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Bullying

2 teens girls trying to help each other

Bullying is more than disagreements, differences of opinion, or conflicts that occur between friends and classmates. Bullying is serious and is defined as repeated, unwanted aggressive behavior with an observed or perceived power imbalance. There are several types of bullying – verbal (using written or spoken words to harm), physical (harming a person or their possessions), and social (harming someone’s relationships and social status).

Over 20% of Michigan High School students – one out of every five – say they are being bullied.[1]  Bullying can affect everyone and is linked to negative outcomes for students who are bullied, choose to bully, as well as witness bullying. We all need to do our part to end bullying.   

If you are a student being bullied, remember:

  • It is not your fault because no one deserves to be treated this way.
  • You are not alone because there are people who care.
  • Tell someone – an adult, your friends, or report it to OK2SAY. Don’t suffer in silence.

If you are not sure what you are experiencing is bullying, you can use this checklist and find additional steps to take

A student who witnesses bullying usually know it is wrong when they see it. Don’t stand by and let it happen. There are simple and safe ways for students to help. Choose to use your power as a bystander to make a difference.

  • Don’t give the bully an audience. Do not join in or watch the bullying take place.
  • Help the student who is bullied get away from the situation. Create a distraction or make an excuse that he or she is needed elsewhere and/or get an adult to help.
  • Encourage others to stand with you. There is strength in numbers; bystanders can intervene as a group to show there are several people who don’t agree with the bullying.
  • Be a friend. Reach out privately to check in with that person to let them know you do not agree with it and that you care. Ask them how you can help.
  • Respond with actions of intentional kindness.
  • Encourage the student being bullied to report it. Or tell an adult yourself – at school, home, or report it to OK2SAY.
  • Question the bullying behavior. Simple things like changing the subject or questioning the behavior can shift the focus. You can use phrases like: “Stop. Leave them alone,” “Putting someone down isn’t cool,” or “No one thinks this is funny.”
  • If anyone is physically threatened, seek help from an adult immediately.
  • Set a good example. Don’t bully others, ever.

Choosing to bully others is a risk to students too. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, students who bully are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults and get in trouble for other risky and violent behavior. Bullying is a choice; you can choose to change your behavior by thinking through how you want to respond to situations. Work to be kinder, more inclusive, and more accepting in your actions.

RESOURCES

 

[1]  2019 Michigan High School Youth Survey