In honor of October being National Bullying Prevention Month in the USA, we’d like to examine the impact that bullying has on mental health and talk about ways to address bullying with your children.
According to the National Bullying Prevention Center:
- One in five students report being a victim of bullying.
- Males are more likely to be victims of physical bullying.
- Females are more likely to report being victims of more social forms of bullying, such as being the target of a rumor, being excluded from social circles, or being a victim of cyberbullying.
Youth who are victims of bullying are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, have lower academic performance, and even drop out of school.
So, now that we know some of the repercussions of dealing with bullying in the school system, how can we facilitate conversations with our children to help prevent bullying from occurring in the first place or, at the least, enable our children to handle bullies they may encounter?
5 Ways to Talk about Bullying with Your Child
Arm your child with knowledge
The best place to start is with a conversation about what bullying is. With young children especially, a child may assume someone is a bully, but in reality, they were simply rude at a certain moment in time.
As a parent, it’s important to help your child understand that bullying is calculated and targets a particular individual or group of individuals. You should also speak with your child about how to tell the difference between a person who is being a bully and a person who has bad manners.
Additionally, make sure to stress to your child that they should tell you if bullying is happening to them, or if they see someone else being bullied.
Strengthen your child from the inside out
Talk to your child about why bullying occurs, and that it says so much more about the perpetrator than the victim. A favorite quote of mine is “how you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.” This is so true! Also, discuss “herd mentality” with your child. Often, children observing the bullying will join in for fear of becoming a target themselves. Teach your child to resist this temptation.
Practice responding appropriately
Often, a bully is looking for a victim that will give him or her the reaction and attention he or she desires. Help your child practice responding in a way that douses the fire, rather than adding fuel to it.
Help your child find his or her allies
Teach your children to appreciate loyalty, and have them make a pact with their friends: “If you stick by me, I’ll stick by you.” This lessens the threat of “herd mentality” developing.
Form a relationship with the school
If your child is being bullied, report to the school so it can be dealt with accordingly. Become educated on what anti-bullying measures and curriculum are utilized at school so that you can tie those in at home as well. Change really begins in our homes, followed by the classrooms, and branching out.
In these trying times, resources are always helpful. The Lily-Jo Project has a wonderful online learning platform and FB community with information for parents and those that work with youth.
I moderate the group, and we would love to have you join. You can request to join here – looking forward to seeing you there!
More Resources on Bullying
If you found this article helpful, check out these other resources on bullying.
- Resources and links from StopBullying.gov
- Videos, books, and articles from the Committee for Children
- School resources from the Anti-Bullying Alliance
- Resources and downloadables from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
For Teachers: Check out our Curriculum on Bullying for Children and Teens
Imagine if our world was full of people who were building each other up, rather than tearing each other down? It’d be a much better place to live, wouldn’t it?
Our series ‘SMILE’ is all about helping children and teens learn how to:
- Identify what bullying looks like
- Speak up about bullying
- Stand up to bullies
- Be sensitive to others who may be bullying
- Reach out for help when they need it
This series is available to purchase for different age groups on our online learning platform – you can check them out here:
- SMILE – ages 4-7
- SMILE – ages 7-11
- SMILE – ages 11-14
- SMILE – ages 14-18
- SMILE Dance Workshop – all ages
To get unlimited access to all of our video curriculum, you can sign up for a backstage pass here.
Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center. (2019). Bullying statistics. Retrieved from https://www.pacer.org/bullying/info/stats.asp
Nasir, R. and Johns, E. (2021). Quarterly suicide death registrations in England. Retrieved from https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/quarterlysuicidedeathregistrationsinengland/2001to2019registrationsandquarter1jantomartoquarter4octtodec2020provisionaldata
National Health Care for the Homeless Council. (2018). Suicide and Homelessness. Retrieved from https://nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/suicide-fact-sheet.pdf
Rabin, R. (2021). U.S. Suicides Declined Overall in 2020 but May Have Risen Among People of Color. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/15/health/coronavirus-suicide-cdc.html
Suicide Prevention Resource Center. (2020). Communities. Retrieved from https://www.sprc.org/settings/communities
About the Author: Brandy Browne
Brandy Browne is a care coordinator for a local mental health agency in the United States, as well as a family coach and blogger for UnStuck (www.unstucks.com) – her family coaching service aimed at helping families develop positive habits and breaking the cycle of generational trauma and poverty.
Her education is in early and elementary education, and she also has a masters degree in parenting and child/adolescent development. Brandy is a wife to her high school sweetheart of fifteen years, and together they share three children, aged ten, seven, and five. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, writing, and distance running.