How Do Bullying Hotlines Work?

Remember there are always options for coping with a bully

When it comes to getting help for bullying and cyberbullying, it's important to know what resources are available to you. After all, bullying is not a situation that should be dealt with alone. Aside from the physical injuries and emotional anguish, bullying rarely ends without intervention. As a result, it's important that parents, school officials, and possibly even law enforcement team together to bring an end to the harassment.

In order to heal from bullying, it is important to have support and encouragement. Sometimes, young people have a strong family unit and close circle of friends that reassure them of their value and worth and help them regain their self-confidence and sense of purpose after bullying. But, not everyone has this type of support network. Or, they may feel like their friends and family just do not understand what they are going through.

For this reason, a number of organizations have developed bullying hotlines. These resources are another avenue people can use to help come to terms with what happened to them and to move on in a healthy way.

What to Do After a Bullying Incident

Whether you or someone you know has been victimized online or in person, there are some things that you can do to help with the situation. The first, of course, is to report the bullying. If you or someone you know experienced school-related bullying, either at school, on the bus, or traveling to and from school, you need to report it to the appropriate authorities.

Contact a teacher or an administrator and explain what happened. It also helps to provide documentation such as the perpetrator, date, time, place and any witnesses.

If there was a physical assault, threats of violence, online impersonation, and/or prejudicial bullying, it may be wise to file a police report, too.

Meanwhile, if the bullying occurred online, you should report it to the social media platform, gaming site, app, Internet service provider, or cell phone service provider involved. Additionally, some state education departments have reporting agencies and resources in place in order to ensure that bullying and violence are being investigated.

For instance, in Ohio, the state has an anonymous tip line called SaferOH, which accepts calls and texts 24 hours a day. The calls or texts are answered by Ohio's Homeland Security and Threat Assessment and Prevention Unit, and when action is needed, they send information to the appropriate local authorities. To see if your school district or state offers a similar service, contact your state's department of education or the district office for your school system.

Finally, people who have been bullied need to surround themselves with people who support them and will help them learn to cope with the bullying they have experienced. Sometimes, this network of people will consist of family members, close friends, religious leaders, and trusted adults experienced in dealing with bullying and its aftermath. Another option for support is a bullying hotline.

Purpose of a Hotline

Aside from reporting bullying or cyberbullying to the appropriate authorities, it also helps to have someone to talk to about what you experienced. For this reason, a number of organizations committed to addressing bullying have implemented bullying hotlines as an added resource in coping with bullying and other traumatic situations.

Not only do these services typically have trained people on the other end who understand the dynamics of bullying, but they also are able to empathize with what the caller is experiencing.

The hotline responder may be able to direct the caller (or in some cases texter) to the appropriate resources as well as make suggestions for how to deal with the situation effectively.

It is important to recognize that typically the people answering the calls or texts to the hotline are trained volunteers. While they may provide tips or suggestions, they are not meant to be substitutes for counselors, mental health professionals, or attorneys. Instead, they are people that those who have been victimized can turn to for an additional layer of support in their situation.

When to Contact a Hotline

While there are a number of bullying hotlines available to teens and young adults nationwide, it can seem like a daunting idea to reach out for help through a hotline. Maybe you feel like your situation is not serious enough or that you wouldn't know what to say.

Do not let these things keep you from getting the help you need. The following are common scenarios that may keep you from reaching out to a hotline and reasons why you may want to reconsider for the betterment of your own healing.

When You Feel Like No One Understands

Bullying is a complex problem and while it impacts a number of people each day, every situation is different. For this reason, for teens and young adults experiencing bullying, it can feel like no one in their life understands what they are going through. While it is obvious that loved ones care, they may tend to minimize the situation or give unhelpful advice like "suck it up" or "forget about it."

If you feel like this describes you or someone you know, you may want to reach out to a bullying hotline.

When You Feel Like You Have No One to Talk To

Bullying is a very isolating experience. Sometimes friends will distance themselves from you when you are being bullied. For instance, they may not know how to help you or support you. So, they stop answering your texts or hanging out with you. Other times, they may take the bully's side or steer clear of you because they are afraid of becoming the next victim. Or, maybe you are new to a school and haven't built a strong support network.

Whatever the reason for feeling alone and like you have no one to talk to, bullying hotlines can fill that need. On the other end of the line is someone who will not only support you, but will understand exactly what you are going through.

