Bullying is a common problem among today’s children and youth. In fact, more than one of out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Bullying is a common problem among today’s children and youth. In fact, more than one of out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Bullying is linked to negative outcomes for both bullies and their victims. Kids who are bullied may experience low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, feelings of sadness and loneliness, and even suicidal thoughts. Those who bully others are more likely to engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood like substance abuse, criminal activity and domestic violence.

While bullying usually occurs at school (on the playground, in the hallways and in the bathrooms), it’s also present in the home due to the growth of cyberbullying. School-based bullying prevention programs have helped to decrease bullying by up to 25%. However, it continues to be a large problem in schools across the country, which is why it’s important to teach students how to cope with bullying if they’re ever a victim.

Warning Signs of Bullying

In this 2010 report, nearly 65% of those surveyed who experienced bullying did not report it due to embarrassment, the fear of being retaliated against and other reasons. For this reason, it’s important to understand the warning signs of bullying. The list below from Violence Prevention Works! can help you spot bullying in students’ lives. Students may:

  • Have torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings.
  • Have unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches from fighting.
  • Have few, if any, friends with whom he or she spends time.
  • Seem afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities (such as clubs or sports) with peers.
  • Take a long "illogical" route when walking to or from school.
  • Lose interest in doing school work, or suddenly begin to do poorly in school.
  • Appear sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home.
  • Complain frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical problems.
  • Have frequent bad dreams, or trouble sleeping.
  • Experience a loss of appetite.
  • Appear anxious and suffer from low self-esteem.

5 Ways to Help Students Cope with Bullying

Once bullying has been identified, it’s critical to provide support to the victim in order to limit its effects. Use the following strategies to help students cope with bullying:

  • Talk openly about bullying with students. Address the negative effects it has on both the bully and those who are bullied. Encourage students to share their experiences with bullying, praise them for being brave enough to discuss it and offer unconditional support. Be sure to report ongoing incidents to the principal or school administrator and notify their parents.
  • Promote the buddy system. Have students ask a friend to tag along with them to the bathroom, in the hallway and at recess - wherever the bully is. A friend can also intervene on behalf of the student being bullied, which helps to stop more than half of bullying situations.
  • Coach students on how to effectively respond to a bully. Psychology Today suggests using an assertive response to counter bullying. Use simple, direct language and use body language that reinforces words such as making eye contact and keeping voice calm and even. This helps to portray confidence and deflect bullying behavior.
  • Encourage them to talk to a friend or trusted adult. Although they may struggle to talk about it, confiding in someone can help them sort through their feelings, get helpful suggestions and make them feel a little less alone.
  • Restore their confidence. Bullying often leads to low self-esteem in victims. Encourage them to join a club or sports team, and spend time with a positive group of friends to build confidence. As their confidence grows, they’re less likely to be affected by bullying.

As we work to end bullying in and out of school, we also have to provide support for those who are currently being bullied. Use the strategies above to help students cope with bullying. You can also check out the following resources to promote bullying prevention in your program:

Before The Bullying: A.F.T.E.R. School Program

I Don’t Bully Book Set (Set of 6)

Good-Bye Bully Machine Card Game

8 Simple Strategies To Prevent Bullying In Afterschool Programs