March 6, 2011 - submitted by Timothy, United States of America

"I have a friend who I am worried for. He is really short and gets picked on a lot and he takes his anger out by bullying other people. The other day he got mad for someone sitting in his seat and he threw his milk at him, (a closed carton) and he keeps being a jerk to some of my other friends. He really doesn't know how to handle situations where he is bullied and always does the wrong thing and gets in trouble. I want to help him but I don't how to tell him he isn't doing the right thing, he grew up being bullied and still is and it's just so hard and I want to help. Thank you, Timothy."

The Oracle replies:

I'd be honest with him as him being bullied is no excuse for his behaviour. Surely if you point out to him that he is behaving as unacceptably as his own tormentors he will see he is no different and a bully himself. It is common for people who are bullied to become bullies in later life but your friend is taking out his frustrations rather than trying to find solutions to his own problems; which now seem to include anger management as well as being picked on.
Kids can be cruel and someone who is short in stature may seem like an easy target, however - and I realize this is easier said than done - they would soon lose interest if you friend laughs their comments off or ignores them. The bullies will get bored. I think he needs to talk to either teachers or a family member to explain what is happening and then also deal with his violent tendencies. You may yourself be fearful of his reaction if you speak to him so you could write him a letter and suggest you both try and find a way through this together and support him. I also think you should tell him you really think that being a jerk is not cool. You have a right to tell him so. It's great you want to help him and I'm sure if he values your friendship he will listen to what you have to say and make some much needed changes. Over to you...

Okay, when you talk to him, and if you bring up the topic about this bullying then you have to be gentle, but very sure about what's right and wrong. Say you start talking to him about the milk incident, start off with something a little innocent like "why'd you throw that milk carton at someone?" if he says it was for fun, or because he deserved it, or something along those lines then you need to tell him that it's wrong. Tell him that what he did is wrong and explain why. You also need to talk to him about his being bullied, talk, and tell him that he should try to ignore the bullies and keep walking, don't take the bait because that only makes it worse. And one last thing, if he doesn't stop, you've talked to him and you still feel uncomfortable around him then you should probably re-evaluate his friendship to you. Minda.

Your friend needs to tell someone. Bullying has to be tackled head on. It takes bravery but with your support I'm sure he can tell someone. There won't be much sympathy if he keeps throwing stuff at people though! Tim

There is only so much you can do to help him. I would sit down with him (when he isn't angry) and talk to him about your feelings and how his actions are uncalled for. The fact that he is picking on your friends and other people shows that he needs some sort of help. Either way, you shouldn't have to suffer from it. I hate to say this, but if worse comes to worse, and he doesn't change his actions, it might be in your best interest to let the friendship go.
If he is willing to talk and get help, be there for him. I know that in many schools there's counselors to help out with problems like this, which might be beneficial to him. Just from what I'm hearing, he probably needs some sort of anger management. Which is something you can't fully help with. You could bring that up to him, but I warn you, he may get very defensive, and possibly get violent towards you. I don't know him, so I don't know his limits. Just be careful if that's something you want to bring with him. Also, he might not even be aware that he has a problem. But just in my opinion, I wouldn't keep a friend that picked on my other friends if it continued. I hope that he ends this bullying, and that everything works out. Caitlin

You mentioned that he was bullied growing up, so I'm guessing the problem is more than just anger issues. If you want to tell him gently, ask him how it felt to be bullied. Then ask him how he thinks others feel when he bullies them. This can help him understand that bullying is not so pleasant on the receiving end. Don't be afraid to talk with your school counselor and ask for him/her to share their thoughts, as they can be extremely helpful! Has your friend tried venting anger and stress in more productive ways? Playing competitive sports is an awesome way to cut loose and release some pent-up aggression. I can't imagine a bully has many friends, so make sure you are there for him no matter what happens. Blake

I was bullied for being small and I just laughed at them. It wasn't easy though as I was really pretty scared. One day I saw one of the bullies on their own and I smiled and said 'hello', she looked so shocked she ran off! They didn't bother me again. Tell your friend to stand up to them. Crista, Germany.

I think that your friend needs help as soon as possible. What he is doing is not right and if he carries on like this maybe he will end up worse than the people who are bullying him. Try to talk to him before it's too late. Good luck! David, 16

Oh no Timothy, you must be feeling really bad for all your friends. One is being bullied and he is bullying some of the others. Maybe a counsellor could help him with all the issues? I just think that he needs to have a friend like you who can talk to him calmly about what he's doing and the effect it's having on you too. If he tells someone he's being bullied and it stops, maybe he'll stop bullying too... Sally-Anne

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