfortable and safe. Tell this person everything you have seen, whether it was online, in person, or both. If there was anything online, take screen shots to show to the adult. When you talk to the adult, make it very clear that you would like to stay anonymous. Also convey that you don’t feel safe around this person. If multiple people have witnessed the bullying and also feel concerned about it, consider asking them to join you when you report—there is power in numbers! Lastly, be kind to the target of bullying. Kindness is truly powerful and can make a huge difference is someone’s life. I bet you can remember a time when someone brightened your day by simply smiling or saying something nice. Words and actions have power, and you can choose to be an agent of kindness. Invite this person to go to a movie, sit with him/her at lunch, or simply start a conversation with them in class. So, simply be nice to him/her. Trust me, kindness can make a world of difference! Olivia, thank you so much for writing to me. I am so impressed by your motive to help a target of bullying. I know it is scary to report what you have witnessed, but you can do it in a way that protects your anonymity—make sure you talk to the adult in private and convey to them that you wish to remain anonymous. I hope this was helpful. Please feel free to stay in touch and let me know if you have any more questions! Good luck!
What i can do for my school that will persuade others to stop bulling on sight?
– Kayla, 10th grade
What an amazing question. I am so impressed that you asked it and have the desire to prevent bullying in your community. There are many ways to advocate for bullying prevention. Here are my recommendations:
My friend keeps getting mocked for using the Little bit of sign language her and I acquired over the summer. I don’t know how I can help her. Do you know how I can help her?
– Kendall, 6th grade
Thank you for writing to me. I think it is so cool that you and your friend learned some sign language! I am also interested in sign language and took a sign language class when I was in 8th grade. I am so sorry to hear that you friend is getting mocked for using her sign language. It is not fair and she does not deserve it. I think it is so amazing that you want to help your friend. People like you who speak out against bullying can make a huge impact on someone’s life! So, take a moment to pat yourself on the back for being so amazing and kind! Perhaps you are already doing this, but one really important thing you can do for your friend—or any target of bullying—is simply to be kind and reassure them that you are there to help. Let her know that she does not deserve to be mocked for using such a cool skill. Invite her to go to a movie, bake, or something else that makes you both smile. People underestimate the power of kindness. It can make such a difference in someone’s life, especially if they feel they are only receiving cruelty. Be an agent of kindness—not just for her, but also for everyone! In addition, consider talking to those you are mocking your friend. This advice is relative—it always depends on your comfort level and safety. If you feel safe, the next time you witness your friend being mocked, consider explaining respectfully and kindly to the people who are bullying that they are hurting your friend’s feelings and that sign language is actually really cool. You could even consider asking other friends to join you so you do not confront these people alone. Perhaps these people think that they are just “joking around” and do not fully realize how much damage they are doing. This is not a justification for it, but maybe if they know, they will stop. If this does not work or if you do not feel safe enough to confront these people, the next thing you can do is to tell an adult you trust. They could be a parent, teacher, coach, aunt, uncle, mentor, counselor, principle, or someone else you trust that could help. If your friend does not receive the help she needs with the first adult you tell, go to another until you get adequate help. Direct the adult you tell to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center’s website where they can find a ton of information about how to best help the situation. So, here is a quick recap: 1.) Continue being nice to your friend and reassure her that you are there for her. 2.) If you feel safe, explain to those who are mocking your friend that they are really hurting her feelings. Ask some other people to join you! 3.) Tell an adult(s) you trust what you have witnessed so they can help. Kendall, it is so amazing that you want to help your friend. A lot of people witness bullying but don’t do anything because they don’t think it’s their problem or don’t know what to do. I commend you for finding a way to help your friend. It is really impressive! Thanks again for writing to me and being so kind. We need more people like you in the world! Feel free to stay in touch! Good luck!
If the boys in my class are laughing at me or asking other students out for me or calling me names does that mean I am being bullied?
– Taylor, 6th grade
Thank you for writing to me. First, I want to clarify that you are being bullied. Generally, when someone feels bullied, that means they are being bullied. You should always trust your gut instinct. A lot of times when boys exhibit bullying behavior, people will say that they either like you or that “boys will be boys.” This is unacceptable, justifies their behavior, and even puts the blame on you. Don’t let anyone tell you that your pain and bullying experience are not serious because “they just like you.” Please know that you do not deserve this treatment. I feel so sad that you are being treated this way. The best way to end the bullying is to tell an adult you trust about what is going on. This could be a parent, teacher, coach, aunt, uncle, principle, mentor, or school counselor. Tell them everything that you have experienced. If they have targeted you online, take screen shots of anything that has been said and show them to the adult. The more evidence you can collect of the bullying, the better. The adult should always believe you no matter if you have pictures or “proof,” but sometimes having these things helps verify your experience and provides something the adults can work with. If you don’t have any of these things, don’t worry! You can always tell an adult if you are being bullied, even if you don’t have “proof.” If the first adult doesn’t help, tell another until you get the help you deserve and need. You may have to tell multiple people until you find an adult that can really help, but don’t give up if the first adult doesn’t do the trick. Also, never retaliate to the bullying. I know it might be tempting to say something mean back when they call you names, but this will only make things worse. It will put you in more danger. Lastly, make sure you are taking care of yourself. I know that bullying is devastating and consuming, but you have to make a concerted effort to do things that relax you and make you smile. Carve out at least 30 minutes every day to do something for you. Maybe you could go for a run, bake, read, watch TV, find inspirational quotes online, or anything else you enjoy doing! Taylor, I am so sorry you are being bullied. You do not deserve it. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help. Feel free to stay in touch! Good luck!
If their is one kid in 8th grade teases you about you brother that they didn’t like, Like ********’s little sister and knows it bug u, What are u supposed to do? Please HELP!
Your profile picture is amazing and I love <3 the reason for it
– Athena, 7th grade
Thank you for writing to me. Also, thank you for complimenting my profile picture—I’m glad that it resonated with you! First of all, I am so sorry that you are being bullied. You do not deserve it and it is so unfair. The best thing you can do is to tell an adult about what you are experiencing. They could be a parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, coach, principle, mentor, school counselor, or anyone else you feel comfortable sharing your experience with. Make sure to tell them everything and don’t leave out any details! If this person has ever targeted you online, take screen shots of what has been said and show them to the adult. In general, gather as much evidence as you can to help the adult understand what you have been experiencing. You can always tell an adult even if you don’t have any evidence, and they should always believe you. If the first adult does not help, tell another until you get the help you deserve. Consider guiding the adult(s) you tell to the PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center’s website where there is a lot of information for adults on how to help you. In addition to telling an adult, you can also do certain things to help end the bullying. First, don’t retaliate to the bullying, as this will only add fuel to the fire and put you in more danger. Also, avoid this person at school. Surround yourself with your friends in order to make you less of a vulnerable target. Block the person who is bullying you on any social media sites, including blocking her number on your phone. Lastly, make sure you are doing things that make you happy for at least 30 minutes of everyday. Bullying can often make us feel hopeless and very unhappy, leading us to give up our self-care routines. However, it is so important to take care of yourself. Exercise, sleep, read, bake, watch TV, volunteer for a cause you care about, meditate, go outside, or do anything else that makes you smile. Just make sure you are doing something to nurture yourself every day. Here is a quick recap of my advice:
Athena, I hope this was helpful. Once again, I am so sorry you are being treated this way—you do not deserve it. Let me know if you have any more questions! I am always here for you and happy to help! Good luck!
If someone is getting bullied and they tell an adult but the adult does not take it seriously what does the child do then?
– Mini-Me, 8th grade
Thank you for writing to me! In an ideal world, you could report bullying to one adult and it would be solved! Unfortunately, it is a lot more nuanced and complicated than that. I understand that telling an adult does not automatically guarantee help. Oftentimes adults have the best intentions but don’t have the resources to handle the situation effectively. Or, as it sounds in your cases, the adult dismisses your claims and responds poorly. If this has happened to you, I am so sorry. No one deserves to be bullied and not believed when they report. My primary advice is always to find help from a trusted adult, but sometimes your first or even second reporting doesn’t cut it and you are left at a loss for what to do. Here are the steps to take if you have already tried to find help from an adult, but didn’t receive it: 1.) Report your situation again to as many adults as it takes to get the help you deserve. Make yourself heard and demand action. Also, communicate the fact that you have rights under state and school policies surrounding bullying. It depends based off your state and school district, but our cities and states have set up laws and policies that address how schools should handle bulling. Depending on the nature of the bullying, bullying can also fall under the definition of harassment or discrimination, prompting federal policies addressing these. For more information and to see what your state has to say about bullying, look here. Overall, make sure to tell the adult that you have legal grounds to address the bullying. 2.) If step number one does not work, try going to a school official, like a principle or administrator. As I said before, schools have certain rules surrounding bullying that they are required to fulfill. So, a principle may be a bit more helpful since he/she is required to meet school and state policy when a student reports bullying. Also, since it is their job, the principle will probably know more details about your school’s response network to bullying. 3.) Perhaps the adult is not taking you seriously because of a lack of evidence. While adults should always believe a student when they are reporting, sometimes the situation demands some form of supporting evidence. Take screen shots of any cyberbullying targeted towards you. If the bullying happened in person and others saw it, consider asking those people to go with you as witnesses when you report the bullying. Gather any other information or evidence you can think of that would help your case. It is not fair that people don’t take your reports seriously and that you have to do so much work simply to get the help of an adult. Please remember that I am always here for you and that you are not alone. I hope that you can find help soon and that these tips were helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions! Good luck!
What should we do to prevent it from happening as much?
– Abby, 10th grade
This is such an amazing question—thank you for asking it! Because of the way out society approaches it, bullying can sometimes feel inevitable and like a “rite of passage” for students. The language we use to respond to bullying is often, “kids will be kids” or “this sort of thing just happens in school.” These inadequate responses justify inaction and reveal little faith that things can get any better. Because of this, it can feel exhausting to fight for bullying prevention due to the common perception that it is non-preventable. I want to underline that bullying is preventable and doesn’t just “happen.” There are many complex causes that fuel bullying behavior in our schools, but the school community is also responsible if they turn a blind eye. In many cases, saying nothing when you see something perpetuates bullying behavior because it does not explicitly say it’s not okay, inadvertently condoning bullying. This is why the number one way to end bullying in our communities is to ensure that people are reporting to trusted adults when an incident happens—no matter if they are the target or witness. By creating a culture where reporting bullying is expected of all students, the community is condemning bullying behavior, making it less likely for people to participate in bullying. In fact, according to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center’s website and a 2001 report from York University and Queens University, nearly 60% of bullying situations end when other students intervene. “Intervene” doesn’t necessarily mean standing up against a bully in person. It can also mean reporting the bullying and finding an adult that can help. The number one way to end bullying is by creating communities that foster kindness and acceptance through communicating strong values about bullying prevention. When it is expected of every student to be kind to on another and report whenever there is a bullying incident, there will be less bullying and more effective ways to solve it. Our society treats bullying as something to deal with alone or be ashamed of. We have to reject these dominant narratives about bullying in order to pursue positive and healing change. Bullying is preventable—we just have to be willing to speak out when we see it happening. I hope this answered your question. If you have any more questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact me! Thanks again for this amazing question. I hope you are doing well!
