3 Tips For Fighting Bullies

People are talking more about bullying these days. It can happen at school, in the workplace, or online. How do you combat it? Educator and author Natasha Deen offers these three tips.

Deen says:

As soon as you’re having words fired at you, strap on the Kevlar shield of “thought stopping.” Hear the words, then think of three reasons why they’re not true. And keep repeating them to yourself…

…A bully’s tactic is to isolate you, make you feel alone. By finding other people, you’ve already knocked out one of their weapons…

…If the [authority] you go to won’t do anything, find another one. The war is your mind, don’t let the bully win. Search out the authority figure that will hold the bully accountable.

When the battlefield is your brain, no one can make victimize you without some of your permission. Avoid getting locked into the roles that the bully fashions for the two of you. Seek ways to connect with others and route around the bully. Also remember that the first authority you go to might not do anything. They might be in cahoots with with bully to some degree or is themselves afraid of the bully. Muster the courage to call out the bad behavior in a public forum and watch as the bully withers under the klieg lights of truth.

natashadeen [Official Site]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    My solution was to just be the quiet, introverted guy, who was really into firearms and enlisted in the National Guard while a junior in High School. Bullies never bothered me, even though I would have been an easy target (skinny, not many friends, and generally awkward).

    • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

      Yeah, sounds like I would have had a crush on you in HS. If you were into NiN, even better.

    • racermd says:

      Wait… you’re *that guy*. I worked with one a while back, too. Had firearm catalogs on his office table, was a little *too* into religion to be comfortable in an office setting (test-a-mints dispenser on the desk, wrappers had little bits of scripture on them when you unwrapped the candy), and had a box of ammo delivered to the office once. Talked frequently about his desert eagle and getting the barrel cryo-treated to increase accuracy.

      I swear, the rest of us talked amongst ourselves about how, should the day finally come when layoffs were inevitable, he was going to be the one coming in shooting. I made it a point to be VERY friendly with him, if only to get that extra half second to get behind cover.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Very close, except for the religious stuff. I’m an atheist who was both raised and eventually married a Catholic. But I do talk about guns and always carry a firearm when doing field work, especially in the coal fields.

    • q`Tzal says:

      In retrospect it seems that my “incident” (1991: my school installed computer replacement for library’s PAPER card catalog) with my school’s computers caused some manner of respect.

      We had the stereotypical fatigues wearing guy who carried weapons manuals and his lunch in an ammo box; pre-Columbine and once you talked to him you realized that he was just a perv. No unusual respect for him.

      Once the 80+ year old librarian had a screaming snit at me for the crash, I went to the principal’s office.
      No punishment was handed down,
      no staff was allowed to talk of the incident,
      everything the librarian threatened and swore was over-ruled.

      When the school staff started asking for computer help, always out of student earshot, people started giving me a wide berth. Still with the verbal abuse but as they though I could “disappear them” like Stalin.

  2. agent 47 says:

    Did the bully ask to see a receipt? Did they not show up for their scheduled appointment? Did they advertise something but try to sell something else later on? I don’t get it.

    • poco says:

      No. He left annoying posts dictating what kind of articles are allowed to be posted on someone else’s website.

  3. LanMan04 says:

    If I were the kid in the picture, I’d take that padlock, put it in my the center of me palm with the locking part on the outside of my fist, and go find the bully.

    I PROMISE he won’t bother you after that. I broke my nastiest bully’s nose in 6th grade and it was smooth sailing after that. It’s Lord of the Flies in school. Protect yourself, offense is the best defense, etc etc.

    • LanMan04 says:

      Sorry for mangled first sentence, you get the idea.

    • FyreGoddess says:

      Zero tolerance policies in most schools ensure that this sort of action will cause the victim to be expelled, while the bully suffers no real consequences.

      • exit322 says:

        Well, you have to follow it up with “let’s put it this way, if you don’t want to get your nose broken again…if anyone asks, you ran into a locker because you’re a klutz.”

      • quail says:

        Zero tolerance policies are lip service in most schools. My kid’s elementary school had one with a new principal. The bullies quickly discovered there were no consequences because the principal refused to acknowledge the activities. Previous principal disciplined kids on a regular basis and wasn’t much liked by kids who occasionally got out of line. New principal was the kind who thought “boys will be boys”. Thankfully my son is out of that school some 3 years now. Heard from other parents that it’s just as bad now at the elementary as it was when my son left.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        As an expeller, I can assure you that is not the case. (Also, simple battery doesn’t get you expelled, even if it does get you arrested. You have to have a weapon for a zero-tolerance policy.)

    • eccsame says:

      You do realize that if kids were to take your advice today they would:
      1) Get thrown out of school after getting a speech about how they should have reported the bullying and violence is never the answer
      2) Get sued by the bully’s parents
      3) Probably be arrested for assault

      • LanMan04 says:

        Well, this happened in the early 90s, so it’s not exactly ancient history. But it did happen off school grounds (I was within walking distance of school, and this kid regularly followed me on my way home to harass me).

        And the best part was how this fight was over so fast: We swung at me, missed, so I jumped on him, got him in a headlock, sat down on the ground (with his head essentially in my lap, face up) and proceeded to just pound on his face with my fist over and over again (like pounding on a table). It was pure bliss.

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          OK, I was going to give you grief because the kid in the picture is upset but not in immediate danger, but if someone’s following you, then jumps you and swings at you, it should be OK to use a weapon to get them to back off.

          • Coffee says:

            Agreed, Max…all the “If he walked up to me and gave me shit, I would have punched him in the face and kicked him in the stomach” comments smack of internet tough guy syndrome, but if you’re actually being physically assaulted away from help, you should defend yourself, decisively.

