ZocdocAnswersWhat is the best way to help a bullied sibling?

Question

What is the best way to help a bullied sibling?

My 17-year-old brother is getting bullied at school. He doesn't want me to intervene. What can I do so that he stops being so afraid all the time?

Answer

It is very difficult to deal with cases of school bullying especially when it involves teenagers. This is because, for teenagers, it is important for them to feel both supported emotionally at home and also independent. Too much probing questioning at home might cause a defensive reaction, because he may feel that his autonomy is not being valued. One good approach is to try asking open ended questions. For example, you could ask him if there is anything going on that he needs to or wants to talk about. Even if he says no, make sure to remind him that you are supportive and that you will be available to listen or talk whenever he needs. Avoid making him feel on the defensive or trapped by your questions. Also sometimes it can be helpful to remind him of resources that are available to him. For example, if he says he is being bullied you could suggest that he talk with his main teachers or his school principals. They will have standard approaches that they use in these situations that maintain the confidentiality of their students while at the same time ensuring their safety. Good luck dealing with this very difficult situation!

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