cyberbully 3Bullying has been around forever. But now, with new technology, bullying is taken to a new level. Cyberbullying is the term for any kind of harassment, embarrassment, or bullying using the Internet, cell phones, or other interactive technology. A teenager involved in cyberbullying can receive a misdemeanor cyberharassment charge or a juvenile delinquency charge. However, if hacking or identity theft is involved, it is a serious federal crime.

What is cyberbullying ?

  • It can either be done directly, or indirectly (the bully hacks your account and posts negative things that cause your friends to turn against you, for example. The friends are bullying on behalf of the bully)

Examples of cyberbullying

  • Instant Messaging or Text messaging Harassment: sending mean messages to others, posing as the victim online, sending inappropriate photos, sending death threats
  • Stealing passwords: posing as the victim, editing the victim’s online profile to include hateful information to offend others so they will not be friends with the victim, locking the victim out of his/her account
  • Web sites: creating Web sites or blogs that insult others, posting other peoples’ personal pictures or information
  • Pictures sent through E-mail and Cell phones: sending naked pictures of other teens via E-mail or Cell phones, posting these photos online, uploading them on programs where people can download them, taking pictures of teens sneakily and sending them

Cyberbullying has negative effects:

  • Sadness and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and suicide
  • Low self-esteem
  • Violence
  • Problems in school

Is cyberbullying different from traditional bullying? Yes.

  • Cyberbullying can be more dangerous than traditional bullying
  • The bully can hide behind a disguise so often, the victim does not even know who the bully is
  • The victim does not always know why he or she is being targeted
  • Cyberbullying can go viral – meaning that the attacks may be shared on the Internet for all to see, and people can easily show others
  • Cyberbullies are crueler because they are not attacking their victim face-to-face.
  • Finally, cyberbullying is often more dangerous than traditional bullying because parents, teachers, and other trusted adults do not always have the technological knowledge to keep up with teens’ activity online

What can I do about cyberbullying?

  • Speak with a trusted adult about online experiences that make you feel uncomfortable
  • Save or print all cyberbullying evidence to show a trusted adult
  • Ignore minor bullying – if you respond it will just egg them on
  • Look into the privacy controls on the Web sites or messaging programs you use – you can control who sees your profile, who can contact you, and more.
  • If you are not involved in cyberbullying but you witness it happen – do something. Tell a trusted adult about what you saw and who was involved. And do not encourage the behavior by laughing at it or sending it to your friends.
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Bullying Prevention Gains Momentum, But We Still Have A Long Way To Go

By Rocío Inclán, Director of the Human and Civil Rights Department of the National Education Association

October is Bullying Prevention month, and this year we see signs of progress in the national effort to stop bullying in our schools.

For example, the recently released 2011 National School Climate Survey from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) shows for the first time decreased levels of victimization based on sexual orientation. It also found increased levels of student access to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) school resources and support.

This is excellent news. LGBT students have been a major target of bullying in schools.  But the fact that 8 out of 10 LGBT students still experienced harassment in the past year because of their sexual orientation reminds us we have a long way to go.

Here is another encouraging sign: Bullying prevention resources are far more widely available today than in the past. Google “bullying prevention,” and a plethora of resources will open up to you.  Indeed, there is so much anti-bullying material out there, it is hard to separate the chaff from the wheat.

Fortunately, the federal government has consolidated its once far-flung anti-bullying resources onto one website:, and there you will find only evidence-based bully prevention programs and practices. In addition, NEA provides practical anti-bullying tips and strategies, specifically tailored for school employees, on  We also invite readers to take our Bully Free: It Starts With Me pledge.  In return, we provide you with the means of identifying yourself as a caring adult who will help the bullied student and stop the bullying.

There is now a full-fledged anti-bullying movement afoot in America. It is peopled by educators who see the academic damage bullying does to students, parents whose children are victims of bullying, and an army of adult Americans, including celebrities, who were bullied in their youth, still bear the emotional scars and are now speaking out.