            • LanMan04 says:

              And see, when I think of bullying, I *automatically* think there’s already been some form of battery (even if minor) against the bullied party.

              Bullies enjoy violating your personal space and touching you, just to show you how powerless you are.

              And yes, my bully did follow me and did physically harass me (knock me down, throw contents of my backpack in snow/gutter-water, etc), but the only time he actually swung a real punch at me was when I stood my ground for the first time, and you see how that worked out for him.

              It probably also helped that I hit puberty early, so even though I was short and a nerd, some muscle mass was starting to appear that other guys didn’t quite have yet.

        • smhatter says:

          You sir, are my hero.

          I was bullied a bunch in grades 4, 5, and 6. After that it subsided because my older brother had a reputation (and not a very good one).

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          Just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story!

      • The Twilight Clone says:

        Don’t forget being arrested and detained by Homeland Security for making terroristic threats.

      • The Twilight Clone says:

        I’ll add this story too.

        I found out a couple years ago that one of my worst bullies in middle school died several years after that. I hated the guy so much, and the teachers hated him too.

        But when I found out that he died, and that he was hit by a train, I almost felt sorry for him. I don’t know why.

        • LanMan04 says:

          It’s because you’re a decent human being. It’s hard to relish the death of anyone you know on a personal basis (well, interact with anyway), even if they’re nasty.

          • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

            Well, I’m not. I heard only recently that one of my main elementary school bullies died within the last decade, so before his 40th birthday. I wouldn’t say I relish his death; I feel bad for his family, but not one bit for him.

      • shanelee24 says:

        That is a fault with the school system, and should be acknowledged. If anyone lays a hand on another person, that hand should be broken. Bullies get away with what they do because the school systems have policies in place that serve only to protect them, and not the victims. In the long run, it even serves the bully better to get a black eye due to his or her actions and realize early on that there are consequences for treating people without respect. No kid should ever be encouraged to shy away from confrontation when the consequences of that action would be more devastating for the victim, because the school systems simply cannot be relied upon to adequately protect our kids.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          This. If someone is just having words with you, walk it off.

          If someone lays a hand on you, remove it.

          If you’re nice, give them a choice between removing it from you, or having it removed from them.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      Make sure you tell them to meet you at the fighting place after school (every school has one) so you don’t run afoul of school officials.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Take self-defense classes such as Tae Kwon Do. Trust me it works. Once these goons find out you’re taking self-defense and once they find out you’ve just won a few matches, trophies, medals, etc., in competition they’ll leave you alone. Oh once in a while one of the goons will try to intimidate you but your self-confidence and skills will offset any of his verbal attacks. Also, one of the best tactics of a good instructor is to teach you patience and self-control. Once you find yourself sparring against anyone in your martial arts class who are ten years your senior, there ain’t no bully worth his weight that can do anything to you, that your buddy in class can do much better. Also, you get used to getting hit and kicked in the head, mid-body, and legs so much that most goons 1. have no idea how to properly attack (you realize this after about one month of traning and 2. goons cannot hit “on target” to do any damage. 3. Most threats are verbal which mean nothing. That’s why bullies are really a threat because they’re all words.

      Whatever the OP is talking about is pure hippie trash. It ain’t gonna you no good except get you beat up even more. lol.

      1. The war is your mind
      2. strap on the Kevlar shield of “thought stopping.”
      3. Hear the words, then think of three reasons why they’re not true.

      Is this a joke? LOLOLOLOLOL,,,that’s good for a laugh.

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      I had one bully throughout my school career, and it was for about 30 minutes in high school during a study hall. He started taunting me and messing with my stuff. I waited for the next moment where he reached out his hand, then I jumped out of my seat, grabbed the back of his neck, and forcefully bent him over so his face was almost at his knees. I held him there until he said “sorry”, then I let him go.

      Never had an issue after that. He even apologized a year later.

  4. harumph says:

    American schools operate on an unspoken principle that lets kids sort out their own hierarchy. I was pretty mercilessly bullied up until high school and the administration, all the way up through the principal, just ignored it for the most part. I learned that shutting up and not telling were the best ways to at least keep things to a minimum. This was before the internet too so there wasn’t that route. I just think schools try as hard as they can to sweep this stuff under the rug.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I always thought it was crazy how what would amount to a mugging or assault as an adult was just swept under the rug as “kids will be kids”.

    • catskyfire says:

      It’s pretty much the same at work. Only the bullies don’t hit you, they just ruin your projects.

    • Bagumpity says:

      Which is why the ONLY way to stop your kid from getting bullied in school is to:
      A) Document every case. Details, witnesses, times, venues, events, everything. Take pictures of every scrape, bruise, item of damaged property, etc.
      B) IMPORTANT: Make sure your kid is really the wronged party. News flash: sometimes kids lie about stuff. Even important stuff. They might get in a fight and claim to have been bullied when in fact they were the instigators. That’s why impartial witnesses are super important.
      C) Get a lawyer. Have him write the school a polite letter telling them that the next time your kid is bullied, your response will be to file a police report followed by a lawsuit against the school and every teacher working in it for failure to protect. In other words, implement your own zero-tolerance policy that involves the other kid going to jail and you becoming the sole beneficiary of the teachers’ union pension fund.

      Schools have very little incentive to stop bullying. Until you put some fear of lost funding in their hearts, they will continue to give the bullies stern warnings and hold more Planet Peace rallies. If they’re looking at a 7-figure payout and the increased insurance payments that go with it, THEN, they’ll take the little buggers out behind the woodshed.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        “In other words, implement your own zero-tolerance policy that involves the other kid going to jail and you becoming the sole beneficiary of the teachers’ union pension fund.”

