How To Deal With A Bully

It’s hard to imagine anyone never getting bullied through grade school.  Inevitably, there’s some immature, insecure kid out there looking to pick a fight.  Do you keep quiet or fight back?  You might be surprised to hear, but I’ve ALWAYS fought back until the bullying stopped.  I’m described as a very cheerful person who is always smiling, but when provoked, you will feel my wrath.

I remember growing up as a kid being taught to just walk away and ignore a bully.  For some reason, I could never listen to that advice.  I didn’t care if I got injured fighting back.  It was what I had to do to defend my honor.  What’s even worse than being bullied, is when you see someone you love get taken advantage of.  That’s when shit really hits the fan!

PERSONAL STORIES OF BEING BULLIED

Example 1: In the 6th grade, we’d always play a game of soccer during lunch period.  The teams always seemed to be split between the richer kids with all the nice toys, and the less well-to-do kids.  I was in the latter group.  Dribbling the ball mid-field one day, I got checked and then tripped by an annoying prick who had done this to my teammates multiple times before.  I had enough and rushed him, kicked his legs out from under him and watched him fall on his back.  He started laughing it off and cursed at me so I proceed to ram the heel of my sole into his solar-plex.  He began to gag, then cry.

We both had to “face the wall” during next period.  During that time, he actually turned to me and apologized.  That was the end of his bullying of me and my teammates and we became friends.

Example 2: In the 8th grade, I had been minding my own business shooting hoops when another bully snatched my ball and proceeded to kick the ball all the way to the other side of the outdoor court.  I told him to go get my ball a couple of times and each time he taunted me back saying, “What are you going to do about it?”  After his third taunt, I told him, “This is what I’m going to do about it” and opened my right palm outwards and with my entire weight behind me, I smacked him hard in his right ear.  He went to get my basketball, and then proceeded to go to the nurses office to attend to his burst eardrum.

I remember going back to my locker after finishing hoops to an angry girl who had a crush on the bully.  She started cursing at me because I had injured him.  I just walked on by.  By the end of school, the bully had his right ear wrapped when he came up to me and apologized.  “Sorry, my fault,” he said.  I accepted his apology and apologized that I burst his eardrum.  He said he would regain full hearing again in 30 days, and not to worry.

Example 3: I arrived early to 10th grade Biology class one day and had my pick of seats.  Before sitting down I decided to tie my shoe and propped one leg up on a chair.  In the midst of tying my shoe, one asshole, who is about 6 ft 3 inches tall and 220 pounds decided to annoy me.  He told me to “move out of the way” so he could take a seat behind me.  The classroom was empty, and he could have easily just walked around me, but nope.  I told him let me finish tying my shoe first, when he then proceeded to shove me while on one foot.  I fell to the ground, and needless to say I was pissed because my head could have smacked a sharp metal edge.  I immediately got up and punched him at an angle into his right eye socket so that his eyeglasses would smash right in his face before my fist upon impact.

We proceeded to RUMBLE, but was soon broken up by our school “Narc”, who was also my varsity tennis coach.   I got suspended for one day, and he got suspended for two.  When we returned, he apologized, I apologized and we moved on.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN A BULLY STRIKES?

Based on my examples above, you can fight back to the point where the other kid relents.  The bully will probably then apologize, and then it’s up to you to be the better person and forgive.  However, the BIG PROBLEM with fighting back is that if you don’t thoroughly obliterate your bullies hopes in one swift attack, you encourage retaliation.  The whole point of fighting back is to show the bully you are the wrong person to fuck with, and to realize his or her messed up ways.

The BEST way to deal with a bully is to actually have a very calm and mature conversation with him or her.  Ask these questions sincerely: “Why are you doing this to me?”, “Please tell me what I did in the past to provoke you?”, “Is there any way we can be cool and get to know each other?”, “Can I buy you some Doritos and let’s go talk about it?”. It takes courage, but when they start to internalize these questions, there is a good chance they’ll realize what they are doing is completely idiotic.

