School Survival Guide: How to Avoid Being Bullied
This article about surviving school is mainly about how to avoid being bullied in school. It might not prevent it from happening at all, but it might cut down on how often it actually happens.
The reality of the matter is that violence, as they say, is a last resort. Violence begets more violence. Not all bullies back down from a fight. Standing up to them means that you’re challenging them, and that can often end up badly for you in the end. Trust me when I say that things can often escalate from there and the bullies will call on others, like older siblings or people who don’t attend the school to come and sort you out – outsourcing, but for bullies.
You have the right to defend yourself perhaps, but you’d be surprised how often the one defending themselves can end up being in the most trouble. That’s unfortunately just how the world works today. You could be suspended or even expelled from the school. The logic here that schools adopt is: "Yes you might well have been acting in self-defence, but you were still fighting, and that goes against the rules".
Fighting, even when acting in self-defence, can also make you look bad in the eyes of others, too. You risk stooping to the bully's level and becoming a bully yourself. You should avoid bullies and avoid becoming a bully if you can, ideally. Avoiding someone is not the same as running away, no matter how many times I’ve heard that it is. There are just times when you shouldn’t knowingly walk into a bad situation. Just like there are bad parts of town where you don't venture, there are bad parts of a school where you shouldn't hang around either, or at least not for long.
It might be a good idea to plot routes on a map, and learn the street names in your area very well over time. You won't get lost, and you'll know where all the dead ends and escape routes are. Become extremely familiar with the territory and you'll have the advantage.
Try using the map above to find your neighbourhood, and even your school.
Take a different route to and from school and alter your schedule
Bullies will often plan ambushes and attack lone kids walking to and home from school, so if you mix things up, and leave at different times via different entrances to the school (mine had several), and take different paths home, you’ll probably be fine. It worked for Hitler as he successfully evaded many assassination attempts (even though we wish he hadn’t), so it can work for you. Always be unpredictable.
It can also brighten up your day that much more by taking a different route, maybe so much so that you’ll forget about school for a while and how horrid it can be. They say that a change is as good as a holiday.
Just be sure to take safe routes. Don’t go too out of your way and end up in a dangerous area, or an area you don’t know – that can put you into an even more dangerous situation.
While the timetable issued to you for classes and so on is public knowledge, if you take up any activities or sports at school that aren't covered by the timetable, you should always keep that to yourself. You don't want bullies getting a hold of that information.
Get transport if you can
Walking can be dangerous, and unless you’re a particularly athletic kid, you aren’t going to outrun those wishing to do you harm in a hurry.
Try your best to get lifts to and from school. If your parents are too busy or your schedules conflict, try carpooling with other kids you know. Taking the bus can be perilous, because as a child, I knew other boys and girls who got bullied on the school bus more often than just about anywhere else.
Rather opt for a renowned private taxiing service that specialises in taking children to school. Seeing as the vehicle will likely be smaller, the driver is licensed to take less people at a time than a regular bus, so less children makes it easier for the driver and the chaperone (there should be one riding shotgun) to handle any bullying situations.
Don’t ever feel that desperate that you need to hitch a ride with a complete stranger though.
Arrive at school later rather than too early
I used to wait until fifteen minutes before the school bell rang signalling the fact that line-up was about to occur before I even stepped out of the front door. The school was just down the road so it didn’t take long to get there.
Rocking up early might mean that you have far longer to hang around, perhaps surrounded by kids you don’t like, or worse, kids who don’t like you.
Don’t be late for line-up or roll call though otherwise you’ll wind up in trouble.
Never visit the school toilets
This is where a lot of the bullying goes on in schools, because there usually aren’t any teachers around, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless perhaps you’re with a group of friends. And never feel tempted to visit the older kids’ bathroom either, unless you are an older kid, because that’s asking for trouble.
Ideally you should keep regular so you can visit your own home’s bathroom before and after you go to school. Failing that, you might find that if you get caught short you’ll need to find a secret place where you can do your ablutions in peace and quiet – this might have to be off school grounds if you’re allowed to leave. In some countries you can leave to go home during breaks and then go back to school later. You might have to invent some story, like a family emergency or something, but be careful you don’t get caught fibbing.
You could always take a leak while swimming in the pool if your school has one, but just remember to uncross those eyes!
Sometimes you can’t avoid having to go the bathroom, because some schools force you to go to the bathroom area or the showers after gym class, or physical education as we knew it years ago. In these cases, be in and out in a dash: shower quickly, get dried, get changed, and get out – you don’t want to be left alone with a group of bullies. Some coaches actually do bother to stand watch in the showers or the locker room area just to make sure no funny business goes on.
