October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Read the following tips and discuss them with your children to help prevent bullying, stop it when it has started and help heal the hurt caused by it.


If you’re the parent, aunt, uncle, teacher, coach, religious leader or friend of a teen who’s being bullied because of his or her weight, you can help the adolescent cope with the difficult situation. Experts recommend these strategies:

Emphasize the bullying isn’t their fault. Many teenagers who are taunted about their weight blame themselves for the abuse and for their excessive pounds, Puhl says. “A lot of teens internalize the stigma of being overweight and blame themselves for being bullied, they think it’s their fault for not being thin,” Puhl says. “We need parents (and others) to communicate to teens that they’re not to blame for being teased or bullied, that it’s the responsibility of whoever’s taunting them.”

Don’t urge the teen to lose weight to stop the harassment. Doing so would imply that the adolescent is responsible for the bullying and could stop it if he or she would just adopt better eating and exercise habits and lose weight, Puhl says. In fact, personal behavior is just one of a complex set of factors relating to weight, she says. Those factors include genetics, family customs and traditions about eating and accessibility to healthy foods and exercise opportunities, she says. It’s good to encourage teens with weight issues (all adolescents, for that matter) to adopt healthy habits, but that is a separate issue from coping with bullying and should be a separate discussion, Puhl advises.

Be mindful of your language. Parents and others use nicknames for teens they consider a term of endearment but may be harmful to the adolescent, says Dr. Tyree “Tye” Winters, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Straftord, New Jersey. “I have many Latino, Spanish-speaking patients whose pet name for their children or a sibling is ‘Gordo’ (which means fat in Spanish) or ‘Gordito’ (which means chubby in Spanish),” Winters says. “We don’t call someone ‘asthma kid’ or ‘sickle-cell kid,’ but we do use language like ‘Big Man’ and ‘Little Fatty.’ If you’re a parent, put yourself in your child’s shoes.”

Encourage the teen to cultivate his or her talents. Is the teenager grappling with bullying interested in art, dancing, writing or technology? Encourage him or her to develop interests and talents that could boost his or her self-esteem and confidence, says Mayra Mendez, a psychotherapist and program coordinator of intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health services at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center. “We want to build confidence independent of weight,” she says. “Help them explore options. They’ll see if they have a talent they work on, they can succeed, which will boost confidence that can provide a shield against the taunting.”

Have the adolescent make two lists. One list should include qualities that make a person likable, the other, traits that make a person unlikable. Odds are “being overweight” and “being slender” won’t be on either list, says Oksana Hagerty, an educational and developmental psychologist who serves as a learning specialist at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida. This exercise helps teens learn that “likability hinges upon a lot more than being slender,” Hagerty says.

Urge teens to seek support if they’re being bullied. Let adolescents know that if they’re being bullied, they should seek the support of a trusted adult, such as a parent, a teacher, a coach or a school counselor, says Lisa Rosen, an assistant professor of psychology at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. “Adults can help teenagers’ problem-solve and be an advocate for them,” she says.

– All above information provided by U.S. News & World Report.

If your child is being bullied…


Stop bullying in its tracks.

Talk with your child.
When you first talk with your child about bullying, be prepared to listen without judgment, and provide a safe and supportive place where your child can work out his or her feelings. Children may not be ready to open up right away as they, too, are dealing with the emotional effects of bullying and may be feeling insecure, frightened, vulnerable, angry, or sad. When your child begins to tell their story, just listen and avoid making judgmental comments. It’s important to learn as much as possible about the situation, such as how long the behavior has been happening, who has been involved, and what steps have been taken. Encourage your child to talk, and let them know they are not alone and you are there to help.

Support and empower your child. 
After hearing your child’s story, empower them to create an action plan to help stop the bullying. Talk with your child about ways you can support them as well as intervention strategies they can use, such as working with the school or advocating on their own. Creating a plan that works with your child’s strengths and abilities can help build self-confidence and resilience. Make sure to share these agreed-upon strategies with those involved in your child’s life, such as teachers, coaches, and other adults who interact with your child on a daily basis.

Learn your rights. 
Check your state’s legislation on bullying. Each state has different laws and policies on bullying, along with requirements on how schools should respond. Visit StopBullying.gov to find out the laws your state has put into place. Also, check your state’s Department of Education website for a state Safe Schools office, which can be a great local resource to learn more about your state and school’s policy. Another option is to look up your school’s policy on bullying.

Think through who else should be involved.
In addition to being supportive and empowering your child to write down a plan, it can be very helpful to document the steps that you plan to take or have already implemented. Written records provide a history, which can be very helpful. You can also think through your strategy about how to involve others that can help your child. This might include determining who you will contact at school, what you plan to ask them, and how you will be involved. Other options include contacting a guidance counselor or other health professionals for advice. If the situation doesn’t change, your plan might include steps to contact local law enforcement or legal counsel.

Get involved in the community
Bullying touches many lives and it might be happening to others in your child’s school or community. You can help by raising awareness through community events, attending workshops or trainings in your community, or sharing information with others.

– All above information provided by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center

 If your child is doing the bullying…


Make sure the child knows what the problem behavior is.
Young people who bully must learn their behavior is wrong and harms others.

Show kids that bullying is taken seriously. 
Calmly tell the child that bullying will not be tolerated. Model respectful behavior when addressing the problem.