I haven’t told anyone about me being bullied, but I shared my email with my brother so I gave you the wrong email. Anyways my question is how do I make all the rumors at school stop without me telling on the person bullying me? Because I know she’ll just call me worse on social media & make fun of me more for telling.
– Susana, 8th grade
Thank you for writing to me! First of all, I am so sorry that you are being bullied. No one deserves it and I feel so devastated to hear that people are hurting you. From personal experience, I know that when you are being bullied, it can feel really lonely and hopeless. I want you to know that you are not alone and there are ways to end the bullying. The best way to end the bullying is to tell a trusted adult what is happening. I want to clarify that there is a difference between tattling and telling. Tattling is when you are trying to get the other person in trouble just to hurt them. Telling is when you are protecting your own emotional and/or physical safety. It sounds like you are afraid that telling an adult will only make things worse. When I was being bullied, I had the same reaction. However, I discovered that telling an adult was the best thing I did to end the bullying. If I never told my dad, I don’t think it would have ended. There really is no way to stop the person’s behavior without adult intervention. She is not just suddenly going to stop and confronting her alone will only put you in more danger. If you tell an adult, the adult will go through the school and will make it very clear to this person that if she continues, there will be serious consequences. The person’s parents probably don’t know what their daughter is doing, so once they are notified, the parents will also be monitoring her behavior to ensure she stops hurting you. So, please find help from an adult! Talk to a parent, teacher, coach, aunt, uncle, principal, counselor, or mentor about what you are experiencing. Don’t leave out any details—include the people who are targeting you, what they have said, where they have bullied you, how long, etc. Tell as many adults as you have to until you get the help you deserve and need. If you don’t want to talk to them directly, consider writing them a letter or email. Also, direct the adult(s) you tell to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center’s website, where they can find a ton of information to help them know how to handle the situation. In many cases, adults have the best intentions to help the students who report the bullying but don’t have the right resources or knowledge to know how to handle the situation effectively. Overall, tell an adult what is happening and connect them with the resources on PACER’s website to help them help you.
In addition to telling an adult, there are some things you can do that will provide some relief temporarily. These are not long term solutions, only finding help is. Block the users, sites, or numbers that are targeting you. Don’t directly retaliate to the bullying either—this only adds fuel to the fire. You mentioned that there are rumors about you. Rumors thrive through gossip. They only survive when people are talking about them. If someone brings it up, don’t engage with it—try to stop talking about the rumors to let them die down. Also, people tend to enjoy when they get a reaction out of someone. If you react really strongly, this makes them want to continue. Even if you don’t feel like it on the inside, if someone brings a rumor directly to you, try to not react too strongly or let it show that it is seriously hurting you. Like I said, this is NOT a long-term solution, but these tips may help to temporarily provide some relief. Susana, I am so sorry that you are being bullied. It sucks so much and you don’t deserve it. Don’t let others make you doubt your self worth. You are worthy of respect, happiness, and love. I know it is impossible to not be hurt by people’s actions and words, but try your hardest to not let those words influence your self-image. You are amazing, strong, and courageous. I hope you find help soon and that the bullying stops. Feel free to stay in touch! Good luck!
Hey, just wanted to get some advice on my situation, I’m at a stand still for what to do. I’ve told trusted adults many times to stop the bullying, but it just seems to get worse and worse. I have a group of friends, but none of them are in my classes. I personally need some advice on how to cope with intense bullying. It’s gotten hard to bear the effects of the bullying so I need something to take my mind off my situation so I can pull my life back together again.
– Evan, 8th grade
I really appreciate you writing to me and trusting me with your situation. I am so sorry that you have been bullied. You do not deserve to be treated so badly. I am glad to hear, however, that you have a group of friends, even if they are not in your classes. I know that telling an adult has not helped so far, but I want to commend you for taking that step already! It is so brave to ask for help. First of all, YOU HAVE RIGHTS! It depends from state to state, but every state has some form of bullying policies or laws. Also, most school districts and public schools have their own set of polices. Depending on the nature of the bullying, bullying can also fall under the definition of harassment or discrimination, prompting federal policies addressing these. For more information and to see what your state has to say about bullying, look here. To put it more simply, states and schools have set up frameworks that require action in response to bullying reports. So, your reporting is required to be addressed in some way. I understand that you have not had success in telling an adult and, therefore, may be skeptical that an adult can help. However, I know that seeking help and telling an adult is the best way to solve bullying—but the adults have to know what to do and how to handle the situation in ways that keeps you safe. It sounds like the adults you have asked have had good intentions in responding to your concerns but were not fully equipped with the resources or knowledge to help. So, I suggest trying again—either with the same adults or with someone new—but this time make sure that they are aware of your legal grounds to demand action and support. Direct them to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to provide them with resources to help you. Tell as many adults as you have to until you receive the help you deserve. Bullying is not something that you just have to endure or ignore. It is not something that is just a part of growing up. These dominate narratives about bullying are false. Bullying is never okay or acceptable. You must take action and find help because you do not deserve to feel unhappy or unsafe at school.
In terms of coping mechanisms and strategies, here are some of my thoughts and suggestions. From first hand experience, I know how bullying can have a lasting impact on your mental health. It is normal for targets of bullying to develop depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, so always remember that you are not alone. Here are some of my methods to support well-being and mental health: 1.) Go to a counselor. Going through your emotions and challenges can be really helpful. Investigate if your school has a counselor you could talk with or ask your parents to set up a therapy session. I know that going to a therapist outside of school is not feasible for every family financially, but I still suggest working through your thoughts in some way. Bottling up your emotions or suppressing them is never a long-term solution and can wreak havoc on your emotional and physical health. So, try getting them out by talking with someone one or journaling. 2.) Exercise! Working out releases endorphins, which are correlated to happiness! It also makes you feel accomplished and healthy, helping your self-esteem. 3.) Recite positive affirmations daily. Create or find a saying that resonates with you and promotes your happiness and confidence. It could be something like, “ I am confident in my self-worth, grateful for the positive things in my life, and proud to be me.” You can choose whatever resonates with you. Repeat it in your head our out loud. Often, we have a tendency to think incredibly critically about ourselves, even thinking things that are so mean we would never say it to another person. This is a super destructive behavior and can become a crippling pattern. Actively avoid this by nixing the negativity and reciting those positive affirmations! 4.) Meditate. Consider experimenting with meditation. I know it is not for everyone, but studies have shown that meditation can have a significant impact on stress levels and happiness. Set a timer for 5 minutes before bed or when you wake up, sit tall, close your eyes, and try be in the present without thinking of anything else. 5.) Lastly, do things that make you happy! Invest in self-care routines everyday to promote your well-being. For me, I try to exercise everyday and do something that is relaxing. Figure out what you love and what makes you happy, and try to carve out some time of each day to do those things. Evan, I am so sorry that you are being bullied. Please remember that you do not deserve it and that you are not alone. I am always here for you, so feel free to reach out at anytime! Good luck!
I don’t know what to do I’ve been getting bullied ever since I was in middle school and I want this to stop can u plz help me out
– Jayden, 12th grade
Thank you for writing to me. It takes so much courage to ask for help, so I appreciate you reaching out! I am so sorry to hear that you have been bullied for so long. Absolutely no one deserves to be bullied. I know from first hand experience how awful and isolating bullying can be, and I feel devastated that you have endured it for so long. In almost every bullying case, asking an adult is the only way to stop the treatment. I am also in 12th grade and understand the stigma around asking an adult. I know that it can be daunting and people may see it as “childish.” I want you to know that it is never shameful or “childish” to ask for help. It is strong and empowering to be assured in your self-worth and the fact that you don’t deserve to be treated so poorly. It is an act of strength and courage. So, my best advice is to tell an adult you trust what you have been experiencing. You could tell a parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, coach, principle, counselor, mentor, or anyone else you trust. If one adult doesn’t do the trick, ask another—tell as many people as you have to until you get the help you need. Also, don’t leave out any details. Explain who is bullying you, whether it is cyber or in person, how long, what has been said, etc. The adult can help you take the next steps. Direct them to the PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center’s website, where there are numerous resources to help adults know what to do and how to handle the situation effectively. Pretty much, just make sure that an adult (or multiple adults) know! If the bullying temporarily stops because of adult intervention, but then begins again a while later, you still have every right to bring it to an adult’s attention again. Remember, finding help from a trusted adult is the primary way to end the bullying, but there are also some things you can do individually that can help your mental health and your daily experience. If you are being cyberbullied, block the sites, users, or numbers that are targeting you. As I said, this is not a solution (telling an adult is!) but a way to temporarily provide some relief. At school, surround yourself with your friends and people you trust. For people who are bullying, it is much easier to target someone when they are alone and more vulnerable. So, try to stay with your friends throughout the day and distance yourself from those hurting you. In addition, cultivate self-care routines to ensure that you are taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. This is so important! Make sure to exercise, take care of your body, get enough sleep, relax, and do things that make you happy. Allowing yourself time to focus on your well-being will have a huge impact on your mental health and self esteem. Lastly, I want to remind you that you are a senior and that this is the last year of this school. While it is not necessarily the best approach to life, I hope you know that the end is in sight and that high school is temporary. I am not saying you won’t have challenges in the future or that you should just wait until school is out to have the bullying stop, but it is important to remember that in a few months, you won’t ever have to go back to your school. I hope that you find help and that the bullying stops promptly! If you have any more questions, please feel free to reach out! Thanks again for writing to me! Good luck!
I told an adult about me being bullied at school because of the way I walk, and that adult told another adult who could have stopped the bullying but didn’t. What do I do now?
– Tessa, 8th grade
Thank you so much for writing to me. I am so sorry that you are being bullied—and not getting the help you deserve and asked for! No one deserves to be bullied—please remember that I know how much bullying sucks and I am always here for you. You do not deserve this maltreatment.
I know it did not work out, but I want to commend you for asking help from an adult. This is one of my primary pieces of advice, and it is so amazing that you already took the initiative to find help. Unfortunately, this advice can fall short sometimes. Rarely, telling an adult does not always solve the problem or offer any actual help. It sounds like you are dealing with this challenging type of situation. I know that it may not seem like it right now, especially since the first time fell short, but I still suggest telling a trusted adult. Really the only way to solve this problem is to find help. Tell as many adults as you have to. Maybe you have a significantly older sibling you trust and could tell. Just make sure you are communicating your situation so people are aware. I know it is not easy, but you are going to have to stick up for yourself and make it very clear that you need help.
If you just stop looking for help and become silent in the face of this bullying, adults will not know and cannot help you. Maybe you could go back to the first adult you told and tell him/her that the other adult did not help. It seems like this first adult made some effort/action to help you, but talked to the wrong person. Consider returning to him/her. You could also go to a teacher, parent, coach, principle, counselor, aunt, uncle, or any other adult in your life you feel could help you. Make sure that you don’t retaliate against the bullying, as this can only add fuel to the fire and put you in more emotional and physical danger.
I also suggest avoiding these people as much as possible and surrounding yourself with trusted friends. This is obviously not a long-term solution, but it is easier to bully an individual who is physically alone rather than in a group of people. Consider blocking those who are bullying you on any social media site and on your phone as a preemptive preventative measure (if the bullying is not online) or if they are already cyberbullying you. As listed above, there are many things you can do to help the situation, but the only way to actually end the situation is to get help from a trusted adult. I know you already tried, but keep trying! It may take a few attempts, but if you continue raising your voice, someone will notice and help you eventually. I am so sorry you are going through this, Tessa. You don’t deserve to be bullied and it sucks so much that you are dealing with these mean kids. I am always here for you. Feel free to keep in touch and ask me any other questions that may arise. Good luck!