        There’s actually a fund called the “tort fund” that schools can levy to pay for lawsuits, lawyers fees, and judgments. In my state, the tort fund levy is uncapped; the schools may levy at ANY rate necessary to pay lawsuit judgments. It doesn’t come out of the teachers’ pension fund; it come QUITE DIRECTLY out of taxpayer pockets.

        Also generally teachers’ pensions are a state-level issue while school district lawsuits come out of local taxes.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      The internet stuff — while awful to go through as a student — actually makes life a lot easier for administrators. Probably 1/3 of the suspensions and expulsions we process now have facebook pages attached to the file. The bullies post it RIGHT THERE ON THE INTERNET which makes it very, very easy to officially discipline them. There’s not a lot of he said/she said. Also kids post STUPID SHIT on the internet. Also I’m getting good at reading teen-speak.

      We have even caught a teacher-bully who was posting on facebook. Bullying students. Because sometimes people suck. But in the past I’m sure this teacher-bully would have gotten away with it in the classroom for years.

  5. Coffee says:
    • George4478 says:

      I was planning on linking the same article. I would say “great minds think alike” but the only person to ever accuse me of having a great mind was, well, me.

  6. dolemite says:

    I recall in high school…2 ‘cool’ guys sat next to me in a class. Now, I wasn’t normally bullied…but I was not really a part of any faction either. Well, I guess they figured they’d test the waters that day. Kept little jibes going, and I’d fire back. One finally got fed up and grabbed my books and tossed them out the window (we were on the 2nd floor). Funny thing, I grabbed his books and threw them out the window too. He kind of just stood there agape, a look of: “wait…I’m the cool guy, you can’t DO that!” Didn’t hear anything from them again after that.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I would have thrown HIM out the window with the cool line of “Go fetch my books for me!” then brush off my hands with the explanation, “No ticket.” or some pun about defenestration.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      I’da been all “Allow me to defenestrate,” and then when he was all like “What?” I’da been all *throws him out the window.* It woulda been a cool story.

  7. DrStarkweather says:

    Relevant to Consumerist because bullies take your lunch money?

  8. pop top says:

    You can take solace in the fact that bullies’ parents probably don’t love them, possibly abuse them and that they’ll never amount to anything in life!

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      And if they do amount to something, you can get in your Delorean and go back in time and make sure they don’t.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      Don’t be so sure of that. Odds are that said bully will end up as your boss or worse, CEO of your company. A study of few years ago found that a disturbing number of CEOs and other successful people were in fact sociopaths. Bullies convert their school yard antics in to successful business tactics(i.e. stealing peoples ideas, intimidating people around them in to getting their own way, abusing their way in to power, etc).

    • quail says:

      I call #MYTH on that one. It’s the boss picks on me so I kick the dog defense in action. Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes it’s not.

      I’ve met my fair share of people who in their thirties look back and confess that they were an @zzhat to some kid or other back in school. Either it was because others were doing it too or they did it for reasons they still can’t fathom today.

  9. FreeMarketFan says:

    I told myself that these people had issues and would amount to nothing in life. 10 year reunion is right around the corner…can’t wait to laugh at sports athlete guy that’s fat and out of shape making $15 an hour at dead-end job driving a piece of crap car.

    That being said, bullying sucks and it messes with you psychologically. Teachers don’t want to deal with it and administration just gives lip service and pretends to care, so the best way to get through it is remember that these people aren’t important. Also, something to tell kids growing up – the majority of your friends are friends of convenience. People grow older and grow apart, people you think you’ll be BFFs with are most likely going to fall out of your life at some point.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      I graduated in 2000, and … I never heard a word about my 10 year reunion, which should have been last year. My family is still in the same house. My brother is attending the school where I graduated. You’d think they’d have managed to reach me.

      • mandarynn says:

        If it means that much to you, then maybe be a little more proactive! You don’t always have to wait for other people to make things happen for you.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I ran into some of my high school classmates a few months ago, purely accidentally. For the most part, they are exactly just like they were in high school and instead of feeling some kind of victory that I changed for the better and they stayed the way they were (snobby, mean, etc.) I felt kind of sad and disappointed that they didn’t change. I think I hope that people learn from the errors of their youth and improve, but it doesn’t always happen.

    • the_Jenkins says:

      I was a part of the athletes group, but wasn’t a joke. Played baseball and had the time of my life. I never went to my 10 year because I think it’s pretty gay. I mean, they weren’t real friends, just childhood acquaintances that I don’t really care about anymore. Reunions are really just a cult following to try and show off that you’re better than someone else.

      For me, good job (over $20/hour), still in college, have a great wife, two amazing sons, 2 cars and a house that I’ve paid for on only my salary.

      • the_Jenkins says:

        Arg! Jock not joke…

      • pop top says:

        “I never went to my 10 year because I think it’s pretty gay.”

        You shouldn’t pretend you’re better than other people if you’re going to use gay as a pejorative.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        It’s great that you think you have a great life but you’d be a real-life better person if you didn’t use insults like “because I think it’s gay.”

      • JeremieNX says:

        Really? I guess you are somewhere in your 30s since you are past your 10 year reunion… “That’s pretty gay” is something I haven’t heard since middle school…. It wasn’t really used in high school…

        Grow up.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Reunions are just a profit maker these days, I didn’t go to mine, didn’t go to prom or homecoming either why bother going to the reunion. Half the people live out of town anyways and can’t make it in for the reunion. Screw paying $80 for a lame dinner with people I could care less about.

