Here are some simple things you can do to be an ally to targets of name-calling and bullying. And remember—always think about your safety first when deciding the best way to respond.
1. Support targets, whether you know them or not.
Show compassion and encouragement to those who are the targets of bullying behavior by asking if they’re okay, going with them to get help and letting them know you are there for them. Ask what else you can do and make sure they know they’re not alone.
2. Don’t participate.
This is a really easy way to be an ally because it doesn’t require you to actually do anything, just to not do certain things—like laugh, stare or cheer for the bad behavior. By refusing to join in when name- calling and bullying occur, you are sending a message that the behavior is not funny and you are not okay with treating people that way. The next step is to speak up and try to put a stop to the hurtful behavior.
3. Tell aggressors to stop.
If it feels safe, stand tall and tell the person behaving badly to cut it out. You can let them know you don’t approve on the spot or later during a private moment. Whenever you do it, letting aggressors know how hurtful it is to be bullied may cause them to think twice before picking on someone again.
4. Inform a trusted adult.
Sometimes you may need extra help to stop the bullying. It’s important to tell an adult who you trust so that this person can be an ally to you as well as the target. Getting someone out of trouble is never “tattling” or “snitching.” So don’t think twice—reach out to a parent, teacher, guidance counselor, coach or someone else who will get involved.
5. Get to know people instead of judging them.
Appreciate people for who they are and don’t judge them based on their appearance. You may even find that they’re not so different from you after all.
6. Be an ally online.
Bullying happens online, too, and through the use of cell phones. Looking at mean Web pages and forwarding hurtful messages is just like laughing at someone or spreading rumors in person. It is just as hurtful, even if you can’t see the other person’s face. All the rules above are just as important to follow when texting or emailing. So online and offline—do your part to be an ally to others.