October 19, 2016 MY BFF IS A BULLY!!! Dear Nikki, I feel miserable because my BFF is mean to people and wants me and my other friends to be mean, too. Whenever this happens, I say I need to go to the bathroom, and then I just stay in there until it’s all over. I want her to stop, but how do I tell her? I need help ASAP! BFF Of A Bully Oh wow, this is tough. It sounds like your friend IS a bully! And it’s good that you’re not participating in the bullying. But if you know something bad is going to happen, and you don’t do anything about it, are you that much better than the bully? It’s an honest question. I mean, probably a little. But you wouldn’t be hiding if you didn’t know that this is a bad thing that’s going to hurt someone. Let’s think about it another way. If your friends were like, “Let’s burn down the school! Then we wouldn’t have to go!” Would you participate? Of course not. Now, wouldn’t you try to talk them out of it? I hope so. Wouldn’t you tell somebody who could stop them? You definitely wouldn’t hide and act like you didn’t know anything about it. I know you wouldn’t. Because you were thoughtful enough to write in to me, asking for help. You care about what’s right and wrong. You don’t want people to get hurt. But, people are getting hurt because of your friend. And it’s not that you have to be responsible for everyone else. Or, look at it this way—what if someone was doing mean things to you? Wouldn’t you want someone else who knew it was wrong to stand up for you? The way I see it, you have three options when you know someone is going to do something mean. You can stand up to the person before they do it (because it sounds like you know about these things ahead of time). You can try to talk them out of it by telling them what they’re planning to do is wrong. You can distract them with something else. Even if you’re not able to stop them, at least you tried! You can stand by the person being bullied when it happens. This is a good idea if you can’t stop the bullying before it happens, or you don’t know about it in time. If you know the bully, and you’re not worried they’ll hurt you, you could say something like, “That’s not cool!” But if you see something going down with a bully you don’t know, I would suggest ignoring them and stepping in to be a friend to the kid getting bullied. Just say something like, “Hi, I’m Nikki. Want to hang out? We could go to the library (or some other safe place)…” Bullies are generally looking for a confrontation, and you arguing with them will probably just make it worse. If you help their target get out of the situation, the bully will probably get bored and back off. You can tell an adult what’s going to happen. I know this is hard. You must be scared, since your current plan is hiding in the bathroom. But again, imagine if you were the one getting picked on. Or if it was one of your friends, or your little sister. Wouldn’t you want someone to say something? You might even be able to involve a teacher without anyone knowing it was you. But look, hiding in the bathroom shouldn’t even be one of your options. You know that, or you wouldn’t be asking for advice. So consider those three choices and decide what you’re most comfortable with. Then you just have to be brave. I know that’s easier said than done. But, I believe you can do it! Just remember to let your inner dork shine through! How does everyone else handle it when friends are planning something mean?