• Bully Prevention: Information for Students & Parents


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  • Parent Information and Tips on Bullying

    Although bullying was once considered a rite of passage, parents, educators, and community leaders now see bullying as a devastating form of abuse that can have long-term effects on youthful victims, robbing them of self-esteem, isolating them from their peers, causing them to drop out of school, and even prompting health problems and suicide.

    A recent study by the Family and Work Institute reported that one-third of youth are bullied at least once a month, while others say six out of 10 American teens witness bullying at least once a day. Witnessing bullying can be harmful, too, as it may make the witness feel helpless - or that he or she is the next target.

    Children who are bullied are often singled out because of a perceived difference between them and others, whether because of appearance (size, weight, or clothes), intellect, or, increasingly, ethnic or religious affiliation and sexual orientation.

    Bullying can be a gateway behavior, teaching the perpetrator that threats and aggression are acceptable even in adulthood. In one study by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, nearly 60 percent of boys whom researchers classified as bullies in grades six to nine were convicted of at least one crime by the age of 24, while 40 percent had three or more convictions.

    What exactly is bullying?

    Bullying is based upon an imbalance of power, such as physical size or popularity. Every day, nearly 160,000 children miss school because they are scared of bullying, according to the National Education Association. Bullying doesn't only negatively affect its victims, but also the bullies themselves.

    Kids who are bullied are more likely to

    Do poorly in school

    Have low self-esteem

    Be depressed

    Turn to violent behavior to protect themselves or get revenge on their bullies

    Kids who bully are more likely to

    Do poorly in school

    Smoke and drink alcohol

    Commit crimes in the future

    What can parents do?

    1. Encourage your child to report bullying incidents to you.

    Validate your child's feelings by letting him/her know that it is normal to feel hurt, sad, scared, angry, etc.

    Let your child know that s/he has made the right choice by reporting the incident(s) to you and assure your child that s/he is not to blame.

    Help your child be specific in describing bullying incidents: who, what, where, when. (Look for patterns or evidence of repeated bullying behaviors.

    2. Treat the school as your ally.

    Share your child's concerns and specific information about bullying incidents with appropriate school personnel.

    Work with school staff to protect your child from possible retaliation.

    Establish a plan with the school and your child for dealing with future bullying incidents.

    3. Encourage your child to seek help and to report bullying incidents to someone s/he feels safe with at the school:

    Adult in charge of a specific activity or area




    4. Use school personnel and other parents as resources in finding positive ways to encourage respectful behaviors at school.

    Volunteer your time to help out at the school

    Become an advocate for bullying prevention programs and policies.

    5. Encourage your child to continue to talk with you about all bullying incidents.

    Do not ignore your child's report.

    Do not advise your child to physically fight back. (Bullying lasts longer and becomes more severe when children fight back. Physical injuries often result.)

    Do not confront the child who bullies.

    Do not confront the family of the child who bullies.

    6. Help your child develop effective Coping and Assertiveness skills.

    Get in touch with the school counselor or social worker to learn effective ways of teaching your child how to respond to a bully.  In particular, learning to be assertive without being aggressive will help your child throughout not only their school years, but throughout their lives when confronted with difficult people.  The goal of “Assertiveness Training” is to help the child display a greater air of confidence through their words, eye contact, and body language.  Many times this will make them less likely to be looked at as a target by a bully.  Consider role-playing bullying scenarios, suggesting what might be said or done to deflect taunting.  Assertive and direct “I-messages” such as “I don’t like what you are doing and I am asking you to stop,” may make the child less likely to be targeted in the future.   While your child may be able to defuse a particular situation with this approach, it is still important that they seek the help of adults and understand that they are not responsible for the actions of the bully.