Teach Your Child to be More Than a Bystander

October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. While much has been shared about what to do if your child is being bullied, or what to do if your child is the bully, there is also a lot to be said on how not to become a bystander of this harmful behavior. Kids see bullying all the time. They may want to help but don’t always know how. Here are a few helpful tips, recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website StopBullying.gov, to teach your kids what they can do:  Teenager consoling her friend

Don’t give bullying an audience — If one of your child’s friends or peers begins to bully someone, they shouldn’t encourage the behavior by giving it an audience. Instead of laughing or supporting it, they can let the bully know that such behavior isn’t entertaining.

Moreover, children can help by keeping their distance from the situation. If they ignore it, it may stop. If the bullying doesn’t stop, the bystander should follow other tips, such as telling a trusted adult.

Set a good example — If a child knows not to bully others, then other students will follow their example. To help even more, children can actively participate in anti-bullying activities and projects.

Help them get away — There are a few simple, safe ways children can help the person being bullied get away from the situation. As an example, they can create a distraction. If no one is rewarding the child who is bullying by paying attention, the behavior may stop.

A bystander can offer a way for the person being bullied to leave the scene by saying something like, “Mr. Smith needs to see you right now,” or “Come on, we need you for our game.” Remind children to intervene only if it feels safe to do so, and never use violence in order to help the person get away.

Tell a trusted adult or leave them a note — An adult can help stop bullying by intervening while it’s in progress, stopping it from occurring or simply giving the person being bullied a shoulder to lean on. Remind children who witness bullying not to get discouraged if they’ve already talked to an adult and nothing has happened. They can ask a family member if they will help, and make sure the adult knows that it is repeated behavior.

Be a friend — Children can help someone who’s been bullied by simply being nice to them at another time. Being friendly can go a long way toward letting them know that they’re not alone.

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