Talk to Your Child About Bullying
Did you know that 64 percent of children who are bullied do not report it? This statistic shows the importance of parents, educators and community members starting the conversation about bullying with children. Helping children understand what bullying is and how they can take action is a powerful step to prevent bullying.
Some children may not always recognize that they are being bullied. A child might think it is only bullying if they are being physically hurt or they may believe the other child is joking. It is beneficial for children to know the difference between friendly behavior and bullying behavior. The basic rule to share with your child is if the behavior hurts or harms them, either emotionally or physically, it is bullying. Once the child understands what bullying behavior is, it is important for them know what steps they can take if they experience bullying or witness bullying.
If your child experiences bullying at school, encourage them to talk with a trusted adult. However, some children may not feel comfortable talking to an adult about what is happening to them. Asking open ended questions such as, “How was your bus ride?” “Who did you sit by at lunch?” or “Has anyone ever been mean to you at recess?” will help the child talk about his or her situation. Once the child opens up to an adult about the bullying experience, the child and adult can develop an action plan that empowers the student and works for their situation. PACER’s Student Action Plan is a great tool to develop this type of strategy with a child. This action plan can be used not only with students who experience bullying, but also with students who may be demonstrating bullying behavior or students who want to take action against bullying.
As a parent, it is also important to have the discussion with kids and teens about what steps they can take if they witness bullying. Nearly 60 percent of bullying situations end when a peer intervenes, giving students an important role in bullying prevention. However, many students are unsure how to take the first step. The simplest action parents can tell students to take is not to join in. This sends the message that they don’t agree with what’s happening and takes attention away from the person bullying. Students can also help by telling an adult about the bullying, since the student who is being bullied might not be able to do it themselves. Finally, the most effective step to encourage your child or student to take is to show support for the student being bullied. Ask your student how they would feel if they were being bullied, and how they would want someone to support them. They can show support by talking to the student being bullied and telling them what happened isn’t okay, or inviting the student to join them in an activity. With lots of options, encourage your child to do what feels right for them.
About PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center
Founded in 2006, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center actively leads social change, so that bullying is no longer considered an accepted childhood rite of passage. PACER provides innovative resources for students, parents, educators, and others, and recognizes bullying as a serious community issue that impacts education, physical and emotional health, and the safety and well-being of students.
PACER offers digital-based resources for parents, schools, teens and youth, including:
- PACER.org/Bullying: This is the portal page for parents and educators to access bullying resources, which include educational toolkits, awareness toolkits, contest ideas, promotional products, and more.
- PACERTeensAgainstBullying: Created by and for teens, this website is a place for middle and high school students to find ways to address bullying, to take action, to be heard, and to own an important social cause.
- PACERKidsAgainstBullying: A creative, innovative, and educational website designed for elementary school students to learn about bullying prevention, engage in activities, and be inspired to take action.
Whether you are an educator, student, family, or individual who cares about students, PACER offers the tools you need to address bullying in your school, recreational program, or community organization.
Author: Bailey Lindgren with PACER