Reporting someone to a teacher or parent is generally considered tattling — the kind of thing you do in elementary school. But reporting a bully is not. When a bully harasses you, he or she is trying to hurt you physically or emotionally. Abusive behavior is not tolerated in the adult world. It shouldn’t be tolerated in middle school or high school.
Gather the evidence
Get your facts together — times, places, dates, what was said, witnesses who heard the comments — and go to an authority figure, like a cool teacher, for help.
If classmates accuse you of being immature, realize you are being very mature in handling the situation. Bullying isn’t something you can solve on your own. You often do need assistance.
Ask for help
My mother helped me a lot. When I’d come home from school each day, she and I would discuss the situation with Phillip and devise ways to solve the problem. We would discuss comebacks to his comments. One day, she told me to just ignore him.
Another day, when he was criticizing my clothes, she said, “Give him the facts. Tell him you shop at the Gap, the same place everyone else does. So what’s the problem?” Another day, she said, “Use humor with him. Make a little fun of your odd habits.”
Talk it out
Discussing the Phillip problem with my mom made it seem like, well, less of a problem. First, my mother confirmed that Phillip’s demeaning remarks were not right. Second, I didn’t feel isolated. We were a team, trying to figure out what to do, and it was just a matter of finding the appropriate technique to fix the problem — which, of course, was the tape recorder. Throughout this very difficult situation, it was important to have moral support from my mother.
If you find it uncomfortable to confide in a parent or teacher, talk with a trusted friend. As you move through middle school and high school, you and your friends will become better at thinking through problems.
Furthermore, your friend will be familiar with the school’s social order, giving you insight that an adult just can’t provide.
This article comes from the Summer 2008 issue of ADDitude .
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