Bullying happens. It’s a sad fact that in our lifetimes are likely to either be bullied, be a bully, or be in proximity to a situation in which bullying occurs. Here is what you can do if you are ever in proximity to a bullying situation.
Intervene. Ignoring or minimizing the situation helps no one, and really does more harm than good, as it can encourage the bully’s behavior, and victims feel helpless. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Even if what you are observing is questionably bullying behavior, it’s still better to step in somehow. Pay attention to children’s facial expressions, actions, words, and body language to help you determine what is going on.
Be firm but appropriate. This can be a difficult line to walk along, but bullying is serious and needs to be taken as such. Yet, fire doesn’t fight fire in these situations, so remaining calm is also important. Intervene, share with the children your observations, and remain calm while being firm in your explanation of why what is happening needs to stop.
Reach out for help. If things get physical, or there is more than one bully, you may need to seek help on another person to deal with the situation properly and safely.
Avoid a lecture. Your goal by intervening is to end the behavior, not shame the bully. Lecturing and scolding often provide the bully with the attention that he or she finds rewarding. Additionally, don’t ask children to “work things out” for themselves. If they could have, they would have without you.
Don’t impose immediate consequences. Allow yourself time to consider the incident and obtain any clarifying information—then decide the best course of action. This also allows them to consider their actions, and hopefully learn from them on their own, prior to receiving an appropriate consequence.
Show appreciation to helpful bystanders. Children who try to help the victim or stop the bully are key to bullying prevention. Kids who witness bullying are the perfect people to introduce alternative actions they can employ other than bullying, and encourage to help safely stop it the next time it occurs.
If you would like to learn more about bullying, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.