The case against fighting a bully back

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Everything we know is that the ultimate right thing to do is to ignore the bully. Turn your back on the teasing and bullying and it’ll go away,” Mayer says. “That follows Psych 101 principles.” He insists an eye-for-an-eye response is ultimately ineffective and often hurts far more than it helps. Why? Although hitting back might bring a moment of satisfaction, it can lead to escalation — which, in light of reports of kids bringing weapons to school, could put both the bully and the bullied in mortal danger. Mayer compares it to an arms race, with the weapons just getting bigger and more destructive. Instead, he recommends discussing these possible strategies with your child:

Tell an adult. Whether it’s a parent, teacher or a coach, your child should tell an authority figure who can make sure the bully faces consequences. “Teach kids to inform an adult so that the bully will be restrained and face consequences,” he says. Ideally, if the rules of society are enforced against the bully, it should put an end to the behavior. “It’s a higher form of fighting back,” Mayer says.

Don’t react. Encourage your child not to cry, stop walking, or acknowledge the bully in any way. “This can be super-hard to teach kids, but it’s what works,” Mayer says. If your child responds, the bully will feed on it. By leaving the bully hanging, she or he will end up looking silly.

Consider the consequences. Does your child’s school have a zero-tolerance policy? If so, your child could be punished (even suspended) for self-defense. This consequence might seem unfair to children and parents alike — and, depending on how it is implemented at your child’s school, may be something you should consider discussing with school administrators.

Source: Great Kids!

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