At school I have two groups of friends, one group is nice and the other group not so much. The group that are nice are a year younger then me and I get along with the more then the other group but I don’t want to leave the meaner group because then I would be lonely in class. Anyway, in the mean group of friends I have a ‘best friend’ and she tries to control who I sit with and she calls me names and makes fun of how I speak sometimes and I don’t know whether she is joking but it hurts my feelings a lot and I usually end up crying, I also end up apologising when I think I don’t think I need to and i have talked to her about it before (a couple of times) but nothing has changed. I also get excluded from this meaner group, a lot. I don’t know whether they know but i have a feeling they do. I go to a girls only school so I don’t know if they are doing this because of their age and this is how they think girls act at our age or whether it is bullying. Whenever I tell l my mum she sounds like she takes my ‘friends’ side and I don’t know why but it makes me feel worse, but I am thankful that if I can’t talk to my mum I have friends in the other group who help me and are supportive of me. I don’t know what to do, can you please help me?
– Ky, 9th grade
Thank you so much for writing to me. I’m so sorry you are in this tough spot. Even though you are facing a challenging issue, it is so great that you have a group of friends you can rely on, even if they are not in your grade. It sounds like this other group, the one that treats you badly, is not a good group of friends and that the only reason you hang out with them is to not feel alone. Answer this question for yourself: would you rather be treated badly and feel unhappy in your learning environment OR would you like to feel respected and treated the way you deserve, even if that means some alone time during the school day? I know it is a bit more complicated than this, but I hope that your gut instinct is to look for relationships where you are treated nicely and with respect. So, my advice to you is to distance yourself from this mean group. It is not okay the way they are treating you and you don’t deserve it. As I have gone through different relationships in my life, I have learned how important it is to put your happiness and well-being as a top priority. If you surround yourself with toxic and negative relationships that make you cry, you are limiting your potential happiness that you deserve to have. Start by not hanging out with them or talking to them too much. This includes this “best friend” who tries to control you. You certainly do not have to shun them, and you can continue to be nice to them, but do not place yourself in their friend group. If you feel that you need to say something or they confront you about you distancing yourself, consider saying something like, “I don’t appreciate the way you have treated me and therefore do not wish to continue surrounding myself with your hurtful behavior.” Try to keep it short, simple, and definitive so there is no room for their questioning. If they persist and try to talk to you about it, consider asking a trusted adult for help. You mentioned that you tend to apologize for things that you don’t need to be sorry for. Since you are already aware of this, make sure you don’t say your sorry for anything that you don’t need to apologize for. If you feel things getting out of hand or like they are being mean to you again, make sure to find help from an adult. This adult does not need to be a parent—they could be a teacher, coach, counselor, or advisor. Since you will not be with this group during the school day, which makes you feel lonely, consider reaching out to some other people to form new friendships. With the start of school just around the corner, now is the best time to make new friends. Try inviting someone new to hang out even before school starts, so you know you will have a familiar face on the first day. Please remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. Don’t let anybody make you doubt your self-worth. Practice self-love, compassion and gratitude. Surround yourself with people that uplift you and make you happy. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me! I hope this upcoming year goes well. I am always here for you. Never hesitate to talk to me. Good luck, Ky!
I am from China. I don’t know bullying until I read a book with a description, which helped me realize, that I find I always suffer from bullying. I always feel difficulty in talking with others, that lead me to be misunderstood. I always feel lonely. I have no friends, even no one can understand me. I am tall and strong. I am in senior middle school. I know keeping with others is important for the people all around the world. however I just cannot do it. Every time I just cannot think what to say. So I really need help. I seldom surf the foreign Internet. Please address me to give me some advice.
– Walker, 12th grade
I really appreciate you reaching out to me. I am so sorry that you are struggling—I know how hard it is to feel lonely, misunderstood, and isolated. It sounds like you have a hard time socializing with other people your age and find it difficult to make strong friendships. This makes you feel lonely, and perhaps in some cases, like you are a target of bullying. I am not sure what the book says about bullying, but if you feel emotionally or physically unsafe, threatened, or hurt, then you are being bullied. I want to clarify that feeling alone, unless someone is deliberately excluding and isolating you, is not the same as being bullied. Loneliness is difficult to handle on its own terms, but there is a difference between the two. With this said, you should always trust yourself and what you feel. If you feel like you are the target of bullying, then find help as soon as possible. The first thing you can do is to distance yourself from the behavior that is hurting you—whether it’s blocking people on social media or sitting at a different lunch table—make sure you do everything you can to remove yourself from negative actions. Avoid directly retaliating or confronting these people—that will only put you in more emotional and physical danger. Lastly, find an adult you trust to help you handle the situation. This could be a parent, teacher, coach, advisor, or counselor. Don’t feel embarrassed to tell somebody what you are going through. You are not alone and chances are that the adult you are telling has also gone through something similar. Believe it or not, everyone in his or her lifetime feels excluded and lonely at least once. I have, my family has, and so have people all over the country and world that write to this column. I see different questions all the time, but often the common narrative in each question is that they feel alone in their experience. But obviously loneliness is not a unique experience because everyone who has written to me feels like this in some way or another. You are not alone!
Even though everyone feels lonely at least at some point in their lives, there are a few things you can do about it. First of all, you have to know that it is OK to feel lonely. It is normal and common. In today’s fast paced society, it is easy to feel like we always have to be doing something and being with other people. When you look at social media, people are always broadcasting their lives, so it can often seem like everyone is doing something fun except you. But remember that when people post pictures/updates/tweets on social media, they are editing their lives to fit a purely positive and happy image of themselves. People typically won’t post that they had a horrible day and are now crying. Because people fabricate their own image on social media, it can be easy to believe that other people’s lives are awesome and yours is boring. This leads us to feel like we need to be doing something amazing all the time. I have definitely felt this, but as I have gotten older, I have learned to accept that it is okay, and in some cases healthy, to be alone. So the first step to feel better is to know that it is 100% acceptable to be by yourself.
With this said, it is still natural for us to desire community and friendships. As long as you feel safe, consider trying to make new friends or strengthen other relationships. It sounds like you struggle being social (I can totally relate!) but still want to be with others. Everybody struggles socially, and it can be really hard to make friends. It is a process that you will keep repeating and refining throughout your whole life. Here are a few of my tips to socialize and make friends: 1.) Be nice! This sounds simple, but is actually so important and often underrated. People enjoy when others are nice to them, and it makes it more likely that people will be nice to you and want to spend more time with you. Start by giving someone a compliment or inviting him or her to sit at lunch. Be outgoing and talk/introduce yourself to a lot of people 2.) Be confident. I know this one is hard, especially when you have social anxiety and feel insecure in some ways. Even if you may feel insecure, it is still important to work on your self-confidence. It’s good for your self-esteem and helps your mental health. And bonus, people like to be around confident people! Try repeating self-affirming mantras to yourself every morning and throughout the day (you can do this in your head). Repeat to yourself something like, “I am strong, capable, confident, and assured in my self-worth.” 3.) Invite people to hang out with you! The best way to make strong friendships is to do something with someone outside of school. Invite them to go swimming, go to a museum, have some food, or watch a movie! If someone says no, don’t let that get you down! Keep trying to meet new people! Thank you so much for writing to me. Never hesitate to contact me again—I am always here to help you! Good luck, Walker!
This question isn’t related too me, also if you don’t find the question adequate enough to answer, please don’t go out of you way. I wanted to know what compelled you to take such a negative experience and completely flip it on its head, to make it all about helping others get through their problems?
Thank you so much for your question! It actually brought a smile to my face to see how kind and thoughtful your question was. I really appreciate you asking me these things. But first of all, never hesitate to ask me a question! I might not get back to you right away, but I will always respond! I take every question seriously and treat them all equally, so please never doubt if a question is “adequate enough.” Okay, for the first question: My bullying experience was absolutely awful and I had never gone through something like it before. I was shocked by how much it affected me and how it made me doubt my own self-worth. I am not going to lie; it was not easy to get through my last few months of my sophomore year. At that point, all I was thinking about was getting through to the summer. It was not like I was bullied and then immediately was able to be positive about it and see the silver lining—that I could help others with my experience. Words cannot overstate how horrible it was. After school was over, I went to the Unity Awards hosted by the PACER Center and immediately realized that I was not alone in my bullying experience. I felt empowered by the community of bullying-prevention activists and reassured that I was not some wimpy freak that couldn’t handle a mean kid. That Unity Awards Ceremony is what spurred my commitment to bullying prevention and where I had a new found desire to translate my negative experience into something that could help others and lessen the long-lasting impact of bullying— feeling alone. A few weeks removed from the actual bullying, I was able develop outrage at the injustice of bullying instead of feeling only hurt, hopeless, and alone. I was frustrated that bullying at my school (and many others) was the status quo and something kids will just have to “deal with” because that’s just a part of going through school. I wanted to challenge the idea that bullying is just some sort of “right of passage” for kids, because bullying is never acceptable and no one deserves it. Basically, it was not an easy road to realize that I could use my awful experience as a vessel of help for individuals and a way to challenge the larger culture of bullying in our educational communities. Once I connected with other people that believed in what I believe in, I was able to begin working! If you are wondering how you can also translate a negative experience into something that can help others, I highly recommend looking for a community that believes in what you believe in and people that can empower and support you!
For your second question: I stopped by bullying problems by telling a trusted adult! That is a piece of advice I give in pretty much every-single response I write. In my experience, it is really the only way to create a substantive change in a bullying situation. At first I was determined not to tell my dad, because I thought it would only make it worse. I was so wrong! I eventually told my dad, and it was the only thing that I could have done to make it better. Once a trusted adult was aware of my situation, I felt less alone and like I didn’t have to carry the burden of my bullying all by myself. Honestly, for the most part, my dad did most of the work in resolving the situation—he was the one who contacted the school, and facilitated the conversations and “apologies.” However, it is a lot more complicated then just telling a parent. Even though my dad’s actions solved the situation on the surface, there was deeper damage and insincere apologies that were more difficult to cope with. I still feel the effects of the bullying, especially since I have to be in the same classes with this person everyday. I no longer feel emotionally or physically in danger, but I can never forget what this person did to me—it truly changed me forever. Just because someone is no longer bullying does not mean you are over it or healed. It unfortunately is a long process. I have learned that self-care, like yoga, running, reading, baking, and relaxing, are really important for my emotional health. So for the more complicated ways bullying affected me, I try to focus on my emotional health by doing things that promote my happiness.
And for your last question: I don’t know how many people I have helped—I hope that everyone that I have written to gained something beneficial from my suggestions. Based only on the number to people I have written to, I have hopefully helped about 40 people. But I also hope that there are people who read through some of the questions offered on the website and gain something helpful for themselves, even if they never write to me. Overall, I am not sure about the answer to this question. Thank you so much, Khaleb, for writing to me. I loved answering you and appreciated your thoughtful and kind questions. Feel free to stay in touch! Never hesitate to ask me anything! Thanks again!