      Also Newsflash: Facebook is the new reunion, if I really want to contact someone from grade school or high school I will take it upon myself to do that and it doesn’t cost me any money to do that.

  10. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    My mom’s advice was “Ignore them and they’ll get bored and go away.”

    This is wrong. So wrong. Every bully I tried to ignore as a kid would only redouble their efforts to get a reaction out of me.

    I never really learned an effective method of dealing with bullies. I could never come up with a way to retaliate safely, as the few times a teacher got involved, things would invariably get worse.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      I got the same advice, with the same result. You know what I found effective? Getting into a school for smart kids. There weren’t any bullies or impenetrable cliques there.

      But I see a difference between the way bullying is handled now vs. 30 years ago. Then again, my daughter isn’t growing up where I grew up, so I’m not sure it’s attributable to a shift over time.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        Near the end of Elementary school, I was transferred to a magnet school into a class where 90% of the other students had been with the same group since elementary school.

        (In the 90’s, a “magnet school” was intended in part for gifted students, it would draw the “best” from other schools in the district, and essentially meant “stupid-long bus times and no real educational benefit.”).

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Having good friends who are also kind is important. Sometimes being a good friend is defending your friend or commiserating over something, but a kind person will encourage you to do good things rather than acting on feelings of retaliation.

      • cabjf says:

        The smaller the school the better. It’s harder to hide that kind of behavior in a crowded hallway or locker room when there is no crowd.

        Plus, when you’re talking about a private school, it usually means that parents are more involved or at least interested in their child’s schooling. After all, they did spend extra money on top of their school taxes to go there.

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          It wasn’t private, it was more a city-wide magnet school, like raydee mentions below.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          Neither of those statements is necessarily true; large schools can often provide a “niche” for each student, where small schools can clique up and exclude particular students entirely. Private schools can be miserably exclusionary and can be bully-havens — because the bullies’ parents are paying too.

          The atmosphere of the school and the attitude of the adults — parents and teachers both — makes a real difference.

    • cabjf says:

      The problem is that advice for dealing with bullies wrongfully assumes that all bullies are the same. The guy out to prove himself to all his friends is going to react differently than the guy who is reacting to the abuse he receives at home and both would react differently to the slightly psychopathic guy who gets kicks making other people miserable.

    • Herbz says:

      Effective method now is if they lay a finger on you (and you have witnesses), you go to the police and charge them with assault.

      Isn’t as funny anymore when they get hauled off by cops in the middle of school.

    • tungstencoil says:

      Agree. Terribly picked on growing up; “ignore” never worked. I was tormented daily. I’m actually kind of surprised I never went on a killing/suicide rampage, and have turned out relatively well-adjusted.

      My solace is that now I see a lot of those morons bagging my groceries. High school was their glory days, and I’m still getting into my stride in our 40s. Geeks win in the long run.

      If I had to do it all over again, I would probably just try to beat the crap out of them, consequences and (my) broken limbs be damned.

    • Potted-Plant says:

      When I got picked on in middle school and came home with a black eye, my mom asked me what I did to deserve it and my dad laughed at me (their parenting philosophy could be summed up as “No complaining, walk it off, solve your own problems”). Started studying Judo- I got knocked out, strangled out, pinned, thrown, you name it. I was the only teenager in the club, so I worked out with the grownups. My skill level went up and discovered I enjoyed the competition, especially chokes and strangles. Once word got out, I was left alone for the most part.

  11. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    There are different kinds of bullying, too. A black eye heals in time but people calling you names for years can really stick with you. And different kinds of bullies, too. Some of them will They have a lot of fun just spreading rumors about you or talking about you, and you know they’re responsible, but you just feel like you can’t do anything about it.

    It’s helpful to have friends, though it just kind of perpetuates the whole “talking about others behind their backs” thing, I think. Ideally, no one should be doing it, but we all do.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I’m fat, have no self-confidence, and did really really STUPID shit in College because of bullies, and because I thought it would make me popular. Yay.

  12. Bativac says:

    I have a small browser window open and was sorely disappointed to discover this article had nothing to do with improving my bullfighting skills.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You too? I read this as “3 Tips For Fighting Bulls” at first.

      • failurate says:

        1. Try to make yourself appear as big as possible. Unzip your jacket, spread it out with your arms.
        2. Make a lot of loud aggressive sounding noises.
        3. Roll up into a fetal position. Be certain to tuck your chin into your chest and cover the back of your neck. Try to keep your back to the bull, look rock-like.

  13. Razor512 says:

    the op does not understand what real bullying is

    in school where it will happen due to forced interaction, you are not getting teased, you are getting hit or your things are getting broken, and ignoring it will not make it go away, as the bully also has the human ability to understand a situation from someone else’s position.
    they know when they are hurting you, and you don’t need to tell them that they are

    when I was in elementary school, it took hitting the bully with a chair to end the bullying.

    if you are currently in k-12 and you are being bullied, complain to the school and give them a chance to fix it, if they fail to do so, then do your best to ensure that the bully gets hit with something hard that is made with a mixture of steel, wood, and ceramic

    one dose is generally good enough but some bullies may require multiple doses.

    bullies don’t like targets that hit back as the bullying process no longer becomes all pleasure. This will quickly get them to move onto someone else or quit altogether if enough people do prescribe them with a dose of furniture.

    If by any chance you get in trouble with the school, you can turn the tabled by showing then that they had many chances to fix the problem and failed to do so.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I don’t know if I’m understanding fully what you’re saying. There are different kinds of bullying, but just because it’s not physical doesn’t mean it’s not bullying. Teasing is bullying. A person who does something consistently to someone else and with malice is bullying. You’re right that they know they’re hurting you, but there are different ways to hurt someone.