Forty-nine states have now passed anti-bullying laws. In today’s political climate, that borders on the miraculous.

It is time to use the momentum of the bullying prevention movement to do what we know needs to be done.

We need to get teachers as well as school secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other school staff trained in the most effective ways to intervene when students are being bullied or when a bullied student seeks their help.

We need to implement what we know will work. Measures such as zero tolerance and demonizing those who do the bullying don’t work. Conflict resolution and peer mediation, as we saw in this year’s documentary film, “Bully,” don’t work in bullying incidents.

What works is taking every report of bullying seriously. Reaching out to the bullied students and becoming their advocate works.  School Codes of Conduct that detail the behaviors which are unacceptable work. One-on-one, adult-to-student instruction of those who bully works.

Above all, to put a stop to bullying, we must slay once and for good the myth that bullying is a harmless rite of passage.

Editor’s Note: This post is from our partners at the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN). Each month, we feature a new column on a topic related to school health. Through this effort, we hope to inform the public of important health issues that impact schools and offer educators and parents resources to address them.


Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.

The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying.

The White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, March 10, 2011

APA Resolution on Bullying Among Children and Youth (PDF, 40KB)

What You Can Do

Getting Help


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11 Facts About Bullying

  1. 56% of students have personally felt some sort of bullying at school. Between 4th and 8th grade in particular, 90% of students are victims of bullying.
  2. The most common reason cited for being harassed is a student’s appearance or body size. 2 out of 5 teens feel that they are bullied because of the way that they look.
  3. 9 out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
  4. 1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% percent of the time.
  5. A victim of bullying is twice as likely to take his or her own life compared to someone who is not a victim.
  6. One out of 10 students drop out of school because they are bullied.
  7. Physical bullying peak in middle school and declines in high school. Verbal abuse rates remain constant from elementary to high school.
  8. Researchers feel that bullying should not be treated as part of growing up (with the attitude “kids will be kids”).
  9. 41% of principals say they have programs designed to create a safe environment for LGBT students, but only 1/3 of principals say that LGBT students would feel safe at their school.
  10. 57% of students who experience harassment in school never report the incident to the school. 10% of those who do not report stay quiet because they do not believe that teachers or staff can do anything. As a result, more than a quarter of students feel that school is an unsafe place to be.
  11. Schools with easily understood rules of conduct, smaller class sizes and fair discipline practices report less violence than those without such features.


Bullying has become a tidal wave of epic proportions. 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.

And 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.

Information about Bullying

What Parents Can Do
Advice for parents and adults dealing with bullying

Teaching Kids About Bullying
Information and lesson plans adults can use to teach kids about bullying

Girls and Bullying
Tips for parents on dealing with the problem of bullying between girls

Advice for Kids
Advice for kids on

Techniques that adults can use to reduce bullying

Training on Bullying

Bullying and Intimidation
Professional training from NCPC for youth and adults on managing bullying situations

Publications and Products on Bullying

Positive Change Through Policy
This online guide features examples of policies that create safer communities

Helping Kids Handle Conflict
This book is a guide for teaching children non-violent ways to settle arguments, deal with bullies, and avoid fights

Programs on Bullying

Be Safe and Sound in School
The Be Safe and Sound in School program aims to improve the safety and security of our nation’s schools by mobilizing parents, school administrators, elected officials, policymakers, and students to take action on the issue of school safety and security.