I started at a new school last year, knowing no one. I made fast friends with a group of girls who seemed super nice and cool. I went to one of their parties but decided not to do anything because I felt like I had been raised better. After that, I slowly was dropped out of group chats and invites for hanging out. At the time of homecoming, I went with my date and one of my really good friends (who is now my best friend) and her date. I had spent a lot of time with her, and she constantly told me about how she didn’t like the boy she was going with and all this other stuff, so at the dance her date and I really hit it off. At the end of the night when it was just her and I left, she told me that I should totally date her date. I ended up hanging with the boy more and more, but little did I know all the girls at my school were talking about how I stole him from my best friend. I am not sure how this rumor got out, and why my best friend did not tell everyone she was the one to set us up, but the whispering and dirty looks began to increase from the girls I was friends with originally. They all completely stopped talking to me and started talking about me. To this day I am still dating that boy, but I was wondering if going into this year I would be able to change the perception they have on me. I really don’t know if I was in the wrong for doing what I did, but I want to make it better with them because it is a small school, and if I’m not friendly/friends with everyone, my life will be miserable since I also do live at school. Thank you for any advice you can give!
– Emma, 11th grade
Thank you for writing to me. I want to quickly commend you for sticking up for what you believe in at that party—it is a brave and rare thing to do! Good for you! I am so sorry that you are dealing with a rumor that does not represent who you are or what you have done. It totally sucks and you do not deserve it. In my opinion, I think that what you did was totally fine, especially since your friend encouraged you. It is sad that she does not own up to this. I bet she enjoys the attention and buzz that this rumor is creating, since it is framing her as an innocent and helpless victim, which people tend to sympathize with. Rumors are not okay and are totally unfair. It is hard to change them once they are out because beliefs are hard to change once somebody abides to them. I totally understand what it feels like to be in a small school (50 per grade for me!) and how difficult it can be to get away from the negativity. I think you have a couple of ways to go about this: Since it is a new year, hopefully people will be passed this rumor by now. Because rumors survive through gossip, try not to talk about it or bring it up again. If it is already dying down a bit, let it keep dying down by avoiding the rumor as the topic of your conversations. Hopefully this is all you have to do, but there is a chance that people will still be hung up about it. If this is the case, and people keep talking about it, then I would suggest talking to your friend that is ignoring the fact that she encouraged you to date this guy. Ask her to set the record straight and express kindly and calmly that you felt hurt by her actions and disappointed that she was being untruthful. Also, if people come up to confront you about it, consider setting the record straight and telling them your experience—as long as you feel safe and comfortable doing so. In this conversation, make sure you don’t over-react (even if you feel like it inside) because people will latch on to it and create more drama/buzz around it. Try to stay cool, calm, and like it is not affecting you a ton (even though it is). I know this sounds weird but trust me –the second people start noticing how much it is affecting you, they will use that to add fuel to the fire. Instead, kindly act like they are being ridiculous for sticking to this stupid rumor by saying something like, “You guys seriously still believe that? I’m sorry that you have to focus on this silly rumor—you must not have much else going on.” Lastly, if none of this works and people keep being mean to you, try to find a trusted adult for help. Also, I know that you are in a small school, but remember that you deserve to be treated kindly and with respect. The group of girls who used to be your friends and now talk about you do not seem like very reliable or good friends. Always put your well being first and don’t sacrifice descent treatment just to fit in with the crowd. In my opinion, it would be better to be by myself than with people who treat me like crap. Keep being who you are and don’t try to change that for other people. Feel assured in your own self-worth and knowing that these rumors are simply lies and that you did nothing wrong. Thank you for writing to me! I hope this rumor dies down and that you have a wonderful school year! Feel free to stay in touch! Good luck!
I’m going to middle school. Nobody, even my 5th grade teachers, like me. I have no friends. Please help me Jamie!!!!
– Daphne, 5th grade
What a beautiful name! Thank you so much for writing to me. It is so brave to ask for help when you are struggling. I admire that courage in you! It sounds like you have anxiety about going to middle school this upcoming fall. I completely remember that feeling—and honestly am still dealing with it every year! Starting a new school year, no matter if you are a new-bee or a returning student, can be nerve racking and anxiety-inducing. I understand that you feel alone in this and think maybe your teachers won’t like you. First of all, you are not alone! Think about it this way: everyone is in the same boat. Everybody has to go to new classes, meet new people, and adapt to life as a middle-schooler. I am positive that other kids are dealing with similar anxiety. So remember, you are not alone! You also expressed fear about teachers. Remember that teachers became teachers for a reason. For the most part, teachers are there because they care about their students and helping them grow—both as thinkers and people. You don’t need to be afraid of teachers. If you genuinely feel uncomfortable with the way a teacher is acting, make sure to communicate these feelings with a trusted adult. For the most part, however, teachers will be supportive of you and understanding. If you need help or some support, all you have to do is ask! You also mentioned feeling like you have no friends. This is totally normal—especially for going to a new school or moving up a grade. My advice is to act on the first day. Probably a lot of people on the first day will also being feeling lonely. Go up to somebody and ask him or her to have lunch with you or sit next to you in class. If you present yourself on the first day as friendly, confident, and kind, it will be easier to make friends. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be, since kids will start forming friendships. So my advice is to simply be nice, friendly, and open with people. Invite them to hang out or walk with you to class. Ask them about their summers and what courses they are taking. Some people may be weird or slightly rude in response, but try not to let that stop you. Just continue until you find some people you think are nice. I have 100% confidence that you can do it! A new school year also means a fresh start! So put a good foot-forward on the first day!
It also sounds like you already know some people in your grade and that they bully you. This is not okay! No one deserves to be treated that way. The best way to handle this is to tell a trusted adult. Before school starts, talk with your parents and express your concerns about these people. If it’s not too late, perhaps your parents can work with the school administration and work it out to place you in different classes than with the people who bully you. This will not 100% solve it, but it will make a positive impact on your learning environment. In addition to this, make sure that some teachers and or/ administrators know about your bulling. If the school year starts and they are still bullying you, tell an adult right away. They can help you handle the situation responsibly. Avoid retaliating directly—this only makes it worse. Keep yourself emotionally and physically safe by involving an adult. I hope this helped, Daphne! If you have any more questions—either about this or something else—please feel free to talk to me again. I hope that this school year goes well for you. Wishing you the best! Good luck!
So this year was my seventh grade. Last year of elementary, and it was hard. I’m a straight A student that tries to be nice to everyone. Instead of having a great year, I had a horrible year. It started early in the year my school books went missing, about 11 over the course of the year. I told my parents, the teacher, and my principal, but we couldn’t figure out who it was. The last few weeks of school I started to get notes from an anonymous source, we had no clue who was putting them on my desk. They would say stuff like really degrading, the words were horrible and I can’t even repeat them. The police were involved, but we never found out who. They stole my house key from my bag so we had to change our locks. Then over summer they made an Instagram page h8teclub but we still cannot figure it out. I’m already over stressed about school-work, but now that it’s summer I’m more stressed. I get headaches, stomachaches, etc. I also have depression, isolating myself, losing appetite, not sleeping, etc. I go to a therapist but I feel like I need your advice, how do I handle this all?
– Jessica, 8th Grade
Thank you so much for writing to me. I appreciate your trusting me with this sensitive information. I am so devastated and disturbed to hear about what you have been going through this past year. It is totally not okay what this anonymous person has done to you. I can hardly imagine how horrible and creepy that must have been—I am so sorry. It makes complete sense that you are struggling with depression, appetite, headaches, stomachs, and more. It is a natural response of your body and mind to the trauma you have been through. Remind yourself that it is okay and natural—don’t feel like you are “weak” or “wimpy.” I am glad to hear that you are going to a therapist—I know it can’t make things perfect, but I am sure it is helping a little. Make sure to tell her everything—don’t suppress information. Tell her the things you have been experiencing –like loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, headaches, etc.—and ask him/her if you could be struggling from some sort of stress disorder due to the very traumatic events you endured. I am certainly no expert, but it is common for bodies to express stress from a past trauma through physical manifestations, like headaches, sleeping issues, and more. It is possible that you could be dealing with something like this, so make sure to ask your therapist, as knowing about you are dealing with could help in the treatment process.
In addition to the therapist, I have a few recommendations to handle some of the depression, appetite loss, physical pain, and other things that are bogging you down. First of all, as hard as this may seem right now, try to do something that makes you happy. This can have a major impact on happiness levels. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your house, you can still do a lot of things in the safety of your home. Try reading a book, painting, baking, exercising, playing card games, or listening to music. Exercising can actually help with appetite loss. Make an emphasis on taking care of your well being this summer. I know this is really hard right now, but it is important that you nourish your mind and soul with activities you enjoy and recharge you. Also, I know you are stressed about school work and keeping up your grades, but I highly recommend that you stop worrying about it, especially in the summer. I completely understand the stress of keeping up grades and school performance—trust me, I’ve been there. But there is nothing you can do during the summer for your grades next year. Also, you are going into 8th grade (so not high school), which means that colleges will never see your transcript for this upcoming year. While it is important to be engaged with your schoolwork and to work hard, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, especially since this school year will never be a factor in college admission prospects. So please, don’t stress too much about this—focus on your well-being.
It sounds like you were already super good about this, but make sure to inform a trusted adult if anything else happens—even if it is something small. This is so important for your well-being and safety. I don’t know all the specifics, but if you feel like switching schools for next year, or any time during next year, is a better option than the situation you are in, then make sure to communicate with your parents. I know that switching schools is a big deal, but it might be better and safer for you. Your safety and well-being is the most important thing! It is totally up to you, (and it is very possible that this proposal sounds crazy and like too much to you) but I just thought I would throw it you there. I am so sorry that you have had to deal with this creepy behavior. No one deserves it. You have handled it bravely and done all the right things to address it. I feel so devastated that you are going through this. If you have any questions about any of this, or about something else, please make sure to ask me. Also, feel free to stay in touch and update me on your situation. Thanks again for trusting me with this information. You are so courageous. I hope that this can get resolved soon and that you will never have to deal with this behavior again. Good luck, Jessica!
Well, this is more of a statement than a question. What my problem is . . . I tend to bottle things up, now allowing anybody to help me. I understand that people care, but sometimes it seems to be just too much, leading me to believe I’m not worth their time. Back to the main issue, I’ve been “bullied” before as a kid. A few of my friends around 5th grade began to bully me. It did hurt, but I pushed through. I let one of my friends know that they had hurt me, I recall them calling me a whiner and to just suck it up. So I kind of did. I had been called fat and ugly. It made me cry, but I never really told anyone, and that’s how I was for awhile, till I started being blunt. I would tell my close friends how I felt on “rainy days’,” but I would hide it from my other friends and.. my family. And more than often.. some of those friends would stab me in the back. I never said much about it because I don’t like to burden others, so I let it be. Things were eating away at me, but I would only tell people through texting. Once someone knew how I was, I wouldn’t want to see them for awhile because I’d be ashamed and afraid that they too would turn their back on me. Fast forward a few years, people got meaner, but in more indirect ways. They wouldn’t want to be around me. They’d act like they didn’t care. And maybe that’s just me, but the people who were my good friends, didn’t do that to me. Things weren’t too bad at school. But I started to go online.. I felt isolated and different from everyone else. I had come to accept that it was a good thing, but there was still a storm inside of me telling me that being different was bad and many were against me. And not too long ago, I believed that. I thought that being online would help me socialize in a way that wouldn’t make me so anxious to be around others. I started to go to different chat rooms. Hoping to relate to more people. It was good at first. But then some people didn’t like how I was. And it continued. Insults got worse the more I showed how it impacted me. Eventually, I got depressed and let it show. I became good friends with some people. But they too had became cruel as soon as I showed how upset I was. At my father’s house things were alright, but not amazing.. Most of the time my family expected me to be happy, and they boldly showed it when I felt down. Which wasn’t quite what I needed. But I ignored that feeling. I apologize to type so much. But my overall point is, I can’t stand anymore back stabbing. It happens to me a lot and I have let it eat away at me. I finally let someone know about it. And many people have told me that the insults people give me aren’t true. I just can’t help hurting when I think that so many people just don’t care about me the way I care about them. And what I wish to ask, is how can I get over that? Or at least learn to control it? I may already know the an wer, deep within, but I’m a bit lost and I just feel a need to here someone else’s opinion on this.
