Resources and Information to prevent bullying and suicide.
Each October, individuals and organizations nationwide work together to raise awareness of bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month, an initiative of the PACER Center. Whether you are an educator, education leader, parent, or other community member, you can take action to prevent bullying and harassment by fostering a culture of caring and respect in your school, home, and community. Use the resources below to support your efforts.
Take a look at the infographic "Bullying: What You Need to Know," courtesy of StopBullying.gov, a U.S. government website, for information about some of the statistics behind bullying and impacts on children. As this video about a study from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) demonstrates, the effects of bullying are serious and linger well into adulthood.
The resources from StopBullying.gov address detection, preventive strategies, and effective responses. How do you know if a child is being bullied? Keep an eye out for these warning signs. Need to know what actions to take? Review these effective responses to bullying and prevention strategies. "Bullying: A Module for Teachers," from The American Psychological Association, includes a useful tip sheet, "Myths and Facts about Bullying," that addresses beliefs about school bullying not supported by current research.
Bullying Prevention Curriculum
Visit the websites below to find videos, activities, and lesson plans you can use in the classroom:
- NIOS videos and NIOS activity guides and lesson plans from Not in Our School (in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves).
- Anti-bullying lessons and activities from Teaching Tolerance.
- PreK-12 lesson plans and book suggestions from the Anti-Defamation League.
- Classroom materials and media related to bullying and ostracism from Facing History and Ourselves.
- Classroom lessons and activities to combat bullying from Teachable Moment, a project of the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.
- Lesson plans to counteract cyberbullying from Common Sense Media.
- Lesson plans on bullying, bias, and diversity from Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
- An Educator's Guide to Combat Bullying & Bully Prevention from teacher.org
STUDENT VOICE AND LEADERSHIP
The National School Climate Center (NSCC)'s Student Leadership page includes several resources to support student leadership in creating more positive school climates. PACER’s five-step guide, Unite Against Bullying – School Event Planning Guide, provides helpful information on working with students to plan bullying prevention events. The PACER Center's web pages on Student Action and School Action showcase examples of actions taken by students and schools to prevent bullying. In Snellville, Georgia Diamond In The Rough Youth Development Program and its No Drama Campaign focuses on peer to peer upliftment and leadership.
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
"Creating a Safe and Caring Home" from NSCC includes guidelines for parents to help children feel safe and create positive environments for children. To better understand what parents should expect from schools and what parents can do, read "What Can Be Done to Stop Bullying?" from NBC News' Education Nation. Looking to start a bullying prevention program at your school? "How to Start an Antibullying Program," from GreatSchools, describes how parents can get involved.
COMMUNICATING WITH SCHOOLS
GreatSchool's "Making Your Child’s School Safe and Supportive" details specific questions parents can ask principals or other school leaders about how a school handles issues like social and emotional learning; teaching respect; and preventing bullying, harassment, and exclusion. The "10 Facts Parents, Educators, and Students Need to Know" from Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center contains "Notifying the School About Bullying — Using a Template Letter" for parents needing to communicate with schools about bullying incidents, including templates for parents of children with special needs.
What are some ways you can initiate conversations with your children about cyberbullying?
Common Sense Media's Cyberbullying Topic Center provides comprehensive parent guides on everything parents need to know, organized developmentally by age and stage. If you are a parent of a teen, you may also want to review their "16 Sites and Apps Kids Are Heading to After Facebook," newly updated for 2016. In addition, the downloadable tip sheet, "Technology and Youth: Protecting Your Child From Electronic Aggression," from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the "Prevent Cyberbullying" page from StopBullying.gov include advice on specific actions parents and caregivers can take.
SCHOOL-WIDE AND DISTRICT-WIDE APPROACHES
Consider scheduling a staff viewing of the film "BULLY." The BULLY Project has developed a toolkit to accompany the DVD that includes an in-school public viewing license, as well as a number of helpful tools and resources, including "A Guide to the Film BULLY: Fostering Action and Empathy in Schools." You can gather information to assess your current school climate with a tool such as the Comprehensive School Climate Inventory (CSCI) from the NSCC. Finally, there are several websites that have compiled examples of successful anti-bullying approaches. Character Education Partnership has collected examples of promising anti-bullying practices from various schools in "Promising Practices to Combat Bullying"; a searchable database includes more anti-bullying ideas that have been successful at other schools. The website for ASCD's The Whole Child initiative includes Elementary, Middle, and High School examples of anti-bullying approaches.
