Laughter can be a lifesaver—literally. Laughter can ease pain, fight disease, and improve your overall quality of life. So it’s no wonder laughter can help when supporting a friend who’s being bullied. Help your friend reframe their experience by making a joke about the situation and pointing out how silly and ridiculous bullying is. Consider saying something like, “It makes sense that you’re being bullied for being smart because being smart is totally a bad thing.” If you can’t think of the right words to say yourself, try sending a funny video instead. Everyone loves a good blooper 🙂
Here’s a wild idea: if everyone sat together in the cafeteria, then no one would have to sit alone. This week, try to get as many people to sit together during lunch as possible. Ask a teacher if you can push the tables together and get everyone to pitch in. You could even say, “I have this crazy idea, I really want everyone to sit together for a day!” We recommend bringing a camera—you’ll probably want to take a pic with the whole group.
Did you know that optimism strengthens our friendships and can actually make us healthier?³⁵ It can also be learned. This week, focus the conversation with your friends on positive things, like what you’re looking forward to this year, or something really awesome one of your friends did. You can try phrases like, “What are you guys looking forward to this weekend?” or “I can’t wait for next semester. ___ is going to be amazing!” Thought-starters like these are a great way to bring a conversation to a positive place and keep it there.
Gossip and rumors can create a toxic environment. This week, if your friends start talking behind someone’s back, remove yourself and go do something else. Let your friends know that you think bad-mouthing people is a waste of time and you don’t want to be involved. You can try phrases like, “Why are we spreading rumors about her? Let’s talk about something more interesting,” or “Come on, this is ridiculous. Don’t we have better things to do?” or “I’m sorry guys, I’m not comfortable talking about her while she’s not here.” You may shock your friends by calling them out, but in time, they may just thank you.
Think for a second about how you would feel if you were new at school and didn’t know anyone. You’d probably really appreciate someone reaching out to include you.³³ This week, see if you can be that person for someone else. You can say, “Hey, I don’t think we’ve met yet, I’m___.” or extend a handshake and say, “Hey, I’m ___! What’s your name?” The rest will sort itself out.
“Hey, what’s that?!” Creating a distraction can be a great way to help someone get out of a tough spot. If you see a friend being harassed this week and it feels safe to jump in, consider creating a distraction. You could tell them that a teacher needs to see them in their classroom right away or that you lost your wallet and need help finding it. It might be just the excuse they need to get out of the situation.
Your environment can have a big impact on your mood. But did you know that, according to one study, connectedness to your environment and feelings of support lead to better emotional health?³² This week, talk to a teacher or a guidance counselor about creating a safe space in your school where students can relax and study without fear of being bullied. You could propose finding a location near the guidance office or the nurse’s office. Wherever it may be, just knowing it exists can give you and other students a huge sense of relief.