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Dealing with Bullies

K. Jo Brown

Jesus was bullied, beaten, and mocked. He responded by confronting the bully and asserting himself: “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” (John 18:23, NRSV). Jesus asked for an explanation for his maltreatment. He defended himself with words. Victims of bullying can defend themselves without being abusive or degrading. Instead of being passive, they can be inquisitive and ask why they are being bullied.

devozine Bully FTR TS138018602We have no clear cut-reason why people become bullies. Yet, research shows that bullies tend to deal with complicated issues at home. They feel beaten down. Their parents are often bullies who do not resolve conflicts consistently. They may also use corporal punishment or mistreat their children when they are furious or have emotional outbursts. Some bullies witness domestic violence. Their upbringing often leads to bullying others.

Bullying is an act of threatening, name calling, or physical violence. It takes a toll on its victims. Youth who are bullied complain about headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue as reasons to stay home and to avoid bullying. They are often anxious, tearful, or moody. They come home from school with missing belongings, torn clothing, and unexplained injuries. Some bullying results in lower marks at school and depression.

How You Can Deal with Bullying

devozine Bullied at Locker FTR TSP 139971962The most common way to deal with bullies is to avoid and ignore them, which doesn’t always work. You need to appear confident. Another tactic is to disarm the bully by laughing at hurtful comments and walking away. Crying only empowers the bully. For every insult directed at you, say a positive remark in your head; being respectful of yourself and others is important.

If these strategies don’t work, confront the bully. Do not start a physical fight, but voice your thoughts constructively. Don’t be afraid to say how you feel and what you require the bully to do from now on. “I feel annoyed when you call me names. I have a real name. I want you to call me by my real name from now on.” Here are some other phrases to say if the situation does not improve: “Stop it; leave me alone.” “You need to back off until you can be nice.”

If the situation becomes more serious, mention that school authorities will be contacted as well as the police and that lawsuits will occur with parents involved. Anti-bullying laws protect victims from harassment and serious injury. Find out what laws exist in your state. Also, keep a record of all the bullying that occurs both in person and on the Internet.

Teenage Girl Being Bullied By Text Message

A key component in dealing with online bullying is to document the date and time of each incident so that it can be reported to a service provider. Most providers have a policy against harassment. Also, you can block bullies from further contact. Some other ways to stop online bullying are to change your account settings and to limit personal information that you post. If changing your information fails, create new accounts and delete old ones.

Deleting is critical. Delete bullies from your phone, social networks, and contact lists. If bullies are determined enough to stalk, threaten violence, participate in hate communication or behaviors, post sexually explicit pictures, or secretly record you, it’s time to take the problem to the police. Make sure you have documented and saved evidence.

Seek counsel from parents, teachers, school administrators and counselors, mental health professionals, pastors, police, and lawyers.

 

DIG DEEPER

Read these scripture passages. Think about what they say about how to deal with bullying:

K. Jo Brown is a freelance writer and web designer. Follow @byladykelly.

—from devozine (September/October 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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