How to Help a Friend Who Is Being Bullied in School

Three Parts:Stepping InDeciding to HelpCreating an Anti-Bullying Culture

Unfortunately, bullying has been a common problem in schools for a long time. Today, bullying can happen not just in school, but also online. Often, people feel powerless to help a friend who’s being bullied. You may be afraid for your own safety, or simply not know what to do. However, if you want to help a friend who’s being bullied, there’s plenty you can do safely.

Part 1
Stepping In

  1. Image titled Discipline Yourself Step 8
    Tell the bully to stop. This is a great first step. You’re letting the bully know that you see what they’re doing, and that it’s not okay.[1]
    • Don’t yell or escalate the situation. Stay calm and collected.
    • Tell the bully that their behavior isn’t funny or cool. Many bullies are seeking that kind of attention. Let them know they’re not going to get it.
    • You can simply say, "What you're doing isn't cool. Please stop." You could also say, "I don't like how you're treating my friend."
    • If your friend is being bullied online, send the bully a private message that says you know what's going on and they need to stop.
  2. Image titled Care for Yourself As a Woman Step 6
    Avoid bullying back. It may be tempting, but two wrongs don’t make a right. Don’t call the bully names or make fun of them. Once you’ve told them to stop and your friend is out of harm’s way, simply walk away.[2]
    • Remember that bullying back can make things worse. The bully could decide to target you, or could make things worse for your friend.
  3. Image titled Buy a Cell Phone Step 7
    Report the bullying. As soon as you can, tell an adult whom you trust. This is important whether the bullying happens at school, online, or elsewhere.[3]
    • People you can tell include your parents, teachers, school administrators, or a religious leader.
    • If the person you tell doesn’t offer help immediately, tell someone else. Bullying should be dealt with as quickly as possible.
  4. Image titled Buy a Cell Phone Step 4
    Help your friend stay safe. Bullies often target people when they’re alone. Offer to sit with your friend at lunch, walk to the bathroom with them, or wait with them for the bus.[4]
    • If your friend is also being bullied online, don’t engage with the bully on social media. Make sure your friend blocks them. You can, too.
    • Make sure your friend knows that you think highly of them. You can remind them by saying, "I want to stick by you, because you're an awesome person."
    • They might feel weak or embarrassed from being bullied. Make sure they know that's not true. Say something like, "You're really strong. The bully is the one who's weak, because they need to pick on people to feel good. That's not cool."
  5. Image titled Tolerate a Coworker You Cannot Stand Step 10
    Pay attention to other bystanders. You were a bystander who decided to help stop the bullying. However, some bystanders might be laughing with the bully or egging them on. This makes the problem worse. Let the other bystanders know that.[5]
    • Some bystanders don’t help because they’re afraid of “tattling.”
    • You can calmly tell other bystanders what you told the bully: this behavior isn’t cool. You can say something like, "We shouldn't be encouraging this. This is bullying."

Part 2
Deciding to Help

  1. Image titled Detect Depression in Yourself and Others Step 6
    Know the difference between teasing and bullying. Almost everyone has been teased at some point. Often, we tease siblings or close friends. Teasing can sting a little, but is never meant to truly hurt someone. Bullying is different than that.[6]
    • Bullying is generally characterized by repeated behavior that is intentionally hurtful. It can have long-term consequences for the bully, the victim, and even bystanders.
    • Bullying can be physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual.
    • Bullying can happen in person, or online (known as cyber-bullying).
    • When someone is being bullied, there’s usually a power imbalance between the bully and the victim. The bully may be significantly bigger, older, or more popular than the victim.
  2. Image titled Become an Improved
    Offer your friend support. Some victims of bullying are afraid to ask for help. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed. Bullies can even make their victims promise not to tell anyone what happened. Let your friend know that you’d like to help-- even if they haven’t asked. [7]
    • Ask your friend what would feel supportive to them. They may want someone to eat lunch with, or for you to talk to a school official with them.
    • Talk to your friend before going to anyone else. That way, they won’t feel you’ve gone behind their back.
  3. Image titled Desensitize Yourself from Pain Step 2
    Ask other friends to help. There’s always strength in numbers. If you’re afraid to act on your own, find a couple other friends to help.[8]
    • Getting more friends involved will show the bully how unpopular their behavior is.
    • If the victim sees multiple people coming to their aid, they’ll feel supported.
  4. Image titled Be Safe, Be Yourself and Still Have Fun in High School Step 6
    Learn more about bullying. Sometimes it can feel scary to step in to stop bullying. When you know why people bully, you can understand how to stop it in the future.[9]
    • Most schools have pamphlets available about bullying.
    • Your teacher or parent may be able to offer advice.

Part 3
Creating an Anti-Bullying Culture

  1. Image titled Behave Yourself As an Adolescent Sent Away from Home Step 7
    Form a school safety committee. Everyone wants to feel safe at school. Ask a teacher or parent to help you start a group that will focus on bullying. The group should be made up of adults and youth. Together, you can decide how to stop bullying in your school.[10]
    • The committee can be an informal group, or an official school club.
    • Ask friends and adults whom you trust to join.
  2. Image titled Stop Being Bored when You're Not in School Step 9
    Draft a code of conduct. You can do this with your safety committee or on your own. Once you have it, share it with school officials and teachers. This should be something teachers and students can agree to and sign.[11]
    • Codes of conduct can include which behaviors are not allowed. For example, no hitting, kicking, or name calling.
    • Make sure everyone at school knows about the code of conduct. That way, everyone knows the rules.
  3. Image titled Introduce Yourself in Irish Step 19
    Understand why people bully. Understanding is an important step toward getting people to change their behavior. People act like bullies for different reasons. When you know why they bully, it’s easier to stop them.[12]
    • A bully might have a goal, such as being accepted as popular or as having a higher social status. If your school can create an environment where social status is unimportant, this can prevent some bullying.
  4. Image titled Introduce Yourself in Irish Step 15
    Set a good example. When you actively help stop bullying, you’re setting a good example. You’re showing that it’s possible to be accepted and comfortable with yourself while standing up for others.[13]
    • Let others see your actions. Ask for help creating anti-bullying posters or organize a group discussion about bullying.
    • Tell people why you’re working to end bullying.


  • If you don’t feel safe intervening yourself, tell a trusted adult first.
  • Always remain calm when dealing with bullies. Never fuel the fire.
  • Be brave. Stand up against the bully and raise your voice. Mobilize support against him/her and make it known that he is wrong.


  • Some forms of bullying can be extremely dangerous and must be addressed immediately by an authority figure. Seek out an adult immediately in any of the following cases:[14]
    • Someone has a weapon
    • Someone has threatened to seriously injure someone else
    • There have been hate-motivated threats or actions (stemming from racism, homophobia, etc.)
    • Someone has been sexually assaulted
    • Someone has been accused of a crime (such as robbery or extortion)

Article Info

Categories: Dealing with Bullying | Supporting Friends