Bullying is something that your child will experience at some point in his life, whether he himself is the target or he witnesses it happening to someone else. 22% of students report being bullied at some point during the school year, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, meaning that almost one in every 4 students is bullied.
With such a high percentage of children experiencing bullying at some point in their school years, it is imperative that parents talk with their children about it, ideally before it begins. What should you teach your child about bullying? While it depends quite a bit on their maturity, these are a few of the basics that every child should know.
6 Things to Teach Your Kids About Bullying
- Bullying is never about the person being bullied. No matter what mean things the bully says or does to their target, the target is not at fault. There is something going on emotionally within the bully that is causing him or her to behave the way he is, and it has nothing to do with the targeted person.
- Standing up to a bully is the best way to get him to stop. Bullies are looking for someone to pick on, and when that person makes it clear that he will not tolerate it, the bully will move on to someone else.
- Telling an authority figure about the bullying is important. No matter what the bully says, the person targeted should always tell a trusted adult what is happening. Not only will telling keep the target from being harmed, but it will also alert the authority figure to be on guard about further incidents with the bully.
- Intervene if you see someone else being bullied. One of the most effective means of stopping a bully is for a peer to intervene. If your child feels safe doing so, encourage her to stand up for her classmates who she witnesses being bullied.
- Bullying also happens online. Cyberbullying is a major issue in today’s digital world, and it is important to discuss it with your children. Talk with them about how to avoid situations in which cyberbullying can occur but also how to behave responsibly online.
- Think about how your words and actions make other people feel. We spend a lot of time and energy preparing our kids for what to do if they are bullied or if they see other people being bullied, but it is just as important to talk with them about not bullying other people. Talk with them often about how to use kind words and actions, treating other people as they want to be treated.
Bullying prevention is a hot topic since there is so much research showing the negative outcomes throughout life for both those who were bullied (according to stopbullying.gov, “depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy”), as well as bullies (alcohol and drug abuse, criminal records, and abuse of others in adulthood).
Teaching our children now how to recognize bullies and how to handle situations involving bullying will not only help them today, but it has greater social implications for the future. And looking out for our future is everyone’s responsibility.