All information on this page comes from Respond to Bullying | StopBullying.gov
Respond to Bullying
Stop It on the Spot
When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. There are simple steps adults can take to stop bullying on the spot and keep kids safe.
- Intervene immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help.
- Separate the kids involved.
- Make sure everyone is safe.
- Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs.
- Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders.
- Model respectful behavior when you intervene.
Avoid these common mistakes:
- Don’t ignore it. Don’t think kids can work it out without adult help.
- Don’t immediately try to sort out the facts.
- Don’t force other kids to say publicly what they saw.
- Don’t question the children involved in front of other kids.
- Don’t talk to the kids involved together, only separately.
- Don’t make the kids involved apologize or patch up relations on the spot.
Get police help or medical attention immediately if:
- A weapon is involved.
- There are threats of serious physical injury.
- There are threats of hate-motivated violence, such as racism or homophobia.
- There is serious bodily harm.
- There is sexual abuse.
- Anyone is accused of an illegal act, such as robbery or extortion—using force to get money, property, or services.
Find Out What Happened
Whether you’ve just stopped bullying on the spot or a child has reached out to you for help, follow the steps below to determine the best way to proceed.
- Get the Facts
- Determine if it’s Bullying
- Keep all the involved children separate.
- Get the story from several sources, both adults and kids.
- Listen without blaming.
- Don’t call the act “bullying” while you are trying to understand what happened.
It may be difficult to get the whole story, especially if multiple students are involved or the bullying involves social bullying or cyberbullying. Collect all available information.
Support the Kids Involved
All kids involved in bullying—whether they are bullied, bully others, or see bullying—can be affected. It is important to support all kids involved to make sure the bullying doesn’t continue and effects can be minimized.
- Support Kids Who are Bullied
- Address Bullying Behavior
- Support Bystanders Who Witness Bullying
Be More Than a Bystander
Tip 1: Be their friend
Children can help someone who’s been bullied by simply being nice to tham at another time. Being friendly can go a long way toward letting them know they are not alone.
Tip 2: Tell a trusted adult
An adult can help stop bullying by intervening while it’s in progress, stopping it from occurring or simply giving the person bullied a shoulder to lean on.
Tip 3: Help them get away
There are a few simple, safe ways children can help the person being bullied get away from a situation. However they do it, make sure the child knows not to put themselves in harm’s way.
- Create a distraction
- Offer the person a way out, e.g., “Mr. Smith needs to see you right now.”
- Intervene only if it feels safe to do so. Never use violence to help the person get away.
Tip 4: Set a good example
If a child knows not to bully others, then other students will follow their example. To help even more, children can actively participate in anti-bullying activities and projects.
Tip 5: Don’t give bullying an audience
If one of your child’s friends or peers begins to bully someone, they shouldn’t encourage the behavior by giving it an audience. Instead of laughing or supporting it, they can let the bully know that such behavior isn’t entertaining.