If you catch the bully SOLO, you will have the best chance of breaking through and connecting with him or her.  Bullying usually occurs in front of a crowd, so that the bully can show off and feel good about himself or herself by putting someone else down.  Seriously, a lot of bullying is due to low self-esteem.  Get them by themselves and have a talk.  This is the secret, peaceful way to dealing with a bully, and for that matter racists too!

Readers, have you ever been bullied before?  How did you deal with it? What about work place bullying? Does that ever occur?

Thanks to Kevin from Thousandaire for evoking long lost childhood memories in his post,”When It Comes To Bullying, Nobody Wins.”

I’m 100% behind the Australian kid who got bullied. What kind of idiot bullies an older, much larger kid anyway? As you can see, the bully is trying to show off in front of his friends and girls. Speaking of girls, I love the girl at the end who says, “I think you need to back off alright!?”. Again, a solution to bullying is to get the bully solo and ask him point blank questions as to why he’s bullying! Both of them learned a lesson, and I’m sure the bully apologized and they’ll be better adults because of the incident.

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

You can sign up to receive his articles via email or by RSS. Sam also sends out a private quarterly newsletter with information on where he's investing his money and more sensitive information.

Subscribe To Private Newsletter

Comments

  1. says

    I remember in grade school, there was a girl that loved to beat people up. She was just an awful person. She wanted to fight me after school one day at the end of my street (she told me to meet her there). I showed up ready to defend myself, and she backed away saying “I don’t like to fight short people”, and left. I was scared out of my mind, but this bully had made my friend’s life miserable with repeated beatings because she never stood up to her. I knew I didn’t want that happening to me.

    Another time on the way to school, a girl much older and bigger than me wanted to fight because she said I said something (that I never said). She came after me and I threw her to the ground. I couldn’t have really pounded on her, but I let her go. I could not bring myself to hit someone who was somewhat defenseless, even though she would have totally smashed me had our roles been reversed.

    You wouldn’t think that girls would be such physical bullies, and maybe it is because I grew up in a somewhat rough area. As I got older, physical bullying evolved into emotional…

  2. says

    When I was a kid I use to get bullied quite a bit and I followed my moms advice of walking away and trying to ignore it. That never worked I simply got jumped more often and hit harder and harder. One day I had enough and simply punched the kid in the face and all of a sudden my problems are gone. From then off if someone hit me I would hit back and the consequences be damned. They may start the fight but I will end it. Too often we are told to turn the other cheek and it just means that you we are slapped twice. It makes no sense and sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

    -Ravi G.

    • says

      Good job Ravi! Seriously, I can relate and am not one to walk away. You have to end it somehow, otherwise it never stops. I hope the parents of bullies get disciplined as well after a second warning. I truly believe a lot of it starts at home.

  3. says

    Ah – they got rid of the video for explicit content! I’ve been hearing about it and wanted to see it…

    Anyway, I’m already seeing bullying behavior at 4 and 5. As I try to assess what’s going on and why some of these kids act this way, the one thing I notice is the parents go out of their way to ignore what their kids are doing. How do you “go out of your way to ignore something”? Well, they pick up on anything another kid does but completely ignore what their own kids are doing. At large gatherings, they chat amongst themselves and if they see their kid acting up, they glance away. I’ve seen this with a few couples now and it’s quite annoying. I think it starts with the parents.

  4. says

    I was never really physically bullied. There were a few times in gym class where the jerks would start tackling in flag football or throwing elbows in basketball, and I would retaliate out there. However, if someone was verbally abusing me, I just ignored it. Bully do what they do because they like seeing kids squirm. I never let them see it got to me and sometimes even gave a very calm condescending response, so they got bored or felt bad and moved on.

    I would never blame a kid for fighting back; I just wish it never got to that point in the first place.

  5. says

    I don’t remember any bullying per se, although I remember being teased. The problem of standing up for yourself in school, you risk suspension or worse. I tell students to take care these kinds of things outside of school. If you are suspended too many times, you get a reputation of a problem student.

    • says

      Settling it out of school doesn’t work any more. Countless times in my middle school/highschool days, someone was suspended, expelled, whatever you want to call it, for something they did outside of school with another student. I think most people see the stupidity in policies like that, but they’re definitely becoming the new normal. School now extends into the home.

