Teen bullying makes you feel powerless: Get tips to fight back

Being a teenager is tough, but you already know that. Bullying makes these years even tougher. Whether you’re the one being bullied, the aggressor or a bystander, teen bullying hurts everyone. Schools are taking threats more seriously now, but ultimately, you and your friends make the most difference.

Effects of bullying

No matter what form it comes in—physical threats, online comments or rumors—behavior that’s intended to hurt someone else hurts everyone involved.

According to stopbullying.gov, children who are bullied have higher rates of anxiety and depression, along with worse performance in school. Kids who do the bullying are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as drinking, and be in abusive relationships. Even kids who simply observe bullying on a regular basis have higher rates of depression and anxiety and miss school more often.

What teen bullying looks like

The National Bullying Prevention Center defines bullying as intentional behavior that hurts, harms or humiliates someone, physically or emotionally. The aggressors are usually people with more social status or physical power.

Bullies have been around forever, shouting insults on the bus and pushing kids into lockers. Your parents likely experienced some of that. But today’s bullying is harder to escape. Now, taunts can reach you at home; you may get insulting texts and rude or sexual comments on Instagram or Snapchat.

You know bullying when you feel it, but you may not always realize when you do it. Girls commonly fall in both roles. Laughing at another student, picking on her clothes or intentionally leaving her out of social events to hurt her are all forms of bullying. Spreading lies, online or at school, and sharing harmful photos are as well. Bullying happens at school and outside of school through texts and on social media.

Actions you can take

Being bullied can often make you feel powerless, and if you report it and don’t get help, sometimes it just gets worse. But there are a few things you can do:

  • Love yourself. Bullies try to bring down your confidence. Focus on building your self esteem and always remember that you have value. Remember that these days will pass.
  • Tell someone. You shouldn’t feel unsafe when going to school. Talk to teachers, principals, counselors, your parents or anyone you feel comfortable opening up to about what’s going on so that they can help you find a solution. You don’t have to go through this alone.
  • Say “Stop.” When being physically bullied at school, say “Stop” and try to remove yourself from the situation. Fighting back can make it worse.
  • Save evidence. Take screenshots, save texts, print emails—keep records of cyberbullying with dates and times. Laws vary by state, but invasions of privacy, sexual content and hate crimes are against the law and can be reported. Check stopybullying.gov to find your state’s laws.
  • Block the person. Block the person from your phone and social media profiles. Be selective of the people you let into your social networks, and make your profiles private.

Bystanders and bullies who want to to change can also take steps to alter the tone at school.

  • Walk away. Bullies look for power, and they want an audience. Don’t give it to them. While at school, walk away from the scene. Online, don’t forward texts or respond to hurtful comments.
  • Intervene. If you feel you can safely step in, try to help the person being bullied get out of that situation. Stand up for them online.
  • Make new friends. It may be hard to walk away, but if you’re around a group of girls that leads you to act in ways you don’t like, it’s time to get new friends.

You and your friends have the ability to take power away from the bullies by not participating and reporting it when it happens. Showing kindness to yourself and other is the best way to move forward.

Image source: Flickr

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