Downloadable Resources on Bullying

Size Description Title
121.9 kB A reproducible brochure from the 2009-2010 Crime Prevention Month Kit File 21st Century Bullying – Crueler Than Ever
825.4 kB A reproducible brochure about the causes of bullying and how to stop it File Bullies: A Serious Problem for Kids
1.0 MB This presentation helps participants identify and understand various bullying behaviors, the scope of the bullying problem, who bullies, the warning signs that … File Bullying: What’s New and What To Do
43.0 MB NCPC’s Robin Young speaks with author Rosalind Wiseman about her new edition of Queen Bees and Wannabees and the issues of bullying and cyberbullying. File Circle of Respect Podcast with Rosalind Wiseman
23.1 MB NCPC’s Joselle Shea speaks with author Deborah Norville about her book and the issue of respect. File Circle of Respect Podcast with Deborah Norville


What do I do if my child is bullying others?

Your child needs to hear from you explicitly that it’s not normal, ok, or tolerable for him or her to bully, to be bullied, or to watch other kids be bullied.

  • Make sure your child knows that if he or she bullies other kids, it is harmful to all kids involved.
  • Communicate to your child that you will help them to find other ways to exert his or her personal power, status, and leadership at school, and that you will work with them, their teachers, and their principal to implement a plan at school. 1, 2
  • Schedule an appointment to talk with school staff such as your child’s teacher(s) and the school counselor.3 Share your concerns. Work together to send clear messages to your child that his or her bullying must stop.4
  • Explain to your child that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. Stop any acts of aggression you see, and talk about other ways your child can deal with the situation. Establish appropriate consequences for his or her actions.3
  • Develop clear and consistent rules within your family for your children’s behavior. Praise and reinforce your children for following rules and use non-physical, non hostile consequences for rule violations.4
  • Examine behavior and interactions in your own home. Is there something going on at home that is encouraging this type of behavior?3
  • Spend more time with your child and carefully supervise and monitor his or her activities. Find out who your child’s friends are and how and where they spend free time.4
  • Talk with your child about who his or her friends are and what they do together. Peers can be very influential, especially for teens.
  • Build on your child’s talents by encouraging him or her to get involved in prosocial activities (such as clubs, music lessons, nonviolent sports).4
  • Model respect, kindness and empathy. You are your child’s role model and he or she will learn to treat others with respect by watching you.
    • Avoid aggressive, intimidating, and abusive behaviors. Try to model social and emotional behaviors in the classroom and home setting that you would like to see reflected by children and teens.
  • Consider talking to your child’s pediatrician about your child’s behavior.
  • Be realistic. Your child’s behavior will not change overnight.
  • Continue to work and communicate with school staff for as long as it takes. They should be your allies.3
  • If you or your child needs additional help, talk with a school counselor or mental health professional.4


  1. Dagmar Strohmeier, Bullying and its Underlying Mechanisms
  2. Debra Pepler, Wendy M. Craig, Bullying, Interventions, and the Role of Adults
  3. OneToughJob. I Think My Child Is A Bully—What Should I Do?
  4. Stop Bullying Now! U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children Who Bully

Bullying: Is Your Kid Mean?

We all want to protect our children from bullying. Most parents, I imagine, would be horrified to hear that their children are being picked on at school, and equally horrified to hear that their child is doing the bullying. (Right now my clairvoyance tells me that you are thinking that you have a really nice kid, certainly not one that is a bully. This is because you are a nice person.)

But can bad kids ever happen to nice parents? Or rather, do parents who value kindness and compassion ever raise mean kids?

I think it probably happens all the time. An estimated thirteen million kids will be bullied in the U.S. this year. Three million are absent from school each month because they feel unsafe there. Bullies aren’t necessarily “bad kids,” but clearly the bullying behavior of otherwise good kids adds up to a massive problem in our communities.

Bullying occurs — online and in person — when there is an imbalance of power. Bullies intend to harm others physically or emotionally, usually repeatedly, knowing that their victims may have a hard time defending themselves. (Thanks to The Bully Project for this definition.)

