Bullying can be hard to deal with, because the victims of bullying are often afraid to speak out and ask for help. Acts of bullying can gradually erode a victim’s self-confidence and self-esteem, which can make it very hard for them to seek support. If you see someone being bullied by others, then you should try your best to help them. There are a number of different ways that you can help.
Befriend the Victim. Bullying often destroys relationships and isolates the victim from their support network. Becoming friends with a person who is being bullied helps to give them a support network and can help to rebuild their self-esteem. Showing that you care can help to stop that person from feeling worthless. Bullies find it harder to target a victim if that person is not alone. Use your friendship to take people out of the situation where they are being bullied. Inviting people to join you can help them to physically (and emotionally) remove themselves from a scenario in which they are being targeted.
Invalidate the Bullies. Do not stand by and watch bullying occurring because this helps to validate the bullies. Bullies will often “play to the crowd” because they enjoy the attention that they are getting. Walking away from the scenario can help to invalidate them. Bullies love an audience, so walking away and encouraging others to walk away too can help to reduce the bully’s power. If you think that the person who is being bullied is in danger, you should always go and get help.
Stop the Gossip. Gossiping can seem fun, but rumours can be very damaging. If someone tells you a rumour and you know that it is false, you may be able correct them with the truth, however you should take care not to break a confidence. One of the best ways to stop gossip is by refusing to pass it on. Breaking the chain will mean that fewer people hear the story. Consider how you would feel if someone was spreading rumours about you?
Do Not Fight. Physically fighting bullies is a bad idea, even if you think that you are stronger than them. Lashing out at bullies could get you in trouble and they may be able to turn the situation around so that you look like you are the bad person. You may also do more damage than you mean to when using physical violence and this could have lasting consequences. Fight bullies with your words, your actions and your intelligence, rather than with your fists.
Speak to an Adult or Trusted Friend. If you are concerned about the person who is being bullied, you should speak to an adult or trusted friend. Working with another person can help to make it easier to deal with a situation where someone else is being targeted. If you do decide to speak to a third party, you should ask them to keep your comments private. The person who is being bullied may not necessarily want this person to be involved without their knowledge, so try to keep your discussions confidential.
Offer Encouragement. Offer gentle support and encouragement to get the bullied person to talk to an adult or another authority figure. If they do not want to speak to their teacher or boss, try to work with them to consider another person who it might be suitable to talk to. You can offer to go with them as an act of moral support. Many people who are being bullied find it easier to talk about the issue if they are with someone else who has witnessed the problem.