      As for being bullied myself, no, not really. At worst I’d get teased for being short, which drove me up the wall until I realized there wasn’t anything I could really do about it. Now I fully realize the benefit in being short: my feet never have to dangle off a bed of any size.

      I agree completely with Sam’s suggestion in simply confronting the person and asking, “Why?” Obviously there isn’t any good reason, but sometimes people need a little nudge to actually think about the actions they make. Logic: the only universal solvent.

      • says

        Only expulsion will go on a transcript! Multiple suspensions cause other issues such as missed work, labeled a trouble maker and the student could end up transferred to another school. They call it an opportunity transfer which means to give the student an additional opportunity to straighten him or herself out. Bullying is wrong, but fighting in school will not be tolerated even if it is justified.

          • anonymous says

            Thank you so much for posting that. I also would reward a victim for fighting back and punish any who punish him or her. You certainly impress me.

            By the way, I happen to like samurai (those who serve).

        • anonymous says

          You’re another hypocrite, frantcents. If you’re against bullying, then you should justify people fight back against bullies. By being against those who fight back despite claiming to be against bullying, you sound like a closet accomplice of those who antagonize for fun.

  6. says

    bullying is terrible, but it will never be rid of. The best way to deal with it is to ignore or learn self defense. Learning self defense doesn’t need to be used in a confrontation, instead it will help the victim gain self esteem and confidence. I really feel bad about the Australian kid.

    • Get rid of bullying forever! says

      You’re right that bullying is terrible. But how dare you point out that that it can’t be gotten rid of? I’m sick of bullying and I want it gone forever.

      If you let bullies get away with what they do, they could reign supreme. That’s why they deserve to get beaten up.

    • guest says

      what a hypocrite you are, jeff. first, you claim that bullying is terrible. next, you claim that it can’t be gotten rid. then, you sound like you can’t make up your mind on whether to ignore bullies or to take self-defense.

      if you ask me, ignoring bullies doesn’t work. all it does is encourage bullies to continue to antagonize like there’s tomorrow.

      if we don’t get rid of bullying, it will go too far in this world. besides, darwinism and natural selection are are just tools to allow bad guys to thrive.

  7. says

    Fight back. Don’t be a doormat. Show you aren’t going to deal with any bullshit. That’s how you get rid of your bullying problems.

    • anonymous says

      You, sir, are my favorite commenter in this website. Because of what you typed, I mentally stand by side the whole way.

  8. says

    I’m going to enroll my kid in some martial art class for self defense and also teach him to be funny. The funny guy doesn’t get picked on as much.
    Does calm and mature conversation really work? It sounds good in theory, but I doubt it will really work in Lord of the flies situations. You have to fight back.

  9. says

    I have always held a similar attitude towards bullies, the problem is that the bullies today are not the bullies of yesteryear. These days if you react with force you can never be assured that the original aggressor won’t come back with a weapon. In fact, it’s more and more common. As gang mentality trickles down to lower and lower ages amongst some demographics it isn’t as simple as teaching a kid to throw a proper punch and allowing that a black eye isn’t the end of the world. This is what scares me.

    I think we also make a serious error when we stereotype bullies as being stupid, it’s the smart ones that are the most dangerous. My theory is that the smart ones actually grow up to become the CEOs of major financial institutions. Instead of saying, “Give me your lunch money or I’ll beat you up,” it just becomes, “give me your tax dollars or I’ll leverage your debt until your country collapses.” Seems like a logical transition.

  10. says

    What’s with all these tales of violence? Both in your post, and in the comments, I’m reading about people getting punched in the face at school …. I don’t think my school ever had a fight, or a punch or a kick … we would have gotten expelled for that. There was a ton of bullying, but all verbal (and very hurtful).

  11. Mike Hunt says

    Bullying seems to be completely absent in Thailand. Children here really are free to be themselves, and are not afraid of singing or speaking in public. It must be great to be a kid here.

    I got bullied a lot growing up on the East Coast. Part of it was I skipped 4th grade and was almost 2 years younger than everybody else in my class. The only times the bullying would abate was when I got into fights. However I found myself being very angry towards the bullies, and would often have fantasies of taking revenge – pulling a Columbine (though this was before the event), etc. I think it is normal for a male
    adolescent to feel this way in the face of bullying.

