If You are the Target of Bullying

Standing up to bullies may be one of the hardest things you will do in life, but it’s almost always worth it.  It’s not easy and there is no recipe for doing it, but there are some guidelines and strategies that you can put together. 

  • Think of yourself – or anyone that bullies are going after – as a target vs. a victim.  You may be targeted and abused by bullying, but you do not need to be a victim.  How you respond is the key.
  • There is no single effective plan for dealing with bullies.  If you are the target of bullying, there are some things you can do, but each person’s situation is different, so there is no single formula or easy solution.  Just consider the possible actions and see which ones you can try.  Sometimes it takes a while to be effective.

I am not what happened to me. I am who I choose to become.


1. Connect to others.  Dealing with bullies is best done with others – even one other person.  Talking with others help keeps you from feeling alone and isolated and it’s a good way to problem solve.

Bullies operate by making their victims feel alone and powerless.  Bullies feel empowered to bully one person, but rarely will they bully a group.

2. Tell and Adult.  If you cannot stop the bullying or if it is escalating, tell a trusted adult.  Don’t wait as that is what helps empower the bully.  You’re not being a “tattletale.”  You are getting an ally to deal with someone who is wrong – someone who is abusive.  Tattling is done for the purpose of getting somebody else in trouble, and telling is done because something is going on that’s not okay

3. Keep the bullying in its place.  You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can stay true to yourself.  Bullying can come to dominate a life, so if you’re the target of bullying, it’s important to remember that you have a life that is bigger than the bullying.  Focusing on the other parts of your life is often where you have the greatest impact.  Pay attention to developing the competencies you want, doing things you enjoy, doing well in school, volunteering, etc.

If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.


4. Act quickly and consistently.  The longer you wait to respond to bullying, the stronger the bullying usually gets.  And bullies may try to exercise power over you for some time, so you may need to be consistent in your responses to get to the point where they lose interest.

5. Practice confidence. Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior. Practice feeling good about yourself (even if you have to fake it at first).  You can also practice how you might respond in bullying situations – imagining how you might respond – what you might say or do.

Stand strong and remember that, although the bully is exercising a lot of power, there is something wrong with them, not with you.  They may be stronger, more socially connected, more attractive or older, but there is still something very wrong with them – not with you. 

When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.


6. Redirect the anger or hurt.  Getting angry at a bully is a natural response, but that’s what they are looking for (control over your emotions) and it takes attention and energy away from the more productive parts of your life.

Anger and hurt are energies and they can be redirected to support the more positive parts of your life.  It takes some awareness and discipline, but you can say to yourself, “OK, I’m not holding onto this anger/hurt.  I’m sending it to fuel the activities I like.” 

7. Use the buddy system.  If you’re in a bullying situation that you think may escalate into physical violence, try to avoid being alone (and if you have a friend in this situation, spend as much time together as you can). Try to remain part of a group by walking home at the same time as other people or by sticking close to friends or classmates during the times that the bullying takes place.

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.


8. Ignore the bully. This is not a cowardly response.  It’s a response that says, “I’m not interested in your actions or comments.  They don’t impact me.”  Bullies get their energy and reward from the reactions they get, and if you walk away or ignore hurtful emails or instant messages, you’re taking away the reward.

9. Use your imagination.  For verbal bullying, you can imagine a force-field or shield around you that causes the bullies words to bounce off.  You can also imagine the bully or bullies as small yappy figures or dressed in silly costumes.   

10. Don’t get physical.  Getting physical can show your anger and reward the bully, the bully can escalate and it’s possible that you could get in trouble.  If you’re being physically bullied, there may be a time when you have to get physical in response, but those times are rare.

My self-worth is not linked to your cruel words and action. My self-esteem is not affected by your deliberate attempts to destroy my character. You have no power over me. You will not silence me.


If You are Being Cyberbullied

Being cyberbullied can make you feel helpless, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and seek help

How to react to cyberbullying:

Ignore.  Never respond to harassing, negative and threatening responses about you.  There are rare exceptions to this, but cyberbullying is not a dialogue – it’s abuse and the bullies have no interest in your response – other than to feel like they are winning if you are responding.

Reach out.   For cyberbullying, one of the most important things you can do is to talk to an adult you trust as soon as possible.  Parents, a trusted teacher, school administrators, counselors, friends and even police officers can help you deal with cyberbullying. Your state laws or your school’s policies may have rules against cyberbullying that can be used to challenge the bullying. There is no reason to suffer alone when you are the target of bullying.  Cyberbullying is both anonymous and far reaching and you should not have to deal with it on your own.   

Record and keep the evidence of abuse. The only good news about bullying online or on phones is that it can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You can save that evidence in case things escalate.

Keep a record of bullying messages you receive—in hard copy. These are important for showing the abuse and may be useful in working with schools, website admins and police.

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.

C. S.

Cut off the bully.  Stop all communication with the bully when possible. You may be able to block their phone number, so you no longer receive their calls or texts. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other providers have policies or terms of use against cyberbullying and ways to block bullies.  Your parents or a trusted adult may be able to help in this area.

Protect your accounts and watch what you post. Don’t share your passwords with anyone and password-protect your phone so no one can use it to impersonate you.  And always be very careful of what you post, because once it’s posted, it’s out there forever.

Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.’


Social Media Providers Cyberbullying Reporting Systems

In addressing the problem, social networking sites are creating cyberbullying online reporting systems. For example, Twitter, Instagram, and

Facebook have set up cyberbullying informational pages, providing instructions for reporting a violation.

Throw me to the wolves and I will come back leading the pack.