As parents, it is our responsibility to do what we can to make sure that our children aren’t bullies (besides hide behind our pure intentions and upstanding values). The good news is that we can consciously raise kids who are more likely to stand up for a victim of bullying than they are to be perpetrators. Here are five things we can teach our children so that they are kind and compassionate:

(1) How their actions affect others. Bullies tend to know that what they are doing is wrong, but they usually don’t understand how their behavior affects others. Truly understanding that meanness can hurt someone for a lifetime can change a bully’s willingness to harm others. Build empathy by watching videos of children hurt by bullying (a new documentary out this week, Bully, promises to be a good start). And let kids experience how their actions can affect others for the good by giving them opportunities to help others.

(2) How to understand their own emotions and feelings. Before a child can really understand his or her influence on other people’s feelings, they need to be able to understand their own emotions. Build this emotional intelligence by emotion coaching them.

(3) How to express negative feelings like anger, powerlessness, and stress without hurting others. Kids need to learn the difference between feeling bad (which is always okay) and behaving badly (not okay). Parents are powerful models in this arena. When you are angry with your children or spouse do you call them names? Spank? When you are stressed are you likely to yell? Kids need to be taught directly how to deal with feelings like anger (e.g., to calm themselves down by taking a walk or deep breaths, or by petting the dog). They also need to be taught that indirectly, by observing us doing these things.

(4) Teach kids how to feel powerful within their relationships — in a positive way. Bullying can come from a sense of powerlessness, and it can often be prevented by showing kids how to feel powerful without being mean. Kids feel powerful when they contribute to something larger than themselves, so make sure your children have plenty of opportunities to genuinely help those around them. Giving kids chores and responsibilities around the house or classroom helps them see that they are useful and needed, giving them a sense of power.

(5) Treat others with compassion yourself. This goes without saying, but kids need to see their parents treating other people with empathy and without judgement. Recently I heard a mother comment to her pre-teen daughter, “That girl’s shirt is so trashy. I will never let you wear something like that.” Her daughter replied, “I know, right? It is so ugly.” This dialog, while it might have been intended to instruct, endorsed a mean-spiritedness towards others.

Can we prevent our children from being bullies? I think so. It starts with the obvious: being really clear about our expectations for how they will treat others, including their siblings, their classmates and that chubby kid on the bus. But we can’t stop there. Raising kind kids requires an active effort to teach them the social skills they need to be powerful in their relationships–without hurting others.

So the next time you hear someone say “boys will be boys” or you shake your head and wonder why “there are mean girls in every class,” don’t lie to yourself. Kids are not typically “cruel at this age,” (whatever age that might be). Don’t make excuses for bad behavior: teach kindness instead.

There is so much beyond these five things that we parents can do. Dozens of suggestions can be found in this toolkit for parents from The Bully Project.

Teaching Kids not to Bully

It can be shocking and upsetting to learn that your child has gotten in trouble for picking on others or been labeled a bully.

As difficult as it may be to process this news, it’s important to deal with it right away. Whether the bullying is physical or verbal, if it’s not stopped it can lead to more aggressive antisocial behavior and interfere with your child’s success in school and ability to form and sustain friendships.

Understanding Bullying Behavior

Kids bully for many reasons. Some bully because they feel insecure. Picking on someone who seems emotionally or physically weaker provides a feeling of being more important, popular, or in control. In other cases,kids bully because they simply don’t know that it’s unacceptable to pick on kids who are different because of size, looks, race, or religion.

In some cases bullying is a part of an ongoing pattern of defiant or aggressive behavior. These kids are likely to need help learning to manage anger and hurt, frustration, or other strong emotions. They may not have the skills they need to cooperate with others. Professional counseling can often help them learn to deal with their feelings, curb their bullying, and improve their social skills.

Some kids who bully at school and in settings with their peers are copying behavior that they see at home. Kids who are exposed to aggressive and unkind interactions in the family often learn to treat others the same way. And kids who are on the receiving end of taunting learn that bullying can translate into control over children they perceive as weak.

Helping Kids Stop Bullying

Let your child know that bullying is unacceptable and that there will be serious consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues.