      I know it’s something that is more or less accepted or quietly condoned (especially for boys) but I’m not sure that hitting a bully in retaliation is the right answer.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        No, emotional abuse is all in your head, so it doesn’t exist; Razor512 said so.

        (Other points were made well, Razor, so please don’t take my snark personally. My bullying was all psychological, either via words or by violating my person, personal space, or property in a way that was hard to prove. Something that could plausibly be explained innocuously if they were caught. The physical pain was no worse than I would have taken from a friend if we were playing around, it was about power and humiliation.)

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I think a downside to that strategy is that in many instances, bullies have a lot of experience in fighting, and in many instances have nothing to lose by retaliating with extreme violence. They have fucked up home lives, know how to take a punch to the gut or face from their old man, don’t do well in school, and all of their “respect” is based on tormenting others. Revenge is a huge motivator, especially when someone isn’t afraid of being expelled or going to JH.

      I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood in Pittsburgh and can’t think of a single instance where someone successfully stood up to a bully. I don’t know what the solution is but there are definitely consequences to responding with proportionate violence.

    • Razor512 says:

      also wanted to add, I am not recommending that you fight them, that often does not work, I am saying that you need to give them one really hard hit when they don’t expect it, and give them an uncertainty of never knowing what will happen to them when they bully someone. They have to get a sense that they are not just at risk of retaliation while the bullying is in progress but they can be attacked at any moment when they are least prepared and the attack won’t be the start of a fight, it will end it with a hit so hard, they won’t be fighting any time soon.

  14. KainCooper says:

    I don’t know any legal methods to deal with bullies. Almost all of them can just make things worse. I hit mine in the balls with a mallet from shop class and let him know I’d do it again. You need to do it alone though because if other people see there is a chance they won’t let it go. Another one I threatened to have his sister beat up by some girls I knew if he kept messing with me. That would have backfired if he didn’t give a crap.

    At my last job there was a guy who called this other guy chubs. He was also a dick. We had an office party that had alcohol and we reported his plates and model for drunk driving after he left. He did get pulled over and almost got fired but didn’t because he enrolled in AA or something. That guy still got called chubs but at least we caused him to get hundreds in legal fees.

  15. Bsamm09 says:

    It’s easy…well easy to say. Stand up for yourself. The first time a bully picks on you, fight back. If you run away or tell an authority figure, you can guarantee you will make yourself a target for a long while.

    They may not be able to get you in school if you tell on them but there’s ample time to find you outside of school and they generally live near you.

  16. MrEvil says:

    I never got bullied after 7th grade. By then I was so far ahead of most of the other kids in height and weight nobody dared to figure out my buttons for fear they’d press the wrong ones. When you’re a freshman in High School and 6′ 3″ tall and pushing 250 pounds nobody fucks with you.

    • The Twilight Clone says:

      And I figure that a big reason I was bullied was that I didn’t attain five feet in height until the 7th grade. I was small and scrawny.

      Being a four-eyed nerd didn’t help.

  17. bruce9432 says:

    Government schools

  18. The Twilight Clone says:

    I will admit that I had good luck going to the authorities — in my experience, a counselor and a vice-principal.

    In fact, one of the bullies (a vicious god damn loser two years older than everyone else in the class) begged me not to report him. But I really feared for my physical safety and ducked out of the class (an asinine shop class) and ran to the vice-principal. I think it took him by surprise to see a student walk in and ask him to do his job, but to his credit, he dealt with this asshole. And the guy didn’t bother me anymore.

    Unfortunately I had to do this with a few other people too. But again, they left me alone after that. I did have to call the cops on one guy who kept harassing me over the phone. He mocked me afterwards during class but eventually got over it. That was in the 10th grade, which I think was the last year I really had to deal with these scumbags.

  19. Cat says:

    I was picked on – until I started beating the crap out of anyone that gave me shit, no matter how big they were. Seeing their own blood smeared on 15 feet of gym lockers was the only thing these guys understood.

    I may not have won every fight, but I earned some respect, and won the war.

    //I hate fighting.

    • bben says:

      Yup, all through school, and I attended 10 Elementary, 1 Jr High and 5 High schools. I was always the small skinny new guy with glasses. I learned early that If I didn’t want to be bullied, I was going to get in a fight the first week at a new school. I didn’t win many fights, But rarely had to fight again at that school. Once the bullies know that you are not going to just take it, and are willing to trade bruises for black eyes to prove it, they move on to someone else.

      Then my last move, My junior year of high school, I went back to a city I had lived in many years before. The class bully was a kid I had fought with in the first grade. He remembered me and told the other hoodlums to lay off of me if they didn’t want to get beat up.

  20. Jack Doe says:

    /begin not so CSB

    Back when I was a young buck (5th grade, won’t say how long ago that was) I was a skinny little puke with too much time on my hands. Constantly physically and verbally bullied, school didn’t do much to protect me. Hell, even calling the police acheived zero. My Dad said “fight back, but be smart.” I had a fairly well stocked chemistry set, including some white fuming nitric acid. Started carrying two small amber glass bottles of it. One day, one of the bigger punks came up and started doing the full “nerd, geek, dork” push-pull-punch routine. I pulled out the bottle and said “watch this” and broke it on the desk in front of me. Sizzle, pop, as hardwood and steel started dissolving right in front of him. Pulled out the second one and said next one goes on you. Kid backed the fuck up real quick, and for the next two weeks, any time he saw me I’d pull the bottle out of my pocket. He, and most of the others, never did try anything again and I’d earned a reputation as “that crazy science kid.” Best part of it was that the teacher who’s room all this took place in just moved the damaged desk to the back of the room. Not a word was said (so the staff apathy seems to have been well rounded.)

