By Laura Herrera
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying can take place in a variety of spaces – at home, in the classroom, or online. By understanding potential situations that may provoke this behavior, recognizing red flags, and taking necessary precautions, we each can come together to prevent bullying from taking place in any space.
Understand Potential Warning Signs
1. Trauma-inducing events can play a big role
Oftentimes, children who are experiencing unstable or trauma-inducing home lives can fall into being the instigator or being more susceptible to bullying from peers. If the child, such as the children we serve at CASA, has been repeatedly neglected or abused, they may seek other ways to take out their anger, hurt, and frustration.
2. Be tuned in to abnormal behavior
If a child is not being as outgoing or is not acting like their usual selves, it's possible that they may be dealing with something bigger at hand. According to StopBullying.gov, these can be things such as a child not eating, not sleeping well, prominent illnesses, or isolating themselves from their peers. On the contrary, these behaviors can also entail instigating arguments or having “unexplained new belongings.”
Take Precautionary Steps
1. Be aware of your actions
Your everyday behavior and responses also play a role. Children often take cues from the adults around them when it comes to how to interact with and treat others. Because of this, take caution on how you speak about others around them and showcase appropriate ways to handle conflict.
2. Encourage everyday kind behaviors
Encourage kids to engage in kind behaviors – no matter how small. These can be things such as holding the door open for others, telling their peers a compliment, saying thank you, or sitting with a fellow classmate who is alone.
3. Engage more in conversations about their mental health
Foster more conversations about their lives, feelings, and mental health. According to StopBullying.gov, “sometimes spending 15 minutes a day talking can reassure kids that they can talk to their parents if they have a problem.”
How you navigate a conversation about their feelings and mental health is also important. Don’t be quick to dismiss any of their feelings or make excuses for someone else’s unkind behavior (ex. “maybe they have a crush on you!”). By fully listening and validating their thoughts and feelings, you are demonstrating to them what a healthy conversation about their emotions looks like while also providing them a safe space to speak freely in.
4. Normalize getting help
Connecting a child who is experiencing traumatic events or struggling mentally with a therapist or other licensed professional is vital. Showcasing to them early on that it is okay to get help can lead to them learning and engaging in healthy coping mechanisms for any emotional situation.
Have a Resource List on Hand
Have an easy-to-access resource list to refer to for any kind of situation.
A list of resources can be found here:
Support children experiencing bullying every single day of the year as a CASA volunteer! Learn more here, or apply directly today.
2021 Prevention Advocacy Awareness Bullying