It is hard to keep your cool when being insulted or challenged in front of your peers. In the following scenario, we will discuss one strategy for walking away from a fight without looking like a coward.
After being dismissed from class you hurry to your locker to put away your belongings and go home. You have been confined all day behind concrete walls, bombarded by florescent lights and you cannot wait to breathe some fresh air.
You close the locker door, wheel around then meet the glare of a bully, with a few of his cronies in tow. He has taunted you for several weeks, his antics growing more bold and aggressive. He remains at a relatively safe distance, but a large crowd has gathered, eager for a showdown.
You do not want to fight and the bully knows it. He continues antagonizing you, wanting to impress his friends, the crowd and have some fun at your expense. After delivering some brainless insults, he asks “are you going to fight me or cluck like a chicken?”
A good response might go something like this: “I don’t want to fight ANYONE because I don’t want to get kicked out of school. Now leave me alone.”
This response is somewhat contrary to the standard advice “just ignore him and walk away” but it is supported by sound logic. It might be possible to feign obliviousness and scuttle from the scene, but will that stop the bullying? Maybe or maybe not. You might later seethe with anger because you did not stand up for yourself. Perhaps potential bullies will deem you vulnerable and select you as their next target.
The first part of the response, “I don’t want to fight ANYONE,” shows that you are not afraid. Specifying “anyone” implies that you want to avoid fighting regardless of what you think the outcome might be. You are not shrinking from a fight because you fear this particular bully. This helps you dodge the “chicken” accusation (whether or not it is true) and salvage your ego.
You continue with “because I don’t want to get kicked out of school” to provide a valid reason for declining the challenge. Some spectators might privately sympathize and be less likely to jump on the band wagon.
You end with “Now leave me alone,” speaking with confidence and a commanding voice. By making clear that you will not tolerate the bully’s behavior, you become a less desirable target because bullies typically do not pester people who stand up for themselves.
This strategy has helped lots of kids over the years. Every situation is different, so apply this strategy only where you think appropriate. Role-playing, confidence and your brain are the best weapons for deterring bullies.