It is with a heavy heart that I learnt that a few of my children's friends had been severely and constantly bullied by their school mates. Even more tragic that their new principal had been more concerned for the reputation of the school than with helping the students resolve the issues. I am proud to say that my kids had been able to stand up against the bullies by the grace of God. I had been teaching them ways to deal with such situations and I thought it might be helpful for other parents to know these suggestions too.
Three things NEVER to do:
1) Take revenge
The moment the victim gets involved with giving tit for tat, he becomes equally at fault. What's worse, if someone sees the victim committing the offence and did not get to see how it got started, the poor guy gets the blame instead. The aggressor will always lie to protect himself and the offended has no witness of his own.
2) React negatively
The moment the bullied person loses his temper, breaks down in tears or cowers in fear, the bully got what he wanted. It'll only further encourage the tormenting. So even if the target feels upset, he should not show it. Instead, pretend that it is water off the duck's back and ignore the tormentor. The victim should wait till he is in a safe place, e.g. at home, with good friends or family members, before releasing the pent up emotions.
3) Be alone
It is natural for the recipient of traumatising experiences to be tempted to keep things to himself. Bullies love to attack when nobody is around. As far as possible, be with at least one friend. There will be a witness if anything bad were to happen. If the hater somehow manages to turn everybody in the same environment against the sufferer through threats or popularity, make friends from elsewhere. (Yes, popular people can be mean too)
Personally, when I was harassed by a prominent girl, nobody else in class dared to stick by me. That was why I kept hanging out with friends from other classes and people from my CCA. When I was under heavy fire from two colleagues in my department as a teacher, I spent most of my time with those in other departments. As it turns out, those in whom I took refuge in became my best buddies till today.
Here are three things to do instead:
1) Report the incident immediately.
Don't let it drag on. Let the respective authorities handle the situation. If there are witnesses, rally them. However, there are sadly cases where those in charge are not doing their job properly. Sometimes, the bullies can masquerade as well-liked individuals and only stab another person in the dark. They can bootlick the bosses into taking their sides and lie their way out. In the event of impotent authorities, there are still two other things to be done.
2) Distance yourself
As far as possible, do not be in the same vicinity as the bully. Change seats if possible. If not, avoid any possible contact and basically treat the meanie as if invisible unless necessary. Ignore any attempts on their part to engage or attract attention.
3) Life goes on
If the victim behaves as if nothing happened and continues with life confidently and cheerfully, he shows that he is not to be trifled with. Perform better, achieve good results, become more accomplished. That'll put the bully to shame. People have eyes to see and time can tell. Eventually, the others will side with the offended person if he can consistently show himself to be the bigger person.
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how to handle bullying
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If one is a Christian, there are 3 more things that can be done:
1) Share Jesus
Most bullies have very tragic backstories. They are unloved, abused, bullied themselves or terribly neglected in their lives. Either they have been traumatised and want to lash out at others or they simply want to get the attention they sorely lack in their empty lives. If there was some kind of a relationship between the bullied and the bully before things turned out badly, the bullied can try sharing the gospel to the broken person in the presence of another believer. Only God can save and heal. If he refuses to listen, quoting from the bible is better than nothing.
"The words that a person speaks come from their thoughts. It is what comes out of a person's mouth that makes them dirty." (Matthew 15:18)
2) Be kind
Even though on normal days, the offended should stay away from the recalcitrant offender, when an obvious need arises, show love to the undeserved one. God's Word tells us to love our enemies. Yet, we must be as innocent as doves but as shrewd as a serpent. He might want to do this act of kindness with another friend to safeguard himself.
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink" (Romans 12:20)
Not just for God to protect or make a way out, but also for the bully to find God in the end.
"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)