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Sadly, bullying among kids and teens is still very common in the U.S. Almost one in four students, ages 12-18, reported being bullied at school.
Bullying can have serious effects on a young person’s mental and physical health. Victims of bullying are more likely to:
Victims are not the only ones who suffer because of bullying. Kids and teens who just witness bullying (also known as bystanders) are also more likely to experience:
But, bystanders are not as helpless as they may think.
Bystanders play an important role in putting an end to bullying, according to Charles F. Hollender, a Chicago Police Department detective and an expert in bullying prevention.
“Most kids that are being bullied won’t tell anyone, but if a bystander sees it, they can go to a teacher or the parents or some other trusted adult, and that brings it more to the forefront,” he explains.
Rather than putting themselves in the path of the bully where they could become the next target, Hollender recommends that witnesses stand up to bullying by:
“I want them to be there for that person being bullied. Maybe you just walk past them and say ‘hi.’ Sit with them at lunch when maybe nobody else will. Or compliment the way they look,” he says.
Parents play a vital role in teaching young people how they can stand up to bullying, not just stand by. Here are some ways parents can help their kids become helpful bystanders:
Putting an end to bullying can start with you and your kids. Talk to your kids about the importance of being a kind, respectful person. And make sure you lead by example by being nice and considerate to those around you.
Originally published October 13, 2015: Revised 2020
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