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Every October, Bullying Prevention Month shines a spotlight on the issue of bullying, but it’s important to remember that bullying is a year-round problem that should be addressed throughout the year in schools and at home.

If you’re not addressing this issue as a parent at home, you run the risk of raising a victim or a bully. Have frank conversations with your children before bullying begins so they know why it’s wrong, the impact it can have on others, and how to handle it if a bully decides to pick on them. So this October, take some time to discuss bullying, but remember it’s a wide-spread problem every month of the year.

The Odds

Just in grades 6 to 12, approximately one-quarter of all kids will be the victims of bullying. And for those parents who think their kids will never be a bully, consider this: Around 30 percent of children have owned up to the fact that they have bullied other children.

Factors That Increase a Child’s Odds of Being a Bully

  • Having trouble following rules
  • Having problems at home
  • Being unpopular
  • Being a well-connected, advantaged child with a sense of entitlement
  • Seeing violence as a positive, or normal, thing
  • Being friends with bullies
  • Feeling the need to fit in

Factors That Make a Child More Likely to be Bullied

  • Children who are quiet
  • Being perceived as different
  • Children who are depressed or anxious
  • Children who aren’t as popular as their classmates
  • Smart kids who do well in school, which can trigger jealousy in bullies who aren’t doing well
  • Being considered annoying or antagonizing by classmates

What Kinds of Bullying Are There?

Bullying might be different from what you remember from your childhood. Sure, there are still playground bullies out there, but it has gotten more sophisticated and often sneakier. Let’s go over the various types you should discuss with your child so they have a clear idea of what bullying is.

  • Physical bullying: This is the classic bullying many people think of, involving physical force like hitting, kicking, and tripping.
  • Verbal bullying: This involves saying mean things to the person being bullied. It could be about their appearance, their family members, their socioeconomic status, disability, or ethnicity.
  • Relational bullying: This is when kids tell other kids to ignore another child. It prevents the victim from having relationships with others, further isolating them.
  • Damage to property: If your child brings a phone to school, the bully might smash it to upset them. Or the bully could steal their belongings instead of breaking them.
  • Cyberbullying: Threats and harassment can be sent through phones, email, social media, and other online sites. Unlike other forms of bullying, there is no break from this kind – it can happen at any point during the day, not just when your child is at school. 

How to Prevent Bullying

There’s no surefire way to stop a bully, but you can cut down on the chances of your child being the victim or turning into a bully by:

  • Talking: Discuss bullying with your child. Tell them what bullies do and how it makes other kids feel. Tell them they can always come to you if they have any problem.
  • Show what true friendship is: You can do this by having healthy relationships in your own life and by letting your child see that. Don’t belittle or gossip about your friends behind their backs, and your child will learn how to properly treat a friend.
  • Address inappropriate behavior: If you are aware or suspect bullying on your child’s part, address it. They need to know they have boundaries.
  • Instill a sense of confidence: Find activities your children enjoy and excel at so they have a healthy sense of self.
  • Teach them to rise above: Walking away or telling a bully to stop sometimes nips the problem in the bud.
  • Report it:If your child is being bullied, report it to the school. Keep persisting until your child is protected

Keep Communication Open

The number one thing you can do is always let your child know you are there for them no matter what. Tell them they shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed to tell you anything.

If you want, share stories of problems you had with bullies when you were younger. Or if you were the bully, tell them why you did it and why you regret it. With enough attention and motivation, parents have the power to stomp out bullying from our schools and our children’s lives.


About the Author

Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, a writer, and an editor for the parenting blog Mom Loves Best. Jenny is passionate about using her platform to spread awareness and help stomp out bullying in our schools and communities.

Editor’s Note

This blog contains views, and positions of the author, and does not represent Safe and Sound Schools. Information provided in this blog is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Safe and Sound Schools accepts no liability for any omissions, errors, or representations. The copyright to this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, which offers an important time to assess how our schools are engaging in preventionefforts and responding when bullying and related problems occur.

In last year’s blog about this topic, I provided information about the definition, prevalence, and impact of the problem. I also offered some suggestions for how individuals can stop bullying. In this blog, I am broadening the topic to address how schools can create a positive climate where there is no place for bullying. 

Here are some highlights:

  • Assess bullying and school climate. Find out more about how often bullying is happening, what it looks like, and who is impacted. Assess how students and staff perceive the character and quality of school life (i.e., school climate) and use these findings to inform efforts.
  • Lead by example. School climate begins with school administrators and the adults in a school building. Set the tone for appropriate and respectful behavior and train all staff to prevent and intervene with bullying.
  • Implement evidence-based prevention programming. What is your school doing to teach and reinforce positive behaviors that are incompatible with bullying? Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (pbis.org) and social emotional learning approaches (www.casel.org) are both system-wide efforts that schools can use to teach these important skills. Focus on all students (including bystanders!), not just those directly involved as the perpetrator or target of bullying.
  • Consistently enforce the school-wide anti-bullying policy. It is essential that students, staff, and families be aware of the expectations for behavior and the process followed if students are involved in bullying. Include a continuum of consequences that focus on teaching better ways to behave when bullying occurs, as well as supporting the target of bullying.

Dr. Amanda Nickerson is a professor of school psychology and director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. She is a licensed psychologist, a nationally certified school psychologist, and a speaker for Safe and Sound Schools.