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Take a stand: How to deal with bullies

 
Last week, a video showing the bullying of a bus driver in New York went viral. This week, the woman who endured the cruel taunts from a group of teen boys, Karen Klein, is proud to be able to share her story in hopes that’ll open people’s eyes to the situation she—and many, many others—has faced.

 

 

Sometimes, we think about bullying as being just limited to school, to the tween and teen years. But Karen’s story shows that bullies can target others of any age, any gender, any status. Is it ever justified? Absolutely not. That’s why it’s up to us to take a stand. Here’s what to do when you see someone being bullied.

 

Understand what’s going on

People bully others because they feel insecure about themselves. Pointing out someone else’s flaws, real or imagined, makes them feel superior. This isn’t an excuse—it’s just the way a bully’s mind works.

 

Bullies work by themselves or in a group, as in Karen’s case. When it’s a bunch of people ganging up on one or a few others, the bullying often becomes a case of one-up-manship. Karen has said that the kids who taunted her were perfectly fine one-on-one; they only became troublesome when in a group. Several have since apologized, regretting their actions once they were forced to understand how their actions made Karen feel.

 

Speak up

Before you rush in to diffuse a situation, think about the dynamics, first. If you don’t feel safe taking a stand, go find help, first.  If you feel comfortable stepping in, though, speak confidently, hold your head high and calmly suggest that the bully back off and stop saying such hurtful things. Don’t offer up a challenge or an insult—that won’t help.

 

Tell someone

A lot of times, people who are bullied won’t say anything to anyone else. Maybe they’re ashamed, maybe they think no one will care, maybe they tried telling someone and that person didn’t listen. Whatever the reason is, it shouldn’t stop you from telling someone with authority about the situation. And if that person won’t listen? Tell someone else. Keep up until you get the help you need to make the bullies stop.

 

Support the victim

Even the strongest person can be broken by a bully. That’s why they need a friend or five or hundreds. Quietly show the person in question that you care about them and appreciate them. Be genuinely friendly. Stop to make conversation. If it’s someone in your class, invite them to sit with you at lunch or join you for a group movie outing. If it’s someone older than you, be your usual nice self. Offer your assistance, a smile, a kind word—anything. It’s in your power to make people realize how wonderful and valuable they are, so use it, girl.
 
 

BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 6/25/2012 5:13:00 PM

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