Should You Fight a Bully?
In movies and on TV, sometimes people physically fight the bully. Most of the time, you don’t have to do that. You can stand up to a bully without having an actual fight, where people get hurt.
Almost always, you can take different actions — and those steps will be better for you.
Sometimes, though, people feel they need to — or want to — fight a bully. They may feel that they are being physically threatened right at that moment and need to protect themselves. They may think fighting back will teach the bully a lesson or be the best way to escape. And some kids may feel pressured by others to fight back when they don’t really want to. That’s never a good reason to fight.
Some bullies don’t actually want to fight. They just like to intimidate others. Other bullies back down without a fight if the person they’re targeting stands up to them. But some bullies do like to get into fights. They might like to cause pain to others — or feel pain themselves.
Fighting can be dangerous and can lead to people getting seriously hurt. It also can quickly get out of control, with more people joining in. Many schools have strict rules about fighting and it can result in punishments for anyone who was involved.
You can feel more in control by talking with responsible adults, such as parents, teachers, counselors, or coaches. They can get involved to help.
For those who want to build some skills and improve confidence, taking self-defense classes can help. Even for those who never need to use those skills, just learning them may be very helpful. In a few rare situations, fighting back may be the only way to avoid being hurt. But in almost all cases, there are better, safer choices.
Reviewed by: Neil Izenberg, MD
Date reviewed: July 2014