Try to understand the reasons behind your child’s behavior. In some cases, kids bully because they have trouble managing strong emotions like anger, frustration, or insecurity. In other cases, kids haven’t learned cooperative ways to work out conflicts and understand differences.

Tactics to Try

Be sure to:

  • Take bullying seriously. Make sure your kids understand that you will not tolerate bullying at home or anywhere else. Establish rules about bullying and stick to them. If you punish your child by taking away privileges, be sure it’s meaningful. For example, if your child bullies other kids via email, text messages, or a social networking site, dock phone or computer privileges for a period of time. If your child acts aggressively at home, with siblings or others, put a stop to it. Teach more appropriate (and nonviolent) ways to react, like walking away.
  • Teach kids to treat others with respect and kindness. Teach your child that it is wrong to ridicule differences (i.e., race, religion, appearance, special needs, gender, economic status) and try to instill a sense of empathy for those who are different. Consider getting involved together in a community group where your child can interact with kids who are different.
  • Learn about your child’s social life. Look for insight into the factors that may be influencing your child’s behavior in the school environment (or wherever the bullying is occurring). Talk with parents of your child’s friends and peers, teachers, guidance counselors, and the school principal. Do other kids bully? What about your child’s friends? What kinds of pressures do the kids face at school? Talk to your kids about those relationships and about the pressures to fit in. Get them involved in activities outside of school so that they meet and develop friendships with other kids.
  • Encourage good behavior. Positive reinforcement can be more powerful than negative discipline. Catch your kids being good — and when they handle situations in ways that are constructive or positive, take notice and praise them for it.
  • Set a good example. Think carefully about how you talk around your kids and how you handle conflict and problems. If you behave aggressively — toward or in front of your kids — chances are they’ll follow your example. Instead, point out positives in others, rather than negatives. And when conflicts arise in your own life, be open about the frustrations you have and how you cope with your feelings.

Starting at Home

When looking for the influences on your child’s behavior, look first at what’s happening at home. Kids who live with yelling, name-calling, putdowns, harsh criticism, or physical anger from a sibling or parent/caregiver may act that out in other settings.

It’s natural — and common — for kids to fight with their siblings at home. And unless there’s a risk of physical violence it’s wise not to get involved. But monitor the name-calling and any physical altercations and be sure to talk to each child regularly about what’s acceptable and what’s not.

It’s important to keep your own behavior in check too. Watch how you talk to your kids, and how you react to your own strong emotions when they’re around. There will be situations that warrant discipline and constructive criticism. But take care not to let that slip into name-calling and accusations. If you’re not pleased with your child’s behavior, stress that it’s the behavior that you’d like your child to change, and you have confidence that he or she can do it.

If your family is going through a stressful life event that you feel may have contributed to your child’s behavior, reach out for help from the resources at school and in your community. Guidance counselors, pastors, therapists, and your doctor can help.

Getting Help

To help a child stop bullying, talk with teachers, guidance counselors, and other school officials who can help you identify situations that lead to bullying and provide assistance.

Your doctor also might be able to help. If your child has a history of arguing, defiance, and trouble controlling anger, consider an evaluation with a therapist or behavioral health professional.

As difficult and frustrating as it can be to help kids stop bullying, remember that bad behavior won’t just stop on its own. Think about the success and happiness you want your kids to find in school, work, and relationships throughout life, and know that curbing bullying now is progress toward those goals.

Fighting Bullying: Make Kids ‘Bullyproof’ By Teaching Social And Emotional Skills

By BETH J. HARPAZ 05/30/12 04:15 PM ET AP


NEW YORK — Teaching kids to become “bullyproof” is all the rage. Books, videos and websites promise to show parents how to protect their kids from being bullied; school districts are buying curricula with names like “Bully-Proofing Your School,” a well-regarded program used in thousands of classrooms. Even martial arts programs are getting into the act: “Bullyproofing the world, one child at a time,” is the motto for a jujitsu program called Gracie Bullyproof.