    -Mike

    • says

      Thx for the Thai insight. Interesting!

      It’s tough being the youngest and smallest kid in the class. Better to hold back a year that move ahead for most IMO. Hli have a couple friends who were held back and both went to Yale. They had an advantage!

      I wonder if examples of Columbine and Virginia tech scare bullies to stop their shot or not. Hope so.

  12. Charlie says

    I hate bullies. It makes me so upset and sad when I hear about kids getting bullied in school. Kids can be so mean! Although I don’t like to encourage violence, I think you’re right – sometimes you just have to fight back to get bullies to stop. And approaching them when they’re alone is good advice too. If a bully thinks he can get away with teasing or pushing someone around they will just continue to do it.

    • anonymous says

      I’m pleased that you hate bullies as much as I do. What I’m also pleased about is your acknowledgement of the Financial Samurai being right about victims sometimes having to back to get bullies to stop even though you don’t like to encourage violence. That’s fine with me. I, on the hand, encourage it but only under certain circumstances.

      What you’re totally right about is a bully’s getting away with continuing to tease or push someone around if he thinks that he can get away with it. Therefore, I’m against pacifism.

  13. says

    There was this kid in my neighborhood that was a few years older than everybody else. We all knew to watch out for him, since he always carried a knife. One evening when the bully and 2 of his friends were out trying to break into houses, he ran into me and two of my friends.

    Unfortunately, he had it out for my friend that was actually at least 3 years younger than he was. So as he was pushing my buddy, I had to stop him. I believe I was 14 and he was at least 16. I didn’t want to fight him since he was bigger and older than I was, but I couldn’t let my younger buddy get beat up. It’s amazing what being in shape and a little knowledge of martial arts can do… even for a 14 year old vs at 16 year old…

    Needless to say, he never bother any of my friends again. In fact, he left after that little encounter and I’ve never seen him since. I’m sure it was coincidence that we never seen him again, but still the timing was perfect.

  14. says

    “The BEST way to deal with a bully is to actually have a very calm and mature conversation with him or her.”

    Unfortunately, I don’t think this is so true… The vast majority of the time, the bully won’t be receptive to this unless the one asking the questions has an exceptionally strong and warm heart…

    The best way to deal with a bully is to learn how to fight back first, then forgive and speak later. And *anyone* can do this, even those with little physical strength. You just need to know how to use your body to best target the other’s weak spots.

    Adam

    • Joe says

      Adam, tell us about your experiences where you fought back. Otherwise, there’s very little weight to your words. Thanks

      • says

        Fair enough…

        Growing up I was a magnate for being picked on. I spent much of middle school and high school being a favorite bully target- not because I was physically smaller or weak- but because I’m different… Trying to just ignore it or talk my way out of it, was not only painful, but it didn’t work. If anything, it made my tormentors come at me stronger. (I realize now that I was afraid, and most of them probably sensed my fear). There came a point when I was about 12 that I just snapped- similar to the boy in that video.

        When I first started fighting back, I wasn’t so sophisticated- I kicked, punched, tackled. Many boys did leave me alone afterwords, but I think it was the intensity of my rage that did it, more than what I was physically able to do to them. Later on, I learned a bit of karate (kempo) and judo- both of which honed my fighting skills.

        In terms of anyone being able to fight back: When I was in highschool I had a friend who was both scrawny, physically uncoordinated, and like me a bully favorite. I taught him how to target the weak areas: the eardrum, eyes, windpipe, knees, etc and how to use his center of balance and his body weight to throw someone off. One day we were walking down the hall to class and a bully came up from behind and grabbed my friend. My friend clenched his fists, shifted his hips, stepped back and slammed the kid backwards against the lockers. The bully left him alone after that.