Find safe zones in the school
When I was in school, there were two main places I went during breaks: the library and the computer academy, I was rarely hassled by bullies in these places, and made friends there. And it wasn’t all boring – we had our own games and activities that didn’t involve physical violence a lot of the time. Bullies of school going age primarily tend to stalk the playground looking for victims, and don't like to get involved in anything that is enriching in any way. If you do venture out on to the playground, make sure you’re in a group. Safety in numbers, as they say.
Don’t try to take refuge in any of the classrooms. I know from experience that teachers don’t take kindly to children being in classrooms and it can actually be a place where other children, including bullies, hang out. So you might just end up putting yourself in a dead end, no way out situation, particularly if they end up locking the door. At least the library and the computer class usually have more people in them, including teachers, generally speaking. They often go to the computer class between lessons to type something or other out and print worksheets. The library is often frequented by teachers for photocopying items.
At my school there was a large stretch of ground right in front of the staff room where all the teachers went during breaks, and few people ever dared mess about in that area for fear of being witnessed doing something wrong.
Take up some sort of extra curricular activity like sport
One way to piss off the teachers is to not get involved in sports or some sort of after-school activity. For the first several years at school I didn’t want to stay after school, probably because I didn’t want to dodge bullies for any longer than I had to. Eventually they clamped down on me and my lack of involvement and said that I had to take up an extra curricular activity – although I suspect it had more to do with attempting to drive up school fees. I eventually settled for taking lessons at the computer class.
The thing is doing just that might get you branded as a nerd and more likely to be targeted. You should at least take up something more physical or dextrous in nature like rugby, hockey, cricket, or something. Some schools also offer activities like shooting and karate. If anything it would be extremely useful to take self-defence classes because it would teach you how to defend yourself, disarm an attacker (if they are carrying a knife or other weapon), and incapacitate them without causing much harm to them.
The only problem here is that some of the worst bullies I ever met took karate lessons themselves! At least you'd have more of a fighting chance against them if you enrolled too.
Keep locker combinations to yourself
Some schools have lockers for children to store their textbooks and other goods inside. You should always keep the combination to your locker to yourself. If your locker can be padlocked, but you aren't provided with one, then get one! Even consider buying your own with a combination that isn’t known to others, rather than use one the school provides, otherwise someone could probably quite easily get a hold of the combination which is more than likely stored somewhere on the school property.
This also goes for passwords for your workstation in the computer class. Anything that requires a password or combination, really. This will prevent others from messing about with your belongings, and possibly even stealing them, or worse yet, planting something in order to frame you!
Playground snitches get stitches
Going to the teachers and complaining isn’t always very effective in my book. It might work with some pupils, but not all, and may in fact result in further ridicule of the victim. This is the same story with the headmaster. They are often not trained to deal with bullies and situations that involve them. It’s often an issue that is swept under the rug. And the truth is that because it isn’t always taken seriously, the parents of the bully are often in the dark about their child’s behaviour.
It’s probably better for your parents to go to the bully’s parents and speak to them about it, so they actually know about it. Then if the bullying continues, get your parents to go around there again and tell them that if they don’t discipline their child, they will get in contact with their lawyers and possibly the police on the matter, which is always an option if physical assault has been committed.
This is why you should document bullying: take photos of bruises, cuts and black eyes with a digital camera or a smartphone, because it can serve as evidence to support your case. If the school won’t do anything about the problem, then the authorities might. You can even do it yourself if you’re old or at least bold enough if your parents won’t play ball. Otherwise get an adult who does care to accompany you.
Children often resort to cyber bullying nowadays. Be very careful who you give your mobile device’s number out to. If it’s someone who might try to bully you, then give them a false number – one that you made up. If it happens to actually be someone’s real number, then that’s pure coincidence.
If someone starts sending you messages that contain threats and the like, then report them. Take their mobile number and open a case with the police by visiting your local police station. Then they will take it to the cellular network that number belongs to and take it from there. The network will likely comply with a police investigation and hand over the registrant's details.
If bullying starts on Facebook and Twitter or some other social media hangout, then report those accounts and hopefully they will be disabled/deleted. If someone starts a blog or a website that launches personal attacks directed at you, then you can report these blogs to the webhosting service because they are infringing upon the terms of service they agreed to when they signed up with the webhost and even the blogging platform they use, like Blogger, Wordpress, etc. You can easily find out the webhosting information by using whoishostingthis.com and then send them an email with the URL of the website and report them. You could even report the issue to the cyber crimes division of the local police force if it’s very extreme and contains death threats, incitement to commit violence, et cetera.
