How Adults Can Help
Helping Bullies

Bullies need help too!

Bullying involves a series of repeated behaviour through different forms of aggression with intent to hurt or embarrass another individual where there is a form of power imbalance between the bully and the victim.

Children and youths who are bullies often get into serious trouble in later life, and may receive criminal convictions. They may have continuing trouble in their relationships with others hence adults play an important role in helping bullies stop their harmful behaviour and turn over a new leaf.


Why do some children bully others?

  • They may feel miserable because of something at school or home
  • They may feel left out or lonely at school or at home
  • They are irritated by a particular person and do not know how to deal with that
  • They have poor anger management
  • They are mixing with the wrong company
  • They find bullying fun and exciting when they get the reaction they need from the victims
  • They feel powerful bullying people who are seen as the minority, vulnerable or weak
  • They were once a victim


How can adults help bullies?

If you are a parent

  • Understand the bullying situation from your child as well as his or her teachers. Keep in mind that your child might try to deny or minimize his or her wrong – doings.
  • Encourage your child to own up to his or her bullying behavior by reassuring and support him or her in changing to a better person.
  • Make it clear to your child that you will not tolerate such behavior and discuss with your child the negative impact bullying has on the victims.
  • If your child has considered their behavior as play, discuss with them that what they consider as play has hurt someone.
  • Tell your child what behavior you expect of him or her.
  • A consequence is useful to let your child know that his or her behavior is unacceptable such as removing certain privileges or a reflection time about their bullying act.
  • Increase your supervision of your child’s activities and whereabouts, and who he or she is associating with. Spend time with the child, and set reasonable rules for his or her activities and curfews.
  • Co-operate with the school in their efforts to deal with your child’s bullying behavior. Frequent communication with teachers and/or administrators is important to find out how your child is doing in changing his or her behavior.
  • Praise the efforts your child makes towards non – violent and responsible behavior, as well as for following home and school rules.
  • Pay attention to other good behaviors in your child and encourage more of those. Help your child realize that he or she is not bad at all.
  • If the child is viewing violent media such as television shows, cartoon, online games, this may increase violent and aggressive behavior. Change family and child’s viewing and playing patterns to non – violent ones.
  • Be a good model of non – harmful behavior to others. Children learn a lot from observing their parents.
  • Make sure that your child is not seeing violence between members of his or her family. Modeling of aggressive behavior at home can lead to violence by your child against others at school at later life.
  • Seek help from a counselor, social worker, or children’s mental health center in the community if you would like support in helping your child stop his or her bullying behavior.

If you are a teacher

  • Intervene immediately: stop the bullying behavior as soon as you see it or become aware of it.
  • Sometimes if you witness or are informed of a bullying incident while conducting a lesson, it can cause disruption to the lesson. This should not be a reason for you to avoid the matter.
  • Make it clear to the child that bullying behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated at all in the school. Demand that the bully stop the behavior immediately. You can say, “Stop it. This behavior is not acceptable.”
  • If necessary, move the bully away from the situation until you are able to discuss his or her behavior. You could ask the bully to sit somewhere else till you finish your lesson. Try not to isolate the victim but instead move the bully if required.
  • Follow up with a private individual talk with the bully the soonest possible after the lesson.
  • Discuss with the child the negative impact bullying has on the victims.
  • Expect that the child will minimize and deny his or her actions and responsibility. Refer to school and class codes of conduct when telling the bully why the behavior was unacceptable.
  • Tell them what behavior you expect of them. Inform the child of the sanctions which will be imposed and that their parents will be informed.
  • If the child says “I was just playing”, discuss with them how he or she considers as “play” has hurt someone.
  • Arrange for an effective, non- violent consequences which is in proportion with the severity of the child’s actions and his or her age and the stage of development. Consequences such as removal of certain privileges; recess time or in school detention where the child is asked to reflect upon the bullying incident.
  • Supervise the child closely to ensure no retaliation takes place.
  • Monitor the behavior of the bully and the safety of the victim on a school – wide basis.
  • Praise the efforts the child makes towards non – violent and responsible behavior such as abiding by the school rules.
  • Pay attention to other good behaviors in the child and encourage him or her to do more of it.
  • Help the child realize that he or she is not bad at all.
  • Inform the parents of the bully as soon as possible preferably on the day of the bullying incident itself. Early intervention with parents’ involvement will curb the bullying behavior.
  • Approach the school counselor for guidance if you are unsure of how to handle the bully.
  • Cooperate with the school counselor in their efforts to deal with the child’s bullying behavior.
  • Follow up in communicating with parents, other teachers and school counselors about the situation until it is clearly resolved.


Notes for Teachers!


  • Be a good role model by demonstrating positive, respectful and supportive behavior towards students.
  • Recognize and praise positive, friendly and supportive behaviors of students towards one another on a frequent basis.
  • Develop a class code of conduct such as;
    – We do not hit, fight, kick or punch our friends.
    – We do not make fun of our friends’ names.
    – We will share, care and love one another.
    – We want to be a bully – free class.
  • Hold several lessons on awareness of both bullying and friendly, cooperative behavior.