I was in the pit of despair. My sweet 8-year-old friend, B, had been bullied at school by two other third-grade girls.
Really??? THIRD grade!!!
How to help B? Stop her harassers? Crush this ugly cycle of hurting others that has become an epidemic?
I felt powerless and sick at heart, especially living 500 miles away from B. Turning to experts and friends who'd seen this happen before, I discovered 5 ways to stop bullying now.
“I was bullied in 2nd grade by a group of kids.
I never forgot it. Later on in middle school,
another pair of bullies made my life miserable until we moved….”
~ H, friend who was bullied
Unlike H, I was lucky growing up. I had only minor brushes with bullying.
Don’t know how a painfully shy, awkward me escaped harassment during socially treacherous middle-school years. Sure, I was teased a bit about my done-at-home haircut and off-trend outfits. Hmm, was that bullying? But I learned to fade into the background and escape harm.
I might have been an upstander in elementary school, having leverage as a top broad jumper and runner who helped my class win school-wide sporting competitions. When a group of kids threatened to stop liking me if I kept my friendship with Susanne Rickles (a kid I now recognize as being on the high-functioning end of the Asperger’s spectrum), I ignored them without consequence.
The impact of bullying recently hit home when I learned my third-grade friend, B, was crying and anxious about school because two classmates were making her life miserable.
B’s parents and teacher were on top of the situation right away, but I wanted to do something, too. But what could I do living so far away?
I discovered five strategies from my social network and online experts to help stop bullying.
1. Boost Self-Confidence
"[Powerlessness] is one of the most damaging messages that children receive when they are experiencing bullying ... the feeling that they cannot help themselves and no one will help them. Shoring up her own self-confidence will be the greatest form of support she can receive right now."
- Marlene Dillon,
Proud2BNaturalMe and dynamo behind Facebook's #IMOVERBULLYING movement
2. Be Relentless
”Keep asking questions to the school, to the parents …. Don’t let this one slip through the cracks.”
~ T, former teacher
3. Act Swiftly with Your Village
"It takes the students, school, counselors, teachers, and parents to nip it [bullying] in the bud as fast as they can. The longer it goes on, the worse it will be for all of them."
~ R, former substitute teacher
4. Act Consistently
Experts confirmed my friends’ wise counsel. The website stopbullying.gov, an excellent online resource for kids, parents, teachers, and communities, pointed to fast, unfailing adult response:
"When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time."
5. Find a Way YOU can Make a Difference to Stop Bullying
I struggled to come up with a way I could turn this advice into action. As a writer, I decided to pen a letter of encouragement to this sweet child. It wasn't much, but I didn't want to just stand by and do nothing.
B's story has a positive outcome so far.
Because she opened up to her parents, they worked with her teacher to take immediate action. The mean girls apologized to B and, hopefully, stopped harassing her. But damage has been done. While B tolerates school, she remains anxious. Her parents and teacher remain vigilant, too. My fingers are crossed, but I fret about what school challenges B may face in her future
What’s your experience with bullying? What resources or tips can you offer to stop it? Please share in the comment section.
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