With school back in session, it’s important to touch on a serious and prevalent issue: bullying. Considered an epidemic among today’s youth, 1 in every 4 kids is bullied and, depending on their ages, up to 43% of students have been bullied while online.

Bullying can no longer be seen as a “rite of passage” for children and youth. Many bullying incidents have lead to depression, low self-esteem, poor grades and, for some, suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, a recent study found that being bullied as a child may lead to lifelong challenges, including a higher risk for mental health problems before their mid-20s (40%) and increased chances of unemployment (35%).

As program director and a leader in the community, you have a responsibility to help prevent bullying and transform bystanders into upstanders (those who recognize when something is wrong and act to make it right). Bystanders play an important role in bullying, and can either hurt or help the situation depending on their response. Whether it’s verbal, social or cyberbullying, you can equip students with the skills, tools and resources needed to stop bullying in its tracks.


Empower Students to End Bullying With These 5 Resources

1. Stopbullying.gov

Managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Stopbullying.gov provides information from several government agencies on how to prevent and respond to bullying and cyberbullying. More specifically, educators can access the website to:

  • Learn rules to enforce in the learning environment to set behavioral expectations for students
  • Understand your state’s laws and policies on bullying prevention and protecting children
  • Teach students how to keep themselves and others safe from bullying
  • Receive training and earn continuing education credits


2. Good-Bye Bully Machine Card Game

Bullying is no laughing matter, but a game like Good-Bye Bully Machine Card Game can help to reinforce bullying prevention and positive behaviors. It’s designed to help children and youth think and talk about bullying, its implications and ways to stop it.

To play, students will draw cards, which ask them to talk about what they’d do in bullying situations. Each time a student gives a response, they take away one piece of the bully machine. But watch out, they may draw a trap card that says, for example, “You laughed when a friend was being teased. You’re helping to build the Bully Machine. Put one Machine Card back.” Once the machine is completely dismantled, everyone wins!

Check out How to Fight Hate and Encourage Tolerance in After School Programs to help stop bullying


3. Speak UP!

It’s not always easy to speak up about bullying. Despite the number of students who report being bullied, only 40% of them said they reported the incident to an adult at school, according to the Pacer National Bullying Prevention Center. Bark, an internet safety solution, shares 4 top reasons kids don’t report bullying:

  • They fear retaliation
  • They don’t recognize bullying
  • They feel shame
  • They think no one will help

With Speak UP!, students can report bullying incidents anonymously through an app on their phone. This is ideal for those who may not feel comfortable telling an adult, who don’t want other students to know they are reporting or who may not know which adult to talk to. The message is sent to an administrator at the school, who can take the appropriate measures. This is a great tool for identifying and solving bullying issues in your school or afterschool program.


4. Anger Control and Conflict Management for Kids: A Learning Guide for the Elementary Grades

According to an article in Psychology Today, an often overlooked approach to school bullying is eliminating the anger in those doing the bullying. The author states that “those who are angry tend to displace that anger onto others, who then may displace it onto others...and on it goes.”

Anger Control and Conflict Management for Kids: A Learning Guide for the Elementary Grades teaches your students how to reduce and control anger and to settle disputes in a prosocial manner. The guide provides fun and challenging activities that help students to:

  • Understand the dynamics of conflict and anger
  • Improve communication skills
  • Become aware of their sources of anger
  • Manage anger and aggression
  • Achieve win-win outcomes

Through a unique role-playing process, this resource teaches students real-life strategies to resolve angry situations and proactively prevent bullying.


5. What Do You Stand For? For Kids

One of the best ways to stop bullying is to instill key values in students that build character. In What Do You Stand For? For Kids, author Barbara A. Lewis presents 10 values: caring, citizenship, cooperation, fairness, forgiveness, honesty, relationships, respect, responsibility and safety. It also includes self-assessment tools, activities and "What If?" scenarios to help students act out these values.

Similarly, the I Don’t Bully Book Set emphasizes character traits that contribute to a bully-free school or afterschool program. Your students will enjoy these books as they contain full-color photos, honest text and real-life examples to drive home the key points.

Although bullying remains an epidemic in our schools and afterschool programs, there are a growing number of resources that educators can use to prevent bullying and transform bystanders into upstanders. What strategies and/or tools do you use to stop bullying in your classroom or program?