October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Parents, teachers and community members play an important role when it comes to addressing bullying. How you respond can make an impact on bullying over time.

Stop Bullying on the Spot. When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, they send the message that it is not acceptable.  Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time.

Do:  Intervene immediately and separate the children involved.  Make sure everyone is safe and meet any immediate medical needs.  Stay calm.  Model respectful behavior when you intervene.
Don’t:  Ignore it and think that kids can work it out without adult help.  Don’t immediately try to sort out the facts.  Don’t question the children involved together or in front of other kids, only separately.

Find Out What Happened.  Get the facts and determine if it’s bullying.  Get the story from several sources.  Listen without blaming or calling the act “bullying” while you are trying to understand what happened.  Review the state law and your child’s school policy’s definition of bullying for guidance to determine if this is bullying, or if this is something else.

Remember that it may not matter “who started it.”  Some kids who are bullied may be seen as annoying or provoking, but this does not excuse the bullying behavior.  Also remember that a power imbalance among children is not limited to physical strength and is sometimes not easily recognized.  If the targeted child feels like there is a power imbalance, there probably is.

Support the Children Involved.  All kids involved in bullying—whether they are bullied, bully others, or see bullying—can be affected. It is important to support all kids involved to make sure the bullying doesn’t continue and effects can be minimized.

Be More Than a Bystander.  Every day, kids see bullying. They want to help, but don’t know how. Here are a few simple and safe ways that your child can help someone who’s being bullied and be more than a bystander:

  1. Don’t give bullying an audience.
  2. Set a good example.
  3. Help the person being bullied to get away from the situation.
  4. Tell a trusted adult.
  5. Be their friend. Children can help someone who’s been bullied by simply being nice to them at another time. Being friendly can go a long way toward letting them know that they’re not alone.

Adapted from a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, www.stopbullying.gov.

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