Strategies for dealing with physical bullying

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Strategies for dealing with physical bullying

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Unfortunately, we know that physical bullying is actually fairly common in middle school and high school, especially among boys. It comes in different forms. It could be kicking, hitting or pushing, or it could be tripping someone in the hallway or throwing a piece of paper at them in class. The strategies for handling physical bullying can be very challenging. A lot of adults say that they want to be told and immediately go to the school and try to put an end to it. But if this is a very minor offense, telling an adult is not always the best strategy because you could get yourself bullied even more by being a tattle tale or a snitch. We give kids other strategies to use prior to telling an adult. They involve things like, laying low when the bully is around. When you know that the bully is nearby, you don't want to draw a lot of attention to yourself because that will put you on their radar. You also want to avoid the bully. If you know a bully hangs out in a certain area of the lunchroom, you don't want to go to that area of the lunchroom. If you know they have a locker in a certain hallway, you don't want to walk down that hallway, if you can help it. You also don't want to try and make friends with that bully. This is a very common mistake that kids make, and it's not very effective. They tend to just bully you more or take advantage of you. We also know that bullies like to pick on kids who are by themselves. So simply hanging out with other kids is a very effective strategy for avoiding bullying. Another thing we don't want to do is provoke the bully. That means, we don't want to tell on them for very minor offenses like they are passing a note in class or chewing gum. That will just provoke them and want to bully them more. Another thing we want to do is, if the bully is nearby, we could stand beside an adult when the bully is around. We know that they are probably not going to bully us when the adult is around. Finally, if we are in danger and this is a chronic bullying situation, yes, absolutely, we should get help from an adult; but that not always the first, best strategy to go to at first. We need to give them other tools to deal with that.

View Liz Laugeson, PsyD's video on Strategies for dealing with physical bullying...

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Liz Laugeson, PsyD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.  Dr. Laugeson is the Director of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance, which is a collaborative research initiative between The Help Group and the UCLA Semel Institute, dedicated to developing and expanding applied clinical research in the treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.  She is also the Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, which is an outpatient hospital-based clinic providing parent-assisted social skills training for adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other social impairments. 

Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigating social skills training for youth with developmental disabilities from preschool to early adulthood and is the co-developer of an evidence-based social skills intervention for teens and young adults known as PEERS. She was the two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH from 2004-2007, recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010. Dr. Laugeson has presented her research at international conferences throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, and Australia. Her work has been featured on national and international media outlets such as People Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

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