By Katie Powell, PNP, Summit Medical Group Oregon Pediatrics

Bullying affects all kids, including those who are getting bullied, those who are bullying others, and those who witness bullying. There’s a misconception that bullying is “just something kids have to go through” or “not that big of deal.” Bullying is not benign – there have been numerous studies that show that getting bullied, bullying others, and witnessing bullying have serious negative consequences for children and, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, those consequences can continue to affect kids into adulthood.

The U.S. government’s site states those who are bullied have higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide. They are also more likely to feel lonely, have disrupted sleep, and have decreased academic achievement. Kids who bully others are at increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse as teenagers, and more likely to have criminal convictions as adults. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) youth are at an increased risk of being bullied, and more LGBTQ youth report skipping school because of safety concerns.

Parents and caregivers –Anytime your child or teenager indicates that they may be involved in bullying in any way, intervene. Here are tools to help you support your child or teen and prevent bullying in the Central Oregon community:

If your child is the victim of bullying:

  • In the moment:
    • Have your child stand up for themselves. Encourage them to say, “stop bothering me.” or “I don’t like it when you do that, please stop.” Then, have your child walk away.
  • After the fact:
    • Let your child know – It is not your fault if you get bullied.
    • Validate your child’s feelings. It is normal for bullying to make you feel sad – encourage your child to talk to a trusted adult and share their feelings.
    • Discuss the situation with your child. Ask questions to find out more about when or where they may be getting bullied.
    • Ask about your child’s wishes. Do they want to avoid certain situations? Would they like more adult supervision? Problem solve with your child to see if you can prevent future bullying instances.
    • Encourage your child to spend time with people who make them feel good about themselves.
    • Actively look for ways for your child to boost their self-esteem. This may mean encouraging activities that your child feels proud of, helping them accomplish new goals.
    • If it continues: Ask your health care provider for advice.

If you catch your child bullying:

  • In the moment:
    • Put a stop to the behavior immediately.
    • Avoid the use of physical punishment (such as spanking or arm pulling). These activities can give your child the idea that physical aggression is an acceptable way to deal with issues.
    • Don’t panic, but let your child know that their behavior has consequences, such as removal of privileges.
  • After the fact:
    • Ask your child to apologize and help them come up with a plan to make amends.
    • If appropriate, ask your child to resume their interaction. Continue to observe, and praise your child for kind, appropriate behavior.
    • Acknowledge when you catch your child being kind, thoughtful, or caring. Pediatric experts recommend aiming for 10 positive comments for every 1 negative comment you make to your child.
    • If it continues, ask your health care provider for advice.

What about cyberbullying? Now more than ever, kids are interacting with peers online. It’s important to tell your child or teen that bullying is never okay, and that everyone deserves to be treated kindly both in person and online. Here are a few tips to share with your child or teen about cyberbullying:

  • Encourage your child to tell you if they are experiencing any bullying online.
  • It can be helpful to collect evidence – save a message or take a screenshot of the bullying behavior to show a trusted adult.
  • It’s often hard to tell if behavior online is bullying or “joking.” Encourage your child to examine their feelings – if it makes them feel bad, they should say something to make it stop.
  • Tell your child to never send mean messages back to a bully. This can be tempting, but can cause even more trouble or make your child seem like a bully.
  • If it continues: Ask your health care provider for advice.

Additional resources for kids and teens:

YouthLine: A chat line for students. Teens are available to help daily from 4-10 p.m. Pacific Time via call, text, chat or email (adults are available by phone at all other times). YouthLine is a free, confidential teen-to-teen crisis and help line. No problem is too big or too small for the YouthLine.

877-968-8491, or text Teen2teen to 839863

The Trevor Project: A national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth via call, text, and chat.


National Suicide Prevention: The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.