We’ve all heard this often offered advice on how to handle a bully. While at it’s core it is motivated by the right idea, to avoid bullying and not get drawn into conflict, it can easily be misinterpreted and quite often causes more problems.
Turn around and walk away only delays bullying for another day.
Just walk away is just irresponsible to teach when so many other methods of dealing with the bullying problem are available. What happens when an individual offers this permissive body language and creates this kind of experience for a bullying individual? The person bullying can get the message that they have permission to do it again and again without consequence. It can be one of the reasons bullying gets repeated.
“Just ignore bullying.” or “Just walk away from bullying.”
These are both pass the buck schemes that do nothing to solve the real issue.
o Was the bullying behavior dealt with?
o Was the targeted individual of bullying dealt with?
o Were the social and environmental enabling factors corrected?
We have also seen this lesson become a rationalization for bystanders to not get involved. They too, “just ignore the bullying” or “just walk away”.
Here is why “Just Walk Away from Bullying” is ineffective:
1. It does nothing to treat the bullying behavior. Research shows that the bullying behavior is now likely to be repeated. Uncorrected behavior gets repeated.
2. It does nothing to treat the person from being selected and repeatedly targeted.
3. It neglects giving the child targeted for bullying the social skills, emotional competence and coping mechanisms for bullying.
4. It sets a precedent that bullying is tolerated.
5. It may have the unintended consequence of sending the message to the bullied child that they are not worth standing up for.
Entire organizations are dedicated to this flawed approach to bullying prevention. They claim that just walking away from the bully, “robs the bully of his fun”. While this might be a temporary technique, in our experience, the bullying perpetrator then just moves on to find someone else they can target. It causes someone else to have the problem. We do not agree with this tactic when better ones can be used. What happens the next time this child or individual encounters bullying behavior?
Isn’t it ironic that some schools purporting to have a “ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY AGAINST BULLYING” also teach students to “JUST WALK AWAY FROM BULLYING”. This behavior is precisely tolerating bullying and an invitation to continue without consequence.
Bullying Prevention Initiative International uses bullying prevention programs developed by professional protectors to specifically deal with these issues in an effective manner. The foundation of the program is Verbal Judo and a philosophy teaching that everyone deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and kindness.
If you would like more information on our unique and practical bullying prevention programs contact us at
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(Arizona Bullyproof Project)