(BPT) - There are few parents who don't occasionally worry about whether or not their child is being bullied at school. In recent years, the issue has gained national attention, and efforts to educate students, parents and teachers on how to stop bullying have made a big impact, but the problem is still prevalent. Seventy percent of kids report they have seen bullying in their schools, prompting the founding of initiatives such as Stop Bullying: Speak Up, whose mission is to encourage kids to tell parents, teachers or another adult about bullying when they see it.
At the heart of such efforts is the idea that bullying can be stopped through positive relationship building. Strong, interpersonal relationships between children can stop bullying before it starts.
But how is this to be accomplished? As October is National Bullying Awareness Month, the following five tips are simple steps families and educators can take to encourage meaningful relationships and help put an end to bullying.
- Take a pledge - Having kids take a pledge to stop bullying is a great way to lay out clear guidelines on what they should do if they see bullying, who to tell and how to comfort the kid who is bullied. The Speak Up Pledge provides clear guidelines for how to respond to bullying.
- Teach kids to be friendly to someone who's getting picked on - Kids who are bullied often need a friend, they're misunderstood and a little kindness can go a long way. Letting them know it's not their fault is an important step to cultivating kindness and respect.
- Build trust - Establishing trust makes it more likely kids will report bullying to an adult when they see it. Adults can build trust as simply as saying hello, asking how a kid's day is going, and most importantly, by listening.
- Books - Assigning or reading a book with kids that addresses bullying is a great way to begin a dialogue and to build trust. Such books allow kids to identify with incidents they have experienced and give them strategies to deal with bullying in their own lives. There are many valuable resources are available for teachers looking to design a syllabusand for parents looking for a selection of titles that deal with bullying.
- Build relationships through a diversity club - Victims of bullying are often singled out because they are different. Encouraging kids about the value of inclusion and to respect differences, whether it has to do with ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities or just behavioral differences, makes everyone happier and is an important way to stop bullying before it begins.