Parents play an important role in preventing bullying. These important habits can help parents talk to kids and teens about bullying and cyberbullying, and help young people understand how they can stand up, not stand by.
Kids are never too old to hear you talk about the importance of treating peers with kindness and respect. Use well-publicized cases of bullying to ask if your kids see any similar situations at their school or in their own lives. Ask how it makes them feel. Listen.“The most important thing we can do is to educate our kids about what they're going to do if they're being bullied, what they're going to do if they see bullying or cyberbullying, and also say that we don't allow using technology to hurt or harm another person,” says Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’S National Bullying Prevention Center.
Make sure kids and teens understand that standing up does not mean putting themselves in the path of the bully.
“I don't want any kids to get in to a physical confrontation with someone,” explains Charles F. Hollendoner, Chicago Police Department detective and an expert in bullying prevention. “I want them to be there for that person being bullied. Maybe you just walk past them and say ‘hi.’ Sit with them at lunch when maybe nobody else will. Or compliment the way they look one day.”
Teach kids that reporting bullying or cyberbullying is not tattling; it’s standing up, and it’s the right thing to do. And teach them that if their report is not taken seriously or nothing happens, they should tell another adult, and then another, until the behavior is addressed and/or the cyberbullying site or page is taken down. “Kids need adults to help them. Kids can’t stop bullying by themselves,” says Charles F. Hollendoner, a Chicago Police Department detective.
For tips on how to report online cyberbullying, visit stopbullying.gov.
Find out how teens can stand up, not just stand by.
Monitor online activity to make sure your child isn’t a victim of bullying, and also isn’t participating in bullying. Parents should be nosy, and ask plenty of questions, Det. Hollendoner advises. If you see your child online, ask them: Who are you talking to? Why are you laughing so much? Whose pictures are these? What do you think of this? Why is this going on?
Also, make sure you have passwords and access to all of your kid’s social media sites—no matter how old they are; and when you check online activity, look to see if it is recent. Sometimes, kids and teens create more than one username so that adults cannot monitor everything they do. “Check the last time that something was posted to it. You know if all the pictures are of them looking like little angels, that may not be their usual posting page. If the last post was two months ago, there may be another page that they are using,” Det. Hollendoner says.
Talk to your kids about how bullying can impact victims and discuss the good feelings that result from being a kind, respectful person. As Detective Hollendoner points out: “All it takes is a few kids to say ‘You know what, that’s not cool. You're hurting their feelings, you're making them cry, you’re making them afraid to come to school.’ Start being nice and let's make that, what everybody wants to get behind.”