        • anonymous says

          I’m impressed by you, Adam. You used things that are similar to samurai. What you did to that bully really showed him who’s boss. I support anyone who shows bullies who’s boss. Besides, I would have snapped too if I’d been in your situation

          But what you posted about forgiveness confuses me. First, you claimed that the best way to deal with a bully is fight back. Next, you suggested to forgive him or her later. In my experience, forgiveness is a way to let bullies continue to get away with antagonism. I should know as I’ve been in that situation more than once. And here’s how:

          “I did forgive some people who apologized to me for picking on me. But when I did, they stabbed me in the back metaphorically.”

          Now you see what I’m talking about?

          But if I choose to forgive any bullies, I’d force him, her, or them make up for his, her, or their misbehavior. If him, her, or they have made up, I’d warn them not to bully anymore.

  15. says

    I think far too often the reason bullies become the way they are is because it’s learned behavior in the home, or in the neighborhood where they live and they in many cases have been bullied themselves – and are acting out some of those pent up feelings of hurt and rejection – the old “hurt someone else so i won’t hurt” mentality.

    I can remember times in grade school and high school that there were people who either wanted to fight with me or just wanted to pick on me for whatever reason. I have never found that reacting to their violence with violence of my own resolved anything or caused them to stop bullying – it only inflamed situations and made things worse. If they did stop with me, they usually move on to someone else.

    I’ve found that the best defense to this sort of behavior is to either ignore them, to react with humor, or if it gets bad enough – to report them to an adult or someone in authority. Where we lived in the inner city it was far too common for guns and knives to be involved, and I would never tell someone to retaliate – because the chances of something far worse happening were too great. We no longer live in the old days where you could meet the bully on the playground and have a fist-fight. Now it’s a shootout at the OK corral.

    • anonyous says

      You know, Pete? Sometimes violence is necessary to survive in this world. Whether you like it or not, you gotta get yours hands dirty at times ’cause you can’t go through always expecting people to be all nice and stuff.

  16. says

    I don’t remember every being bullied, but I hear about it often from students. I think that fighting back can be the right approach depending on the bully, but it’s not advice I can give a student. Usually, the only thing I can do is counsel the bully and hope that the behavior stops. It tends to be that the boys are more likely to bully than the girls, but it’s not uncommon for 5th grade girls to be bullies too. But you’re right, it tends to be due to insecurities.

  17. Sonya says

    I have never been bullied I was always the new girl and learnt early on silence gives you an “i dont know” quality to you. Meaning they don’t know if they got up in your face if you would hit him or run. Besides quiet people are scary you always hear on the news after someone’s gone postal. He was so nice and such a quiet guy,lol. That was my weapon and it was quite effective.

  18. says

    I’ve never been bullied but I couldn’t imagine what it would be like. Kudos to the big Austrailian kid who body slammed the little punk bully. I would like to say that there are better ways to handle situations like that, as I abhor violence, but the kid just had to defend himself there. Good for him. What a takedown too!

  19. says

    Unfortunately, I had the same experience. If I ignored bullies, they just bullied me more. When I stood up to them, they backed off. I had some issues in grammar school as well as first year in high school. When I was a freshman one girl lifted my skirt in high school while I was going up the stairwell in a very crowded time between classes. It was extremely embarrassing and traumatic and both boys and girls of all ages saw my underwear and were talking about it.

    I needed to retaliate and fast, so I started a rumor that she must be a lesbian because she wanted to see my underwear. The rumor spread and then people started to believe she was a homosexual. (in a catholic school many people weren’t that tolerant) I don’t actually know for sure what her sexual orientation was but she was very upset about it and asked me to stop telling people what happened and I did. I never ever was bullied again after that. It was a low blow on my part but it was effective.

      • says

        Sam – I’m now ashamed of this approach because it used people’s prejudices
        against people’s sexual orientation to get back at this girl. At 13, I didn’t know
        better how dangerous my actions could be. I’m glad I stood up to myself
        because I didn’t want another 4 years of harassment but I wish I thought of
        a better way. I wasn’t a good fighter, so I had to use another tactic.

        I think the moral is that when people are cornered and bullied they sometimes do
        desperate things they wouldn’t otherwise consider.

