How to Unbully the Bully!

Give me a moment, please, I’m thinking.
May 23, 2019
Teachers, do you ever wonder if you’re making a difference at all?
June 18, 2019

In Life and in  Education:
How do we unbully the bully??? How do we restore one’s sense of dignity?

We all know that there are students who bully other students, but
are there teachers who bully other teachers and administrators who bully teachers, too? If so, why? And how do we deal with it?

When one of our students shows a lack of respect for another student or bullies another student, we, the teachers, deal with the student bully swiftly and directly.  We may say something like: “We all respect each other in this classroom and in this school, and we don’t allow any student to bully or mistreat another student.” Then, we may ask the student to apologize for his/her behavior; if it continues, contact the principal and/or the students’ parents; ask the student to have a front-row seat in the “gather your thoughts” chair, etc.

Personal Stories about members of my family being bullied:

My daughter in elementary school:
Since I’ve always been a teacher and I’ve expected my daughter to behave in a respectful manner at all times and in all situations, especially at school, unfortunately, she’s been the victim of bullying several times. In elementary school, when I told my daughter “not to talk” in class, she thought that I meant “never to talk ever” in class, and kept her lips clenched at all times. Her teacher shared this with me, and I explained to her that she should raise her hand, answer questions and participate, so that situation was straightened out. And, my daughter was petite, and still is, as an adult. In her class, an even smaller little girl with enormous over-sized glasses, wanted to do everything, everyday with my daughter: eat lunch together, play on the playground together, sit on the bus together, etc. My daughter shared this with me, and I told her to tell the little girl that she’d like to include other friends in their activities. But, my daughter was afraid to do that; she was afraid that she’d hurt the little girl.  But, finally, at the end of the school year, my daughter explained to the little girl with the specs that she wanted to play with someone else on the playground that day. And, the other little girl said,
“Okay.” That was all there was to it.

My brother in middle school:

Another instance of bullying happened to my brother when he was in middle school. My brother, a very peaceful and serene person, was sitting in a chair in the cafeteria reading a book. Unbeknownst to my brother, the principal was having people move the chairs and tables to the sides of the room to open a space in the middle of the room for an event. The principal asked my brother to move his chair to the side of the room. My brother, who was lost in his book, apparently didn’t hear him or didn’t hear him fast enough. The principal, who thought my brother was being insolent, kicked my brother and the chair across the room. My father went to the principal’s home to discuss that one.

According to Merriam-Webster, to bully means:

Through the use of  language or behavior:
1) to treat (someone) in a cruel, insulting, threatening, or aggressive fashion;
2) to intimidate by inducing fear or a sense of inferiority;
3) to cause (someone) to do something by means of force or coercion

Types of Bullying:

1. My daughter felt coerced to do everything with her little friend at school; she was afraid that she wouldn’t be liked, and she felt guilty about hurting her feelings.

Resolution: My daughter finally confronted the coercive person and stated what she wanted to do. This action appeared to eliminate the seemingly coercive actions of the little girl and my daughter’s fear of hurting her feelings. She no longer felt guilty for what she wanted to do.

2. My brother was physically attacked, and he felt threatened and punished for his innocent actions.

Resolution: My father confronted the principal explaining that my son was not being insolent or denying the principal’s requests. Since my brother was new to the school, my father explained that he was a straight-A student, a member of the tennis team, and a valuable and respectful student in the school.

Both Strategies of Resolution:
In each case, the persons stated their positions in a calm and straightforward manner to those whom they felt were bullying. My daughter spoke up for herself, and my father spoke on behalf of my brother.

Strategies of Resolution when teachers feel bullied by other teachers or by their administrators:

1. The person can confront the other person, a colleague or administrator, stating their feelings in a calm and straightforward manner. I’ve always heard that: “I feel hurt, intimidated, etc.,……” rather than “You treat me in a bullying and harmful manner by ………..” is a better way to state your case. You’re expressing how you feel, rather than accusing the other person what their actions may be. This may or may not work; however, it certainly is worth a try. In educational institutions, or any institutions for that matter, a manner of filing grievances is usually in place, i.e.: 1) tell the person, teacher, etc., about your grievance first; 2) if things are not resolved, then go to the next higher level of supervision, e.g., the principal or chair; and, 3) finally, a person may contact the highest supervisor at the institution, and/or file a grievance with human resources. (This attempt at resolution is taken mainly by the person him or herself.)

2. The person can file their grievance with a union or an arbitration group within the institution.

(This attempt at resolution involves another group to support the person’s grievance.)

Either way: 1. The person is taking action rather than wallowing in resentment and anger. Neither manner may work; however, the person is standing up for him or herself. And, in standing up for him or herself, the person is restoring at least some semblance of dignity.

What do you think??


  1. Julia Pietrangelo says:

    I love this and will use these strategies in my classroom. Thank you.

  2. Jim Leeper says:

    This one really hits home. As a frequent target of bullies for most of my early years I had a tendency to shy away from close friendships until well into my adult years because they could present a certain degree of risk. They are still not easy and require much effort. The effects of bullying last well beyond the initial acts of the bully. The bullied withdraws and avoids contacts which may invite more bullying. This of coarse makes you look vulnerable and works like blood in the water and the sharks circle the wounded fish. My solution in high school was to become a basketball manager. This effectively made me a semi-jock and greatly reduced the incidents, but didn’t completely eliminate them.

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