Bullying Prevention Guide
Bullying is a very serious problem and should never be ignored by school professionals, parents, and even law enforcement.
According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-341.
Victims of bullies are between 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide2, and a study in Great Britain has determined that half of all teen suicides are related to incidents of bullying3. That is a very serious problem – one we all must address.
Bullying isn’t a boy problem or a girl problem. Bullying occurs among both genders, and across genders. In recent years, the seriousness of bullying has become a topic of discussion in schools, homes, workplaces – bullying can occur anywhere.
It can be emotional or physical bullying, leaving scars that can last a lifetime.
Bullying: Serious & Dangerous
Bullying is showing aggressive behavior, most often directed at a smaller or weaker victim of bullying.
The problem has become so serious that schools are now providing in-service training to identify the obvious symptoms of a child who is being bullied.
Teachers, school administrators, parents, and peer-friends can all help the victim of a bully.
A written policy statement on the subject gets students, teachers and administrators all working together to improve successful outcomes.
However, bullying does not go away by itself, whether you’re a six-year old or a 90-year old resident of an assisted living facility who bullies the staff.
Bullies come in all ages. Some are boys; some girls. They find a weaker member of your group – your class – and this student becomes the target of barbs and taunts that can affect the child’s development and potential.
Serious bullying can even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that can take years to resolve.
Types of Bullying
No. 1 – Physical Bullying
This is probably what most of us think of when we think about bullying. A group of 6th graders pushing 2nd graders off the swings at recess, or bad feelings between two or more classmates. It doesn’t take much to “insult” a kid – an insult that can lead to very dangerous school conditions.
If you see physical bullying, in which a student is hit, slapped, punched, has his lunch stepped on – then it’s time for you to step in. Bullies don’t like to confront people who stand up to them and all it takes is one gutsy student to turn the crowd of kids against the bullies.
The problem of bullying can be controlled through rules and regulations that students and parents understand, it can be a mentoring program with seniors watching out for their freshman friends, it can be increasing awareness of the harm bullying does in the short- and long-term.
There are a lot of ways to bully people, but why would you want to harm someone just like you?
No. 2 – Emotional Bullying
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
It’d be great if it were true but name calling, teasing, insults, humiliating others – words hurt. Name-calling hurts. Threatening classmates, or people smaller than you, hurts.
Something as simple as turning your back on a classmate can hurt – and for a long, long time.
Emotional bullying often consists of hurtful words that cause harm or pain to someone else. Calling a schoolmate a mean name is bullying. You may not touch that classmate, but the sting of your words can last a very long time.
Why in the world would you want to hurt someone on purpose? Whether it’s physical or emotional bullying, it’s hurtful to others, and you have to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”
No. 3 – Social Bullying
Sadly, social bullying is a growing problem because the Internet makes this kind of behavior easier. Just log on, leave a nasty post on a classmate’s social profile, and you’ve hurt someone.
Ignoring the “less popular” kids is another form of social bullying. Who sits at what tables during lunch reveals a great deal about who’s popular and who gets picked-on and bullied.
What Counts as Bullying?
If you poke your best friend in the arm, it’s not bullying. You’re a couple of friends just fooling around, though poking, hitting or hurting others isn’t really much fun, and it certainly isn’t funny, even if you’re just fooling around with friends.
Unfortunately bullying can include a lot of different behaviors – all of them bad:
• shoving or tripping (someone could really get hurt, and badly);
• insults, taunts, name-calling (why would you even want to do these things?);
• cyberbullying on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter;
• damaging someone else’s property;
• ignoring people in school;
• preventing classmates from playing with your group;
• spreading rumors that you know aren’t true just to hurt someone.
There are lots of different kinds of bullying – and every one of them is harmful and unnecessary.
Are you a bully? Do you intentionally hurt other people? Why? Isn’t there a better way of dealing with personal differences?
Do You Know Bullying When You See It?
Sure, most kids know what bullying is. They’ve been victims of bullies or they are bullies. However, bullying occurs more frequently in some places than in others.
For example, bullying on the bus is common because the bus driver has to pay attention to the road, not who stole some kid’s hat.
Bullying occurs in places where there are a lot of kids and NOT a lot of adult supervision. That’s why you’re more likely to encounter the problem of bullying at recess, in school bathrooms, in the cafeteria – any place where there’s less structured interaction between children.
Where do Bullies Hang Out?
Bullying can occur any place – in school, on the bus, in the classroom – anyplace where the authority, a teacher or resource officer, for example, are absent and students are left on their own. This scenario allows a larger group of kids to gather and bully with a crowd for camouflage – but it’s still bullying.
