What do Steven Spielberg, Christian Bale, Taylor Swift and Bill Clinton all have in common? Well, besides the fact that they’re all famous and successful, every one of them was bullied growing up. So if you’re being bullied… you’re in some pretty good company. Unfortunately, bullying is a widespread problem and it can take a toll on everything from your self esteem to your physical health. But we’re here to tell you: You’re not at fault and you’re not alone. Welcome to WellCast, where you’re with an army of people just like yourself. This week, we’re tackling a subject that a lot of our viewers requested: What to do if you’re being bullied. We’ve got a four step method that’ll show you how to boost your confidence, protect yourself from harm and find help. Ready? The sheer number of awesome people who were bullied as kids tells us two things: One, bullying is pretty common.
Studies have found that nearly one-third of all students (some 13 million people) are bullied each year. Two, the qualities that make us easy targets for bullies—being seen as too “nerdy” or liking the wrong clothes—are the traits that also make us interesting. Such a high premium is placed on “fitting in” throughout grade school and high school, it’s easy to forget that from college on, your success is based on your ability to stand out. To be different from the crowd. To be unique. This brings us to our WellCast exercise. Pause and print this worksheet. Step one: This isn’t your fault. There are a multitude of reasons why bullies do what they do, but these have little to do with you and a lot to do with the bully’s personal issues. So don’t start viewing yourself through your bully’s eyes—you’ll just see an inaccurate self-portrait. Try this self-esteem exercise on your worksheet: Write down all the great qualities that make you stand out from the crowd.
Maybe you get good grades in English class. Maybe you’re an amazing trombone player. Whatever it is, get it down on paper. This is the person you actually are. The next time a bully makes you feel like you’re something less than this amazing collection of positive traits and talents, remember this list. Step two: Build your army. Surround yourself with people who care about you and who appreciate you exactly for who you are. You don’t have to go through this experience without backup. If you’re having trouble finding people, try seeking out friends who have similar interests. Look for clubs at your school or local community center, audition for theater, try out for a sport—whatever it is you’re interested in. Step three: A bully is like a grizzly bear. No, seriously. That’s exactly how you should treat a bully if you’re getting picked on.
1. Play dead. Ignore the bully. This is perhaps the most recommended anti-bullying tactic, and it should be your first resort. Sometimes, all a bully wants to get is a reaction, and if he doesn’t receive it, he’ll get bored and move on. Better yet, use humor to alleviate the situation—if you can make a joke that points out how ridiculous the bully is being, you might just confound him into silence. 1. Travel in packs. Just like you shouldn’t go camping without a buddy system, try not to get caught alone with the bully—stick close to your friends. It’ll be hard for the bully to get to you if you’re with your wingmen. 2. Get out of there. This is your nuclear option if you find yourself alone with a bully who won’t stop tormenting you. The second you feel unsafe or overwhelmed, find a way to extricate yourself from the situation. Go find your friends or go get help. …Which brings us to step four: Find someone you can talk to. Speak out. Nobody has the right to make you feel unsafe, uncomfortable or unhappy.
Find someone you trust—a teacher, a guidance counselor, a parent, a friend—and tell them what’s going on. There’s no reason you have to tackle this problem all by yourself—there are people out there who will drop anything to help you. If you’re uncomfortable approaching someone at your school, there are other places to turn. A great resource is 1 (800) 4A-CHILD, also found on your worksheet. It’s a toll-free number, so it won’t cost any money, and there are people available to talk any time of the day or night on the other end of the phone. Ultimately, just don’t let yourself believe that you’re in this without a life jacket. Turn to your friends, turn to your parents, or turn to this hotline. We here at WellCast want to hear how the good fight is going. Leave us a comment below, or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s recap: Today, we talked about bullies—people who somehow believe that they can make you feel awful.
Dealing with bullies is tricky, but remember our steps. This isn’t your fault—so don’t let your self esteem take a hit. Build an army of support around you, and keep these friends close. When in doubt, try ignoring the bully or laughing it off—but ultimately, turn to others for help: a parent, a friend, or a resource such as 1 800 4A CHILD..