Restorative-justice approaches focus on repairing damage, rather than on blame or punishment. In "Restorative Justice: Resources for Schools," Matt Davis has collected several guides for implementing restorative-justice programs and links to helpful resources and articles. "Using Dialogue Circles to Support Classroom Management," a resource from Edutopia's Schools That Work, explores how dialogue circles, as part of the restorative-justice program at Glenview Elementary School in Oakland, California, have helped to build collaboration, respect, and positive behavior among students. Another useful source of information on this topic is the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING
Organizations such as the Collaboration for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) have a number of well-researched reports and other resources on their website to combat school bullying. Download and read the full 2009 CASEL report, "Social and Emotional Learning and Bullying Prevention."
Programs like Roots of Empathy that teach perspective-taking skills and empower children to fight cruelty with empathy and kindness have shown effectiveness in decreasing aggression and increasing pro-social behaviors among students. The Empathy 101 videos, tips, and school examples from Ashoka’s Start Empathy website include ideas for cultivating empathy in the classroom and at home. For more ideas about how you can foster environments of kindness, empathy, and connection, both inside and outside the classroom, check out VideoAmy's "Five-Minute Film Festival: Nine Videos on Kindness, Empathy, and Connection" and Lisa Currie's "Why Teaching Kindness in Schools Is Essential to Reduce Bullying" from Edutopia. Parents may want to explore Edutopia's curated list of blogs, articles, and videos for parents about fostering kindness and empathy (as well as resilience, perseverance, and focus) in children: "A Parent's Resource Guide to Social and Emotional Learning."
StopBullying.gov describes Risk Factors for bullying, including information about at-risk populations such as LGBT youth and youth with disabilities and special health needs. At the website for GLSEN, you'll find a wealth of anti-bullying resources for addressing anti-LGBT bullying and harassment; make sure to download GLSEN's report "From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America — a National Report on School Bullying." The Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit from The BULLY Project includes resources for educators and parents related to children with special needs.
For more ideas on addressing issues of diversity and inclusion, join the conversation in Edutopia's community. Conversations such as "Bullying and Students With Disabilities," "Please Call Me Jason: Supporting Our Transgender Students," and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell in Our Schools" are good places to start.
"Suicide and Bullying," an issue brief from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), discusses the relationship between bullying and suicide among children and adolescents, including recommendations, with a special focus on LGBT youth. Initiatives like The Trevor Project focus on crisis and suicide prevention among kids in the high-risk LGBT student population. All teachers should review the Trevor Project's list of warning signs.
Encouraging Kindness and Empathy
- Cultivating Kindness and Compassion in Children (Center for Child and Family Well-Being, University of Washington, 2014)
This summary of a public lecture by Kimberly Schonert-Reichl underscores the importance of promoting social and emotional learning, reviews some of the research about cultivating kindness and compassion in children, and discusses five practical strategies that parents can try. For even more parent tips, read Schonert-Reichl's Kindness Booklet.
- Why It’s Imperative to Teach Empathy to Boys (KQED MindShift, 2014)
Gayle Allen and Deborah Farmer Kris discuss the importance of empathy and the gender stereotypes that may put boys at risk for failing to learn this important skill; the authors describe three strategies that parents of boys can implement.
- Raising Kind Kids (Greater Good Science Center, 2012)
In this brief video from the Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley, parenting expert Christine Carter offers tips to parents on how to foster kindness and generosity in children.
- Raising Caring, Respectful, and Courageous Children (Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2013)
Richard Weissbourd, co-director of the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, advises parents about raising caring, respectful, and courageous children.
- 2nd-Grader’s Cure for Playground Loneliness: A Buddy Bench (Huffington Post, 2013)
Second-grader Christian Bucks noticed that some of his friends didn’t have anyone to play with at recess. With the support and encouragement of his parents and the help of school administration, he was able to bring an idea called the "Buddy Bench" to fruition. On a related note, check out "The Doorman," a video from the CBC that tells the story of how high school student Josh Yandt brought greater positivity to his school through a simple action.
- Five-Minute Film Festival: Nine Videos on Kindness, Empathy, and Connection (Edutopia, 2013)
VideoAmy compiled this moving playlist of videos to explore the importance of human relationships and the power of being kind, generous, and compassionate.
Cultivating Perseverance and Resilience
- Carol Dweck on the Power of "Yet" (GreatSchools, 2013)
Stanford University professor Carol Dweck, research pioneer on “fixed” versus “growth” mindsets, discusses how a simple change of language can inspire children to think differently about their capabilities. For more about Dweck’s research in this area, check out Maria Popova’s blog post from Brain Pickings entitled "Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives."
- How Do We Help Kids Make Better Choices? Let Them Practice (Edutopia, 2012)
School administrator Matt Levinson stresses that mistakes are a necessary part of learning and suggests that allowing children to navigate challenging situations on their own can help them build frameworks for arriving at more successful outcomes.
