How to Stop Verbal Bullying

Brown wooden book shelves in a library.jpg

Verbal bullying at schools has become a hot topic in the wake of multiple bullying-provoked suicides. The abusers use psychological bullying (exclusion, gossip), verbal bullying (taunting, teasing) or cyber bullying (malicious IMs, emails, website posts) to single out students who don't fit in based on looks or behavior (shyness), as well as race, religion or sexual preference. Parents and teachers don't always spot the abuse because there are no physical scars and because bullied students may be too afraid to speak up. If bullying occurs, or is suspected, there are many ways to stop it.

  • Answering machine
  • Home phone with caller ID
  • Folder for notes and letters
  • Mobile phone text messages and voicemails
  • Photos of abusers and phone numbers on caller id
  • Notebook log of dates, times and incidents

1 For Students

2 Don't give the abuser permission

Don't give the abuser permission to keep attacking or to become more violent. Tell a teacher, counselor or parent, because they can find ways to end the bullying.

3 Keep date and time logs

Keep date and time logs of all verbal bullying incidents. Take cell phone pictures. Save notes, letters, and electronic messages (emails, voicemails, text messages) which are time and date stamped by computers and cell phones. Use home answering machines when necessary, and if possible, tape record the bullying. Note that taping abusers without their knowledge, while documenting the abuse, isn't useable in court. Answering machine messages, however, can be used in court.

4 Be by becoming part of a group

Never be alone by becoming part of a group. Hang out with at least one or two friends or classmates in the halls, at lunch, and whenever the bully may be around. Besides lessening the feelings of isolation, it lessens the likelihood of a verbal bully's attacks.

5 When a bully begins his verbal attacks

When a bully begins his verbal attacks, don't give them the fearful response they crave. It takes a great deal of courage to ignore him, so pretend not to notice them and walk away.

6 Don't get angry or fight back

Don't get angry or fight back, as this may antagonize the bully and escalate the abuse, whereas a verbal bully will usually lose interest in a "victim" who shows no fear and doesn't react in anger.

7 Examine the logs

Examine the logs, notes, emails and voicemails; noticing any trends in the bully's verbal assaults. Develop and rehearse possible responses to the bully's taunts and begin using them against the bully, since bullies tend to lose interest in "victims" as they become more confident

8 For Parents

9 Once the bullying is identified

Once the bullying is identified, help the child collect evidence of the bullying --- notes and computer or cell phone messages --- and begin a log of all events surrounding the bullying.

10 Set up a home answering machine

Set up a home answering machine on a phone with caller ID, then wait for the machine to pick up and take a picture of the phone number on the caller ID. Contact the phone company about the abusive calls. If they feel the abuse and threats have merit, they can trace and record these threatening calls.

11 Contact school administrators about the bullying

Contact school administrators about the bullying, specifically the bullying taking place on campus or involving school computers. Schools are responsible for bullying or threats of harm to students on school property and must take action to prevent it once it comes to light. If administrators at the school campus can't or won't help, escalate it up the chain of command within the school district.

Joan Whetzel has been writing professionally since 1998. She has written juvenile nonfiction, movie and television scripts and adult nonfiction. Her juvenile nonfiction has appeared in such magazines as "Tech Directions," "Connect" and "Class Act." She was part of the production team that produced the documentary "Fuel for Thought" on Houston PBS. She has also written articles for Katy Magazine Online.