Lame anti-bullying “advice”, that we somehow still use

TW: This advice is inaccurate and horrible, and might bring back some nasty memories for anyone who has experienced the horrors of bullying. 

You might have heard the story of the school in Nebraska that sent it’s students home with the following advice on bullying:


Wow, well done folks. Keep going and you might be shortlisted for the ‘Jerk of the Year’ awards along with US Airlines.

Obviously, this was a mistake. That’s certainly what they’ve told everyone, anyway, and they have since apologized and issued new advice. But let’s face it, anyone who’s been bullied will have heard this lame-ass advice anyway. Despite knowing full well that literally none of the “rules” on that list actually stops bullying, we just carry on with the general ‘sticks and stones’ mantra. WTF, universe?!



This is something that seriously upsets me. Not only was I bullied, but repeatedly I was subjected to this pathetic pseudo-helpful “advice”. In fact once, when I was 13 and pre-self-harm, I went to tell my teacher – my personal tutor, in fact – about being bullied in school for my sexuality (everyone suspected I was gay, that’s a story for another day). He gave me similar advice about not letting them get to me, ignoring them and such. A couple of days later at my parents evening he even had the cheek to tell my father I was “unbulliable”, such was the fuck that man specifically put in charge of my care did not give.

The main problem with this advice is that it represents just that – it reeks of ‘put up and shut up kid, because it’s not our responsibility, and damn it you probably deserve it‘. It’s not dramatic of me to say so – it’s all summed up explicitly in the last three so-called “rules”:

Rule #7: Do not tell on bullies. The number one reason bullies hate their victims, is because the victims tell on them. Telling makes the bully want to retaliate. Tell an adult only when a real injury or crime (theft of something valuable) has occurred. Would we keep our friends if we tattled on them?

Rule #8: Don’t be a sore loser.

Rule #9: Learn to laugh at yourself and not get “hooked” by put-downs. Make a joke out of it or agree with the put-down. For example: “If you think I’m ugly, you should see my sister!”

Loving number 9 – bully your sister, kids, on the off-chance that by ruining the reputation of your sibling and destroying your relationship, you might, just might, stop being bullied. Lovely.

Seriously though, this advice assumes automatically that you have done something to offend the bully, so you totally deserve to be bullied. Maybe you “tattled”, or it’s your sense of humour. Maybe it’s the way you dress, or talk, or walk. Maybe it’s your family. Maybe it’s your gender, or your sexuality. Hey, whatever, kid. You must suffer the consequences of being different. Including, but not limited to, the intense and wide-ranging physical and psychological effects of being bullied.  It just isn’t our concern.

It’s so easy to pass the buck if you pin all the blame on the kids being bullied…

Except we all know the responsibility for bullying lies with the perpetrator, not the victim. Blaming the victims is only going to reinforce this as a viable option in response to whatever shit the bully is going through. Is this really the only plan we’ve got in dealing with bullying – messing up a whole bunch of kids lives because we can’t be bothered to get our hands fucking dirty? It seems so obvious to me that we should try to help the damn people involved, including the bullies.

Before you weep for humanity though, guys, there are two things you have to remember. The first is that there’s people like this guy in the world. The second, is that you can still change these things. Get involved campaigning against bullying, teach your kids or your friend’s kids or whoever about it. Call people up on the stupid advice they’re giving if you overhear this rubbish. Do things.

Don’t let bullying win.



Lame anti-bullying “advice”, that we somehow still use

7 thoughts on “Lame anti-bullying “advice”, that we somehow still use

  1. thelonelyoutcast says:

    wow, the advice in that picture is actually stupid! OMD if that was in the UK EVERYONE would hear about it and someone would get sacked (as usual)

    anywhoo, you are totally right – we should never let the bullies win – ever. i was to also bullied and i completely agree with this post, good on you for telling the world, it only starts one to make a revolution.

    1. thelonelyoutcast says:

      i just realised you are british!! you must know them what i am talking about with the whole sacking thing

    1. Shane is my absolute favourite, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      Those videos have made my morning! I love Malala, she’s so brave and inspiring. I’d not seen that guy before but he is so right! Wow, there are some seriously amazing people in this world! 🙂

      1. Glad you liked them. I realize the Zach Wahls vid is a little off your point. But the confidence he exudes as he’s standing up to the government is just incredible. Your missive reminded me of him.

  2. Me and most of my sibs got bullied at school because we were considered “foreign”. My mother always said if a bully hits you, hit them back twice as hard. I was the only one to take her up on that advice and punched the school bully. Never had a problem after that. My main grumble though was that some teachers bullied me. My primary one teacher use to smack me around (with a stapler once!) and lock me in a closet. She put me in the bottom english and maths groups (that took me years to work my way out from) and would mark my work as wrong when it was right (I compared my answers with others and, lo and behold, they were right all along). I have long since put it behind me, and may even think it made me the person I am today (tough as nails, but a bit brittle). But not everyone will have a positive outcomes. My older sister got bullied by her classmates for the same reason and 30 years later is still talking about it. My brother got beat up regularly and nearly had his arm broken, but he seems to have put that behind him (although he did himself have aggression issues in his teens which he seems to have worked through)

    But, social psychiatry research shows that bullying and victimisation in childhood are big causal factors in distress in adulthood. It is about time it got sorted.

    My observation is that there is weak leadership and policies in school for dealing with bullies. We need some kind of national scheme for dealing with it. A united front from children, parents and teachers is needed.

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