    /end CSB
    //not a troll, not Bel Air

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Exactly. You don’t have to fight well; just fight -smart-.

      • nishioka says:

        Smart’s the way to go. I spent about two weeks in 9th grade getting shit from a kid in my class who was twice my size (he was on the varsity football team on size alone). Finally I’d had enough and egged him on just enough to provoke a hilariously violent response from him right in front of the algebra teacher. I might have been the one who was hauled to the nurse’s office for a concussion check after being shoved into a pile of desks, but I didn’t see the other kid for weeks afterwards and when I finally did see him again he didn’t so much as look at me.

  21. George4478 says:

    My only bullying came from a kid on the bus who would draw on my shirt with a pen whenever he had the chance. Complaining to the bus driver didn’t help, complaining to the principal didn’t help, nor did my parent’s complaining to the principal have any effect.

    Know what helped? Busting the kid’s nose the next time he did it. NOW the school is interested – interested in punishing me. It was wonderful to see my parent’s rise to the occasion.

    • Kaleey says:

      Ahh yes. The problem with fighting back is that the VICTIM usually gets in trouble. Hopefully your parents also documented some of these complaints – it gives you better grounds for fighting back if you can say “I didn’t have a choice”

      • Kuri says:

        That is another form of bullying, getting your target to throw the first punch.

      • varro says:

        Agree with most of the other people who said “Fight ’em!”, and if you’re smaller or lack confidence, take martial arts classes.

        I had problems in three grades – 4th, 6th, and 8th, the second-highest (or lower of two in a two-grade school), 6th in particular.

        The 6th grade bullying stopped after two fights with members of the bully gang; the first was inconclusive, but told the one kid I meant business. The second one ended with me pummeling him on the ground in front of half the school getting their books to go home – he tried grabbing me, but I wriggled out of my sweater like a hockey player and ended up pounding away at him in my undershirt until the teachers broke it up.

        Any way, you have to stand up to the bullies; the teachers and administrators are not around to see the bullying, whether physical or verbal.

  22. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    I was bullied by Sprint… and Best Buy… how do I fight them?

  23. Buckus says:

    What if the Bully is Bank of America, and his buddy over there with the mean look is the Federal Government?

  24. SilverBlade2k says:

    I’ve said for years, the only way to ‘really’ stop bullying is to force the school to adhere to their School policy, ya know, the one that says “This school has the responsibility to ensure everyone has a safe learning environment” ?

    If bullying occurs, they are failing to adhere to their own policy, and I always said, in order to top bullying: Sue the school and the parents of the bully. A 6-figure payout from the school and some money from the bully’s parents should send a message to future bullies.

    • Potted-Plant says:

      That’s assuming your parents give a $h!+ and are willing to go to bat for you. If not, what’s Plan B?

  25. quail says:

    The Moth Podcast ran a bullying story this past week. The kids being picked upon snuck into a convenience store and stole a gay magazine. They saved their money to get the magazine and a vibrator mailed to the kid’s home. The kid’s dad beat him so badly that he wound up in the hospital and rumor of being gay swept through the school.

    It solved the guy’s problem with being bullied but made him feel horrible to this day for what happened.

  26. momtimestwo says:

    I volunteer in my daughters middle school, making copies and other little things like that. the copier is next to the police officers office and the guidance office. The past month I’ve seen every type of bully sent there, from one kid insulting another’s family, to another kid who just started beating up on another. The parents came in for the last one, and the dad was screaming at the officer because the parent refused to believe that Little Johnny could possibly be a bully.

    When the officer shows them a tape with Little Johnny walking up to another kid start hitting him, the parent starts yelling about why didn’t the school prevent Little Johnny from doing it? Luckily since every inch of the school is monitored (except the bathrooms) they can and do suspend the little monsters.

    Our school does take it seriously, but they can only do so much. I know bullying has been going on forever, but it doesn’t mean its ok. The change has to start in the home, but you have idiot people breeding, and when a kid grows up in a bad environment I expect the apple not to fall far from the tree. The school can enforce the rules, but without parents supporting the school, Little Johnny isn’t going to care or change.

    BTW, I was bullied in middle school, badly, because I wore glasses. I got kicked and punched and tormented on a daily basis. Back in the 70’s the school didn’t care. I had to be taken out and put in a different school. And when I reached high school, I became the bully. I’m not proud of it, in fact I feel like scum when I think about it. I see her name on Classmates and I’ve been tempted for years to send a message and apologize. I don’t know why I’m afraid to.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      The cameras are a good idea, this way if something happens there is no question who did it and its not just he said she said since it has been recorded. As far as I know there aren’t cameras in any of the schools here, but this is probably a big step to stopping the bullying.

      This could be used to identify problem kids and who is being picked on too, if someone is being picked on constantly in the halls it is caught on camera (hopefully the cameras can pick up words) and then someone can intervene before the bullied kid or teenager commits suicide.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I for one would love an apology from one of my bullies. I’ll never get it though. Mine were the type that were not beaten or abused, but were rich and popular and special and enjoyed provoking the nerdy glasses-wearing kid with the bad temper. I threw a few punches and books in retaliation and I can tell you it’s true; the victim always gets in trouble and the bullies rarely do.

      If you want to do it, do it; just don’t expect anything from it. Do it because it will make YOU feel better, not to be BFFs with the person or even get a response. I would also love to apologize to a kid I was mean to during that time, because I was so miserable and our parents were trying to push us together as friends. She was a nice girl, but I resented the pushing and took it out on her. I feel bad about it to this day. Dana from Lamar, if you’re out there I am very sorry I was such a dickbrain and I hope you can forgive me.

