What to Do If Your Child Witnesses Bullying

  • Many children are observers or “bystanders” in cases of bullying at school. It is important that even students who are bystanders in a bullying situation take action to get help, so the bullying stops. We are taking steps to teach this important information to students at school. Here are some things you can do to support these efforts at home.

    If your child talks to you about the bullying that he or she witnesses at school, you are encouraged to do the following:

    • Teach your child how to get help without getting hurt.
    • Encourage your child to verbally intervene if it is safe to do so, by saying such things as: “Cool it! This isn’t going to solve anything.”
    • Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying. This only encourages a child who bullies—who wants to be the center of attention.
    • Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying. Talking to an adult is not “tattling”—it is an act of courage and safety. Suggest going to an adult with a friend, if that will make it easier.
    • Help your child support others who tend to be bullied.
    • Teach your child to include these children in activities.
    • Praise and reward “quiet acts of courage”—where your child tried to do the right thing to stop bullying, even if he or she was not successful.
    • Work with your child to practice specific ways he or she can help stop bullying. For example, role-play with him or her what he or she could say or do to help someone who is being bullied.