      • BD says

        Wait, you were freaking out about a girl getting upset over rude people in the library, who then pulled the racist card to deal with it (a very bad idea on her part, but she had a good reason for being upset), but now you’re high-fiving someone for spreading intolerance based on sexual
        orientation? Not cool, Sam, not cool. :/

        Neither is fighting bullies back, really. It’s violence and wrong.
        Ignoring bullies does nothing (I should know, I was horribly bullied in school
        and could get no relief), but if the parents (especially the parents of the bullies) and teachers would get a LOT more involved, then perhaps kids wouldn’t be so rotten.

        • says

          How was I freaking out? SF is a very progressive city and whatever one’s sexual orientation is welcome. We fight for gay marriages and equal rights every day. Where do you live? You Shoukd experience SF if you haven’t to expand your thoughts. I find it comical that the bully would be embarrassed for being a lesbian. We are all the same.

          Sorry you got bullied a lot. Hope you can stand up more now for yourself as an adult.

        • anonyous says

          What a hypocrite you are, BD. First, you claim that fighting back and violence are wrong. Next, you claim that ignoring bullying doesn’t work. You know what? The Financial Samurai is right that people have to fight back because not every victim can receive help from other people.

          If you ask me, pacifism is for hypocrites that encourages good people to let bad people walk over them. I applaud people who fight back against bullies. Like you ,I was horribly bullied. And so, I’d never forgive the jerks who terrorized me. Whatever bad things happen to them delight big time.

          Anyone who punishes for people fighting back at bullies should be punished in return because penalizing people for sticking up for themselves and others is a means of allowing bad people to get away with whatever they do.

          But hey, if you’d rather let a bully terrorize you for the rest of your by being a meek and overly submissive person, be my guest. Just don’t blame me if you suffer the consequences for it.

  20. says

    I’m not the violent type so fighting back was never a first response to being teased, I was never severely bullied so didn’t really have to deal with it a whole lot.

    I have a few stories though that kind of fall on line. One I remember from when I was 14 or so was getting changed back into uniform after games. Me and the school hardnut (aptly called Sherman) was in the locker room and no one else. He did a side kick to me and knocked me to the floor for no reason. I got up and just stood facing him, so he kicked me again and asked if I was going to run away. I said no and that I would stand here and he could keep kicking me until he decided it was wrong or I had to go to the ambulance. He kicked me another 3 times or so and told me to run, I refused and told him he was welcome to carry on….. He stopped and made like he was joking and never bothered me again.

    I didn’t want to fight but didn’t want to run away. He could have killed me if he wanted but that wasn’t the point.

    • guest says

      were you being a masochist? by allowing that guy to kick you down repeatedly, you were basically allowing him to go overboard in terrorizing you. you should have fought back. if you didn’t, you might have ended up in a hospital.

      if i was in your situation, i would have fought back.

  21. says

    “Seriously, a lot of bullying is due to low self-esteem.”

    So true. Bullying happens because these people have their own insecurities in life that they feel whole when they bully someone and becomes better than the other people. However, our reaction to bullies also varies. It’s either we fight or we flight, but it also depends on our own perception and principle with regards to bullying, eh.

  22. Sierra says

    I am a 13-year-old girl in 8th grade and i get bullied every single day. I came across this page when i was searching the internet for bully advice.
    I can never even leave a classroom without being called a name.
    I’m white, which is the minority at my school and i stand out with bright colored hair and jewelry. African American girls and guys will approach me and ask me if i’m homosexual just because i wear rainbow jewelry. I used to ignore it, but when i did that a group of 9 girls beat me up and took my stuff. I don’t know how to fight & i’ve tried standing up for myself but it never works. I also have told my parents, the office, and when i got beaten up very badly i called the police and they did absolutely nothing about it.
    I am bullied so badly that the thought of going to school every morning makes me cry.
    I just thought i’d put my experiences out there. But i’ve tried many methods of making them go away, but nothing has worked. /:

  23. Jamin Nip says

    I have a ghetto bully in my class.He sells drugs in class and steals money from the Aids penny jar. Sometimes he steals my pencils and breaks them, and he slaps me with his hat and punched me hard.I would very much like to have a chance to 1 on 1 with him, but i am not the fighting type. I m scared he will pull a knife on me, or something. What should i do?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *