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What Do You Say to a Bully?

What Do You Say to a Bully?
You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him/her. What is it?
 
CPI put that question to 31 school bullying prevention advocates and difference makers as part of our October 31 for 31 School Bullying Prevention feature, with the intention of seeing what good ideas—and consensus or difference—we might discover in their responses.
 
Common themes included explicitly telling the kid engaging in the bullying behavior to stop, invoking empathy (“Imagine if that was done to you or someone you love”), and behavior questioning (“Do you realize that’s not nice?”). And one response echoed what some of you may be thinking right now: “We can’t change behavior in one sentence.”
 
Changing behavior is, of course, an ongoing process, yet hopefully the following statements and suggestions will help you start the process of managing and preventing bullying behaviors:
 
Responses That Include “Stop”
 
Stop! You’re hurting him/her!
 
Stop doing this—no one deserves to be treated this way!
 
Excuse me, it’s not OK to make fun of another person (or whisper behind their back or exclude someone). That’s not how we treat people at this school. Please stop.
 
Stop. We need to talk.
 
Stop and think about what you are saying.
 
Stop that. You are bothering and offending me when you behave that way, and we don't do that here.


I need you to stop treating X that way. It's hurtful and completely inappropriate.
 
Stop, you have no idea what your actions can cause someone else to do and the price for finding out is more than you or anyone should ever have to pay.
 
Empathic Responses
 
Would you like it if this was happening to your younger brother?
 
You never know what somebody might be going through; they could be being abused at home or going through a death in the family, and your actions and words could be the thing to push them over the edge.
 
Imagine if someone just said (or did) exactly what you just did to someone you really love and care about.
 
You never know a person's struggle, so treat people with kindness; your cruel actions could send them over the edge.
 
If someone did that to you, what would you say to them?
 
What you're doing is hurting someone, but I understand you're struggling too.
 
How would you feel if someone did this to you and what will you do to make things right?
 
Behavior Questioning Responses
 
Hey man, that’s not cool.


Your abuse of others does not make you better.
 
You don't need to be this kind of person.
 
I know bullying that girl gives you this ‘high’ and makes you feel all-mighty and powerful. But the truth is, a few years from now when you grow up, have kids of your own, and look back on what you've just did, I promise you won't feel all-mighty or powerful; you will just look in the mirror and feel sad.
 
Do you realize that your behavior is not nice?
 
Why? (two respondents gave this answer)
 
Why?
 
Other Responses
 
We need to talk.
 
You wanted attention and now you have mine.
 
I’d like to talk to you, may I?
 
No more, not here, never. 
 
Though I cannot assure you that I can fix this immediately or completely, I will not give up on helping you if you do not give up on me while I try to help you.
 
Tell me, please, what’s making you so angry that you want to get back at him/her?
 
It’s not okay to say that to someone in my classroom. Are we clear?
 
We don’t do that here.
 
We can’t change behavior in one sentence.
 
Check out the full responses from each recipient in our 31 Making a Difference feature, and please tell us in the comments: What would you say to start the conversation about bullying?
 
 
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