Bully-Proofing Strategies

The Diocese of Des Moines has implemented some help for students who may need strategies for bullying. In some situations, it works best to use a couple of strategies together. If you have tried the strategies and the bullying continues, it is important that you tell an adult so they can help you deal with the situation. You do not need to suffer in silence. 


Students, you can use this strategy during a bullying situation by calling to other students for help or by going to an adult, describing what is happening and saying that you need help. You can also use this strategy when anticipating a bullying situation by asking friends or classmates to stay close or by informing a teacher to keep a watchful eye. Remember, if you feel that there is a situation where someone could get hurt, you use the “Help” strategy right away.

Assert Yourself

This strategy is best used when you are the target of bullying. It should not be used in cases of severe bullying or when you feel really scared. To use this strategy, look the person bullying you in the eye and tell them in a firm voice to stop. For example, “I don’t like how you are gossiping about me. It’s mean and unfair and I want you to stop.”


Many students have reported success in using this strategy to deescalate a bullying situation. This strategy works when used with the “Own It” strategy. It also works well when used with the “Assert Yourself”strategy. In cases of severe bullying or teasing, you simply respond with a humorous comment. This is not the response that the person doing the bullying is looking for, and humor will often diffuse their “power.”

Own It

This strategy helps students own the put-down or belittling behavior in order to diffuse it. This strategy works when used with the "Humor" strategy with comments such as, "Yes, my hair does look gross today. I'm trying out a new style!" Students, you can also use "Own It" with "Assert Yourself." Here's an example: if you get put down about how you are "dumb in math," you can respond by saying, "Yes, I do have a hard time in math. It's something I'm working on and I would appreciate it if you wouldn't make fun of me."

Self Talk

This is a good way to maintain your positive self esteem during a bullying situation. This strategy involves putting a recording in your mind that says nice things to yourself like, “I try my best in school. When he calls me dumb, it does not mean that it is true. It means that he is bullying. It is his problem, not mine.” We have learned that kids who are bullied over and often begin to think that the put downs are true. This is a good way to keep that from happening. You may also need to use the strategy along with another one such as the “Assert Yourself” or the “Help” strategy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when put-downs continue.


Often times it is best to walk away to avoid a bullying situation. One way to use this strategy is to avoid the location where the bullying occurs. You could also avoid a bully by being with others rather than being alone. For example, instead of walking home alone, walk home with a group of friends. Another way to use the “Avoid” strategy is to think carefully about the situation and avoid doing anything that may provoke a bullying behavior.

Students in kindergarten through 8th grade learn about bully-proofing strategies. 


  1. Get HELP
  2. Walk away -- AVOID 
  3. Use your words—or ASSERT YOURSELF
  4. Use positive SELF-TALK