5 Action Items to Help Prevent Bullying | West Suburban YMCA

5 Action Items to Help Prevent Bullying

Oct 13, 2020

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  Together, we can make a difference if we all pitch in to stop bullying.   

Being targeted by a bully is a traumatic experience for a child. It can cause long-lasting effects such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.  There are many ways a child can be bullied, and with children growing up in a hyper-connected world and taking part in remote learning, the internet and social media create even more opportunities for bullying.   

Here are some ways that you and your family can help prevent bullying.   

Talk to your kids. 

Bullying is any unwanted, aggressive behavior happening through repeated verbal, physical, or social behavior.  Have an open dialogue with your children about what constitutes as bullying, how to prevent bullying in their classrooms and communities, and how to stop it when it is happening.  Bullying is a serious problem that affects kids of all ages, and being able to recognize it when it happens is an important step toward preventing it.  

Become familiar with the types of bullying. 

  • Verbal bullying:  Verbal bullying uses repeated insults to belittle, humiliate, and hurt the target. It might be based on the way they look, act, or behave.  
  • Relational aggression:  This type of bullying can be very insidious and often goes unnoticed by adults.  It includes excluding the target from games and social activities, ostracization, spreading rumors, and trying to sabotage the target’s social standing. 
  • Cyberbullying:  This common and widespread form of bullying can also go unnoticed because it is much more difficult to catch the bullies.  Bullies engaging in cyberbullying may do so by posting hurtful images, making threats, and sending hurtful messages via social media, online gaming, email, or texting.  With virtual learning and kids spending more time online, this type of bullying is on the rise.   
  • Sexual bullying:  This type of bullying includes sexual comments and vulgar gestures. 
  • Physical bullying:  The most obvious form of bullying, this type of bullying may include kicking, hitting, punching, slapping, shoving, or tripping the target. 

Give your children the tools to help stop bullying.  These are some things your child can do: 

  • Encourage them to stand up to bullies if they are comfortable doing so.  If a child ever feels unsafe, they should ask for help from a trusted adult.  One of the most effective ways to stop a bully is by not being a bystander and stepping up to say, “Hey, this is my friend.  Please stop doing this!” 
  • Make friends with someone they don’t know at school or the new kid in town. Having allies in social situations can help combat bullying.   
  • Sign an anti-bullying pledge. 
  • Become a friend to the target of bullying.  Elementary school kids could sit with the target at lunch, play with them at recess, and try to get together for a (socially distanced!) playdate.  Older kids and teenagers can share phone numbers to start texting or talking outside of school and add each other on social media.   
  • Don’t be a bystander and tell bystanders that it’s not okay to let bullying continue.   
  • Don’t spread rumors, and use phrases like “I don’t think that’s true” or “That is not a nice thing to say” when a peer starts to gossip or tell rumors. 
  • Help the target of the bullying talk to an adult by accompanying them to a teacher, a school counselor, or another trusted adult.   

Be aware of the signs. 

If your child is getting bullied at school, they might be too scared to talk about it.  They may not even be aware that what they are experiencing is bullying.  If your child suddenly doesn’t want to go to school, complains of stomach aches or other maladies, becomes withdrawn, changes their eating habits, refuses to get on the school bus, or changes their walking route to school, it could be because someone is bullying them at school.   

If you notice these changes in behavior, reach out to your child to see if there is anything happening that you should know about.   

Need help right now?   

If your family has done whatever they can to resolve the situation and the bullying is still occurring or if someone is in immediate danger, there are ways to get help.  Check out this list of resources if you need support immediately.     

The West Suburban YMCA is strongly committed to anti-bullying.  Childcare staff at the Y receive training on bullying prevention to prevent, identify, and stop bullying.  The Y ensures that everyone, regardless of ability, age, cultural background, ethnicity, faith, gender, gender identity, ideology, income, national origin, race, or sexual orientation is welcome here.