What should parents do if they witness bullying?
- Immediately stop the bullying: Stand between the child or children being bullied and the bully, preferably blocking eye contact between them.
- Refer to the bullying behavior and to the relevant school rules against bullying. Use a matter-of-fact tone of voice to state what behaviors you saw/heard. Let students know that bullying is unacceptable and against school rules (e.g., “Calling someone names is bullying and is against our school rules,” or “That was bullying. I won’t allow students to push or hurt each other that way”).
- Support the bullied child in a way that allows him or her to regain self-control, to “save face,” and to feel supported and safe from retaliation.
- Include bystanders in the conversation and give them guidance about how they might appropriately intervene or get help next time.
- Do not require the students to meet and “work things out.” Unlike conflicts, bullying involves a power imbalance, which means this strategy will not work.1
- Notify parents of children who are involved, as appropriate. Research shows it is always better to work through your principal and teacher to notify parents. 2
- Notify school staff, as appropriate.1
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