Bullying takes place anywhere, but it almost always involves a lot of unsupervised children who pick on the “targets” of bullies when an authority figure isn’t around.
Why do People Bully Each Other?
Kids aren’t the only victims of bullies. Grown-ups and kids can be bullied for no reason at all. If one driver accidently cuts off another, the angry driver may tailgate the other driver, or try to cut that driver off the road.
There are even cases of drivers shooting other drivers – a form of bullying called road rage.
Bullying occurs for a lot of different reasons. In some cases, it’s jealousy. A bully will taunt another student because that other student is more popular. The bully gains attention – and a reputation that may have to be protected many times through the years. Bullies don’t always stop bullying as they get older.
Bullies’ aggressive, hurtful behavior makes them feel better. They’ve “taught that new kid a lesson.” In many cases, bullies feel a lack of respect and will humiliate others to build up their own self-esteem.
Another reason why bullies act the way they do? We learn how to behave and act by watching grown-ups. If a parent is also a bully, children in that home may learn that bullying is a solution because of a parent’s abuse at home.
It’s essential that youngsters learn to settle differences peacefully – without bullying or violence. It’s a social skill we all need to learn if we intend to enjoy a satisfying life.
Bullying or Teasing?
Friends do tease each other. It’s harmless fun in most cases. So, what’s the difference between bullying and just plain teasing?
Teasing occurs without any evil intent. You tease your family members and friends and they tease back. No one gets hurt, and in fact, a good tease usually leads to laughter.
Bullying is done to hurt someone. When you tease the “new kid” just because she’s new, you’re bullying someone weaker and more defenseless than other kids.
Another way to show the difference between bullying and teasing is to examine how long the “teasing” has lasted. A good tease among friends is over once it’s over.
Bullying continues, sometimes from many different sources. A nasty social media comment, for example, may be missed by even the most concerned parent, but you can be pretty sure that the victim saw it, read it, and was hurt by it.
In some cases bullying can continue for months or even years. An affront in 2nd grade may create tension between two or more classmates 10 years later. There’s no time limit on bullying, and its intent is to hurt someone else.
Teasing starts and stops. You tease your best friend about his ability to eat the cafeteria food, then you never mention it again. It’s for fun, and your best friend gets a little attention, everybody has a good laugh and you move on.
Bullying continues, and can take many forms. The purpose of bullying is to frighten or hurt someone else, unlike teasing in which everyone has a good laugh. Bullying commonly focuses on one subject. Teasing is usually spontaneous and forgotten before the next bell.
What Happens to the Victims of Bullies?
The negative impact bullying has on a single victim can harm that person for life. It can change a personality, and move a classmate into a dangerous direction.
Bullies don’t often recognize how hurtful they are when picking on the latest target on the bus. Victims often remain silent about the abuse they face because “tattling” only makes things worse.
The personalities of victims of bullies often change. The once out-going-always-smiling student may suddenly become withdrawn. She no longer raises her hand in class. He doesn’t engage in group activities at recess.
Victims withdraw from friends, family – the entire world – because they think if they “keep a low profile” they can avoid bullying and the emotional and physical damage it does.
Depression is another symptom of bully victims. No one likes to be hurt. No one likes to be left out. When the bullying continues day after day, over time the victims may become depressed – even detached from others.
The use of illegal drugs and substances is often a sign of bullying. Bullying hurts. Drinking or smoking pot may eliminate the pain for a short time but when the effects of the abused substance wears off, there’s still the problem of that bully.
Violence is usually an aspect of the bully’s behavior. The violence may be directed at the victim or something owned by the victim. The victim may end up wrestling with a bully even though she’s not a bully herself. Bullies can hem you in, leaving few other choices of what to do.
Suicide is another tragic outcome of bullying, and one of the reasons educators are keeping a closer eye on students in the classroom or playground. Even so, every year suicide is a leader in teen-aged deaths.
More teens die from suicide than from murder4, and many of those tragic suicides are the direct result of on-going bullying in school, at home – anywhere. Bullying occurs everywhere.
Signs of Bullying
Not all victims of bullying behave the same, they are all victims of bullies, and they all face additional stress in their lives.
What are the signs that a student is being bullied?
• poor sleep habits or insomnia;
• unexplained bruising, scrapes, cuts and other physical injuries;
• loss of appetite;
• unexplained crying;
• making up excuses not to go to school;
• missing clothes or objects like your child’s backpack;
• a lack of friends or social interactions.
How to Stop a Bully in His Tracks
Bullies need attention. It’s often the reason bullies become bullies – it’s the only way to get attention and negative attention is better than no attention at all.
