Some basic solutions start at home. If you’re reading this and you have children or teenagers, please talk to them about the strength of their words so that they understand the true power that they have when they tease others. Let them know that it’s OK to be different and to accept diversity in others. People will differ from one another in ideas, but everyone should still be treated with respect.
Likewise, let your kids know that they can come to you if they are being bullied so you can help them work through it. Some children may not open up about being bullied because of fear or shame, so if you’re a parent or school official, be aware of the signs: Is a child or teenager becoming withdrawn? Are their grades suffering? Do they get sick more often? Do they create ways to avoid school? Do they come home with injuries? Have you noticed an increase in aggressive behavior? Any change can be indicative of a problem and should never be ignored.
Advise your kids that there is a difference between tattling and “telling.” It is not tattling or snitching if your child informs an adult when they see somebody being hurt or teased. Informing an adult of such activity is a way of standing up for a victim and is brave and honorable. Sometimes kids are bullied because they are shy.
If your child is popular and confident, teach him or her to befriend new or shy students so that they can help that person develop confidence. Everyone needs help getting started out, and sometimes friendship or a kind word can make a huge difference.
Lastly, make sure your kids know that, if they’re fortunate enough to have nice clothes or a nice house, that it is not OK to make fun of someone who is less fortunate. Teach your kids that money is not what defines a person and to never use that as a reason to tease others.