  27. Skandrannon says:

    3 things…

    • Dave on bass says:

      Fingers, too. I had a bully in jr. high and it didn’t help that he lived in my neighborhood and rode my bus. But one time, he got in my face with his crackhead-thin index finger, and I couldn’t do anything at all but grab it and wrench it 90 degrees as hard as I could.

      High school wasn’t much better, but I did the bare minimum necessary to keep douchebags off me and nothing more. I didn’t break 5 feet tall until 11th grade and my friends were the usual melange of misfits, so in my prepster school where everyone was trying so hard to be 90210 we were huge targets. Although I did, in my senior year, end up dating one of the rich/popular girls, if only for a few months…

  28. Slatts says:

    In 8th grade there was a popular “mean” girl (named “Dolly”, of all names) who lead a group of mean girls and even some guys in giving me a ration of sh*t every day in history class. I lacked the social skills and clique connections to fight back non-violently, and she knew I couldn’t hit her or retaliate physically, as I would’ve done with a male bully, because she was a girl.

    At least that’s what she thought. One day after months of this, I’d had enough, so I took my heavy textbook, calmly walked over to her desk where she sat smirking at me, and then clocked her upside the head with the book as hard as I could. The mean girl instantly burst into tears.

    Luckily, a textbook upside the head, especially toward the top of the head above the hairline, doesn’t leave much of a mark, else I’m sure I’d have been expelled or even arrested rather than given in-school suspension for one day (first and only time). And yeah, I probably shouldn’t have hit a girl. But it sure shut that b*tch up, and she never again so much as made eye contact with me.

  29. Mr Grey says:

    I was bullied as a freshman by a senior, after I got the better of him at football practice.

    One day he pushed me too far, and I punched him in the jaw, stunned him, and didn’t let up until he was on the ground curled up in a ball.

    I was a big kid, a bit overweight, glasses, in advanced placement classes, an easy target. My father told me to he would never be upset if I was defending myself, but I should never start it.

  30. snoebay says:

    Used to get bullied some in grammar school but I just tossed it off, Things got really bad my freshman year in high school.Tormented all the time by the seniors.One day at lunch one of them sat down across from me at lunch and started in. I was in a bad mood that day anyhow so I stood up called him a @#***&* and wrapped my metal lunch tray around his head meatloaf and all! He got 11 stitches,I got a 3 day suspension and I was never bothered again.

  31. jefeloco says:

    Hire the bully’s childhood bully to come and beat him up, but only if said meta-bully brings a boombox and plays an operatic interpretation of the meta-bully’s name.

  32. Span_Wolf says:

    Isolation? What about bullies that lap up the attention of a public spectacle and want to look cool in front of all of their friends?

  33. powdered beefmeat says:

    I was picked on once in high school. My reaction wasn’t the best but it was effective. Every day for about a week I coated his locker handle with Vaseline or Vicks Vapor Rub.

  34. evilpete says:

    doesn’t this belong in lifehack instead of consumerist ( or is there a consumer spin on the article I missed )

  35. Nighthawke says:

    I clocked a bully with a textbook right hook to the jawline. He went down like a dropped hot potato. I never got scolded at, just asked how I managed such a fantastic punch. I just replied “I watched boxing on TV and learned from the best.” And the best at the time was Ali himself.

  36. sendbillmoney says:

    Natasha Deen may be the recipient of multiple professional degrees, but I’m the recipient of multiple @$$kickings. Bullies can’t be bargained with. They can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      They will if you lure them into a hydraulic press and say “You’re terminated, fucker!” right before you hit the button.

  37. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I had the misfortune of being the plain, large, stocky girl with glasses, and in academic classes. I was also in band. School was OK for the most part, except for the group of “mean girls” in my class, and gym class. Our gym teacher liked to line us up for roll call smallest to biggest. Yes, I was always at the end of the line. And I’m not talking huge here…I was 5′ 8″ tall and wore a size 14.

    I wore nice clothes, but not really trendy stuff…you know back in the ’70’s there were some weird trends, and my mom didn’t always buy the newest stuff. So the mean girls made it a point to make fun of my clothes, and my parents because we weren’t rich like them, and my hair…it was mousy, you know, and on and on. And I had to put up with it because if I would have punched one of them, I would have gotten into trouble and sent to detention. Going to a teacher would have been pointless, as their parents were big shots in town, and they could do no wrong.

    Once I developed a sty in my eye…and the lead mean girl made sure to point it out to everyone, and declare that I was a sty in the eye of the world. I have never forgotten that.

    After 30 years, I still wonder if I should have popped her in the mouth. Maybe she would have shut up. But maybe her parents would have sued my parents. It’s hard to tell. My only consolation is that I ran into a classmate recently who saw her, and remarked that she looked like she was ridden hard and put away wet, and looked at least 20 years older than she really is. I smiled inside.

  38. greyfots says:

    i had to reply to their comments with fists ,
    after they see the first one running with blood they start getting weary of how to approach you,
    then some time later i became friends with them, sucky part is that they started to blame crap on me because i was the one that could move people after that i started chopping heads by framing them and telling on them ,
    after HS a lot of people respected me because it was either we sorted it out on our own terms or id make it miserable for them

  39. Kuri says:

    Far as I heard there were supposed to be anti-bullying laws on the books but some people protested and got the attempt shut down.

  40. trencherman says:

    I always hated it when people would excuse bullies, saying that they had “low self-esteem.” I’ve always thought that their self-esteem was too high–their mothers probably told these loser kids how great they were, and unfortunately they believed it.