But can you really make a child invulnerable to getting picked on? And even if you could, should the burden really be on potential victims to learn these skills, rather than on punishing or reforming the bullies?

Parents and educators say when bullyproofing programs are done right, kids can be taught the social and emotional skills they need to avoid becoming victims. But bullyproofing is not just about getting bullies to move on to a different target. It’s also about creating a culture of kindness, beginning in preschool, and encouraging kids to develop strong friendships that can prevent the social isolation sometimes caused by extreme bullying.


Bullies “sniff out kids who lack connections or who are isolated because of depression, mental health issues, disabilities or differences in size and shape,” said Malcolm Smith, a family education and policy specialist at the University of New Hampshire who has been researching peer victimization for more than 30 years. “So if you’re worried about your child being a victim, the best thing a parent can do from a very young age, starting in preschool, is ask, `Who’s got your back? When you’re on the bus, when you’re in the hall, who’s got your back?’ If they can’t name someone, you should help them establish connections to their peers.”

Smith, who is working on a program called “Courage to Care” that’s being tested in three rural New Hampshire schools, cited an example of a new boy who was being pushed and shoved by other boys in the hallway. “We didn’t know how to empower him,” Smith said, until the staff noticed that he’d become friends with a girl. “This girl is sweet but really assertive. What are seventh grade boys more afraid of than anything? Girls! So having her walk down the hall with this boy was the immediate solution to ending the bullying.”

Psychologist Joel Haber, a consultant on the recent documentary “Bully,” says kids should also have “backup friends” outside school through sports, hobbies, summer camp or religious groups. “That’s hugely important, especially as kids move from elementary to middle school.”


Haber says “most kids can learn skills to make themselves less likely to have the big reactions” that feed bullies.

“Let’s say you’re one of those kids who, when I make fun of your clothes, you get really angry and dramatic. If I taught you in a role-play situation as a parent or a therapist to react differently, even if you felt upset inside, you would get a totally different reaction from the bully. And if you saw that kids wouldn’t tease you, your confidence would go up,” said Haber

One way parents can help is to normalize conversations about school social life so that kids are comfortable talking about it. Don’t just ask “How was school today?” Ask, “Who’d you have lunch with, who’d you sit with, who’d you play with, what happens on the bus, do you ever notice kids getting teased or picked on or excluded?” advises Haber, who offers other bullyproofing tips and resources at and is co-authored of a new book called “The Resilience Formula.”


Bullies “feed on the body language of fear. It’s a physical reaction – how the victim responds, how they hold their head and shoulders, the tone of voice,” said Jim Bisenius, a therapist who has taught his “Bully-Proofing Youth” program in more than 400 schools in Ohio and elsewhere.

Teaching a kid to appear confident physically can sometimes be easier to teach than verbal skills, Bisenius said. “If a kid who’s never been mean in his life tries to fake it, or tries to outdo a bully with a verbal comeback, the bully sees right through that.”

Lisa Suhay, a mom in Norfolk, Va., said her 8-year-old son Quin was helped by Gracie Bullyproof, a martial arts program taught in 55 locations that combines verbal strategies with defensive jujitsu moves. Quin had been bullied so much on the playground that Suhay stopped taking him there. But she decided to give the park one last try after he completed the Gracie training.

No sooner did Quin begin playing on a pirate ship than a bigger boy knocked him down and ordered him to leave. But this time, as his mom watched in amazement, Quin grabbed the other kid around the waist “and landed on him like a big mattress, all while saying, `That was an incredibly bad idea you just had. But I’m not afraid of you.'” The other boy swung again, and Quin took him down again, then asked, “Now do you want to play nice?” They played pirates for the rest of the afternoon.

“It’s about respect and self-confidence,” said Suhay. “You’re not teaching them to beat up the bully. But they’re not cowering. They make eye contact. They talk to the bully. So much of the time they avert the situation because the bully doesn’t expect them to say, `I’m not scared of you.'”