- Resources on Developing Resilience, Grit, and Growth Mindset (Edutopia, Updated 2016)
This curated collection of blogs, articles, interviews, and videos includes information for parents and educators about the associated concepts of resilience, grit, and growth mindset.
- Resilience Guide for Parents & Teachers (American Psychological Association)
This guide to helping children develop skills of resilience includes useful tip lists and specific considerations for children of different ages, including those in preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school.
- Tips for Resilience in the Face of Horror (Greater Good, 2013)
Jason March, founding editor-in-chief of Greater Good, describes how educators and parents can help protect children and themselves from the effects of vicarious trauma.
- Talking to Your Children About Tragedy (Bright Horizons, 2013)
In this video, Brendamarie Contreras, director at Bright Horizons, discusses relevant principles parents can consider in relation to young children and personal or family reactions to traumatic events. Though the introduction to the video is focused on Boston, the principles discussed can be applied to a wide variety of situations.
- How Parents Can Foster Gratitude in Kids, by Andrea Hussong (Greater Good, 2014)
In this video excerpt, Andrea Hussong discusses some of the research on gratitude in children, takeaways from study data, and strategies parents can use to raise grateful children. For more tips, be sure to check out "Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids," also from Greater Good.
- Gratitude Builds Character and Health (Edutopia, 2011)
Maurice Elias explains what the research says about gratitude and the benefits for character and health.
- Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude: Tips for Parents (National Association of School Psychologists, 2009)
This downloadable tip list, adapted from work by Karen Reivich, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, and Jeffery Froh, PsyD, Hofstra University, features simple acts and activities that parents can use with children to help them feel and express gratitude.
- 10 Ways to Raise a Grateful Kid (PBS Parents)
Homa Tavangar outlines ten strategies for parents hoping to foster a sense of gratitude in their children.
Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, and Focus
- Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement (Montgomery Township School District, 2014)
Maurice Elias discusses emotional intelligence and emotional learning in schools with parents and community in this video, an excellent primer on the importance of social and emotional learning and emotionally intelligent parenting. Elias has also written a number of blog posts for Edutopia; "Helping Children Become Emotionally Intelligent" is one good place to start.
- Social and Emotional Learning: What is it? How Can We Use it to Help Our Children? (The New York University Child Study Center)
Robin Stern discusses social and emotional learning and emotional intelligence, including tips for parents, educators, and students.
- Educating the Heart: 6 Steps to Build Kindness & Resilience in Children (Dalai Lama Center, 2012)
In this six-part video series, Dan Siegel describes how to use brain-based strategies to foster connection and mindfulness in order to build kindness and resilience in children.
- Mindful Parenting (Greater Good Science Center, 2013)
One way to teach children mindfulness is to model it. Parenting expert Christine Carter discusses how parents can bring mindful awareness to everyday situations. You may also want to check out Carter’s video on a simple strategy for teaching meditation to children: "Meditating with Kids."
- Age of Distraction: Why It’s Critical for Students to Learn to Focus (KQED’s MindShift, 2013)
Katrina Schwartz shares insights from Dan Goleman on how to help children manage digital distraction and build the neural circuitry that focused attention requires.
- Daniel Goleman: Parents Teach Focus (Edutopia, 2013)
Best-selling author and social-emotional learning expert Daniel Goleman explains how parents naturally teach their children how to focus and manage emotions. Also, check out the other videos in this series: "Daniel Goleman on the Importance of Cultivating Focus."
- Playing Nicely With Others: Why Schools Teach Social and Emotional Learning (The New York Times, 2014)
In this article for parents, Jessica Lahey outlines the reasons why increasing amounts of school resources are being devoted to social and emotional learning and goes over the benefits for children.
- The Children We Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values (Making Caring Common Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2014)
This report, based in part on a survey of 10,000 middle and high school students, takes a hard look at the messages adults give to children about caring for others, happiness, and achievement and provides guidelines to help shift the balance. Visit the website for the Making Caring Common Project to find additional "Strategies & Tips" for parents and caretakers.
- Confident Parents Confident Kids (Jennifer Miller)
Parent Jennifer Miller writes a regular blog for parents on how to support social and emotional development in children.
- Why Parents Should Apologize When They Lose Their Cool (NBC Parent Toolkit, 2014)
In this article for the NBC Parent Toolkit, Maurice Elias describes the elements that contribute to an effective parental apology and what this teaches children. Find more information about how to support your child’s social and emotional development by visiting other sections of the Parent Guide.
- Parenting Coach (Understood.org)
In Parenting Coach, on the website for Understood, parents can browse expert practical advice targeting social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that affect children of all ages.