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Having been bullied throughout my school career, I can honestly say that the current school system rewards bullies more than it punishes them. Bullying was the reason why I dropped out, and why most of my friends do not have college degrees either.
Looking back, I can honestly say that I handled being bullied at school the wrong way. If I could go back in a time machine, I would have chosen a different way to handle being bullied at school.
Here's what I would have done differently, assuming I had a bully that just wouldn't let up by just ignoring them or making myself a less interesting target.
I would have talked to the bully.
Now that I'm older, I've started to realize that bullies didn't actually realize how much they hurt me until way later in life. Some bullies that I confronted later on honestly thought they were joking, and that I didn't mind.
Knowing that, I realize that a lot of bullying could be solved by simply talking it out. You might be surprised at how much people will change once they realize how negatively they are affecting another person.
I would strongly suggest talking to your bully with the help of someone else—ideally someone your age. It can help you get the moral support you need to confront them and may diffuse the situation enough for you to meet in the middle and stop the bullying once and for all.
If that doesn't work, start a paper trail.
Most people don't like being a snitch, but if you want to handle being bullied at school without being punished, get a paper trail going. This has a purpose, and trust me, it will work when teachers refuse to do their job of keeping you safe (or when teachers become the bully).
Email the teacher. Have scheduled appointments with the principal about the kids. Make it a point of having clear, concise, and visible proof of bullying, and your attempts to talk to the administration cannot be denied.
Explain that you are going to sue the school if the bullying continues without teacher interference.
The goal, when you're trying to handle being bullied at school, is not to have the administration like you. It is not even to have other kids like you. It's to have people stop messing with you.
You need to make it clear to both administrators and parents that you will bring in a lawyer if that's what it takes to get the bullies to stop. This may sound like sabre-rattling, but it's important that you make it clear you'll make moves if nothing improves for you.
Find a lawyer who is willing to help you out.
Believe it or not, there are law firms that specialize in handling cases where kids are being bullied. Bullying is illegal in most states, and it counts as a criminal act, not unlike harassment.
Schools have a duty to students when it comes to ensuring their safety. If you do not feel safe at school, you have every right to sue them for negligence.
Have an attorney send a letter to the school and talk to the school's guidance counselor.
This letter should be a version of a "Cease and Desist" letter that tells the school (and parents of offending children) that consequences will be had if your child isn't left alone.
Most parents do not want to be the family that has to explain why an entire class is being subpoenaed for their child's bad behavior. If parents refused to enforce rules or punish their bullying children beforehand, chances are that a letter will work well.
I want to point out that some law firms will actually do free consultations and "no win, no fee" for injuries that come as a result of bullying. So, yes, you can afford a lawyer—even if you can't afford new clothes.
If teachers still don't do anything, fight back next time bullies harass you.
Here's the deal. I am a realist. I know that anyone who says that "violence never solves anything" has probably never been bullied, robbed, or assaulted. And if we're going into what I wish I would've known during high school...
Anyway, once you have a paper trail and have started to get proof of bullying, throw a punch in the bully's face. Fight back, especially if it comes to abuse that is physical in nature.
For the most part, a single good blow will teach bullies a lesson not to mess with you. It also shows that you're willing to stand up for yourself, and that's something kids respect (or at least don't want to happen again).
If the school tries to punish you, use the paper trail as proof that you tried to tell them—and get your lawyer involved.
Schools have an amazing knack for having "Zero Tolerance" only when a student fights back against the bullies that teachers turn a blind eye to. I ought to know, this is what got me "asked to leave" from my middle school—since punishing a kid whose parents donated tons wouldn't work.
That's where the paper trail comes in handy. If the lawyer says that they haven't adequately protected you, chances are that you can sue the school and win. Most teachers will immediately step up to protect bullied kids once they see a lawsuit in the mail.
Moreover, if your child fought back, it can be considered an act of self-defense. Since teachers didn't protect your child adequately, you still may be able to sue them—or at least get your child's punishment waived.
It's also worth pointing out that you can call the police on a bully.
Bullying is such a pervasive problem in the American school system, many areas have decided to criminalize it. If your child has started to come home with signs of physical abuse, you are most likely allowed to call the police.
Assault from bullying can be enough to press charges. The same can be said from thefts that were committed as a way to alienate kids and psychologically bully them, as well as verbal abuse that may be going on in the hallways of their school. Anti-bullying laws are real, and anyone who knows what it's like to be bullied should know them!
Remember that bullies want easy targets.
Bullies thrive on signs that show someone is weak—including waffling, begging for attention, or even just showing basic kindness. When you're dealing with a bully, it's often best to be unemotional and use black-and-white terms.
The less leeway you give a bully to hurt you, the less likely it is that they will feel like they have any power on you. The less you play the victim, the less bullies will want to deal with you.
So, this includes doing the following:
- Learn to disarm their digs. Laugh along with them when they poke fun at you. Don't react when they shame you. Ignore that they isolate you, and go online for friends.
- Deal with bullies that thrive on quick reactions by making your reaction to them as slow as possible. Some bullies love to see people instantly react to their ploys. If you notice this, make it a point of taking a long time to respond to them.
- Point out their bullying tendencies. Most bullies that behave passive-aggressively shrink back when they're called out on their stuff.
- Realize that bullying happens due to a bully's bad mental health. Don't envy a bully! They are often messed up in the head!
Distance yourself ASAP.
Finally, the easiest way to handle being bullied at school is to distance yourself after you've actively fought back and won. Once the bully has stopped seeing you as an easy target, you no longer have any reason to talk to them.
With distance comes peace. Trust me on that.