How Can I Help Someone Who's Being Bullied?

A girl in my class is constantly being bullied because she's overweight. Is there anything I can to do help her?
Diana*

With bullying, the most important thing to keep in mind is safety. Though you might not want to tell on a bully, if you think your classmate is in danger, contact an adult immediately. Telling an adult can be hard, but can be really helpful in stopping the bullying.

One of the most helpful things you can do is to try talking to your classmate to see what's going on. To a person being bullied, just knowing that someone else is supportive and willing to listen can make a big difference. It can also help if you (and your friends too) hang out with her, especially during times that she has problems — like lunch or free time. Bullies often bother people when they're alone. And having people to hang out with can help your classmate's confidence.

You might be able to help your classmate boost her self-esteem so she can react to the bullying in a healthy way. Certain tactics may help stop bullies, calmly telling them to stop and walking away, ignoring them, using humor, and not resorting to violence. You can also step in if you hear others bullying your classmate and stand up for her by telling them that the way they're treating her is wrong and what they're doing is not funny.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: May 2009

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