Back to School: Talking to Your Children about Bullying

July 31, 2019

Back to school season is a time for excitement, but it can also bring up feelings of anxiety or fearfulness around bullying. According to a 2017 study by the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice, about 20 percent of students ages 12-18 experience bullying. Another 30 percent of students admit to bullying their peers.

Bullying has a serious impact on a child’s education and well-being. Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying. It can severely affect their mental health, drive them to substance abuse, and elevate the risk of suicide.

As you prepare your child for the upcoming school year, it is important to talk to them about bullying and what to do if they are being bullied. Here’s what you should know:

What is bullying?
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and occurs more than once.


Bullying can include:

  • Verbal (Ex: name calling)
  • Social (Ex: spreading rumors online)
  • Physical (Ex: hitting or damaging someone’s property)
  • Cyber-bullying (Social media attacks)


How to talk to your child about bullying
Only a small percentage of students who are bullied notify adults so having an open line of communication is important. If your child is comfortable coming to you, work together to solve the problem. Here are some important things to let your child know about bullying:

  1. Bullying is never okay.
    Make it known that bullying should never happen. Lead by example and show them how to treat others with kindness and respect.

  2. Let them know how to deal with bullies safely.
    If your child is being bullied, or is seeing others being bullied, talk to them about how to deal with bullies safely. Since bullying can also involve physical harm, talk to your child about what to do if the bully becomes violent. This can include going to an adult, or other nonviolent techniques.

  3. Identify adults that can help.
    An important thing to communicate to your child is that he or she is not alone. Talk about adults in their lives they can go to if they are being picked on. These can include teachers, coaches, or counselors. These people can help comfort them, help stop the bullying, or help protect them if they are in danger. Encourage them to report bullying right away, so the adult can try to deal with the issue, so it does not continue.

  4. Learn about the dangers of social media.
    Most children and teens are now online, and cyberbullying is extremely common. Talk to your child about what is okay to post and how to protect themselves online. While your child is younger, monitor their social media usage to make sure they are not chatting online with people they don’t know.


Access Community Health Network
If you have any questions about how to talk to your child about bullying, ACCESS can help. We  have 34 conveniently located community health centers throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs to help serve you. Click here to schedule an appointment today