– S, 10th grade
Thank you so much for writing to me and asking this brave question. I appreciate you trusting me with this information. I am so sorry to hear that you have been struggling for quite some time now. No one deserves to feel that way and it absolutely hurts. First of all, I sense some hesitation around using the word “bullying.” I know that it is a bold statement, but it is certainly not childish. In fact, bullying can happen at any age. You mentioned that people called you a “whiner” when you expressed how your feelings were hurt. This is a common but invalid response. Being affected by someone’s actions or words it totally normal—it doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you are human. Because of suppressing the realities of bullying, it sounds like you have been enduring some form of depression, and for a long time. Please know that you are not alone and that depression happens to many people. You don’t need to apologize for this. It also sounds like you have tried to find support from classmates or fellow peers in this, and that they have not responded well and in some cases have bullied you as a response. As hard as this is, peers, friends, or classmates are not equipped with the right skills to handle or help your depression. I know it is tempting to seek support or guidance from someone your age, but the reality is that most peers can’t handle that much information, and will subsequently turn their backs on you. Talk to a school counselor or ask your parents. I know this can be scary, but you can’t keep letting this eat away at you. Ask a trusted adult to help you and talk things through. You have been enduring bullying for a long time because you think people don’t care or can’t handle it, but you have primarily been seeking guidance from peers, so try talking to an adult. I know that you said your parents expect you to be happy, so if you want to talk to another adult that’s okay. I also suggest not going online—don’t put yourself in a vulnerable place where you can be hurt. I have noticed that going on social media rarely makes me happy. Consider going on a ‘tech-detox’ and avoid negative influences online. Also, if people begin bullying via the Internet, block them in any way you can and ask a trusted adult for help. Just as a rule of thumb, if people are bullying you, find an adult for help. Now for your last question. You asked how to get over this the sense that you care for others more than they care for you. First of all, that feeling is pretty common and everyone experiences it at least once in his or her lifetime. It’s pretty hard to just get over this feeling. My suggestion is to let go of friendships that drain you more than they make you happy. I know this is hard, but don’t waste time in negative relationships. Don’t get too attached to a relationship that is not super strong. Explore new friendships and trust that you will meet people in the future that will make you very happy. I want to end this response by reminding you that people do care about you and that it’s okay to be who you are. I know that it is impossible not to be hurt by peoples’ words, but please don’t let those words encourage you to hide your identity. It’s okay to be different. I know that it may not seem like this all the time, but remember that you are not alone. I am so sorry you are struggling. I feel so devastated that you have had to endure this. I appreciate you writing to me and asking this brave question. I know that it was quite long and had a lot going on, so if I failed to address something important that you are still confused about, please feel free to ask me. I am always here for you. Feel free to stay in touch. Good luck!
I am being bullied by a group of boys and am being rejected by some girls and its making me anxious and depressed and I already have anxiety and depression. It’s causing me to isolate myself from people of my own age. What should I do?
– Emma, 9th grade
Thank you for your question. I am so sorry that you are going through this. It sounds really horrible. I relate to your situation, as I was also bullied by a male and subsequently rejected by many girls in my grade, causing depression and anxiety. No one deserves to be treated that way. The most important thing you can do to help stop this bullying is to tell a trusted adult. This could be a parent, teacher, coach, principle, aunt, uncle, or even a significantly older sibling. They can help contact the appropriate people that can handle this situation. If telling one adult doesn’t cut it, and you still are dealing with bullying, tell another until you find adequate help. In addition, distance yourself from these people as much as possible, as they are only causing pain, and invest in other friendships that make you happy. You don’t need to be around that negativity! Try your best to stay away from it. You said that you are isolating yourself from people your age. In response to this, I would suggest trying to find other friendships, possibly outside of school. Consider signing up for some camps this summer where you can meet new people. But I would also like to say that is okay to be alone and not with other people your age. For me, I have pretty much distanced myself from most people in my grade because they treat me badly. At the end of the day, I am happier by myself than with the people in my grade that have treated me poorly. Even though it can be lonely, I know that I am treating myself with respect by not putting myself in a negative and toxic social environment. If you can’t find people in your grade that treat you the way you deserve to be treated, then I would suggest becoming comfortable with being by yourself/ with family for a while. It won’t always be like this—it will get better and you will eventually find your people. But for now, put yourself in the healthiest emotional environment you can, even if that means being rather isolated socially. I totally understand how hard this is, and it took me a few years to accept. In addition, putting yourself in the most supportive environment will help with anxiety and depression. Also try asking your parents for a therapy session with a trained counselor to help with your depression and anxiety. If you like writing, journaling can also help you work through some issues. I also suggest doing things that make you happy! This summer, go outside, relax, watch TV, or do something that you enjoy and that rejuvenates you. This can be really important for combatting depression and anxiety. One thing that really helps me with anxiety is simply taking a few deep breaths. Also, yoga really helps me with depression and anxiety. It’s not for everyone, but consider trying a video online or heading to a local studio. There is also a ton of information online about handling anxiety and depression, so consider finding more in-depth suggestions on the Internet. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I know how hard it is. Remember that you are amazing, strong, and capable. You don’t deserve this. It will get better! Please feel free to stay in touch and keep me updated with any other questions you may have. I am always here for you. I really hope that this bullying gets resolved soon and that your depression and anxiety lessen. Stay strong, Emma! Good luck!
What do I do about rumors that don’t end and lead to physical fights during school?
– Stephanie, 8th grade
Thank you for your question—you are brave for asking it! It sounds like you are in a really tough situation. Rumors are really difficult to handle because it is impossible to reverse the damage they cause. When they are causing physical fights, it means they must be very destructive. I am not sure whether or not you are the target of these rumors, or you are witnessing this, but either way it is important that you tell an adult you trust about what is going on. Fighting is not acceptable and can never solve a situation. Please never put yourself in a situation where violence seems likely, and also never directly intervene in a middle of a fight, as it will only put you in more danger. The best thing you can do is to get a trusted adult involved. Ask this person to help you handle these rumors and end the physical fights. While it may not seem like it, all rumors do eventually fade. Try to speed this process by simply not talking about whatever the rumor is. If people keep talking about it, then it will remain at the forefront of people’s minds. Just try to let it die down, and hopefully this summer will provide time for it to fade. Rumors are really difficult things to handle because they are not physical or substantial things to tackle; rather they are exaggerated and false ideas in the minds of other people, so it is hard to have a quick remedy to get rid of them. The reality is that it is going to take time, but these things do and will fade. What’s not acceptable is the physical fighting. Violence cannot be tolerated, and the best way to help stop this, once again, is to tell an adult. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I know what it feels like to have people look at you differently because of a rumor. It absolutely sucks and no one deserves it. Please know that you are not alone. I hope the summer offers rejuvenation and time for this nasty rumor to fade from the minds of these people. Please keep me updated on the situation, and feel free to contact me any time. Good luck!
I was best friends with these girls and boys in elementary school and now in middle they are so mean to me I just ended sixth but this year was awful and they called me horrible things and said everyone hates me and nobody wants me to be around and they yell at me when I walk into a room and whenever I confront them confidently they just say things they think are funny like if I say what’s wrong with you they say everything and they laugh at me and I’m usually very confident but it kills me inside and when I’m at home I usually cry myself to sleep every night I don’t know what to do pls help?
– Scarlett, 6th Grade
I really appreciate you writing to me and finding the courage to ask for help—I know that it can be scary. I am so sorry and sad to hear about what you have had to endure this year. It sounds so horrible and mean-spirited. Absolutely no one deserves to be treated like this. Please know that you are not alone in your experiences—many people, including myself, have gone through something like this. Also, middle school is notoriously hard. This fact does not justify people’s actions, but you should know that you are not alone. First of all, this is bullying. The way these former “friends” are treating you is unacceptable. It sounds like you may have confronted them directly. While this is well intentioned, it is very dangerous to talk with them without the presence/support of an adult. So, please do not directly retaliate or talk to them, as this only puts you in more emotional and physical danger. The best thing you can do is to tell an adult. I know that you are in summer break right now, but if you tell an adult, they may be able to coordinate with the school schedule and prevent you being in the same classes with these people for your 7th grade year. I don’t know how your school works exactly, but summer offers a unique opportunity because next year’s classes have not been decided yet, so you can request being in separate classes than these people. Hopefully you do not have to deal with this bullying right now because you are in summer break. I hope that you take this summer break to spend time with people that make you happy and do things that help you recharge. If these people are contacting you during the summer through technology, or by any other means, make sure to tell an adult you trust right away. Take screen shots for evidence of their cyberbullying, and then block them in any way you can. Since you are in break, it will probably be difficult to use the school as support, so try talking to your parents and asking them to talk to the parents of the other students. Hopefully they will not contact you during the summer, though. Regardless, an adult needs to know about what happened this past year. It is very important that someone is aware, not only to help you today, but to help prevent this behavior next year. So, regardless if they contact you this summer, please tell a parent or an adult you trust about your horrific treatment this past year. Also, it sounds like this has had a big negative impact on your confidence. I am so sorry about this—I know how bullying can make you doubt yourself. I know this is much easier said than done, but please don’t believe what these people are saying. Its natural and normal to be hurt and affected by their words, but remember that you are amazing, confident, and strong! Remind yourself of this by repeating this mantra: “I am capable, strong, confident, and amazing!” Talking positively to yourself can have a major impact on your self-image, so make sure to do this! I am so heartbroken that you have had to endure this. No one deserves to be treated the way you have been treated. I hope this gets resolved soon—remember; if they start doing/saying the same things next year, find help from an adult! Please feel free to keep me updated, or if you have any more questions/concerns. I hope that you have a wonderful and rejuvenating summer, and that these problems will be in the past. Thank you so much for writing to me. Your courage is admirable! Good luck!
Lots of girls in my class are mean. Whenever I want to hang out with them or be friends with them, they just shrug and tell me to go away. What should I do?
Thank you so much for writing to me. I am so sorry that there are girls in you class that are being mean. No one deserves to be treated like this, and I can imagine how hard it must be for you. While I can understand that you want to be friends with these girls, you don’t deserve to be treated like that. My advice to you is to stop trying to befriend them, because they are only going to treat you badly. They have shown you the way they are going to treat you, so believe them! Don’t keep hoping or expecting that they will suddenly change. I know that this is very difficult, but you should never be in a relationship that makes you unhappy and unsafe. Distance yourself from these girls. I don’t know how your school works exactly, but I would suggest talking to your parents about this situation, so they could inform the school and ask them to place you and these girls in separate 4th grade classes. If the teachers and administrators know the issue, then hopefully they can accommodate that when they are putting together the class lists for your 4th grade year. Thank you so much for writing to me, Cindy. I am so sorry that you are being treated this way. Please feel free to stay in touch and let me know what happens. I sure hope that this gets resolved soon. Good luck!