It's best to contact the authorities and not involve the school in any way, because what has happened at least once in the past was the school took action against a bully for cyber bullying, but legal representatives claimed that the school punished the bully for something that was not done on school grounds or indeed during school hours, and was therefore out of its legal jurisdiction, and so the bully's parents successfully sued the school!
Make new friends as soon as possible
Not only is this important for a child’s development, but it will help you become somewhat safer in school. Bullies often target loners and gang up on them, because they feel more confident seeing as they have numbers on their side. Some of your friends might be older, or at least bigger and perhaps help you stand up to the bullies.
So don't miss an opportunity to befriend other children. Maybe they are loners themselves. Several loners together are stronger than when they are apart.
Carry protection with you
You could carry something heavy in your bag, or line your bag with something hard, like heavy textbooks or a big metal lunch box so you can use it as a shield, holding it up in front of you. This has helped me on at least one or two occasions.
Otherwise, take a hockey stick or a cricket bat to school with you and never let it out of your sight. This can be made more legitimate – as in teachers not asking questions about it – if you take up some sports at school. You can also carry them with you on to the playing fields during break time. It’s not so much a weapon, but it can act as a deterrent to those who might consider giving you a hard time. I remember a girl in school giving some guy what for with her hockey stick when he tried to harass her on the way home!
Don’t ever take guns or knives to school, because those are not less than lethal forms of self-defence and will land you in serious trouble. Even mace might be a bit over the top, and if your school has a policy where they are allowed to search your belongings and confiscate such items, then this presents a problem.
Don’t take lunch money to school
Bullies will pick up on the fact that you have money and will either force you to hand over what you have, or even force you stand in line for them and waste your lunch break getting stuff for them – whether they make you pay for it or they do is up for debate. If they don’t ask for your lunch money, they’ll probably try for your actual lunch.
What I used to do sometimes on the way to school was stop off at the local convenience store and buy whatever I wanted there instead of the tuck shop. Seeing as I hardly had breakfast most mornings, I was usually all too eager to eat whatever I bought right then and there. Perhaps you could come to some sort of friendly arrangement, where you could offer to work at the store after school or on weekends in exchange for free food when you need it -- then you wouldn't have to carry money around with you. Or you could pay the shopkeeper upfront for a week's worth of food with your pocket money/money earned from a student job.
My advice would be to have a big healthy breakfast, which would probably keep you more than full until lunch time when you get to go home. Of course depending on when school starts and how long it goes on for comes into the equation as well. If you must bring lunch to school, better to stick with healthy stuff that’s uninteresting to most other children, like bananas or apples or sandwiches with marmite on them. I haven't really heard of a vegetarian or frugivorian bully, have you?
Always look on the bright side of life
I read about this in an article on bullying here on HubPages the other day, and it certainly rings true.
If I’ve learned anything, it can often be something as simple as your demeanour than can lead people to target you. I was always criticised by others for being too serious, and not ever smiling or laughing. Some can take it to the extreme and pick on you because you seem to come off as snobbish and aloof because you don’t talk to anyone.
Of course this probably is not be the case. You’re probably just shy, or nervous around others, and for the most part you can’t really change. This is all harder than it may sound, but at least try to get involved on some level.
Notice how the really outgoing, super friendly, laughing, smiling popular guy in the school is well liked by most people and left alone by bullies? It’s not just a coincidence. If nothing else, this may at least help you understand why it’s happening. I have actually tried to change my attitude towards some people, and they definitely respond well to positivity in general. Maybe just saying “Hi” and “How are you doing” to someone who has given you a hard time might actually make them turn around and possibly even feel bad about what they’ve done – that they might have misjudged you. If people attempt to make fun of you, laugh it off, and if they see that what they have to say doesn’t get under your skin, they might just stop.
Sometimes actually just getting to know a person and talking to them helps both parties involved. It helps you understand why they are behaving the way they are, and they actually get to talk to someone about their problems. Hurt people hurt people, so you can rest assured that they must have some issues going on in their own lives that is making them act out. This is why school psychologists are a necessity.
Whatever you do, don’t keep bullying to yourself. People need to know. But there are correct channels to go through, and wrong ways to deal with it. While it’s true that bullying can occur in the home and the workplace as well as school, some of the above methods can be used in all those situations. While some people grow up after school and change, stopping their bullying ways, some people never change.
What do you think of the practice of avoiding bullies or situations which may lead to bullying?
© 2014 Anti-Valentine