Work with the child to understand some of the reasons he or she bullied.
For example:

– Sometimes children bully to fit in. These kids can benefit from participating in positive activities. Involvement in sports and clubs can enable them to take leadership roles and make friends without feeling the need to bully.

– Other times kids act out because something else — issues at home, abuse, stress — is going on in their lives. They also may have been bullied. These kids may be in need of additional support, such as mental health services.

Use consequences to teach. 
Consequences that involve learning or building empathy can help prevent future bullying

Involve the kid who bullied in making amends or repairing the situation. 
The goal is to help them see how their actions affect others. For example, the child can:

– Write a letter apologizing to the student who was bullied.

– Do a good deed for the person who was bullied or for others in your community.

– Clean up, repair, or pay for any property they damaged.

– All above information provided by StopBullying.gov

If your child witnesses bullying…


Nearly 60 percent of bullying situations end when a peer intervenes, giving students an important role in bullying prevention.

– The simplest action parents can tell students to take is not to join in. This sends the message that they don’t agree with what’s happening and takes attention away from the person bullying.

Students can also help by telling an adult about the bullying, since the student who is being bullied might not be able to do it themselves. With this action, it is important to discuss the difference between telling and tattling. Telling is done to protect yourself or another student from getting hurt, whereas tattling is done to purposely get someone in trouble.

The most effective step to encourage your child or student to take is to show support for the student being bullied. Ask your student how they would feel if they were being bullied, and how they would want someone to support them. They can show support by talking to the student being bullied, telling them what happened isn’t okay, or inviting the student to join them in an activity.

– All above information provided by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center


If you are being bullied…


It’s not your fault. Know that you do not deserve what is happening.

Tell someone: your parents, a teacher or trusted adult.

Develop a plan, with the help of an adult, about how you can respond to the situation.

Decide, with the help of an adult, how other students might help.

Know your rights: most states have laws against bullying.

If you see bullying…


Ask the kid who is bullying to stop.
Sometimes kids don’t realize that what they are doing is hurting someone else. Speaking out against bullying helps everyone.

Don’t join in.
Someone who bullies often likes an audience, it makes it more fun for them. If you ignore the bullying, it shows them it’s not cool. Be a kid against bullying.

Help bullied kid get away from the situation.
It is easy for someone to be bullied when no one sticks up for them. Be a friend. Walk with them to class, play with them on the playground, and let them know they’re not alone.

Tell an adult.
Adults really do care. They are the ones that can enforce the rules. It can be done while the bullying is happening or after. Remember: telling is NOT tattling, it is done to help someone.

Let bullied kid know that no one deserves to be bullied.
Kids who are bullied often feel alone, like no one cares, like it might even be their fault. Let them know that someone cares.

Ask others to stand against bullying.
When kids stick together and don’t accept bullying, they can change what has happened to so many for so long. Together we can make a difference.

– All above information provided by KidsAgainstBullying.org


If you are being bullied…


Know That You Are Not Alone.
Unfortunately, bullying happens to a lot of kids. It happens in small schools, large schools, rural schools, and city schools. It can happen in preschool, high school, and every school in between. Sometimes people say that bullying is just part of growing up or that you should just “deal with it” and it will go away. This is NOT true. Even though bullying happens to a lot of kids, that doesn’t ever make it right. No one deserves to be bullied, everyone deserves respect, and everyone has a right to feel safe.

Be a Self-advocate.
Being a “self-advocate” means speaking up for yourself, telling people what you need, and taking action. Bullying can be stopped, but you need a plan. First, think about what you can do to change your situation, and then make an action plan. Share this information with your parents and an adult you trust at school.

Assert Your Rights.
Every student has the right to feel safe at school. If one adult isn’t able to help you, don’t give up! It is your right to talk with another adult, such as a parent. When you do speak to a teacher, an administrator, or a person you trust at school:

– Share all of the information in your action plan.

– Ask: “What can be done so I feel safe and other kids do, too?”

– Tell adults that there are laws outlining the school’s responsibility in handling bullying situations.

Some adults may not know this, so clue them in and keep talking until someone understands. Visit stopbullying.gov for an interactive map leading to each state law. No matter what you call it, bullying is painful. But you don’t have go through it alone! There are people who will help you, and it is your right to be safe.

If you see bullying…


Put yourself in the target’s place. If you were being pushed around, laughed at, gossiped about, made fun of, ignored on purpose, you’d probably want someone to help you out.

Don’t join in.
Your non-support of someone bullying sends a clear message that you don’t agree with what’s happening. If you see someone being laughed at, instead of turning your back, help the target to turn his or her back to the bullying by walking to class with him or her, telling them that they don’t deserve what’s happening to them.

Show your support.
Kids who are bullied often feel like no one cares—help them feel like they’re not alone.

If you read cyberbullying, write something nice on the target’s wall or let the person bullying know it’s not cool to make fun of people online, or you can even report in anonymously and many service providers will remove the post.

If you witness a fight, don’t try to step in the middle. Instead, tell an adult or other authority figure what’s going on so that they can intervene.

Tell an adult.
You can always let your teachers and parents know so they can help out—bullying is not just about physical fights, words have the power to injure too, both online in and person. Teachers are there to help you out, not just give you homework, and parents care about what happens to you.

– All above information provided by TeensAgainstBullying.org