10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Eliminate Bullying

10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Eliminate Bullying

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Updated on Apr 11, 2014

The latest research shows that one in three children are directly involved in bullying as a perpetrator, victim, or both. And many of those who are not directly involved witness others being bullied on a regular basis. No child is immune—kids of every race, gender, grade and socio-economic sector are affected. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Parents have the power to help. Here are’s top ten actions you can take to help address bullying:

Talk and listen to your kids every day. 

Research shows that adults are often the last to know when children are bullied or bully others. You can encourage your kid to buck that trend by engaging in frequent conversations about their social lives. Spend a few minutes every day asking open ended questions about who he spends time with at school and in the neighborhood, what he does in between classes and at recess, who he has lunch with, or what happens on the way to and from school. If your child feels comfortable talking to you about his peers, he'll be much more likely to come to you when any bullying issues arise.

Spend time at school and recess. 

Research shows that 67% of bullying happens when adults are not present. Schools often don’t have the resources to monitor everyone and everything all the time, and need parents’ help to prevent bullying. Whether you can volunteer once a week or once a month, you can make a real difference just by being present and helping to organize games and activities that encourage kids to play with new friends. Be sure to coordinate your on-campus volunteer time with your child’s teacher and/or principal.

Be a good example of kindness and leadership. 

Your kids learn a lot about power relationships from watching you. When you get angry at a waiter, a sales clerk, another driver on the road, or even your child, you have a great opportunity to model effective communication techniques. Don’t blow it by blowing your top! Any time you speak to another person in a mean or abusive way, you’re teaching your child that bullying is OK.

Learn the signs. 

Most children don't tell anyone (especially adults) that they've been bullied, so it's important for parents and teachers to learn to recognize possible signs of being victimized. Signs might include frequent loss of personal belongings, complaints of headaches or stomachaches, avoiding recess or school activities, or want to get to school very late or very early. If you suspect that a child might be being bullied, talk with the child’s teacher or find ways to observe his peer interactions to determine whether or not your suspicions might be correct. Then have a conversation with your child about what is going on at school.

Create healthy anti-bullying habits early. 

Help develop anti-bullying and anti-victimization habits early in your kid, as early as preschool. Coach him on what not to do—hitting, pushing, teasing, or being mean to others. Have him consider how such actions might feel to the person on the receiving end (e.g. “How would you feel if that happened to you?”). These strategies can nurture empathy. Then, teach your kid the do's—kindness, empathy, fair play, and turn-taking are critical skills for good peer relationships. Children also need to learn how to say "no" firmly if they experience or witness bullying behavior. Give your child guidance about what to do if other kids are mean—get an adult right away, tell the bully to "stop," walk away, ignore him and find someone else to play with. It may help to role play what to do with your child so that he's confident that he can handle the situation.

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