What is your advice for overcoming cyberbullying and the lasting effects it has on someone?
Thank you so much for writing to me. Your question resonates with me greatly, as I also struggle with the lasting impacts of cyberbullying. First off, I think it is important to recognize and accept that it is normal to still feel the affects of cyberbullying (or any bullying for that matter), whether that is depression, anxiety, stress, or something else. A lot of times people think that these bullying experiences are isolated events that happen, and then are over. Even if the bullying has ended, that damaging experience can still effect you, even years after the fact. For me, it has been a little over a year since my bullying experience, and I still struggle with anxiety, stress, and occasional low-self esteem that I never had before the bullying. I think it is so important to accept that this is okay and normal, not something that you should be ashamed of. In terms of coping with these lasting affects, I have a few suggestions.
1.) Try talking through these issues. Investigate if your school has a counselor you could talk to. Therapy can be extremely helpful in overcoming/handling these issues. Try going to your health department and asking about possible therapy sessions. This doesn’t even need to be a regular thing, if you don’t want to. Try going once or twice, and see how it feels. If this is not something you want to do, I still think working through your feelings is important. Consider journaling and writing down what you are experiencing. This can help you work through some of the issues.
2.) Find peace with acceptance. There is nothing you can do to change what happened to you in the past—an important way to cope with it is to fully accept that that experience is now a part of you. Some people suggest forgiveness—not necessarily for the benefit of the recipient but for the mindset of the giver. Many people argue that forgiveness sets your mind free from the emotional strain of perpetually thinking about the suffering. While this may work for some people, maybe even you, I was not able to do this. Instead, I focused at being at peace with the fact that I experienced bullying, saying to myself “Yup, that happened to me, and it sucks, but there is nothing to do to change the past.” Sometimes if we can’t say this to ourselves, we get in a pattern of trying to minimize, forget, or discredit our experience. It is important to fully embrace what happened to you, in order to move on and not let it dictate your whole life.
3.) Distance yourself from the people that cause you pain. If you are still hanging out with the people that bullied you, consider finding new relationships. If you are constantly reminded of their actions because you are around them often, it makes it that much harder to move past the pain.
4.) Invest in activities that make you happy! Doing things for you can be a serious de-stressor. For me, this is stuff like yoga, running, baking, reading, or watching Netflix! It could also be spending time with people that make you happy and feel safe.
5.) Nix the negativity and instead practice positive self-talk. I noticed that after I was bullied, I doubted myself and talked down to myself. Whether we notice it or not, repeatedly talking down to ourselves can have a major impact on our self-image, subsequently affecting our self-esteem, stress levels, and anxiety. So, whenever you catch yourself saying something like “I am worthless, nobody likes me”, or something else, stop your self and replace those negative words with something like “I am capable, strong, and awesome!”
Philip, I hope that some of these suggestions help you. While all of these are methods for coping with the after-effects of bullying, I also want to emphasize that bullying is not something that you can just “get over” like a cold. It takes so much time to heal the wounds that are afflicted by somebody’s words. While things do get easier, it is also not like it can ever be the same. Our experiences inform who we are, and you and I will always be influenced and changed by our bullying experiences. While this may sound depressing, I actually don’t think it is. We may be affected by it forever, even if it does get easier, but it also makes us who we are today—stronger and more aware of the power our words have, and thus more inclined to be kind. Please feel free to stay in touch. If you have any questions, let me know! Thank you so much for writing to me! Good luck!
Why do people think it’s a joke to make fun of someone? Why do they think it’s cool, when it’s really not.
– Azucena, 7th grade
Thank you so much for writing to me. You are totally right; teasing is not cool. Your question is one that many people have—and one that does not have a definite and singular answer. There are many different reasons why people tease others. In general, teasing is a form of belittling, marginalization, and bullying. In a few cases, it can be light-hearted and shared, but there must be a mutual understanding that no one is being hurt. Largely, however, teasing is a tool of bullying and a way to demonstrate “superiority” and power. Those who initiate teasing often desire to have a sense of social power and control, and will go after perceived differences that make others unique. Whether they actually find this funny or cool is hard to determine, even if they are laughing. In some cases, people may find their teasing habits literally funny and/or cool. I personally think this is rare. I don’t actually think that those who bully think it is a laughing matter—even if they laugh. This may sound contradictory, but let me explain. Laughing along with teasing is a reinforcement of the bullying. In cases like this, laughter is almost a language of its own that is rather dismissive and puts the target in an even more vulnerable place. In a group dynamic, laughing is a form of participation in the bullying—even if somebody isn’t literally saying hurtful words. Oftentimes, when one person in a group starts teasing an individual, everyone else in the group gets a little uncomfortable, but also fears that they could be the next target of the teasing. So, laughing is both a way to ease social tension and discomfort, while also passively participating in the “main-bully’s” behavior, making it less likely that they will also be a target of teasing. If any of this does not make sense to you, please let me know and ask me to make it more clear—just submit another question! You have such good questions. I am so sorry if you have been the target of teasing and bullying—it is so unfair and no one deserves it. Please know that you are awesome, strong, and capable. Don’t let other’s reckless and hurtful behavior make you doubt that. Thank you so much for writing to me. If you have any other questions, either about this or something else, please be in touch. Good luck!
I don’t know what to do I have three bullies at school. They push me to my limits. I can’t get away from them the push me and punch me i don’t know what to do. Help me please.
– Sam, 7th grade
I feel so devastated to hear about your horrific situation. Absolutely no one deserves to be treated this way and it sounds like you are going through extremely brutal bullying, both physical and emotional. The best and only way to end this is to tell an adult. Find an adult you trust (you could tell more than one), such as a parent, teacher, counselor, coach, principle, aunt, or uncle. If you have a significantly older sibling that you trust, this could be a good place to start. I wouldn’t rely on them completely, but if you feel uncomfortable telling another adult, telling a sibling first could allow your brother/sister to tell a more capable adult for you. Once you have communicated your situation to a few adults, let them handle the situation. Consider directing them to the resources Pacer Center’s National Bullying Prevention Center has to guide adults to help you. Make sure to tell them everything that has happened. For example, if they have cyberbullied you as well, tell them and show them what they have said on-line or through texts. If this is the case as well, make sure to take screen shots of the posts/texts for future evidence. I know that it is scary to tell someone about your bullying. I know that some people have the idea that if you tell on these people, you will only be bullied more, so you might as well “deal with it.” But this is so far from the truth! Finding help is the only way to end this horrifically brutal treatment that no deserves to experience. Also, remember there is a difference of tattling vs. telling. Tattling is to purposely get someone in trouble, whereas telling is to help yourself because you are getting hurt. I am so sorry that you are going through this. No one deserves to be hurt, abused, and unsafe in their learning environment. I hope that you find help very soon and that this gets resolved. Good luck!
What should u do if you feel alone at break at school and your friends do not really care?
– Sophie, Year 4 (UK)
Thank you for writing to me! I am so sorry you are experiencing this. I know how horrible it feels to be lonely, and I am sure that there are many others struggling with a similar situation to yours. In these types of situations, oftentimes kids are acting recklessly and are not really thinking about anyone else’s feelings than theirs. I don’t know the exact details of your situation, but I know that I have had times were I have felt excluded and lonely at school during breaks, but my peers weren’t intentionally trying to make me feel that way. Rather, they were just socializing and I didn’t happen to be part of it. So, if that is similar to what you are experiencing, here are a few tips I have learned help handle this. 1.) Consider talking to some new people! Soon you could be developing new friendships! 2.) If you need a moment, try excusing yourself to the bathroom, even if you don’t actually need to go. I have done this in situations where I feel overwhelmed and unhappy, and it allows me to re-gather my thoughts and emotions, helping me prepare for the rest of the day. 3.) If there is a teacher or person at your school that you trust, consider talking to them! Breaks are a great time to ask questions about material that you don’t understand, and by doing so, you are removing yourself from the toxic environment of your peers.
Now, there is the other possibility that your “friends” are doing this intentionally to make you feel hurt and excluded, and are going out of there way to make it clear you are not welcome. This would be bullying. If you feel that this is the case, make sure to find help. First of all, consider investing in new friendships. Talk to new people, sit with some other peers at lunch, or invite a new person to hang out with you. To end the bullying, find an adult you trust and ask them to help you. Allow them to handle most of the situation. Do not directly get involved without an adult to help you! This will only put you in more physical and/or emotional danger and will give these people more fuel for their behavior. I truly hope this gets resolved, whichever situation you are in. No matter, I know how absolutely horrible it feels to be lonely and left out. Good luck with everything!
I was bullied for a long time (especially in middle school) and the people who bullied me are SUPER popular now. Just the other day I saw my bullies being bullied, part of me wants to help, part of me wants to let them get a taste of their own medicine what should I do?
– Ivie, 10th grade
I am truly sorry to hear that you have experienced bullying, and I appreciate your complex question and bravery. It sounds like you have very conflicting urges! I totally understand the desire to have others understand or experience a similar situation to yours. From personal experience, I can totally relate to this feeling of wanting people who have hurt me to truly understand that feeling. But, can you remember that distinct and painful feeling, so specific to bullying? Absolutely no one deserves to feel that way, no matter their past actions. So, I know that it may feel unnatural and difficult to help people that have hurt you, but I would advise you to tell an adult about what you have witnessed. Don’t directly get involved. The best way to help is to inform an adult you trust and let them handle it. This is a very difficult situation and it requires from you strength, compassion, and the ability to rise above certain urges. I appreciate your question and hope that this helped! I also hope you are doing well and that you are no longer struggling with bullying. If you are, please tell an adult to find help. Good luck!
What if you go up to the teacher and want to tell them, but you are just to scared to tell the teacher?
– Skylar, 5th Grade
It is totally okay and natural to be scared about telling a teacher what you have witnessed or experienced. If you are scared to tell the teacher because you are concerned that you will become a target, then there are a few ways to ensure your safety. If you decide to verbally tell him/her during the school day, make sure that there are no other students around or in the classroom. This will help silent the spread of gossip amongst your peers. Another option is to send him/her an email, that way no one would ever know you are communicating with the teacher. If this is not your concern and you are genuinely scared about the teacher and her response, then let me remind you of a few things. First, the teacher will not punish you, be mean to you, scold you, or hurt you. The teacher has been trained to handle situations like these and probably became a teacher because a.) he/she loves teaching and kids and b.) he/she cares about his/her students well being, future, and safety. However, if you still do not feel prepared to confront the teacher, writing an email is another good option because it allows you to share the information that needs to be shared thoughtfully and without a face-to-face situation. Remember, it is so important that you tell an adult about either what you have seen or experienced, as it is the key to end both situations. It is so awesome that you want to find a way to either help yourself or another, and I admire that beautiful quality you have! I hope this helped and that you can find a way to communicate with your teacher. Good luck!
There is a boy in our grade that is getting bullied, but he is also a bully, I don’t know if I should stand up for him because he did a lot of mean things too. What should I do?
