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Parents play a key role in preventing and responding to bullying. If you know or suspect that your child is involved in bullying, there are several resources that may help.
There are many roles that kids can play. Kids can bully others, they can be bullied, or they may witness bullying. When kids are involved in bullying, they often play more than one role. Sometimes kids may both be bullied and bully others or they may witness other kids being bullied. It is important to understand the multiple roles kids play in order to effectively prevent and respond to bullying.
When referring to a bullying situation, it is easy to call the kids who bully others "bullies" and those who are targeted "victims," but this may have unintended consequences. When children are labeled as "bullies" or "victims" it may:
Instead of labeling the children involved, focus on the behavior. For instance:
The roles kids play in bullying are not limited to those who bully others and those who are bullied. Some researchers talk about the "circle of bullying" to define both those directly involved in bullying and those who actively or passively assist the behavior or defend against it. Direct roles include:
Even if a child is not directly involved in bullying, they may be contributing to the behavior. Witnessing the behavior may alsoaffect the child, so it is important for them to learn what they should do when they see bullying happen. Roles kids play when they witness bullying include:
Most kids play more than one role in bullying over time. In some cases, they may be directly involved in bullying as the one bullying others or being bullied and in others they may witness bullying and play an assisting or defending role. Every situation is different. Some kids are both bullied and bully others. It is important to note the multiple roles kids play, because:
When you, your child, or someone close to you is being bullied, there are many steps to take to help resolve the situation. Make sure you understand what bullying is and what it is not, the warning signs of bullying, and steps to take for preventing and responding to bullying, including how to talk to children about bullying, prevention in schools andcommunities, and how to support children involved.
After reviewing that information, if you feel you have done everything you can to resolve the situation and nothing has worked, or someone is in immediate danger, there are ways to get help.
What you can do
There has been a crime or someone is at immediate risk of harm.
Someone is feeling hopeless, helpless, thinking of suicide.
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in our national network. These centers provide 24-hour crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
Someone is acting differently than normal, such as always seeming sad or anxious, struggling to complete tasks, or not being able care for themselves.
Find a local counselor or other mental health services
A child is being bullied in school.
See more on working with the school.
The school is not adequately addressing harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion.