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4 Student Tips for Defending Against Bullying

Mar 18, 2019 by

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Bullying has taken a tragic turn for the worse in recent years. What once involved teasing a fellow classmate for not having designer sneakers has morphed into pressuring students to harm themselves. Schools across the country have adopted anti-bullying campaigns to help inform and protect students against verbal and physical attacks. There are certain self-defense skills all students and young adults need in life. Defending themselves against a potential attacker on campus, defensive driving when encountering road rage, and even defending themselves against hackers and predators online. It’s unfortunate that we need to add “defend yourself from each other” to the list, but it’s a sad reality that needs addressing. Here are 4 ways to help students defend against bullying and identify and report a problem.

1. Confident Body Language

Gaining confidence is something all young students struggle with at one time or another. Students inevitably experience several “awkward” stage in their development where they feel like they simply don’t fit in. But projecting confidence is an underappreciated tool when it comes to defending against bullying. Bullies, by nature, attack a seemingly weak target. They go after students with low self-esteem. Students that portray an air of confidence are much less likely to be victimized. Body language is a powerful tool in portraying this confidence. Standing and walking with good posture, chest out, strong shoulders, and a smile are great ways to show you’re not going to be intimidated. Even if students aren’t feeling at their best, they should “fake it ‘til they make it”, because sometimes, all it takes is the appearance of self-doubt to attract negative attention.

2. Protection in Numbers

Whether a student is in elementary school or college, it’s always best to travel in groups. While some bullies will have a “posse” or group that travels with them, they’re much less likely to target a student if they’re surrounded by others. Walking alone puts a student at risk for a calculated attack. If a student is walking outside of the school, encourage them to do so with friends. College students should practice safety when walking on campus at night. Knowing basic self-defense skills can also help prepare children to protect themselves in case of an emergency. The buddy system should be taught young and reinforced in older grade levels.

3. Don’t Be Too Proud to Walk Away

Just because a student knows how to physically defend themselves, doesn’t mean they should. There is no shame in walking away from a negative situation. Some students fear ridicule if they don’t stand up to a bully. While they may be teased for a short period of time, being labeled a “fighter”, getting suspended, or creating a bad reputation for themselves will last much longer. Although it’s a corny saying that many parents throw around, it does take a bigger person to walk away from a fight or situation. Teaching students how to identify a situation that is quickly escalating can help them walk away before things get out of hand. Signs things are taking a turn for the worse include the bully getting increasingly angry, clenching their fists or using threatening language. If the student is unable to get away, they should attract as much attention as possible. Adults or older students within earshot can offer help. Also, the attention may cause the bully to retreat to avoid getting into trouble.

4. Speak Up

The most important thing students can do to defend themselves and others from bullying is to speak up. Bullies prey on students who are timid, quiet, and seemingly too weak or scared to defend themselves. Even mild signs of bullying should be taken seriously. Threatening language, a push or shove in the hallway, and teasing are all cause for concern. Most bullying victims stay quiet out of fear of making the situation worse. Empower students by telling them they don’t deserve to be scared or made to feel bad by another student. Whenever possible, address the situation anonymously. This may help the victim feel more comfortable about coming forward.

Bullying is an epidemic across the country that can have devastating results. Adopting a no-tolerance policy for bullying and empowering students to find their voice can help protect them against negative talk and behavior. The more knowledge they have and resources, the more apt they are to defend themselves and others.

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