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Bully Prevention: What Parents Need to Know

Bully Prevention Program

Bullying is:  “the behavior causing both mental or physical harm to the other student(s) and is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student(s).”

Know the Difference Between….

Rough PlayReal FightingBullying
Usually friends; often repeated (same players)Usually not friends; typically not repeatedTypically not friends; generally repeated
Balance of powerPower relatively equalUnequal power
No intent to harmIntentional harm-doingIntentional harm-doing
Affect is friendly; positive, mutualAffect negative;  aggressive, tense, hostile affectAffect negative; aggressive & differs for victim and aggressor

Gender Differences
  • Most studies find that boys bully more than do girls
  • Boys report being bullied by boys; girls report being bullied by boys and girls
  • Boys are more likely than girls to be physically bullied by their peers
  • Girls are more likely to be bullied through rumor-spreading, sexual comments, social exclusion

(Nansel, 2001; Olweus, 1993)

Possible Warning Signs that a child is being bullied

  • Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
  • Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
  • Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time
  • Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs)
  • Sudden loss of appetite or appears anxious
  • Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school
  • Has lost interest in school work or suddenly
  • Begins to do poorly in school
  • Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
  • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments;
  • Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams;
  • Suffers from low self-esteem

What if you suspect your child is being bullied?

If your child shows any of these signs, this does not necessarily mean that he or she is being bullied, but it is a possibility worth exploring. What should you do? Talk with your child and talk with staff at school to learn more.

  1. Talk with your child. Tell your child that you are concerned and that you’d like to help. Here are some questions that can get the discussion going:
    Some direct questions: 


    • I’m worried about you.  Are there any kids at school who may be picking on you or bullying you?”
    • “Are there any kids at school who tease you in a mean way?”
    • “Are there any kids at school who leave you out or exclude you on purpose?”
    • “Do you have any special friends at school this year? Who are they? Who do you hang out with?”
    • “Who do you sit with at lunch and on the bus?”
    • “Are there any kids at school who you really don’t like? Why don’t you like them? Do they ever pick on you or leave you out of things?”
  2. Ask the teacher to talk with other adults who interact with your child at school (such as the music teacher, physical education teacher, or bus driver) to see whether they have observed your child bullying others.
  3. If you are not comfortable talking with your child’s teacher, or if you are not satisfied with the conversation, make an appointment to meet with your child’s school counselor or principal to discuss your concerns.

If you obtain information from your child or from staff at your child’s school that leads you to believe that he or she is being bullied or is bullying others, take quick action. 
Bullying can have serious effects on children.