Going back to school can be a stressful time for students, especially if going back to school
means going back to being bullied. Bullying behaviour is one of the largest problems in
schools and has detrimental effects on the student’s wellbeing and academic progress.
Being bullied can affect the student in profound ways, in terms of how they see themselves,
their friends, school, and their future. Students who are bullied often feel unhappy, lonely,
anxious, ashamed, suffer with low self-esteem, and in some cases, bullying can also lead to
self-harm or even suicide. Students who are bullied may also avoid going to school or even
leave school altogether, which may in turn affect their future career prospects.
Here are a few tips on how to handle being bullied at school:
If you are being bullied, it is important to tell someone you trust about the bullying, such as a parent or teacher.
This may understandably feel scary; however, the bully’s tactic is
to instill fear in you so that they can control you and continue to bully you. Telling a
trusted adult about bullying is not tattling, and it is very difficult to tackle bullying on your
own, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It is helpful to keep a diary of everything that happens.
When speaking to an adult, it is possible that they may not necessarily understand, and may try to help by reassuring you that everything will be fine and that you just need to stay away from the bully. It is,
therefore, important to keep a diary of the bullying as this can help to give them a clearer
picture of the bullying and take you seriously.
Try not to give the bully a chance to bully you.
You can do this by avoiding places where you are likely to run into a bully and taking a different route from home to school and also different routes within the school itself. You might also want to stay in the company of trusted friends who know about the situation to deter the bully.
Try to be brave and ignore the bully’s threats as much as you can.
Bullies look for a reaction so try not to show them that you are scared or upset, or bully back. It may help
to plan ahead how you could manage your feelings by, for example, using distraction strategies like counting backwards from 10, then from 25, and then 50, until you are in a safe situation.
Stand up to the bully if you feel brave enough.
Bullies tend to target those who find it difficult to stand up for themselves and whom they think will take their abuse and do whatever they say. Saying something like “Stop bothering me” in a firm and assertive
tone of voice helps give the bully a clear message that you will not tolerate their behaviour. Nevertheless, if standing up for yourself feels too difficult to do or even unsafe, your priority would be to walk away and ensure you keep yourself safe.
Bullying is never acceptable and it is not your fault if you are being bullied. It is, therefore,
crucial that you seek immediate support
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Dr. Ronald Zammit holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southampton, has completed Master’s level psychotherapy training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at the New Buckinghamshire University in the UK, as well as received training in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). He has a special interest in mood and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related difficulties, personality disorders, and compassion-based approaches to treating difficulties related to high self-criticism and shame.