Sunday, May 5, 2013

Talking to Kids about Bullying by Trudy Ludwig

Bullying is such a hot topic with students, parents and educators.  I had a great visit via Skype with author Trudy Ludwig about bullying and she shared 3 words to use in explaining bullying with parents and students.  I found them very helpful.  She published an article on the topic and has given me permission to share this with my blog readers.  I hope you enjoy and can learn from this also.  

How to Talk to Your Kids about Bullying
FEBRUARY 20, 2013
Trudy Ludwig
Bullying has become such a hot buzzword in our society these days that the mere mention of it
can instantly trigger panic in the heart of the most experienced parent. So before you have a
conversation with your child about bullying, know this: Not all hurtful behavior is bullying.
Help Your Child Understand What Bullying Is . . . and Isn’t
Bullying is comprised of three key elements: an intent to harm, a power imbalance, and
repeated acts or threats of aggressive behavior. Kids who bully are consciously choosing to be
cruel, with no sense of regret or remorse—even when the targets of bullying show or express
their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop. Sometimes they're hurting too, thinking that hurting
someone else can stop their pain.
I love how this one school I visited in Wisconsin helped their school community--students,
teachers, and parents--understand the different tiers of hurtful behavior:
· When someone says or does something unintentionally hurtful and they do it once,
that’s RUDE.
· When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they do it once,
that’s MEAN.
· When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they keep doing it—even
when you tell them to stop or show them that you’re upset—that’s BULLYING.
When a child is mean to multiple people or publicly posts a hurtful comment online that can be
viewed by many, he/she is creating a repeated pattern of meanness, which can cross the line
into bullying. Those who bully often lack empathy—the ability to know what it feels like to be in
someone else’s shoes and to have compassion for his/her pain and suffering. The more
empathy and compassion we can instill in our children, the less room there will be in their hearts
for contempt and disregard for others.
Most Kids Aren’t Cruel—Offline or Online
Numerous Internet safety advocates and experts report that most youth aren’t bullying their
peers. That’s not to say that bullying isn’t a significant issue. The minority of kids who are
bullying can cause real harm to both the targets of bullying AND the many bystanders who
witness the bullying.
Because kids tend to do what they believe the majority of their peers do, it’s important to share
with your children this truth: Most youth are decent, caring, and responsible when it comes to
how they treat others. Let your teens know that you expect no less from them. And if they do
witness bullying, encourage them to report the abuse to an adult they trust or, if online, to the
service provider or through the social network’s reporting system. Also encourage them to
reach out and comfort the kid who is being bullied.
How to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying cont’d page 2
Turning Kids’ Mistakes into Teachable Moments
Let’s face it: our kids are going to make mistakes. Our job as caring parents is to make sure our
kids don’t keep repeating those mistakes so they can move forward in positive, healthy ways.
We do this by being good role models ourselves in how we treat those we encounter in life. We
also need to hold our children accountable for their hurtful behaviors. You don’t want your kids
to just say, “Sorry.” Have them SHOW they’re sorry by making up for the hurt they have caused
Emphasize the Importance of Respecting Others’ Differences
Remind your child that every person has value. While we all may not agree with others’
opinions, while we all may not end up being friends, we all deserve to have our presence
acknowledged and to be treated in a civil and respectful manner.
The reality is that we aren’t going to get rid of all the hurt in our kids’ world. What we can do is
raise more emotionally resilient kids who have the tools and strength to get through the hurt,
while the caring adults (teachers, school administrators, parents, and care givers) and kids in
their lives work together to effectively address and prevent peer cruelty.
Trudy Ludwig is a member of the Random House Speakers Bureau, a
children’s advocate, and the bestselling author of My Secret Bully, Just
Kidding, Sorry!, Trouble Talk, Too Perfect, Confessions of a Former
Bully, and Better Than You. Her eighth book, The Invisible Boy, will be
available in October 2013. For more information about Trudy and her
work to help kids thrive in their social world, visit
A Platform for Good (PfG) is a project of the Family Online Safety Institute, designed to help
parents, teachers and teens connect, share and do good online. PfG aims to start a dialogue
about what it means to participate responsibly in our digital world and, while recognizing the
potential risks, celebrates technology as a vehicle for opportunity and social change. Visit PfG
online at
© 2013 by Trudy Ludwig for A Platform for Good.

Wasn't that great information?!
My next post will be about the Bully Toolbelt that Trudy introduced to our students a couple years ago when she visited.  We use it as our guideline for how to handle a bully.  So....stop by in a couple of days to get the scoop on the Bully Toolbelt.