5 Secrets for Raising a Kid Who Stands Up to Bullies

bullied boy

In April, 17-year-old Aileen Jiminian killed herself by stepping in front of a train in the middle of the day in New York. In August, just days before his 14th birthday, Daniel Fitzpatrick hung himself inside his family's home. Jackson Grubb was just 9 when he reportedly hung himself in an apparent suicide. And just this month, 11-year-old brain cancer survivor Bethany Thompson used her parents' gun to end her own life

A factor cited in each of these cases: bullying. And these are but a few of the tragic lives lost because kids just couldn't take it anymore.





The statistics are heartbreaking: Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10- to 34-year-olds, and the CDC estimates bullying is responsible for the loss of nearly 4,600 young lives each and every year. That's 4,600 children whose lives could be saved if only people were kinder.

In addition, there are thousands and thousands of children out there hurting deeply every day. One study found that more than 30,000 children stay home from school every day because they're scared of being bullied. It's tragic, and anyone who dismisses it as "kids being kids" or a "rite of passage" is part of the problem.

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The good news, however, is that there are effective ways to stop the bullying cycle, and our children are a big part of the solution. Dr. Colleen Logan, a national expert on bullying from Walden University, says when children take a stand against bullying, it works.

"When our youth are standing up to bullying, they're making a huge difference within their own social circles by saying, 'No, that's not okay, we're not going to tolerate that,'" Logan told CafeMom. "Even elementary kids, when they stand up to bullying, more than half the time it stops within 10 seconds."

She says it's important that we teach our kids and reward our kids for standing up to bullying because it's proven that there's trauma associated with being a bully, being bullied, and even being a bystander watching the bullying occur. 

"If we're not standing up to it, we're part of the problem."

More from CafeMom: 13-Year-Old's Suicide Should Make You Fear You're Raising a Bully (Yes, You)

How do you make sure your child knows how to be part of the solution? Logan offers these tips to parents:

1. Practice simple interventions.

Give kids simple interrupting sentences such as "That's not okay," "You can't treat people like that," or just "Please stop."  

"Kids get the message that it's bad to bully," Dr. Logan says.

2. Be specific with praise when you see them stand up to bullying.

For example, "I really like how you stand up for Susie," or, "I like how you asked Billy to stop talking or behaving that way."

3. Point out positive examples in the news.

Share stories with your kids, like about the students who raised money for a deaf student in Omaha, Nebraska, after his backpack was thrown in a toilet by bullies, or the girl who developed the Sit With Us app, so students wouldn't have to eat lunch alone. Tell them these are the people they should look up to and emulate.

4. Encourage adult involvement rather than physical intervention.

Tell kids standing up to bullies doesn't mean jumping in and fighting a bully, but rather finding a responsible adult and reporting the behavior.

5. Be involved and vigilant.

Stay involved in your kids' lives -- in person and online -- and look for signs that they're being bullied or are bulling others.  "Listen to other parents and kids," Logan says. "If you're hearing that your kid is a bully, it's likely that he or she is a bully."

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There are so many things that can harm our children that are out of our control like cancer and accidents, but bullying doesn't have to be one of them. It's something that we can change. Ending bullying can save lives, and it's the responsibility of each and every one of us to do our part to help.


If you or someone you know has expressed suicidal thoughts, please let them know they are not alone. Text START to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center at www.sprc.org

Image via iStock.com/Craig Dingle

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