Encouraging your child to stand up to bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, uniting communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. At Amazing Smiles, we take a stand against bullying and work to empower our patients to take that same stand.

What bullying looks like

You may think you know bullying when you see it, but consider these statistics:

  • 20% of students ages 12-18 have experienced bullying.
  • Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others in surveys.
  • 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
  • When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.
  • Among students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, 15% were bullied online or by text.
  • According to one large study, the following percentages of middle schools students had experienced these various types of bullying: name calling (44.2 %); teasing (43.3 %); spreading rumors or lies (36.3%); pushing or shoving (32.4%); hitting, slapping, or kicking (29.2%); leaving out (28.5%); threatening (27.4%); stealing belongings (27.3%); sexual comments or gestures (23.7%); e-mail or blogging (9.9%).

All of this adds up to one thing: we must work together to stop bullying.

How to stand up to bullying

If your child has experienced bullying, here are ways in which they can and should handle the situation, as suggested by StopBullying.gov.

Speak up

If you feel uncomfortable with the comments or actions of someone, tell someone! It is better to let a trusted adult know, than to let the problem continue.

Know what bullying is and is not

There are many other types of aggressive behavior that don’t fit the definition of bullying. This does not mean that they are any less serious or require less attention than bullying. Rather, these behaviors require different prevention and response strategies. If you recognize any of the descriptions, you should stay calm, stay respectful, and tell an adult as soon as possible.

Take control of cyberbullying

Remember, bullying does not only happen at school. It can happen anywhere, including through texting, the internet and social media. If it is happening to you:

  • Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.
  • Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails, and text messages. Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers.
  • Block the person who is cyberbullying.

Don’t be a bystander

Someone who witnesses bullying, either in person or online, is a bystander. Friends, students, peers, teachers, school staff, parents, coaches, and other youth-serving adults can be bystanders. With cyberbullying, even strangers can be bystanders.

There are many things that a bystander to bullying can do to become an upstander (someone who takes action when they witness bullying). Even one person’s support can make a big difference for someone who is being bullied.

  • Question the bullying behavior. Simple things like changing the subject or questioning the behavior can shift the focus.
  • Use humor to say something funny and redirect the conversation.
  • There is strength in numbers too! Bystanders can intervene as a group to show there are several people who don’t agree with the bullying.
  • Walk with the person who is the target of bullying to help diffuse potential bullying interactions.
  • Reach out privately to check in with the person who was bullied to let them know you do not agree with it and that you care. It makes a difference!

How we are standing up

At Amazing Smiles, we are committed to helping end bullying forever. Every year, our team visits schools, hosts field trips, and otherwise supports organizations that help teach kids to identify and shut down bullying. To learn more or to see how you can get involved, contact us at office@amazingsmiles.com.