Bullying happens when people are repeatedly mean to us (teasing, name calling, excluding, poking, pushing, etc.) and usually continues if we don’t know how to navigate the situation.

We all want to be treated nicely by others. We’re happy when people in our lives treat us well, and we get upset when they’re mean.

It would be terrific if everyone was always nice to us. Unfortunately, life isn’t like that. All of us will be treated badly at times.

Sometimes people insult us, spread nasty rumors about us, knock our books out of our hands, push us into lockers in the hallway or write terrible things about us on the internet or in text messages. If people do these things to us once in a while, it usually doesn’t bother us too much. But sometimes people do these kinds of things almost every day, and that can make us feel miserable.

We may think they do these things because something is terribly wrong with us. We may worry and begin to have trouble paying attention in class or falling asleep at night. We may stop smiling and may even feel like locking ourselves in our room and not seeing anyone. Some people even feel like hurting themselves or ending their lives in response to the way they feel.

Sometimes adults can intervene and stop a bullying situation, but too often they can’t, and even when they try to help, the situation can get worse. The kids may increase their aggressive behavior even more and tell everyone we are “snitches” for turning the adults against them. Schools are required by law today to comply with “anti-bullying” policies, but bullying continues to be a common problem in schools, even with these laws in place.

The good news is that the person who has the best ability to change how social aggression affects you is YOU!

The key is to understand why kids pick on you and how to handle it–without asking for anyone else’s help. You must become more resilient. This means that negative behavior will bounce off you and won’t make you miserable. You’ll become happier and more confident when you discover you have the choice and power to not get upset.

It’s important to realize that not all mean behavior is bullying. Some behaviors are crimes; for instance, when people purposely hurt your body or possessions, or prevent you from living your life the way you wish. When they break your bones or knock out your teeth, steal or break your computer or cell phone, sexually assault you, spread lies that can get you kicked out of school or fired from a job, they are committing crimes and they should not get away with them. That’s when we should inform the authorities, such as the school administration or the police.

Almost always, when we are being bullied, people are doing ordinary mean things to us, such as insults or spreading rumors. By choosing not to let it hurt you, you can change the outcome and weight of the situation without the help of authorities.

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