By California State PTA Health & Community Concerns Commission
October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Bullying is a serious issue at home and in school, and parents and caring adults can play pivotal roles in creating healthy, safe school and community climates.
In a 2019 publication, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that one out of five students in the U.S. said they had been bullied. Researchers have also found that bullied students are more likely to take a weapon to school, get involved in physical fights, and suffer from anxiety and depression, health problems, and mental health problems. They also suffer academically (especially high-achieving black and Latinx students). Research suggests that schools where students report a more severe bullying climate score worse on standardized assessments than schools with a better climate.
Five Tips For Parents To Help Prevent Bullying
Parents and guardians are among a school’s best allies in bullying prevention:
- Talk with and listen to your children every day. Ask questions about their school day, including experiences on the way to and from school, lunch, and recess. Ask about their peers. Children who feel comfortable sharing experiences with their parents before they are involved in bullying are more likely to involve them after.
- Spend time at school, especially during recess. Schools can lack the resources to provide all students individualized attention during “free” time, like recess. Volunteer to coordinate games and activities that encourage children to interact with their peers.
- Set a good example. Children are observing when you get angry at a waiter, another driver, etc. Model effective communication techniques, especially when they are present. As Education.com puts it, “Any time you speak to another person in a mean or abusive way, you’re teaching your child that bullying is okay.”
- Create healthy anti-bullying habits. Starting as young as possible, coach your children on both, what not to do (push, tease, and be mean to others) and what to do (be kind, empathize, and take turns). Also coach your child on what to do if someone is mean to him or to another (get an adult, tell the bully to stop, walk away and ignore the bully).
- Make sure your child understands that bullying is not okay. Explicitly explain what it is and that it’s not normal or tolerable for them to bully, be bullied, or stand by and watch other kids be bullied.
Parents Can Help Stop Online Bullying As Well
Kids may not always recognize teasing as bullying. Some kids also may be too embarrassed or ashamed to talk to their parents about it.
That’s why it’s important to talk about online and digital behavior before your child starts interacting with others online and with devices, as this article from Common Sense Media suggests.
Click here to access the California State PTA’s bullying prevention resources, which include advice about preparing your kid for going online or getting a cell phone, and advice about what to do if you know he or she has been bullied online.
Click here to access National PTA bullying prevention resources and an informative podcast that includes strategies for supporting children who are bullied and offers advice to parents who have learned that their child is doing the bullying.
PACER provides innovative resources for students, parents, educators, and others related to bullying prevention, including a report on the latest statistics.
The Stopbullying.gov website also provides valuable information on bullying prevention.
Do you have more questions? Email CommunityConcerns@capta.org