– Anonymous, 6th Grade
What an amazing question! It is very common for targets of bullying to display bullying behavior in response to hurtful treatment. It sounds like you are conflicted about what to do because this target also hurts other. However, remember that absolutely no one deserves to be treated that way, no matter how they treat others. This should be addressed and stopped too, but just because he hurts others does not justify him being hurt. You can help end this cycle of hurtful behavior! To stop this bullying, tell an adult. When you said, “Stand up for him” I want to clarify that you should not put yourself in the middle of a bullying episode. This could put you in emotional and physical danger. So, stand up for him by sharing this situation with an adult you trust. This could include a teacher, parent, counselor, principle, coach, aunt, or uncle. Make it clear that you would like to stay anonymous. Address not only his hurtful behavior, but also the hurtful treatment he receives. Let the adult(s) you tell handle the situation, as they will know the best way to proceed. By simply sharing what you are witnessing with a capable and responsible adult, you are helping to stop the cycle that hurts too many. Thank you for your question and your bravery! Good luck!
What if you are a shy bystander watching bullying happen and you didn’t have the guts to tell on the bully because you thought he would start picking on you and the victim doesn’t speak up either because he thinks the bullying will get worse. What do you do?
– Adam, 7th grade
This is such a good question and very brave of you to ask. I admire your instinct to help and your concern with some of the actions happening around you. I completely understand that it can be daunting to share this information with someone. It’s also OK to be shy! There are a few ways you can go about this, but it is so important that you take action because no one deserves to be bullied. Even though the target thinks the bullying will only get worse if he finds help, this is false. The only way for it to stop is to tell an adult, so you will not be hurting him by sharing this situation—in fact you will be helping him! First off, do not confront the person displaying bullying behavior by yourself. Also, don’t talk about it amongst your peer group as it might come back to you, making it more likely for you to become the next target. Also, it is important to respect the privacy of others, as often times gossip about certain situations can be equally as hurtful as the actual bullying and can mutate into a form of bullying itself. So, begin my sharing this information with your parents. With your parents, you can discuss about how to proceed. You could either compose an email to a teacher, principle, coach, etc., expressing your concerns (this could be a good option if you feel shy or scared telling someone), or, either by yourself or with your parents, you could verbally communicate this with an adult at the school you trust. I understand that you are concerned this person will begin to pick on you. To prevent this, make it clear to the adult you tell that you would like to stay anonymous. I hope this behavior you are witnessing ends soon! I admire your bravery and desire to help. Good luck!
Our baseball team is really good. Even though I am not in the starting lineup I still really love playing. But recently a couple of the guys on the team have been making really negative things about some of the guys who are on the bench. I want to say something, but I don’t want to be their next target.
Thank you for writing to me. It so awesome that you love playing baseball and that you are a part of a team! I’m very sorry to hear some of the players are making hurtful comments—it can take away the fun of being on a team very quickly! The culture and attitude present on sports teams can be really tough to navigate sometimes. I know from personal experience that playing on a team can be super fun, but also super challenging when stuff like this comes up. It is so awesome you recognize this hurtful behavior and want to help your team stay positive and supportive. Telling an adult is the best thing you can do to help. Start by telling your parents first, and then ask them to help you talk to your coaches. If your team is a part of your school, consider also telling the school administration or the athletic director. I completely understand the fear of becoming the next target and that you want to avoid that. To ensure your safety, make it very clear to the adults you tell that you want to stay anonymous. From here, let the adults handle the responsibility of talking to these players. Perhaps you already do this, but consider encouraging your teammates when they do something well, and be kind and supportive of everyone on the team. By communicating positive comments, you are adding to the overall atmosphere and attitude of the team, helping to transform it from the negative position it is in now. I hope this gets resolved quickly and that you have a wonderful rest of your season! Good luck!
Last night, I found this entire social media page created about a girl at my school. I don’t think she knows about it. I think it have even by done by this group of guys that I hang out with sometimes. I don’t know her, but nobody deserves to be treated like that. What can I do?
Thank you for writing to me! It is so admirable that you recognize this problem and want to find a way to help. That takes courage and kindness! You are spot-on that no one deserves to be treated that way—and luckily there are ways that you and others can help the situation. This situation is especially difficult to know how to handle because the girl probably doesn’t even know about the page. Some might argue to not tell her so it doesn’t hurt her feelings, but others might argue that she deserves to know what is being said about her. First off, always tell an adult whom you trust. This could be a parent, teacher, coach, principle, counselor, or aunt—just any adult you feel comfortable sharing this information with. Also, report the page if it is anonymous or you feel safe that you won’t be bullied for doing so. Once the page is reported and a few adults are aware of the situation, the page should be taken down—this responsibility can be left to the adults. I recommend to tell at least one school official (like a principle or counselor) and encourage them to take screen shots of the page for future proof when dealing with the group of boys who created the page. Once this is handled, you can focus on whether to tell this girl about the page or not. This is a very difficult situation to handle because you don’t want to hurt her feelings by telling her and you also need to be careful about being relatively anonymous so you don’t become the next target. So, I recommend having the adults handle this aspect of the situation. Don’t be the one to tell her directly, but make sure the adults you tell understand that she is unaware. This will allow for professionals to handle it and will ensure that this girl finds out in a safe, controlled, and supportive environment— and will create a safer environment for you. I am so impressed by your desire to help this girl and your awareness that no one deserves to be treated that way! Your courage is admirable. Good Luck!
My “best” friend hurt my feelings to a point that now I don’t want her to be around me, in the group of girls I hang with, I just feel over her. I am now being told i’m a bully. my parents think I should tell her i’m sorry and forgive her – if I don’t i’m a bully if I do, it’s something I just don’t want to do. i’m not sure what to do.
– Meredith, 7th grade
I am so sorry you are in this difficult situation with your friends and family. It sounds like you are being put in a situation where you feel you have to choose between staying true to your own feelings and accommodating others. The best thing you can do to help the situation is to talk with her (ideally without the rest of your friends there) about what happened and how she hurt your feelings. It is possible that your friend truly doesn’t know that what she did hurt you—sometimes people can think they are just “playing around,” when in reality what they are saying is extremely hurtful to the target.
Consider having either your parents or another adult there during your conversation to ensure that you are safe. If she says something else to upset you, don’t directly retaliate and get angry, as this will only make the situation worse and you might end up saying something hurtful that you don’t mean. Instead, calmly and respectfully explain to her why what she did upset you. Explaining yourself in this manner will most likely help resolve the situation, and help clarify that you aren’t showing behavior that would be viewed as bullying. It’s possible that you both hurt each other’s feeling. If she expresses that you did hurt her feelings, simply apologize. Remember, you can always have the adult help you if your conversation takes an ugly turn. Consider also explaining to your parents your situation, and how she hurt your feelings. If they still don’t understand, ask another adult you trust to help you with your situation and talk with your parents. Hopefully, having a calm and respectful conversation with this friend about why you have been struggling with her lately will help resolve the situation. Perhaps she will understand and apologize, and you can continue being friends! However, if she continues to hurt your feelings and mistreat you, and your friends don’t see that and think you are the cause, consider reaching out to new classmates to form new friendships. I know this can seem daunting, but if you do not feel happy, safe, secure, and like you can be you in your current group of friends, then definitely consider finding some new ones that clear this list. I am so sorry that you are struggling and I hope that this gets resolved soon! Good Luck!
• Why do people bully?
• Are bullies popular?
• What happens to a bully later in life?
• How do we know if a child is being bullied if they don’t tell anyone?
– Melisa, 7th Grade
You have so many good and interesting questions and I am so happy you asked them!
Why do people bully?
There is never a “reason” to bully someone—no one deserves to be bullied. However, those that bully often pick on someone for reasons that sometimes don’t have anything to do with their target. Often, people who bully have other things happening in their lives. In fact, many kids who bully have been bullied themselves. Sometimes people bully to gain control and power in that part of their life because they feel powerless and vulnerable in other areas of their life. Sometimes kids bully because they think it makes them cooler and maybe don’t even know how hurtful their actions are to someone else. There are many cases when kids bully due to peer pressure, even when they view themselves as someone who wouldn’t want to hurt a classmate. There are many factors that contribute to this behavior, but none are justified!
Are bullies popular?
Sometimes those that bully are popular and sometimes they aren’t. There is not one type of person who bullies—anyone at some point in his or her life could have bullying behavior. It’s not always the stereotypical football player who pushes around kids in the hallway, or the mean girl who bullies other girls. Sometimes people feel they need to bully to be popular, but bullying doesn’t necessarily make you popular. It might make you feel you have more power, but it certainly won’t bring you good and kind friends.
What happens to those that bully later in life?
It’s hard to generalize what happens to those that bully later in life. Many lead very different lives and have different outcomes. However, those who bully as kids and never learn that it is not okay can develop social skills that are not based on kindness. This most certainly will have far reaching effects in their adult life.
How do we know if a child is being bullied if they don’t tell anyone?
It is very common for targets of bullying to be silent about their experience. This is never a good idea and will never help end the bullying. It is hard to know if someone is being bullied if they don’t tell anyone, especially if its cyberbullying or something less visible and obvious. The simple answer to your last question is that you can’t know if a child is being bullied when they don’t tell you and you don’t see it happening. However, it is always important to encourage speaking up about a child’s situation and that bystanders also tell an adult if they see someone being bullied. One might also be able to tell a change in mood, which could indicate if they are being bullied.
You have so many amazing questions and I hope that this was helpful for you!
I have this so called friend who in person in always nice to me, but online she says so really mean stuff to me. I don’t like it, but not sure how to tell her. Can you help?
I am so sorry that you are dealing with cyberbullying from somebody that acts nice to in person. I know how horrible that feels. There are a few steps you can take to help this situation. First, tell an adult you trust and feel comfortable sharing this information with. This could be a parent, teacher, coach, principle, counselor, aunt, or uncle. This adult (or adults) will help guide you in dealing with the situation. Telling an adult is the most important step you can take to end her bullying. Adults will know how to handle the situation, and you won’t have to talk to her about how you don’t like what she is doing alone. Once you tell an adult, you can rely on this person to help you. Consider informing this adult of the resources the PACER’s National Bullying Prevention center offers on handling this situation and how to be there for you. Next, with the adult helping you, block this so-called friend on all social media sites that she could reach you. Block her phone number too so she can’t text you. If she is bullying you through a website, sometimes there are ways to report the page and have it taken down. Never directly respond or retaliate to her messages—it will only put you in a more dangerous position and will encourage her to continue. Even if you silence her online, she might become vicious to you in person, even if she isn’t right now. She might confront you about blocking her on social media, but never directly respond or retaliate. I hope that this gets resolved very soon, and I am so sorry that you are going through this. No one deserves to be bullied. Good Luck!
There’s this girl in our class who has a special helper with her all the time and sometimes she goes to other classes. She doesn’t talk much. When she talks it sounds different and kids make fun of her. But she seems really nice. She always eats lunch alone and I want to ask her to sit with me and my friends. But I don’t know if I should. Can you help?
– Rose, Texas, 4th grade
It is so amazing that you want to become friends with this girl. I really admire your instinct for kindness! Sometimes when a classmate talks or acts differently than what you are used to, it can be hard to understand them and even include them in various activities. Just because someone is different doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friends with him or her. Everyone has differences that make us unique and ourselves!
