October is National Bully Prevention Month. Statistics from the 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement show that an adult was notified in only about a third of bullying cases. Tonya Millard, Director of Crossing Rivers Health Family Resource Center, says kids don’t tell adults for many reasons:
- Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.
- Kids may fear backlash from the one who bullied them.
- Bullying can be a humiliating experience. Kids may not want adults to know what is being said about them, whether true or false. They may also fear that adults will judge them or punish them for being weak.
- Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or could under-stands.
- Kids may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect kids from bullying, and kids can fear losing this support.
Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. They can:
- Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Kids who know what bullying is can better identify it. They can talk about bullying if it happens to them or others. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help and how to report bullying.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
- Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
- Model how to treat others with kindness and respect. Kids learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show the kids in their lives that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, kids are watching how adults manage stress and conflict, as well as how they treat their friends, colleagues, and families.