Counselor's Corner

October is Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Read on for useful information for parents on what bullying is, how to support your child, and how to help encourage your child to spread kindness to others.

What is bullying?

Bullying can be defined as behavior that "hurts, humiliates, or harms another person physically or emotionally. Victims have a hard time defending themselves or stopping the bully. There is also a real or perceived imbalance of power, which is described as when the student with the bullying behavior has more "power", either physically, socially, or emotionally, such as a higher social status, or is physically larger or emotionally intimidating." (PACER Organization).

There are different types of bullying. Verbal bullying is name calling, verbal threats, graffiti, or oral and written communication. Physical bullying is hitting, kicking, threatening gestures, shoving. Relational (Psychological) bullying are behaviors that can harm the reputation and relationships of the child being targeted such as spreading rumors, posting embarrassing images online, and social isolation from peers. Cyber bullying takes place electronically and can include mean text messages/emails, rumors, embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Is it Bullying? Do a quick check.

Middle school students often have conflicts with others. As students grow and mature, middle school is a key time to learn healthy communication and conflict resolution skills. Not all conflicts a student has is bullying. If you are concerned, refer to this quick check list to decide whether or not the current issue is bullying or something else.

Rough Play: Usually friends. Balance of power is usually equal, and it is positive, friendly.

Fighting: Usually not friends. Typically not repeated, and power is close to equal.

Bullying: Not friends. Obvious, direct, and intentional. Humiliating, imbalance of power, intimidation, and harms a person physically or emotionally. Behavior is repeated.

Source: PACER organization

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How can you help?

  • Communicate often with your child (not just when there is a problem)
  • Schedule family night once a week or month (without technology)
  • Listen for understanding, not just to respond
  • Talk openly about internet safety and being kind online
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Do a quick check to determine if an issue is bullying or conflict
  • Get support (i.e. contact school, counseling)

Ways to spread kindness

Encourage your child to spread kindness. Often times staying positive and doing something kind for others can go a long way in preventing bullying, and it teaches our children important life long social and emotional skills. Here are few ways to encourage your child to spread kindness:

  • Leave anonymous encouragement cards (sticky notes, etc) on cars, vending machines, restaurants, etc
  • Write appreciation notes to school staff
  • Decorate rocks with messages of kindness, empathy, and hope. Give out to others or place somewhere for others to find.
  • Invite someone new to sit with you at lunch or on the bus
  • Start each day by reading a kindness quote
  • Smile, high five, or hug someone
  • Hold open the door for others
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About Me

Shannon Cox, MA, LPC

School Counselor

Granite Falls Middle School

(828) 396-2341