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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Schellander

How to deal with direct bullying

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

Being bullied is hurtful, no matter how tough we are.

Bullying can be either direct or indirect. Direct bullying is verbal or physical, such as teasing, name calling, hitting, pushing, stealing, and pranking. Indirect bullying can be online and in person, for example, starting rumours or gossiping.

The way an interaction transpires can be shaped by our response. When we react to a bully in a way that shows we have been hurt, we are actually telling them “you win!”. Teasing will then become more enjoyable for the bully, making it more likely for this to repeatedly occur.

When you were younger, you may have been told to “just ignore them”, “walk away” or “tell a teacher” about it. However, these strategies just don’t work! If we ignore, walk away, or tell someone about the bully, we can look weak and we may be teased even more.

So how should we handle it?

Don’t show that you’re upset

o This is what the teaser wants, and you’ll make it fun for them

Don’t tease them back

o This will escalate the teasing and the bully will try to retaliate

Don’t banter (tease or joke back) with them

o This will escalate the teasing

o The bully’s behaviour will get worse

o The bullying will be relentless

We want to de-escalate the situation so the bully knows that we are not bothered by them. Here are some short comebacks that can support you when you are responding to a bully.

Once you have used one of these, walk away.

  • Whatever!

  • So what?

  • Big deal!

  • Who cares?

  • Yeah and?

  • And your point is?

  • Am I supposed to care?

  • Is that supposed to be funny?

  • Tell me when you get to the funny bit

  • Anyway….(then you walk away)

Make sure that your response makes sense. It’s a good idea to have a few memorised so you can select the most appropriate one for the situation.

If you’re not ready to say anything, here are some non-verbal responses to bullying.

  • Shrug your shoulders

  • Shaking your head no

  • Roll your eyes

Please be mindful that the teasing may get worse before it gets better, or the teaser might try again in the future, so don’t give up on your comebacks. We also want to be mindful not to use comebacks with people in authority such as the police.

If bullying persists or is of a threatening or dangerous nature, please contact someone who can support you further in addressing and dealing with this.

We hope this has been useful for you and you can “comeback” to read another blog shortly.



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