Here are some tips to stop a bully from doing damage to you or your possessions:
Stay confident. Bullies may pick on you but if you remain confident in your skills and values, it shows that bullying doesn’t affect you or your confidence.
Be powerful. Bullies hate losing. Stick your head up, shoulders back and walk with the confidence that you can handle whatever comes your way. If you look powerful and confident, bullies will usually find a weaker target.
Keep a positive attitude. Sure, the bully may call you names, but you know who you are. You know your strengths. And, you know you don’t have to prove anything to the bullies in your school.
Hang with groups. Bullies like to separate their victims from the rest of the pack so if you spend time hanging out with your friends, bullies are less likely to bother you.
Do your best to defuse the situation. Talk to the bully and find out why you’re this week’s victim. Bullies may not look at you as a human being with feelings. To them, you’re just another target, and another opportunity to show-off.
Talk about the situation with your friends. You may be reluctant to discuss the problem with parents or brothers and sisters, believing it will only make a bad situation worse. However, you can swear a friend to secrecy, tell him what’s going on, and accept the sympathy and comfort good friends provide when you face bullies.
Who Can Solve The Problem of Bullying?
To solve the problem of school bullying, all parties must be involved in developing an effective, permanent solution. Who should be involved in developing bullying guidelines?
• classroom teachers
• school guidance resources
• local law enforcement
• school’s legal counsel to ensure that guidelines are compliant with local ordnances
• peer mentors
The entire student body should be involved in developing guidelines for addressing the serious problem of school bullying.
Often, your local law enforcement agency will have anti-bullying resources, including a uniformed police officer on school premises to address bullying, substance abuse, school violence, and other potentially dangerous problems that can get out of hand with a sideways glance.
What Should You Do if You See Bullying?
Once again, bullies need attention. Don’t give it to them. Don’t join the crowd in taunting one of your classmates. Instead, go get help from a teacher, administrator or the school’s resource officer.
If you watch bullying without reporting it, you’re giving the bully just what he wants.
Stop gossiping. A false rumor is spread when one classmate tells another, who tells another and so on. If you hear trash talking, don’t pass it on. Ignore it, and help a classmate maintain her reputation. Don’t spread gossip. Stop it.
Stand up for the victim. All it takes is some on-looker to step forward and put an end to the bullying. Bullies don’t want to look bad in front of their audiences, and by stepping up and helping the victim, others in the group may join you.
Never be afraid to talk to an adult. Parents usually don’t know that their children are being bullied. Victims are embarrassed to tell an adult but when you’re the daily target of a bully, talking to a favorite teacher or the school guidance counselor can put a barrier between you and the bully.
If you see a classmate being bullied, be brave and help the victim. Encourage the victim to talk to an adult, and offer to go with the victim for support. You saw what was going on, you took action to stop the bullying for now, go a step further and help a victim of bullying by supporting that classmate, and report bullying to stop it for all time.
Should Parents Report Bullies to School Officials?
If you child is being bullied, chances are she doesn’t want school officials to know. It’s embarrassing and can often make an annoying problem a tragedy.
There are numerous reported cases of victims of bullies who bring weapons to school to get revenge, or simply to make the bullying stop. In other words, there’s enough evidence to demonstrate the relationship between bullying and school violence.
Before reporting bullying to school officials, talk to your child to see if you can find another way to stop this negative behavior from harming your child.
Maybe you know the bully’s parents. It’s not out of line to politely ask a parent to intervene to stop a bully from harming your child. In fact, as the parent, you have the responsibility to protect your children.
Parents are often in the best position to identify changes in a child’s behavior. Your one-time-well-behaved child is acting out at home, or picking on weaker kids in the neighborhood.
If the bullying continues, take steps to protect your child and other children threatened by the class bully. Working together, parents, teachers, and students can stop a bully who’s looking for your attention.
If you see bullying, report it. Tell a responsible adult if you’re victimized by a bully. Bullying isn’t healthy for anyone – including the bully.
Working together, with parents, class leaders, teachers and administrators, bullying in school can be stopped before a small problem becomes a huge problem that you read about in the newspaper the next day.
1. Facts about suicide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, October 24). Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/facts/index.html
2. WISQARS (web-based injury statistics query and reporting system). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, December 2). Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html
3. Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, January 24). Bullying and suicide. Wikipedia. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying_and_suicide
4. VanOrman, A., & Jarosz, B. (2016, June 9). Suicide replaces homicide as second-leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers. PRB. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.prb.org/resources/suicide-replaces-homicide-as-second-leading-cause-of-death-among-u-s-teenagers/