How to cope with bullies at school

Students should feel comfortable to talk to teachers if and when there is a problem. File.

During high school, there is a lot to experience— moments in life that could break or make a person. Many things happen, seeing as we spend most of the time there, like, this is where we solve our first mathematical problem, or have our first dispute with a peer. Which brings me to one of the gravest issues teenagers face in school—bullying.

There are numerous reasons why teenagers are constantly bullied in schools. One may be bullied because they are different—socially or intellectually. One could also be bullied simply because the offender has self-esteem issues, or perhaps experienced bullying as well.

During my time in high school, I was not necessarily bullied, at least not physically. However, at some point, there’s always someone who will never miss the opportunity to make another feel ‘small’ or feel like they have no worth. Especially if they too were made to feel that way by someone else. I believe that one way or the other, we have been made to belittle ourselves, at least once.

One of the ways one can cope with bullying of any sort in school is by understanding the bully to begin with. Find out what is really making them channel their negative energy towards you. At times, bullies use it as a distraction, or a defence mechanism for a stressful situation that they are encountering. By doing this, you will be able to realise that you are not the problem, which will provide some satisfaction, to say the least.

If the bully isn’t extremely violent, consider talking to them. Sometimes the bullies don’t even have the slightest clue that what they are doing is actually hurting someone’s feelings. Like I said, the bully might be going through something similar as well. So by confronting them about it, they may be able to relate to you and acknowledge how awful they have been. Addressing the problem at hand by communicating is actually found to be an effective means of solving the problem.

Another way one can deal with bullying is by not being silent about the situation. Occasionally, when someone is being bullied, it tends to clog their mind and distracts them from their normal life, and isolation becomes a real issue. Kids end up too scared to share or confide in someone about what’s going on. It may be due to embarrassment or even fear of the bully. On the other hand, bringing a friend, parent or guardian into the light of what has been going on is very effective.

“When I was still in high school, the most severe bullying I experienced was because I was a bit bigger than the rest of the students. The girls didn’t want to be seen around me because I didn’t look like them. With time, I just learnt to accept myself and I found people who accepted me for who I was as well,” says Jentille Mutoni, a high school graduate.

Teenagers should understand that however scary or threatening the situation is, students should never feel like they should go through it alone. There is always someone willing to help.

It is not certain if bullying will ever stop. Even our parents still experience some sort of bullying at the workplace. All we can do is learn how to survive and support each other as we continue growing.