You said that she eats alone and that you are considering inviting her to your lunch table. This is such a great idea! I bet you can imagine how lonely it would be if you ate alone every day and felt like no one cared to be your friend. You also said people make fun of her for the way she talks. It sounds like she deals with a lot of bullying everyday—and you could be the person to turn her life around—just by being kind!
Consider talking to your friends about inviting her to the lunch table. Even ask them to imagine themselves in her position. Most likely, they will agree to the idea. If they are reluctant, then just go sit with her without your friends. If they see your kindness and courage, then eventually they will come around. You also mentioned that she has a special helper with her. You could ask this adult for help if you feel you need adult assistance.
Your kindness and courage will have a huge impact on this girl’s life and the lives around you. Kindness is contagious, and I am sure that you and your friends will become friends with this girl. I admire you and your bravery! Best of luck!
Hi so my friend that was my friend . Tested me saying how j am horrible person and I ruined her life. And I honestly don’t know what I’d did. What should I do?
– Anonymous, 12th grade
Thank you for writing to me. It sounds like you are in a very tough place and struggling to communicate with your friend. I am very sorry that you are going through this—it sounds really difficult. No matter what she thinks you did, it is never okay to talk to somebody with such hurtful words as she did. Please don’t let those words go to your mind as defining to who you are. In fact, because you are concerned your actions might have hurt your friend and that you are trying to find help makes you very brave and good—not horrible at all! It is important that you communicate with this person and try to work this out with kind and effective words. Don’t directly approach her for a conversation to try to work things out, as it will only put you both in emotional danger. Instead, find an adult you trust and ask him or her to be there during your conversation. It’s probably best not to ask a parent in order to have a non- objective point of view. It is still a good idea to inform your parents about what is going on, but try to keep the mediator someone like a teacher or school counselor. Let the adult help you work this out with your friend. It is possible that this friend is not really being a good friend to you at all. If that is the case, be prepared to let go of this friendship and explore new ones. I hope this helped and that this gets resolved promptly. Good luck!
I got bullied and it is over now. The person who did it to me got punished for it. But I’m still scared to go to school and I still get bad anxiety about it. What if they turn around and do something to me again. Help!?!
– Anonymous, 9th grade
Thank you for writing to me! I appreciate your question and it is one that I identify with very much. Like you, my bullying has also ended, but I continue to feel the effects. I still feel very unhappy when I am around this person. Just so you know, it is very normal to continue being affected by someone’s words or actions long after the actual incident. The key distinction here is that you feel safe. For example, even though I don’t enjoy being around the person who bullied me, I don’t feel threatened emotionally or physically. While it is normal to feel unhappy after your bullying experience, it is not okay to still feel endangered, threatened, and unsafe by this person. These feelings would indicate that the bullying is not actually resolved and that there continues to be a problem. If this matches with your experience, please talk to an adult. Express your concerns with an adult you trust, like a parent, teacher, or counselor. I know that this can be a scary thing to do, but no one deserves to feel threatened in his or her learning environment. You deserve to feel safe. I hope that this gets resolved and that you can go to school feeling secure. Good Luck!
Hi Jamie my name is Briana and i am doing my speech on Bullying and i was wondering if u could give me some advice, i saw your web page so i was just woundering if u could help me, i have been bulled in my school and i said i wanted to cut because of it, how do i ignore the bulling at my school? it be really nice if i could get someones help on this. I’m always scared to tell my parents i don’t know why. So may you please help me. I hope u get this.
It is very cool and brave that you are giving your speech about bullying! I am very sorry to hear that you have been bullied. Absolutely no one deserves to be treated that way. Since you have read my web page, you know that I have been bullied too and that I completely understand the emotional pain that comes from others’ actions. While I do understand the emotional pain, I know that the only true solution to this pain is help from an outside party. Cutting yourself is never a remedy for your emotional suffering—it cannot and will never help you solve anything. Please find professional help. Talk to a counselor at your school or an adult you trust. Let this person handle connecting you to a trained professional who can help you. It makes me very sad to hear that you are suffering and feel the need to inflict physical pain on yourself. I want you to know that I truly care for your well-being and want you to be safe and happy. I am always here for you. Never hesitate to ask me something.
In terms of “ignoring bullying,” I am sorry to say, there really is no way to ignore it. No matter the person, everyone is affected by the words and actions they receive. Think about it: one would feel happy if someone gave them a compliment. You don’t suddenly become immune to words when they are hurtful. Same goes with actions. You would be affected (in a positive way) if someone gave you a cookie! You would also be affected if someone physically hurt you (in a negative way, obviously). The fact of the matter is: people have feelings and those feelings are affected by the way they are treated. Ignoring bullying is simply impossible. The only way to not be affected by bullying is if there is none. The only way to prevent and end bullying is by reporting it when you experience or see it. Always express your concerns to adults that you trust. Oftentimes, teachers, coaches, parents, etc. have no idea that there is bullying going on outside of the classroom. In order to end it, you must tell an adult(s) you trust that can help the issue.
Lastly, you expressed that you feel scared to tell your parents. This is very natural and understandable. It is always scary to share with someone your suffering and experiences. While I do understand this fear, please know that your parents care for your well-being and want you to be safe and happy. It is very important that they know what you are dealing with because they can’t support you if they don’t even know what you are going through. If you truly cannot find a way to tell them, there are some other options that still effectively communicate the information they need to know. Try having someone else tell them for you. For example, if you feel more comfortable sharing this with an older sibling, then that sibling could carry that information to your parents. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a sibling—really any adult that you trust. This could include a teacher, coach, counselor, etc. I really hope you find help. Please know that I, like many others, care for your well-being. Good luck!
Hi Jamie I have been bullied alot and even though I put an end to this I still feel ugly and fat and like a failure and I guess cutting makes me feel better I just don’t know what to do plz help.
– Anike, 8th grade
I feel absolutely devastated to hear that you have been bullied and that you feel like this. I appreciate and admire your bravery—it takes courage to find help and I am so happy that you are reaching out to me today. First of all, please know that you are NOT ugly, fat, or a failure. Don’t let others’ words define who you think you are. I know how easy it can be to feel this way, as I have had similar feelings in my own life. In fact, many girls feel like this in their lives! You are not alone—please know that! My bullying has ended too, but not a day goes by where I am not reminded of my experience. Everyday I go to school, and when I am around the person who bullied me, I continue to feel uncomfortable and unhappy. I am reminded of the label this person gave to me. It is very normal to feel the effects of bullying long after the actual incident. While I understand the emotional pain you are experiencing, I also know that cutting yourself is not the solution. This will not and cannot heal any emotional pain you feel. You took that brave first step by asking me for help, and now you need to find professional help. Reach out to an adult you trust that can help you find the help you need. This could be a parent, teacher, coach, aunt, uncle, counselor, or some other adult you trust. Talk to this adult and tell them what you are feeling and experiencing. Don’t leave anything out because the only way they can truly help you is if they understand what you are going through. I know that it can be scary to share with someone this pain. I know that it can be easy to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or something else that would prevent you from finding help. Trust me, I completely understand these fears. But it is imperative that you find help. Please know that I care for you and your well-being. I want you to be safe and happy. I am always here for you.
First, all my bullies are boys. I don’t understand why I get bullied. I just walk the halls or pass a boy and they make fun of my forehead. I try to ignore them but it has been going on for a while and it is starting to get to me. What should i do? Thank you for your time.
– Emily, 7th grade
Thank you for writing to me—I really appreciate it! I am so sorry that you are experiencing this brutal treatment. Absolutely no one deserves to be treated like this. Like you, the person who bullied me was also a male, so your question is one I very much relate to. I remember when I was in grade school I would get teased by boys. I remember telling adults about my experience and their response often went something like this, “Oh, he probably just likes you.” This response is completely not okay, as it justifies their actions and almost puts the blame on the female. So, please don’t let anyone make you think that your bullying experience is okay because he “probably just likes you.” Years later when I went through my bullying experience in high school, there was a similar response. As a feminist, I completely reject this mentality. I want you to know that you are never at fault for a guy’s actions—never let someone unjustly put the blame on you! As for handling your situation now, you really can’t ignore the bullying. It could be dangerous to face these guys directly, so avoid a confrontation with them where you would be in emotional and physical danger. The best thing to do is to tell an adult you trust. This could be a parent, teacher, coach, counselor, or someone else in your life you feel comfortable with and that could responsibly help you with this situation. I know that this can be scary—you might be afraid the bullying will get worse or by the adult’s response. Please know that the only way to really help the situation is by finding help. There are many ways to stay discrete about telling an adult, if that is something you wish to do. 1.) If you tell him or her in person, make sure that no one else is around that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing this information with. 2.) You could consider emailing this person or having your parents help you communicate with a teacher or counselor. Lastly, I know that this is easier said than done, but try to avoid embracing the labels and words that these boys say about you. I know that it is impossible not to be affected and hurt by their actions, but please don’t believe in what they are saying. You are so special and deserve happiness and safety. I am so sorry you are going through this. I hope this gets resolved promptly. Good luck!
What should I do if the bully is using social media that I’m not on or if they threatened to do something online that I’m not on e.g. Twitter, Skype or Snap chat. How can I tell a teacher if I don’t know if it was just a joke or if it was real.
– Scarlett, 8th grade
Thank you for your question! I am so sorry you are going through this. No one deserves to be bullied and I know how difficult it is to manage something that happened through technology. You say that you don’t know if this person was just “joking around” and if you should tell someone. Even if the person never actually posted anything, you still have every right to tell an adult you trust. There really is no “joking around” in bullying. The comments this person said made you feel unsafe, unhappy, and propelled you to write to someone who helps people managing bullying. Clearly, this seems to indicate that no matter what this person did or didn’t do, you felt targeted by him or her. So, I highly recommend that you tell a teacher what was said to you. I know that you don’t have these social media accounts, but once you bring it to a teacher’s attention, those things can be accessed and handled responsibly with adults. Even if it turns out that the person never posted anything (unlike what him or her said), its okay if you still tell someone because the threat alone is a form of bullying that makes you feel scared and vulnerable. I know how painful this experience is and how consuming it can be to your life. While this surely is not a remedy or a solution to this issue, I found that taking a moment for myself during my bullying experience helped a lot with my emotions. I recommend maybe doing something you really enjoy that relaxes you. For me, it was watching my favorite shows and movies, baking, or reading. I hope this helps and please know that I am here for you whenever you need. I am sorry that you are experiencing this brutal treatment. I hope you can resolve this quickly with the help of an adult—you have every right to say something! Good luck!
Should I retaliate to bullying?
– Morgan, 8th grade
Thank you for writing to me! To answer your question, no, you should never directly retaliate to bullying. This can NEVER help a situation. It will either put you in more danger physically/emotionally or will push you to do something you may regret later. Retaliating to bullying will only add more fuel to the fire, provoking more hurtful behavior. Instead, to help end a bullying situation, inform an adult you trust to help you. This could be a parent, teacher, coach, aunt, uncle, or school counselor. Remember to tell this person everything that has happened. Hopefully, telling one adult will be enough, but if you feel like you were not sufficiently helped, continue telling adults until you have gotten the help you need. I know this can be scary and that you may fear this will only make things worse, but believe me, it is the only way to truly help. This general rule is the same if you are a bystander—don’t ever directly put yourself in the middle of a bullying situation, instead, tell an adult. I hope you resolve whatever is going on very soon. Good luck!