The classic bully profile is a child who was neglected, abused, or raised in an authoritarian home where punishment was the norm. But lack of discipline is just as bad: Children who have no boundaries, who feel entitled to whatever they want, can also become bullies.

Smith worries that misguided efforts to boost kids’ self-esteem have produced a “sense of entitlement that we’ve never seen before.” He worries that we’re raising “the meanest generation” and says schools and parents must create a culture where meanness is not tolerated. “Kindness, empathy, caring and giving – you can teach those things.”

Haber says parents and schools can start in preschool years by discouraging hitting, pushing and teasing: “Ask, how would you feel if someone did that to you?”

Children can even be taught that being kind is fun. “Addict your child to kindness,” said Smith. “There are releases in the brain that feed endorphins that are very positive when you act with kindness. Encourage your kids to go over to a kid who’s alone and bring them in.”

Some kids who bully need help learning to read social cues. “If I tease you and you cry, most kids will realize they crossed a line and will apologize, but if I’m a bully, I want more power, more status, and I see there’s an opportunity to go after you,” said Haber. “If you see your child bullying a child, the child not only has to apologize but do something nice, practice atonement. Being a bully is less exciting when you have other skills.”

And beware the example you set when you treat a waitress or clerk rudely. “If you’re the kind of person who is constantly criticizing, you’re unconsciously role-modeling behaviors that kids will test out,” Haber said.


Given what Smith calls “a history of failure” in reducing bullying, it’s easy to be cynical about whether bullyproofing can work. At one time, bullies were seen as having low self-esteem; now they’re seen as narcissists who think they’re superior. Conflict resolution was big in the `90s, but that didn’t work because bullies don’t want to give up the power they have over their victims – even when they pretend to be conciliatory.

“They say what we want to hear. But they’ll go back and do it again when nobody’s watching,” said Bisenius.

But experts are hopeful about this new generation of bullyproofing programs, which teach social and emotional skills while promoting a caring school culture. Susan Swearer Napolitano, a Nebraska-based psychologist and co-director of the Bullying Research Network, who recommends a half-dozen bullyproofing programs on her website, says “if these programs are implemented with fidelity and the messages are consistently communicated across a school community, then bullying prevention and intervention programs can help change the culture of bullying behaviors. However, ultimately it’s about people treating each other with kindness and respect that will stop bullying.”

5 Ways to Help Your Child Prevent Bullying this School Year

As children head back to the classroom, now is a great time for parents and guardians to talk with your kids about bullying. Here are five tips to help your child prevent bullying and to help them deal with bullying:

1)     Establish lines of communication and talk for at least 15 minutes a day. Bullying can be difficult for parents to talk about, but it is important that children know they can talk to you, before they are involved in bullying in any way. and their partners at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have easy tips and tools that can help start the conversation.

2)     Make sure kids know safe ways to be more than a bystander. When kids witness bullying, it can affect them too. Helping kids learn what they can do to help when they see bullying can help to stop bullying. Click here for more suggestions on how bystanders can help.

3)     Know your state’s anti-bullying law and your school’s anti-bullying policy. Forty-nine states have laws requiring schools to have anti-bullying policies. Know what your school policy says and how to report an incident of bullying if you ever need to.

4)     Learn how to support kids involved in bullying. When you find out your child is involved in bullying, it is important to know how to respond. Whether your child is bullying others or is the one being bullied it is important to know what steps to take, and which to avoid, in order to resolve the situation.

5)     Take an active role in anti-bullying initiatives. The key to addressing bullying is to stop it before it starts. Work with your children, their school, and the community to raise awareness and take action against bullying. Toolkits like the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Community Action Training Modules can help you start an initiative in your community. You can get your children involved, too, by using the Youth Leaders Toolkit to help them mentor younger children.

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