When You Need a Fresh Perspective

Sometimes you might feel like your friends and family are saying the same things over and over when it comes to your bullying situation. This can make you feel like there is no end in sight and you long for encouragement that there are better days ahead. When this describes your situation, you may want to contact a bullying hotline to see what the experts on the other end recommend.

Having a new perspective on things can empower you to take the steps you need to deal with the bullying situation in a healthy way.

When It Is Late at Night and You Cannot Stop Thinking About It

When you think about something over and over again, this is called rumination and it is not a healthy thing to do. As a result, you need to redirect your thoughts so that you can get some rest. Sometimes talking to a trained professional on the other end of a bullying hotline is all you need to reset your brain and stop dwelling on your situation.

When You Feel Lonely and Isolated

Bullying is a very isolating experience that often leaves those who have been victimized feeling alone and forgotten. All they really need is for someone to tell them that they matter and that things will get better. This is one of the purposes of a bullying hotline—to help teens and young adults feel encouraged and empowered when coping with their situation. A hotline serves as a vital reminder that there are people out there that do really care about victims of bullying—even people they do not know personally.

People can often relate to each other's pain, even if it feels like you are alone and can't relate to anyone. A compassionate person at a bullying hotline should remind the victim of the bullying that this situation does not define them. There are better days ahead.

What Are My Options?

Once you realize that you want to reach out through a bullying hotline for assistance, it helps to know where to turn to for help. Of course if there is an emergency or if you feel like you are in immediate danger, it is best to contact 911. If your situation is not an emergency and you are just looking for additional help and support, here is a list of some of the more well-known hotlines that can offer assistance to those who are struggling with a bullying situation.

STOMP Out Bullying HelpChat Hotline

Initially developed by Love Our Children USA, STOMP Out Bullying is committed to reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other forms of digital abuse. They also strive to educate the community against homophobia, racism, and hatred in an effort to reduce the amount of violence present in schools. HelpChat Line is an online resource designed to reduce the stress and fear that many young people experience as a result of bullying.

They also are equipped to empower young people to make healthy decisions. The HelpChat is designed for young people ages 13 to 24 and is available from 8 pm to 12 am most days. You can visit their website to start your own.

When the HelpChat Line is not available, they recommend contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the GLBT National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-7743.

Crisis Text Line

Developed by DoingSomething.org, this free, 24-hour per day, seven-day-a-week, text line provides support for anyone in the United States who is in crisis. When people use the text line, by typing HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the country, they are connected with a trained crisis counselor.

The counselors engage in active listening and collaborative problem solving. When using the Crisis Text Line, the first few responses are automated, but within five minutes, the person texting is connect to a live person. If they are experiencing large call volumes it might take slightly longer to connect with someone.

Visit their website to learn more.

HopeLine

HopeLine is designed to provide free and confidential crisis and suicide prevention through its helpline and texting service.

People in crisis can call or text HopeLine at 1-877-235-4525 where they will experience supportive and non-judgmental listening as well as a gentle discussion to help them resolve their crisis.

When needed, they also offer referrals to appropriate community resources. Their helpline and texting service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round. What's more, there is no age limit for people wishing to contact them. (Click here for HopeLine's website.)

Love Is Respect

The Love Is Respect organization is designed to help people who are being bullied or abused by someone they are dating. They offer both online chat and a texting service and are there to help people make sense of what they are experiencing. After all, dating abuse can be very confusing.

If you want to have an online chat with a trained peer advocate, simply visit their website and click on the "Chat Now" icon. You also can use their text service if you prefer by texting "loveis" to 22522. Finally, there also is an option to talk with someone in person. Simply use the text service and then give the advocate your number. Or, you can call 1-866-33-9474. When it comes to dating abuse, they recommend you are in a safe and private place before making your call.

Their website details more information.

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Crisis Helpline

For victims of nonconsensual pornography (also known as "revenge porn"), recorded sexual assault and sextortion victims in the United States can contact the CCRI Crisis Helpline at 1-844-878-2274 for help from trained individuals who can provide information, support, referrals, and non-legal advice. This helpline is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. They also offer interpretation for most languages.

Visit their website for more information.

A Word From Verywell

When dealing with a bullying situation, it is always a good idea to involve other people not only in reporting the bullying but in coping with and healing from the situation. Bullying is never something that can be handled in isolation. For this reason, a number of organizations committed to ending bullying have developed bullying hotlines as an added resource for people who feel alone and like they have no one else to turn to. Be sure if you or someone you know is experiencing a bullying situation, that you utilize these important and useful services.

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