  41. trencherman says:

    My favorite bully follow-up story: my high school friend Sandy was bullied by a guy a few times in high school (and he was not usually a target). About fifteen years later, the former bully applied to a job at the company where Sandy worked. Sandy, who was the supervisor of the person who was actually hiring for the position, performed the interview himself. He asked if the guy remembered him from high school, and then held up the guy’s resume and tore it in half. You never know when being a quatschkopf is going to catch up with you.

  42. dvdchris says:

    Really, Consumerist, what the hell?

  43. Carlee says:

    I remember seeing in one of those “what would you do?” segments on ABC where they had two actors pretend to bully another kid (who was also an actor) and see how the other unsuspecting kids reacted – now, obviously the “bullies” were actors and might react differently than real bullies would, but most of the time, if one of the other kids spoke up in defense of the victim, other kids would speak up (and tell the bullies to stop).

    Seems like it would be a good course of action, esp since adults can’t be around 24/7, and I imagine “tattling” on a bully wculd intensify the bullying. Unfortunately. Of course, the kids on the sidelines might be hesitant about speaking up against the bully for fear of becoming the next victim.

    I’ve always thought I was pretty lucky for not having bullies at my school (my sis says I was probably just oblivious). Maybe it was because I was in the gifted program and the kids in the program just didn’t care about stuff like that? It’s not like we were all the identical – there were some kids who were more popular, some that were very bookish, some that were jocks, one that wouldn’t talk, some that were into Star Trek – but everyone just did their own thing and didn’t worry about others. And the kids not in the gifted program were too busy bullying each other to deal with us?

    The only exception was when I was in the 7th grade and a classmate of mine, Jennifer, was bullied by a couple of girls in the “regular” program. We all had PE during the same time, and we were in glee together as well. They would taunt her for being wimpy (she was somewhat tall, thin, bony, pale alabaster skin, blond hair, spoke softly, etc). They even threw a thick history book at her head while we were in the locker room. I remember not knowing what to do. I mean, from tv shows and books I read, I knew that we should tell a teacher. But which teacher? And how would I say this? It was easier (though stupidly naive) to just wish that the bullying would stop.

    Luckily, the bullying did stop after a couple of weeks. I guess Jennifer told one of the female PE teachers or something because those girls never bothered her again.

    I hate it when people pick on others, and as I remember how helpless I felt back then, so nowadays I speak up when I can.

  44. RosevilleWgn says:

    I found that getting fed up one day and lifting the main antagonist off the ground by his neck stopped the problems. Well, with the bullies. The school staff weren’t nearly as understanding. :P

  45. maruawe says:

    Get a 2×4 or equivalent ……. When I was in junior high school. I was bullied and skipped school to avoid bullies, then I decided to do something about it. so The three who did the bulling liked the idea of running roughshod over everybody….. I decided that I was not going to take it any more
    and every time that I saw one of them anywhere I would cold clot them ,front, back,side didn’t matter,I would hit them as hard as I could, after about a week another guy started to do the same thing, then another. Now it was three to three and they give up and ran every time they saw one of us. We told the principal what had transpired and were suspended for three days ,but had library privileges during the three days to complete our lessons during the suspension.
    This solution may not be the best for everyone and I am not condoning violence. But the fact is that any one can stand up for themselves if you make up your mind to do so… Moaning and groaning is not the solution. you have to do something about it, It will make you stronger and
    and more self reliant to know that you do not have to put up with it….

  46. smitty225 says:

    I got bullied in middle school. Ignoring doesn’t work. I fought. A lot. Won some and lost some. I thought the bullying was over when I got to high school. But it wasn’t long before someone decided I was a good target. I was short, skinny, and kind of isolated. The kid kept threatening to beat me up after school. I waited until I saw him walking up a staircase. Grabbed him from behind by the legs, dragged him down the stairs, threw him in a headlock and bashed his head into a door until he became limp. He never bothered me again. Word got around that I wasn’t an easy target, and I was never bothered again.

  47. JustMe2011 says:

    Just from what I read here, it sounds like this article was written by someone who has never dealt with a bully. Or maybe they have, but their version of a bully is someone who accidentally bumped into them and didn’t say they were sorry loud enough.

  48. Rob O. says:

    Bear in mind that in most U.S. schools, both parties involved in a fight are expelled. So if you give your child permission to defend him/herself, you’ll likely be dealing with an expulsion shortly thereafter. Perhaps it’s worth it still but just be prepared.

    In addition to dealing with the current situations, perhaps we’d also be very wise to consider some of the key underlying factors that are creating or encouraging the bullying epidemic:


  49. Uncle Nutsy says:

    here’s how I dealt with a bully when I was in school.

    I found out what class he was in, pulled him out of it, lifted him up off his feet, slammed him into the lockers and spoke these words: “if you ever torment me again i’ll beat the crap out of you”. Buddy boy never messed with me again.

  50. speckles says:

    As an adult, I have gotten bullied quite a bit recently in my tennis group. I would shout back at the other guys who would start screaming at me when they disagreed with my scoring, or when I made a simple mistake like retrieving a ball behind their court. Shouting back and swearing at them never worked.

    What did work was to walk right up in front of the bully, look him directly in the eyes, and say nothing. The bully would yell and scream at me. He would call me every name in the book. But I never flinched. Eventually the bully would get tired and walk away. And everyone else out there got to see how out of control those bullies were. I gained the respect of everyone else by not showing fear and not running away but also by not reacting in the way the bullies wanted me to.

    The bullies don’t yell and scream at me anymore. If they every do, I am prepared.