A national study showed that 27 percent of students reported being bullied at school, while 14 percent reported that they have been bullied away from school.

Every October, we celebrate National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month by sharing ways to prevent bullying in homes, schools and communities.

As you may know, bullying is a widespread problem among today’s youth. A national study showed that 27 percent of students reported being bullied at school, while 14 percent reported that they have been bullied away from school.

Unfortunately, many bullying incidents have lead to depression, low self esteem, poor grades and, for some, suicidal thoughts. But, here's the good news: quality, effective afterschool programs can help schools and communities in the fight to end bullying.

Afterschool programs provide access to caring adults and a less formal, more open learning environment where students can feel safe from peer pressure, build confidence and learn how to deal with bullies in school and online. Afterschool leaders must implement specific prevention strategies to create a safe environment for every student:

  1. Establish and enforce clear rules for appropriate behavior, on- and offline. Ensure that staff models the expected behaviors.
  2. Teach important social and emotional skills, and empower students to combat bullying by teaching them active bystander skills.
  3. Establish a clear protocol for staff to follow when they encounter bullying.
  4. Encourage staff to build relationships with students which will help them better detect harmful patterns of behavior. It will also help make students more comfortable with talking to staff about their problems and asking for help.
  5. Organize activities and service projects that reinforce peacemaking skills and bullying prevention.
  6. Create opportunities for students to connect in new ways and establish different types of relationships.
  7. Keep a record of the bullying incidents that occur to detect trends and develop more effective prevention strategies.
  8. Maintain clear communication with parents. Let them know when a bullying incident has occurred, their child’s involvement and the resolution.

Our efforts to end bullying should not begin and end in the month of October. Use these strategies as part of an ongoing plan to prevent bullying in your afterschool program. For more insight, check out this resource from stopbullying.org and this bullying prevention guide for afterschool and out-of-school time programs.